Nissan Motorsport International. Mention these three words to anyone with an ounce of interest in the whole import scene and they will no doubt picture in their minds the numerous racecars that have worn the Nissan name throughout the years. Nismo, of course, is the official tuning arm of Nissan, a company that not only designs and develops aftermarket parts but one that builds racecars and race engines. Their experience in the motorsport field has allowed them to create some of the best and most sought after products out there, including complete cars. Their latest effort, the extremely limited edition Z-tune follows in a very short line of equally impressive machinery. First it was the S14 Silvia based 270R, then came the BCNR33 Skyline GT-R-based 400R and two years ago the R34 based Z-tune. When Nismo showed the car for the first time at the Nismo Festival back in 2004, it was announced that only 20 would be made. List price: a cool $153,500. There was no doubt that with a price tag like that the Z-tune was a very serious car. Although it might not have been the most powerful or even the fastest GT-R, it was, and still is, the most complete and accomplished street-going Skyline GT-R ever built. As the production of these 20 cars is ending, we decided to closely follow the build of the n16 Z-tune, the last of only a handful of these cars that will be sold outside Japan.
The development of the Z-tune was a very slow one. It all started back in 2000 when Nismo showed the first prototype of the car at the Nismo Festival in Fuji Speedway. At that time the Z-tune was a stripped out race car, much like your usual tuner demonstration vehicles and packed a 600hp, 66kgm, 2.8L version of the RB26, badged "Z1." It certainly grabbed the crowd's attention as it won the tuner battle. The Nismo engineers had achieved what they set out to do. In 2001 the project evolved and began to incorporate details that would turn it into more of a road car than a track-only beast. This meant the addition of air conditioning; a full Connolly leather interior; a catalyst to meet stiffer emission regulations; and a decrease in power to the 500PS Z2 variant of the engine to make it more durable. As development continued, the 2.8L engine was used in the famed Nrburgring 24h Falken GT-R in 2003 and 2004 - where it came in 5th position behind far more advanced carbon chassis race cars. Nothing tests an engine like the German 24h race; and here again Nismo was happy with the engine's performance and team's result. One crucial step in the development process was a chassis and suspension setup trip to the Nrburgring Nordschleife, which allowed them a chance to test the car's capabilities to the fullest on the most demanding road on the planet. The end of 2004 saw the finalization of the Z-tune project where Nismo decided to make the car more special to set it apart from other GT-Rs. This included the design of a new front bumper with cleaner, more flowing lines and flared front wheel arches that mimic those of the GT-500 race Skylines, all built from carbon fiber. This, coupled with the R-tune carbon bonnet, side and rear skirts, would make the Z-tune instantly recognizable and a step above the rest. The interior gained a leather trim and an airbag-equipped steering wheel for the complete street car package.
The Z-tunes are built on second-hand R34 GT-Rs, specially selected by Nismo. This is because Nissan stopped production of the Skyline GT-R in August 2002, therefore no new cars could have been supplied by the factory. This, of course, is not too relevant, as the base cars for the Z-tunes are completely stripped down and hand-built from the ground up. As the car bodies and chassis are prepared, the work on the 2.8 L RB26DETT get underway in the engine room at Nismo HQ. The Z-tune engine is built around the GT block, which is the extremely strong, thick-walled item used in the GT-500 cars that competed in JGTC. This block has proven itself time and time again and is reliable even for a highly tuned street car like the Z-tune. The engine is assembled with a special bottom end made up of a GT crank, GT connecting rods and forged pistons. With a capacity of 2,771 cc the engine gains more than 200 cc over a factory RB26 (2,568 cc), allowing for a fuller low-end torque curve and better spool-up for the turbines. The Z2 engine is built to very tight tolerances with high-quality Nismo bearings all round. Next on the cards is the porting and polishing of the cylinder heads, a step that requires many man-hours, not to mention skilled workmanship. The head is then fitted with the uprated valve-train and high-lift camshafts. To guarantee the highest possible reliability, the engine has been limited to 8,000 rpm (same as a factory RB26). IHI turbines are used to provide the boost necessary to develop the 500 hp. Juggling the power is a factory Getrag 6-speed transmission mated to a Nismo Coppermix twin-plate clutch and lightweight flywheel. A carbon propeller shaft sends drive to the rear reprogrammed A-LSD while up front a specially devised 1.5 way mechanical LSD juggles front torque. Other interesting parts include the full-dual titanium exhaust system and the gearbox and rear differential oil coolers.
