Poor Nissan 370Z. After being introduced for the 2009 model year and updated for 2013, it's been years since Nissan's given it much attention. But while there's no new model or major update on the way, Nissan did bring a highly modified 370Z out to SEMA this year. So at least the little sports car hasn't been completely forgotten.
Nissan says it built the Project Clubsport 23 to be "a vehicle that owners could duplicate themselves using Nissan Motorsports or aftermarket parts." And with the Halloween-appropriate orange wrap, a carbon-fiber splitter, an aftermarket air dam, a modified rear bumper, rear foglights, carbon-fiber side view mirrors, and a carbon-fiber hood, it certainly looks like something a Z enthusiast would build. Inside, we're big fans of the diamond-stitched leather interior and new racing seats.
The most interesting part of the Project Clubsport 23, however, is under the hood. Nissan got rid of the naturally aspirated V-6 that powered the stock 370Z Nismo and replaced it with a twin-turbo V-6 from one of the Infiniti Red Sport 400 models. That means power is up from 350 hp to 400 hp. But since the new engine has never been paired with a manual transmission before, Nissan had to work with MA Motorsports to develop the necessary components. The tuning shop mated a custom clutch disc, pressure plate, and flywheel assembly to the twin-turbo engine, and got the modified driveline to hook up with the Nismo GT Pro-Carbon two-way limited-slip differential and MA Motorsports differential cooler.
Depending on demand, Nissan says it may offer some sort of "builder's kit" to allow customers to recreate the Project Clubsport 23 on their own. Such a kit would presumably include the upgraded brakes and suspension, wheels, and tires, as well as the body kit. But it's not clear whether the parts needed for the engine swap would be offered, too.
It's also a little strange that Nissan went to the trouble of doing an entire engine swap for this project, especially one that had never been paired with a manual transmission before. Getting the engine and the transmission to play well together had to be way more of a hassle than it would have been to simply turbocharge the existing engine. It's also a ton of work when you consider it only added another 50 hp (though significantly more torque that's available very early in the rev range).
But what if there are plans for this engine swap that go beyond a one-off SEMA project? Could Nissan be planning a powertrain update for the 370Z? Or is Infiniti maybe planning a manual version of the Q50 and Q60? Nissan hasn't said either way, but you never know.