My admiration for the Nissan 350Z and 370Z gene pool is no secret, and so to set eyes on the wild 370Zki, which debuted at the Chicago Auto Show, recently was a real pleasure.
The 370Zki (phonetically, ‘zed-kee’) is a hard-core snow beater – with no roof – that somehow combines the best of an all-conquering snowmobile and sleek roadster. It’s often the least likely combos that get the most smiles and this concoction certainly does that.
Los Angeles based Westside Group have been involved in the film and TV industry prepping and creating customised versions of existing vehicles since 1989 (and I urge you to take a look at their rather snazzy, pleasing on the eye website at thewestsidegroup.com) – so this 370Z was clearly in safe hands. Westside Group combined their talents and ideas with Nissan North America and the whole conversion took around ten weeks to complete.
The 370Z has had negative cambered triangular tank tracks added to the rear with skis added up front, while the rest of the car remains pretty much stock. Kyle Torrens, Project Manager at Nissan North America, says that while the car may look strikingly different, it still actually drives pretty much like a roadster due to the bulk of the car remaining as standard with an output of 332hp plus a 3.7-litre V6 engine.
For a company like Westside Group, this is actually a pretty easy conversion despite the dramatic looks, and it certainly serves to reinvigorate the 370Z in our minds once more with an eye-catching original Sunset Orange graphic-style paint makeover contrasting nicely with the white snow.
Nissan, I am pleased to say, have already said that the Z series is here to stay. In fact, the lineage dates back to 1969 with the original Fairlady Z, though Nissan rapidly shifted towards very bland functional automobiles during the eighties and nineties (remember the Almera?) before the orange 350Z rose from the flames to save the day in 2002. This is one automotive company that’s not going to make the same mistakes as before.
There is no new version of the 370Z on the horizon as yet (surely an electric version is the next major step?) but the 370Zki serves as a reminder as to just how much fun a Z-car can be. Will it go into production? No, this is most definitely a one off – but it’s actually not that hard to achieve if you’re still snowed in somewhere…
Images: autoevolution.com, motor1.com, jalopnik.com