Nissan has deep roots in motorsports, but the company’s presence wasn’t only limited to smooth race tracks. Clocking the fastest time on what can hardly even be considered a ‘road’ has its own appeal. I am a rally fan boy, so seeing a group of works cars got my pulse racing. Get close and you can smell the oil and fuel fumes. You can also feel that there is something special about these cars because of their historical significance. Imagine the kind of work that went into the creation of each of them, as well as the stories behind their development. I'm sure that the stories from the actual rally stages would fill books, too.
This is a Bluebird that competed in the 1966 East African Safari Rally. It was the first Japanese car to win in its class, so we can say that this car is pretty much priceless. Under its hood is a 1.3-liter engine.
There is something about steel wheels and hand-painted lettering that looks so good to me. Also notice how none of the wear and battle damage was touched up. This approach ensures that the cars maintain their unique character. Every scratch and dent has a story, after all. The folks who curate the Zama Garage know and appreciate this.
This is a Bluebird that has a very strong following worldwide. More popularly known as the 510, this car’s design was heavily influenced by BMW’s 2002. When rigid axles and leaf springs were the norm in entry-level sedans, the 510 was instead fitted with a fully independent rear suspension. This meant excellent handling prowess. Too bad this car was never sold in the Philippines. This particular 510 SSS was the overall winner of the 18th African Safari Rally in 1970. It was also a class and team category champion.
Isn’t this beautiful? Boxy lines, a tall greenhouse, and small alloys really do it for me. This is the way to set up an old-school car.
That appears to be a huge dent on the rear quarter panel. African rallies are known to be very demanding, so no car ever finishes unscathed—if it even finishes at all. Note the grab handles mounted on the trunk lid and the ‘steps’ above the bumper. The navigator uses these for leverage if ever the car gets stuck in the mud. He frees the car by making the rear suspension bounce up and down while the driver applies power. At times when traction is at zero, the co-driver will hop onto the back to add weight over the rear axle. I do not envy the job.
Even the front fender has a giant ‘love’ mark.
This Violet (otherwise known as the Stanza) was the winner of the Southern Cross Rally in 1978. I would love to own a set of those Cibie fog lamps.
This one won the same event in 1977. A twin-cam 16-valve engine (built specifically by Nissan for rallying) can be found under its hood.
This Number 7 Group 4 car won the 29th Safari Rally in 1981. It was the first Nissan to win three championships in a row. There is no doubt that Nissan dominated its class during this time period.
Now we move on to my dream old-school ride: the 240Z. This particular car was the overall winner of the 19th Safari Rally in 1971. In Japan this model was known as the Fairlady Z. I prefer that name, actually.
This damage must have come from a heavy hit. When this car was actively competing it was known for its toughness. The Z looks very sleek, but in reality it is quite a heavy car. This was no doubt an advantage when it came to being able to withstand a bad crash.
Check out how the fog lamp cowls are bolted onto the hood. I love seeing custom work like that on these old rally cars. Nissan also had a reputation for paying attention to even the smallest details on its rally cars.
This car has so much character. This is pure automotive attitude.
You can't see them too well here, but the tailpipes have built-in guards that keep the pipes from being blocked should the driver back into some mud. See? Attention to even the smallest details.
Check out the sponsorship logos. These old fonts really rock. It also helps that I am a huge fan of Seiko watches. This car is fantastic!
One more shot of the baddest racing Fairlady Z I have ever seen.
There was one more Z sporting the same livery, but it wasn’t as successful on the icy roads of the Monte Carlo Rally. Co-driver was Jean Todt.
I hope that this entry gave you all a decent vintage rally fix. My apologies for any comments that do not get published on time. This blog gets ridiculous amounts of spam, and sometimes your messages gets mixed in with the spam folder. I have to figure out how to remedy the problem. There is more to come, so do keep logging on! Again, thanks for reading!