The Nissan Supercar That Time Forgot
The Honda NSX is widely known as the first Japanese Mid-Engine Supercar, but there was another Supercar from the Rising Sun...
In the late 1980s, Nissan was in the process of creating a high speed test vehicle to test technologies for the WRC's new category Group S. The result of such research and development, was the Nissan Mid4-I prototype.
Rear view of the Nissan Mid4-I
The Mid4-I debuted at the 1985 Frankfurt motorshow, as the name suggests, utilized a mid-engine layout and since this was the 1980s, retractable headlights, while the interior design was more or less shared with the S13 Silvia. However, the real show was what is going on underneath the body. The Mid4-I, like the Honda NSX, had the engine placed in the middle with the engine placed in a horizontal orientation. The engine used was the new Nissan VG30DE engine which was the first V6 DOHC engine to be developed in Japan at the time producing up to 190 bhp. The car also featured a MacPherson Strut suspension with its unique 4 wheel drive and 4 wheel steering system which places 37% of the engine power to the front and 63% of the power to the rear wheels.
Rear view of the Mid4-II
Two years after the Frankfurt Motor Show, Nissan unveiled an upgraded version of the Mid4 called the Mid4-II which was meant to be a pre-production concept at the 1987 Tokyo Motor Show. The biggest notable difference would be the new styling. The styling of the Mid4 became much more refined and much more normalized for a production version with the interior following the same theme as the S13 Silvia and the Fairlady Z that Nissan was also developing at the time.
Now again, the most interesting bits and changes are those on the inside. Although keeping the mid-engine layout, the Mid4-II now utilizes a longitudinal mid-engine layout which means unlike the NSX and the original Mid4-I, the engine is now placed vertically along the body instead of horizontally. The engine also gained an upgrade from the old VG30DE, with a new twin-turbo VG30DETT V6 DOHC engine which produces close to 330 bhp. The suspension also gained an upgrade, with a double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. With Nissan executives dubbing this Nissan's 959 (in reference to Porsche's flagship sports car at the time) Nissan and indeed everyone who laid eyes on the Mid4 believed this car would become the flagship sports car for the brand. However, as time passed and development costs rose, coupled with the bubble burst of the Japanese economy in the 1990s, Nissan eventually abandoned the project and the Mid4-II never reached production. However, this little experiment by Nissan was not a complete loss as the technologies developed from this process lived on in the Nissan cars that did make it to production. Such technologies included the ATTESA system used by the Nissan Skyline R32 GTR and the V6 DOHC being utilized in cars such as the Fairlady Z. Rumour also has it that Nissan sold the design details to Honda for the development of the NSX to cover the costs of development, however, this is not confirmed.
Now would you buy a Nissan Mid4? And if you would, how much do you think it will cost?