The Nissan Altima is one of the last cars that you'd ever think of as a "supercar." Add a V8 engine and a racing body kit, however, and you have the Altima V8 Supercar. Nissan unveiled the car in Melbourne in anticipation of participating in Australia's V8 Supercars Championship next season.

Nissan announced its invasion of the Ford and Holden territory of V8 Supercars racing earlier this year, returning to Australian Touring Car Championship title racing after a 20-year absence. It joined forces with Kelly Racing in putting the Altima V8 together. The team put more than 23,000 hours into building the race car over the course of seven months.

Key to the Altima's transformation into a V8 Supercar was converting the production VK56DE engine, which appears in Nissan models like the North American Titan, Armada and Pathfinder, into a race-ready powerplant within V8 Supercars regulations. Among other changes, Nissan adjusted the bore and stroke and reduced the displacement of the engine from 5.6 to 5.0 liters. Nissan said last month that it will be the only manufacturer to use a production engine in V8 Supercars competition.

In addition to its production uses, a NISMO-tuned version of the VK56DE engine powered the GT-R to a FIA GT1 World Championship victory last year.

Nissan carefully constructed the Altima V8 to the new "Car of the Future" regulations. Equipment like the 18-inch (46-cm) wheels, transaxle gearbox and independent rear suspension reflect those regulations.

Nissan hasn't released much other information about the car's build, but it still needs to work through homologation (the race approval process) with an emphasis on the car's aerodynamics package. Once the car is approved, Nissan will begin circuit testing in anticipation of its debut at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide in February/March.

Source: Nissan, V8 Supercars