I remember one crisp, cold and sunny day, being trackside as we test-drove the new GT-R. To keep us all from losing concentration and getting bored waiting for a turn, there were two left-hand drive Nissan 370Z cars available.
I left that day being mightily impressed with the 370Z – you could keep your GT-R, that wasn’t for me… Since then, any 350Z/370Z news arrives and I sit up and take notice. Today was one of those days.
The little Nissan compact sports car is certainly not new to being tweaked of course, with Nissan’s in-house (Nissan Motorsport International Ltd) having injected the 370Z with excitement on more than one occasion to very satisfying effect. The 3.7-litre V6 managed to output 339bhp under the careful guidance of the tuning experts at NISMO, but things have now been turned up a notch, with a one-off 400bhp vehicle based on a donor 370Z NISMO from 2012.
A joint project between Nissan Motorsports and MA Motorsports, the Project Clubsport 23 will show it’s wild colours at SEMA 2018 in Nevada from October 30 – November 2. The tuned 400bhp 370Z will not be hard to find; as is so often the case, bright orange is once again colour of choice for showcasing another powerful sports car.
So what is it then? Nissan describe this as being true to the Z car heritage (Nissan has always been big on that) but with some of the latest technology added. Things move fast in the tech world, and the 370Z is, by most sports car standards, getting quite old – though Nissan doesn’t seem to have any intention of a massive update just yet. This is an exercise in reaffirming just how popular and tuneable the 370Z is. Indeed, the longer it sticks around, the nearer to cult status it gets.
You might be surprised to hear that one of the major changes to the Project Clubsport 23 is that it has a completely different engine; the NISMO 3.7-litre has gone and in its place sits a twin-turbo 3-litre V6. It might be a smaller engine on paper, but it’s a far newer engine, and newer normally means smoother efficient running and less friction – hence we have 400bhp from this, the same engine that sits in the automatic Infiniti Q60. This car will also uniquely pair up this 3-litre engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox for the first time.
It’s not the only change though, the Project Clubsport 23 sports a brand new clutch disc and flywheel assembly and that striking burnt orange colour scheme covering those NISMO carbon fibre body panels; somewhat reminiscent of the original 350Z and its rather fine sunset orange paintwork. Though this, Gloss Burnt Orange, is better – I don’t think anything more orange could possibly exist. The vivid colour offsets some rather nice 18-inch cast aluminium Rays in jet black (if you like them, these will be available to order in the near future). Suspension has been heavily upgraded with Eibach rear springs and KW coilovers, and the custom dual exhaust has its exit right through the rear licence plate area.
Inside, the 370Z sports a roll bar and 6-pont harness Sparco QRT-R seats and a Sparco R383 steering wheel. The custom diamond patterned upholstery harks back to the daddy of the 350Z and the 370Z, the Datsun 240Z.
It’s a one-off of course, but Nissan isn’t ruling out making it easy for enthusiasts to replicate the Project Clubsport 23, saying that the goal was to create something that could be duplicated using aftermarket parts. Ultimately if the interest is there, a Nissan PC 23 kit may be on the cards…