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Resurrecting A Rally Relic

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives Rally Racing Topics:  Datsun 240Z

Resurrecting A Rally Relic

Geoff Maxted
September 16, 2013

Rally Datsun 240Z
Few true sports cars in history can lay claim to not only being a road-racing champion, but also a rally legend. One such car is the Datsun 240Z (Sold as the Fairlady in Japan) which provided the basis for the renowned off-road race machine, the Safari Rally Z. In the USA it was announced that Nissan's Restoration Club has decided to bring the Safari Rally Z back to its original running condition.

Ever since it was formed in 2006, Nissan's Restoration Club has made it a habit of bringing Nissan cars with a rich motorsports heritage back to life. The Club is comprised of a small group of volunteer members from the company's Research & Development department who all share a burning passion to see Nissan's historic racing cars fully operational again, not just displayed as a static show piece.

An added bonus for the members, now 60 strong, is the education derived from studying the highest technology the world had to offer at the time. Past projects for the club have been the restoration of eight vehicles, notably the legendary 1964 Skyline sports car, the "Fuji" and "Sakura" Datsun 210s that won Australia's 1958 Mobilgas Trial, and the 1947 Tama electric vehicle. This year, the Nissan Restoration Club has focused its attention on a special variant of the Fairlady Z (Datsun 240Z in the U.S.) -the Safari Rally Z.

The Safari Rally Z won two overall championships of the East African Safari Rally in 1971 and 1973, succeeding the legendary Bluebird rally car (Datsun 510) that put Nissan on the world rally map. The Safari Rally Z had a short but stellar career highlighted by its 1- 2 finish in the 1971 event. The car to be restored is the winner of the 19th Safari Rally in 1971, driven by Edgar Hermann and Hans Schuller. The Safari Rally Z features a closed, fast-back coupe body and a 2393cc OHC inline-6 engine (codenamed L24) that was tuned to produce 215bhp. The car has been part of Nissan's Heritage Collection.

The restoration of the Safari Rally Z is scheduled to be completed in December 2013. Let’s hope they shoot a video. It’s great to see these historic cars back to their former glory.

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