Nissan street racing cars compete professionally around tracks worldwide. But over the decades, certain standouts also gained notoriety showcasing illegal street racing capabilities. Their accessible power, rear-wheel-drive handling, and tuner potential made them fixtures of underground drifting and drag racing culture. Let’s examine Nissan’s most infamous street racing icons.
Nissan Street Racing Cars: Datsun 510
The Datsun 510 sedan of the late 1960s won massive popularity for its strong L-series engines, affordable price, and nimble handling. Lightweight and rear-drive made the 510 a tuner favorite for engine swaps and suspension mods ideal for winding touge roads or drifting.
Nissan built on the 510’s motorsport successes by offering SSS and race spec editions with stiffer suspension. To this day, clean 510s remain prized by grassroots drifters and autocrossers. The “poor man’s BMW” brought excitement to the masses.
Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)
The R32 Skyline GT-R descending from rally competition seemed ready-made for illegal street racing. Its ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system enabled incredible grip when accelerating out of corners or sliding sideways. Over 280 turbocharged horsepower proved addictive.
Right hand-drive JDM imports gained notoriety winning illegal drag and drift events during the 1990s tuner boom. The Skyline GT-R dominated tracks worldwide while rule-breaking drivers exploited its capabilities on public streets.
Nissan 240SX (S13/S14)
Nissan’s S13 and S14 generations of the 240SX coupe gained fame as drift icons thanks to their lightweight rear-drive chassis, ample aftermarket, and affordable price. The KA24E engine responded well to basic mods like intake and exhaust changes.
Drifters coveted the 240SX for its balance and trainability at the limit. Relatively slow stock power kept prices low, allowing hobbyists to practice perilous sliding techniques on the street before entering competitions. The “Slowkids” represented accessibility.
The Z car bloodline bred many generations of tuner favorites, but the 350Z and 370Z eras brought renewed street racing popularity. Strong V6 power, coupe styling, and robust rear-drive handling made them versatile for racing or drifting.
Bolt-on mods unleashed the Z cars’ potential for sub-5-second 0-60 times. Readily available upgrades transformed them into beasts on drag strips and drifting circuits alike. Affordable sports car thrills continued the Z tradition of rebellion well into the 2000s.
Nissan Street Racing Cars’ Spirit
From the vintage 510 to the contemporary 370Z, Nissan models retain a racing spirit spanning decades. Rear-wheel drive, ample torque, and lightweight chassis give them natural performance talents. Add potent engines and deep tuning potential and they attract those chasing speed thrills on public roads.
Nissan undoubtedly intended its sports cars for legal motorsport applications, but their capabilities proved tempting to misuse. These models demonstrate how street racing continually appropriates and innovates using production platforms never designed for law breaking speeds.