Nissan has a long-running reputation of producing cars built to appeal to driving enthusiasts, and has a motorsports history to back it up. A Nissan racing legend is the latest project of the Nissan Restoration Club, a group of 60 volunteers within the company’s research and development department dedicated to restoring iconic vehicles from the company’s past, the 1971 Safari Rally Z, a specially rally-prepped version of the Fairlady Z sports car. The Fairlady Z was sold in the U.S. as the Datsun 240Z.
Some of the group’s past projects have been the 1964 Skyline race car, the “Fuji” and “Sakura” Datsun 210s that won the 1958 Mobilgas Trial in Australia, and the 1947 Tama electric car. The Safari Rally Z won the 1971 and 1973 East African Safari Rallies. Whereas the street-trim 1971 Datsun 240Z produced 151 hp, the Rally Z’s race-tuned 2.4-liter SOHC 12-valve I-6 produced a healthy 215 hp.
Preceding the introduction of the fifth-generation Z33 in 2002, Nissan bought and restored a handful of classic 1970s Z cars, giving them full restorations, and re-selling them through selected dealerships in the late 1990s. The restoration of the Safari Z is expected to be completed by December 2013.