| Elated by their success in the 1969 Japanese Grand Prix,
and driven to continue their run of success, Nissan started work on their
1970 challenger. What they designed was one of the most beautiful race
cars ever built, though one that was ultimately built in vain. The car
was the R383.
In 1969 Nissan finally had their GRX-3 V12 engine operating
properly. The engine was a gem, a high-reving technical tour-de-force that
produced 580hp in a reliable race trim, but had seen over 600hp in testing.
The GRX-3 was a 5954cc V12 with double overhead cam cylinder heads, four
valves per cylinder and a Lucas mechanical fuel injection system. Significant
work was done on the engine during the year resulting in the power output
increasing to 700hp, with the new engine being designated the GRX-3 KAI.
The FIA Group 7 regulations that the cars raced under allowed for the use
of turbo chargers and super chargers. Nissan made the most of this and
also developed a turbo charged version that was producing over 900hp.
The body of the car was based on the previous R382, but with significant
changes. The air intake at the front has been removed, giving the car a
very chiselled front nose. The radiators have been moved to the sides of
the car and now sit just behind the door openings. The top of the door
effectively becoming the air intake for the radiators. The engine is now
completely covered and the air intake is located under the roll bar structure,
and also off to one side. The air intake sits at the same height as the
driver's head, and right next to it. The induction roar of the 700hp engine
only inches from your head must be deafening.
Development of the car was on schedule and going well when
the unimaginable happened. In 1970 the Japanese Automobile Federation cancelled
the race. The Group 7 Can-Am style cars were to be dropped and instead
the Japanese Grand Prix would be an open wheeler category. Nissan now had
a partially complete car with nowhere to race, shortly after the announcement
Nissan cancelled their R383 program. Nissan would not build another sports
car prototype racer until the Nissan 83G appeared in 1985.
Throughout the mid-2000s Nissan had set about restoring their
old race cars so as to preserve them. Gradually the R380, R380-II, R381
and R382 cars were stripped back and returned to their former glory. The
only thing missing was the never completed R383. In 2006 Nissan decided
to build a replica of the car based on the plans from the 1970 project,
and in November 2006 the R383 hit the race track for the first time. It
was only 36 years late, but at least it finally made it. Nissan now regularly
use the "new" R383 at promotional events in Japan.
Nissan R383 Specifications
Length - 4115mm
Width - 2030mm
Height - 1088mm
Wheelbase - 2400mm
Weight - unknown
Top speed - unknown
Transmission - Hewland 5
speed floor change
Model - GRX-3 KAI
Capacity - 5954cc
Bore & Stroke - unknown
Power - 700hp@7500rpm
Torque - 66kg/m
Compression - unknown
Fuel system - Lucas mechanical
Final Drive - unknown