With the 2023 Nissan Z now here to cater to our RWD+manual driving necessities, the 240Z that sits at the top of its family tree gets more attention than ever. But what if Nissan had taken a different route and introduced a mid-engined 240Z back in 1969?
We can answer the question above with a rendering that showcases the classic Japanese sports car, which was sold in the US as a Datsun 240Z, in midship configuration.
The S30, as the classic Nissan is codenamed, has always impressed via its styling, not least thanks to the long hood and short rear overhang (here’s what these inherited aesthetic assets do for this StreetHunter widebody 2023 Z).
Well, at least to these eyes, now that the proportions have changed, the appearance of the JDM machine remains just as impressive.
In fact, the CGI, which comes from a designer named Patrick Pieper (aka pat_rick_pie), is present here in two forms. The first, which comes finished in a deep shade of black, sits closer to a street vehicle. As for the second, this white-dressed example, with its headlight delete and its turbofan wheels, brings a track day atmosphere.
The story of the original Nissan Z car
Both rendered midship S30 versions feature flared fenders and rear spoilers resembling the ones Nissan released for Japan-only homologation specials like the Fairlady ZG (related to a Group 4 sports car racing) or the Fairlady Z432 (the sibling of a rally car).
Now, this is a good moment to mention that, back in the Land of the Rising Sun, the 240Z was introduced as the Nissan Fairlady Z—the carmaker literally added the last letter of the alphabet, a be-all and end-all sign, to the Datsun Fairlady predecessor of the machine.
Of course, while the old car was pretty much an adapted version of the classic British roadster, the Fairlady Z was built with the American market in mind, one of the key ingredients that allow the newcomer to become an instant hit.
The other cool bits? The great handling offered by the all-around independent suspension chassis, the Mercedes-Benz-like straight-six engine (it’s a long patent story), as well as the build quality. Oh, and let’s not forget the relatively affordable nature of the machine, which cost way less than competitors like Ferrari’s Dino sub-brand models, the Porsche 911, and even the Corvette.
So while Nissan already hit a hole-in-one with the 240Z, having the design incorporate a rear mid-engine layout would seem like quite a stretch.
The real world is no stranger to a mid-engined 240Z
Even nowadays, you’ll struggle to find a 240Z that’s been converted to such a layout. Most S30 builds using the said term go for a front mid-engine configuration that brings the powerplant further back in the chassis. And, given the challenges involved in moving the engine between the seats and the rear axle, that’s understandable.
Still, somebody Down Under was daring enough to come up with a mid-engined 240Z. And, thanks to the classic Z-dedicated Auszcar forums, we were able to include two photos of the vehicle, which now uses a turbocharged Nissan V6, a recipe that the 2023 Z is all too familiar with.
Of course, there are plenty of jaw-dropping 240Z builds out there that don’t need an engine relocation to make an impression, as is the case with Riko’s IMSA-style widebody monster.