2023 Nissan Z Getting Rushed R35 GT-R Engine Swap from Formula Drift Champ

Update: The G.O.A.T. made it. In what seems like only a month, Chris Forsberg got the “400Z” ready for the Formula Drift 2022 season debut. He qualified 8th today, which suggests the brand new Nissan is near race-ready. Check out the Street Hunter body kit in the photo gallery.

2021 wasn’t the best season for self-taught, three-time Formula Drift Champion Chris Forsberg. However, the Pennsylvania athlete has an all-mighty ace up his sleeve, as he’s about to swap from his old Nissan 370Z to the brand new 2023 Nissan Z, which some of us still like to call the 400Z for obvious reasons.

The change is hardly surprising. Nissan Z sports cars are some of the most widely recognizable Japanese supermodels, their RWD layout being a popular platform for going sideways. And it’s not so much a question of if the “400Z” will be used in Formula Drift, more like who can get the first one on the track.

The 2022 season is about a week away from starting and already has an interesting newcomer as far as sheet metal is concerned. We discussed how the brand new Toyota GR86 is getting a Supra-like BMW B58 under its hood from Formula D’s Steph Papadakis.

However, whereas the GR86 is already at dealerships and readily available, getting your hands on a 2023 Nissan Z is a trickier thing to do. Chris Forsberg, who’s also the shop manager of Forsberg Racing, posted the first video on the subject 13 days ago. That’s cutting it pretty close!

Forzberg, the Z masters

But if he can’t get it done, nobody can. Forsberg is Mister Consistent, especially on the track. He made his debut in 2004 and since then has competed in every single round, amassing the most podium finishes in the history of Formula Drift. And his team are Nissan geniuses, doing stuff even the automaker can’t, such as making the boring Altima sedan into an interesting competition car via another GT-R swap (stroked to a 4.1-liter).

While most of the world is still obsessing over the retro styling of the 400Z and how it can be modified, Forsberg already had it fully stripped to the bear metal. No interior, no factory wiring, no bumpers or carpets; you just see the metal tub, and that’s because Formula Drift cars need a lot of added rigidity to cope with the extra power and the sideways forces.

There’s a lot of cutting of grinding of the fenders, both inner and outer. The Z may come with 400 horsepower V6 engines, but that’s nothing by Formula Drift standards. You need a lot of space where the extra rubber meets the road.

What follows is… more cutting, obviously. FD cars get knocked around a lot, so you can’t hang bumpers or taillights the normal way. Also, the huge VR38DE twin-turbo engine needs to be near the center of the car for weight distribution, so the transmission tunnel has to go places.

And it’s not like everybody makes GT-R engine mounts for a 2023 Nissan Z. The budget is not astronomical either, so you’ll see the team struggle to make an old intake system for the Garrett turbos work within the space confines of the bay.



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