1988 NISSAN R88C
Japanese Man O’ War
With a half-hearted initial approach to Group C participation, Nissan ramped up their efforts within the prototype class to upgrade their models for competition.
Despite just being a modified R87E chassis, Nissan’s ’88 model was its own animal. Despite still using components from Nissan’s March partnership, the 88 was the Yokohama-based firm’s all-round effort.
With a 3.0 litre V8 producing a mighty 750bhp and 542 lb-ft of torque, the R88C had plenty of poke. Courtesy of two IHI turbos and aluminium block and head, the 90º VRH30T V8 was capable of a terrifying 1000bhp on higher boost levels. Power was put to the rear wheels via a March 87T 5-speed manual.
Period Correct Profile - I'm spoiling you!
With a March aluminium monocoque chassis forming the base of the car, Nissan sought to improve stability and aerodynamics by extending the wheelbase. At 850kg, the Nissan is light enough to pocrescophobia in modern hybrid LMP1 cars. A familiar handling package is employed beneath the composite bodywork, with double wishbones, coilovers and ARBs making sure the R88C performs as well in the corners as it does in a straight line.
15th overall at its Le Mans debut wasn’t half-bad, up against Europe’s finest endurance machinery. A best result of 3rd in the fiercely competitive All Japan Sports Prototype Championship was certainly one for the mantlepiece. I don't just like winning machinery. In my mind, this car was a massive success. Nissan, albeit using the foundations of a March chassis, would go out on their own against the some of the toughest race cars in history and still finish strongly.
Photo: Michel Faust