Nissan has long been synonymous with dependable, fuel-efficient cars that are sensible and decently priced. However, the company has been making some serious waves lately with some insanely fast and innovative race cars.
From the makers of the Skyline
When most people think of a Nissan they usually think of something like the Altima, a conventional, practical sedan. However, the company has a rebellious streak, as it also makes the GT-R, a $100,000, four-wheel drive supercar that produces more power than a standard Corvette and will blow past the garden variety Ferrari without breaking a sweat.
This penchant for speed has been getting Nissan some serious headlines, especially for a couple of one-off race cars that are as unconventional as they are brutally fast. For the past few months, there has been a lot of buzz over the Nissan Juke-R and the DeltaWing experimental race car, both of which are engineering projects built to skirt the edge of the envelope.
Jekyll to Hyde
At the beginning of this year, according to Car and Driver, Nissan Europe got the crazy idea to get RML Group to take the engine from the Nissan GT-R and put it in the Juke, Nissan’s sub-compact crossover SUV. The engine had to be modified to produce less power, as the GT-R produces more than 500 horsepower, but the modified turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6 in the Juke-R produces 485 horsepower.
Nissan’s corporate headquarters had no idea the custom version was being created until it was almost complete. The car took only 22 hours to build, including interior cabin and body modifications to include a wider wheelbase and the new drive train. When it was finished, the car started a promotional tour, which included a stop in Dubai and visits to numerous tracks to show it off.
The build was chronicled on YouTube and videos of the Juke-R in action went viral as well, including a short course race between the Juke-R and a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Mercedes SLS AMG and a Ferrari 458 Italia, according to CNET. The Juke beat all three.
Heading to LeMans
The other car Nissan is getting a lot of attention for is an experimental race car called the DeltaWing. It was designed, according to ESPN, by Ben Bowlby, who had designed IndyCar racers for the Lola Group, which dominated the championship between 2000 and 2006. Bowlby submitted a radical new design, which IndyCar turned down in 2010, which relies on ultralight weight and moderate power, along with front wheels that are only a few inches apart. Plenty have compared it to the Batmobile, and it looks the part.
In the meantime, Nissan and Michelin tires signed on as sponsors. Nissan provides the engine. The DeltaWing uses a 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder producing 300 horsepower, according to Wired, though the car, fully fueled and with a driver on board, weighs less than 1,300 pounds. The car isn’t cleared to race yet, but is heading to the 24 Hours of LeMans to run in the experimental class.