Chicago LIVE: Nissan's winter-prepped machines

The Armada Snow Patrol makes rugged sense, but the 370Zki is a flight of frosty fantasy.

Nissan trotted out a pair of winter warriors for its visit to the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. Based on existing models in its lineup and cleverly named and finished in lively colorways, they have been modified to traverse snowy conditions with two very different methods of motivation.

The more traditional approach comes from the Nissan Armada Snow Patrol, based on the full-size Armada SUV. Equipped with a suspension kit and 20-inch Cognito Series 61 wheels wrapped in MT2 tires from Pro-Comp, it rides three inches higher than stock. A safari rack, a blinding array of auxiliary lighting, and a 12,000-pound capacity integrated winch in a Smittybilt aftermarket bumper ensure its survival far off the grid.

The Armada Snow Patrol's name is a bit of clever wordplay, as the second-generation Armada launched in 2017 is actually called the Patrol elsewhere in the world, and descends from a long line of rugged Nissan off-roaders dating back to 1951. Roy Rogers was even a spokesman for it in the 1960s, and it is considered the GT-R of the desert in many middle eastern countries.

In this case, Nissan used the Armada V8's 8,500-pound towing capacity to trailer its other creation to a snow-covered forest, as it is not exactly street legal. That car is the Nissan 370Zki, a 2018 Nissan 370Z with skis and snow tracks instead of wheels. That seems like a nutty vehicle to turn into a 332-horsepower snowmobile, but what's even more bonkers is that Nissan chose a drop-top 370Z Roadster as the basis.

Nissan says the stock Z was lifted three inches, with the rear bodywork and suspension mounting points customized to accommodate the four-foot tracks. The brake lines had to be rerouted and the exhaust system modified as well. It looks like a blast to drive, until your face freezes solid, that is. It's definitely among the wilder factory variations on the iconic Z, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year.

While the Armada Snow Patrol and 370Zki will, sadly, not be produced for sale as you see them here, they hail from a tradition of over-the-top Nissan snow machines. In 2016, they fitted tracks to the Rogue, Murano and Pathfinder crossovers, and in 2015 the Juke Nismo RS was the first to receive the treatment.

Live photos by Brian Williams.

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