The end of October means jack-’o-lanterns, candy, and costumes to normal folks. But for those of us that follow the auto industry, there are an entirely different set of outfits making their grand debut at the annual SEMA show.
While some brands are skipping SEMA, Nissan isn’t one of them. The Japanese brand is bringing a number of concepts and racers to this year’s show, showing off just how wild its newest products can get. The latest Z sports car features prominently, but the Ariya gets in on the fun too, while the Frontier pickup truck adds a heaping helping of V8. And there’s even a tantalizing marriage of classic metal with modern electrification. Let’s dive in and see what Nissan is bringing to SEMA 2022.
Gallery: Nissan SEMA Concepts
Catch Some Zs
Fully half of the cars Nissan is showing at SEMA wear the iconic Z badge, but only one of them is truly road legal, and what the Nismo Accessorized Z lacks in its unimaginative name, it makes up for in performance and aesthetic extras. On the outside, there’s the traditional red-white-black Nismo color scheme and not a lot else – instead of wild wings or crazy body kits, Mobile1 graphics and carbon-fiber trim bits inside and out add a dose of motorsports flair.
Instead, Nissan is focusing on functional performance upgrades. The twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 carries a Nismo-branded cold-air intake that’s awaiting CARB approval, while a larger heat exchanger keeps the engine in its happy place on hot track days. A stainless Nismo exhaust with a 2.25-inch outer pipe allows freer breathing and a better soundtrack. Nissan isn’t sharing the Nismo Accessorized Z’s output, but a new Nismo twin-disc clutch and flywheel can handle up to 800 horsepower and 750 pound-feet of torque.
The heavily upgraded suspension carries Nismo twin-tube coilovers that drop the ride height by what looks like at least a few tenths of an inch. Along with the Nismo-branded sway-bar kit, the coilovers are the only purchasable suspension changes. Prototype parts include a strut tower brace and a whole host of suspension linkages. New 19-inch Nismo LM-RS1 wheels shield a Nismo big-brake kit. Six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers should provide far more stopping power, while Bridgestone RE71RS tires mean far more grip.
Beyond the Nismo Accessozied Z, Nissan is also showcasing the 1,300-horsepower, GT-R-powered Z that drifter Chris Forsberg will campaign in Formula Drift. It’s joined by a GT4-spec Z – Nissan will share its 2023 racing plans during its SEMA press conference, but with GT4 cars coming to the IMSA VP Racing Series in 2023, there’s a safe bet we’ll see the new Z challenging on North Americas circuits in the near future.
Zero-Emissions, Maximum Cool
The wildest of Nissan’s production-based concepts has to be the Ariya Surfwagon. Built by Tommy Pike Customs, it adopts a vinyl wrap and ample chrome trim to replicate the classic Woodie Wagon vibe. But frankly, that change plays second fiddle to the fantastic 20-inch “smoothie” wheels. The turquoise wheels, chrome center caps, and whitewall tires are as eye-catching as it gets, thanks in part to the lowered ride height. Finally, a custom roof rack is home to a pair of seven-foot surfboards.
If the Ariya Surfwagon is a bit too aggressive a mix of classic and modern, then the Nissan Leaf-powered Sunny pickup might be more your speed. Also a product of Tommy Pike Customs, and owned by the Tommy Pike himself, this is a marriage of a Nissan Leaf powertrain with a 1987 Sunny pickup. It’s basically perfect.
A 40-kilowatt-hour battery and a single electric motor make 147 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. That might not sound like much, but Nissan helpfully points out that it’s twice as much power and three times as much torque as the Sunny originally had when it rolled out of the factory during the Reagan administration. The front suspension is based on a conversion for the S13 Silvia (240SX on our shores) while the rear sees upgraded leaf springs. 17-inch Rotiform wheels are a natural match with the lower ride height and the widebody kit.
Last but certainly not least is the Nismo Off-Road Frontier V8 Concept which, you guessed it, is a Frontier with a V8 engine. Can’t really argue with the awesomeness of that.
The 5.6-liter V8 comes from the Titan pickup and benefits from a Nismo-branded cold air intake and cat-back exhaust. Nissan isn’t sharing total output, but it should improve subtly on the 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of the factory 5.6-liter Titan. Nissan and Forsberg Racing went for a Baja truck theme, adding a wide-track suspension featuring Nismo/Bilstein shocks at all four corners, upgraded leaf springs at the back, and a stouter rear axle, also from the Titan. The ride height increases by what looks like two to three inches, although Nissan didn’t share a specific figure.
The Off-Road Frontier wears a wide-body kit that employs carbon fiber for the front fenders, hood, and box sides. Prototype items include the steel front bumper (which includes a Warn winch), rock rails, and a bed-mounted carrier for a wheel/tire.
If the Baja life isn’t for you or you find a V8 a bit excessive, the Nissan Frontier Street Truck Project from Christina Roki stands out. Based on the Frontier King Cab, this black-white-red pickup has a custom suspension setup that lowers the ride height. Complementing the new stance are 20-inch Black Rhino Kaizen, a Performance Lab Detroit body kit, and smoked headlights. The main powertrain upgrade is a Magnaflow cat-back exhaust.
Nissan will be showing all its concept and race vehicles at the SEMA show in Las Vegas from November 1 to 4. Look for much more from the big show when it kicks off next week.
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