Nissan Takes the Z Sports Car Rallying with a Special SEMA Build

nissan safari rally z tribute
Nissan Takes the Z Sports Car Rallying for SEMANissan
  • The Nissan Safari Rally Z Tribute celebrates the Datsun 240Z that won the 1971 East African Safari Rally.

  • Built by Tommy Pike Customs, the Z features a two-inch lift thanks to an upgraded suspension and burly Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003 tires.

  • The V-6 engine has been tuned to more than 400 horsepower. The modified Z also has a cat-back exhaust, cold air intake, and twin-disc clutch and flywheel.

The popularity of off-roading has surged as trucks and SUVs have come to dominate the market, with automakers launching new sub-brands—Subaru with Wilderness and Honda with TrailSport, for example—to beef up their crossovers. The go-anywhere enthusiasm has spread to sports cars too, with Porsche and Lamborghini concocting the 911 Dakar and Huracán Sterrato, respectively. At the 2023 SEMA show, opening this week in Las Vegas, Nissan is showing its own take on the trend with this Safari Rally Z Tribute, built by Tommy Pike Customs.

nissan safari rally z tribute and datsun 240z safari replica

The Tribute pays homage to the rally-spec Datsun 240Z that triumphed at the 3800-mile 1971 East African Safari Rally, which Nissan previously honored with a Juke-based concept a couple of years ago. Nissan commissioned the build from South Carolina–based Tommy Pike Customs, which built a Leaf-powered 1987 Sunny pickup and a woody-wagon-inspired Ariya for last year's SEMA show. The modified Z sports car will sit alongside a replica of the Datsun 240Z Safari.


Tommy Pike Customs fitted the sharply styled sports car with some major upgrades. The Tribute build rides 2.0 inches higher thanks to a custom KW safari suspension, which also includes adjustable upper control arms, a strut tower brace, and other components from Nissan in-house tuner NISMO. Unique black 17.0-inch wheels are wrapped in chunky Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003 225/65 tires.

nissan safari rally z tribute interior

Protecting the oily bits are a front bumper guard and skid plate, while a slew of auxiliary LED lights sprouting from the front end provide extra visibility in dark or dusty conditions. Inside, the Z features a roll bar hooked up to four-point harnesses that keep the driver firmly seated in Recaro bucket seats.

The V-6 engine has also been tuned by AMS Performance, pushing output beyond the stock 400 horsepower, although Nissan didn't specify quite how much it was improved. Other under-the-hood goodies include a cold air intake, a carbon-fiber engine cover, a heat exchange, and a twin-disc clutch and flywheel.

Tommy Pike Customs also added a cat-back exhaust with laser-etched NISMO branding. The look is rounded out with a livery that mimics the original rally car's, albeit sporting the number "23" on the doors instead of the "11" worn by the 1971 car.

While we doubt this off-road Z has any chance at production, hopefully some of these parts could be offered by Nissan for DIYers who want to create their own rally special.

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