At first I thought this was kind of nuts. Turning a Nissan 370Z into a giant snowmobile and then showing it off earnestly at this year’s Chicago Auto Show was kind of your typical, attention-grabbing auto show stunt. Then I remembered what your typical Chicago winter is like and I thought, “yeah, blasting up Lake Shore Drive in this thing, mid-blizzard, makes complete sense.”
I think Nissan is semi-serious about this. Near as I can tell, this thing, half-cleverly dubbed the “370Zki,” can actually drive over snow. (It’s pronounced as “370-Ski”). Since, as you know, Automoblog is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan (a place not known for its mild winters) I think Nissan should send the 370Zki over to One Automoblog Towers so we can give it a full test and evaluation before spring.
And Nissan, bless their hearts, isn’t exactly messing about here. At least not in the engine department. The plant is a stock, factory spec 3.7-liter V6 that puts out 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft. torque to the, well, not the tires anyway. Now that I think about it, this could be a really fun way to get out to your ice fishing hut. Nissan says the 370Zki is “ready to tackle ski slopes and backwoods trails alike with its front skis and rear snow tracks.” Of course, the interesting part for a gearhead about the 370Zki is the engineering that actually went into making it.
The tracks that hold up the back end and provide forward thrust were supplied by this outfit called American Track Truck, Inc. and are known as DOMINATOR Tracks. Yes, all caps. Like you’d expect people who make (more or less) bolt-on track conversion kits to be subtle. However, the 370Zki is not a (more or less) bolt-on affair. To make room for the tracks, the entire drivetrain was removed from the donor 370Z Roadster. Then they designed and engineered a custom lift kit, raising the vehicle three inches from the normal height. If you can’t see the need for this, please do some remedial reading.
Then they fabbed up a set of custom mountings for the rear suspension springs and installed three-inch custom spacers so they could mount the snow tracks to the wheel hubs. Somehow, they were able to keep the factory brakes, but they did reroute the brake lines along with the exhaust system. The exhaust system was also further modified to fit tighter under the vehicle. The rear wheel wells were messed with to get the clearance the four-foot-long snow tracks required.
Up front, the suspension was also modded for greater ride height, and adaptors were made for the appropriate travel and rotation of the front skis. The skis were also supplied by American Track Truck, Inc. and, with the use of spacers, mounted to the stock wheel hubs. The engine and transmission mounts also got a tweaking and they added a fabricated front skid plate to prevent damage when running over crusty snow and, I’m assuming, things like beavers and badgers and other critters like that.
An Idea (Of Sorts)
Cosmetically the 370Zki is about as subtle as one of Brian O’Conner’s rides. On the other hand, Nissan said it was “relatively easy” to accomplish, going with a custom body wrap done up by Icon Image Graphics. The headlights, as a finishing touch, were tinted yellow to resemble ski goggles. Of course what really needs to be done now is for someone, say Honda or Ford, to take one of their cars and give it the same “Mental Patient Snowmobile” treatment and then we can race them.
In case you want all the deets, here’s a handy chart showing what happened to which part of the car. We have included a gallery below as well.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format.