A great deal of the price of the Z-tune comes from the painstaking attention to detail that has gone into the chassis and body preparation. Once the donor car is stripped down to the bare shell, it is spot-welded around the door and glass surrounds. This is done to boost rigidity in the central area of the chassis, something that's not really done - even on a stiff shell like the BNR34's. To further increase body rigidity in crucial areas, Nismo has gone all out and used carbon fiber. The carbon is bonded to the front suspension turrets and to the transmission tunnel to guarantee exceptional stiffness in these high-stress areas. Carbon is also used in the trunk to give additional rigidity to the rear end. The exotic composite material is further used in the bodywork, more specifically the front bumper, front fenders and vented hood. Even the adjustable flap on the rear spoiler is made from carbon fiber. The next step is body prep and painting. To add to the exclusivity of the Z-tune, Nismo decided to paint all 20 cars in a special shade of metallic silver, a shade that truly pops under the sun's rays.
The build continues with the suspension and brakes, which are just as special as the rest of the car. Nismo suspension arms are fitted all around; they aren't adjustable but feature a more aggressive geometry, additional bracing and stiffer bushes. All of these combine to sharpen up the handling and steering-feel. Custom built three-way adjustable Sachs dampers have been specifically developed by the German company for Nismo. They feature the same design used on race cars and are by far some of the best suspension pieces in the world. The same goes for the brakes. Nismo called in the help of Brembo, which designed custom 6-pot front calipers. These calipers feature an extremely compact design to fit under the Rays Engineering-made LM GT4 18-inch wheels, and are mated to 365mm slotted brake rotors mounted on custom made center bells via a fully floating system. The rears feature 4-pot Brembo calipers and 355mm one-piece rotors. High friction pads offer fade free braking in all conditions and temperatures.
The interior is kept very close to factory, with only a few choice parts making their way into the Z-tune. Connolly leather is used on the seats, while red alcantara inserts keep occupants from sliding around on the faster corners. The door panels and sports steering wheel are also finished off with the soft red suede. Nismo instrumentation with white background optimistically reads to 11,000 rpm on the rev counter, but the 320km/h max reading on the speedometer is a little more realistic. The LCD multi-function display has been upgraded to the Nismo Ver.2 software, which adds even more readings to the already impressive graphical layout. Completing the interior treatment is a black GT-style shift knob and a rather rudimentary head unit for the audio system. This has been chosen because it's believed most customers will upgrade to a better audio system.
On our final visit to Omori Factory we shot the fully completed n16 just minutes before it was due to be picked up by a special transporter to be taken to the Yokohama docks for shipping. The Z-tune was immaculate. It was all packaged up ready to go, like it had just rolled off the Nissan production line. By the time you read this, the lucky owner should be receiving his limited edition toy and then begin the lengthy process of registering the car.
We would like to thank Mr. Iwata at Nismo for allowing our cameras inside Omori Factory for a very special look at how the company's latest and best complete car is built. We're guessing the next ride to get the full Nismo treatment will be the new and upcoming Nissan GT-R, whose official unveiling is less than a year away. Like most enthusiasts out there, Nismo can't wait to get their hands on one.
Specs: Z-Tune Skyline GT-R
max power: 500 PS torque: 55 KGM
Z-tune high lift camshafts
Metal head gasket
polished and ported
volume balanced combustion chambers
Z-tune rocker covers
GT engine block
oil sump baffle system
Z-tune special IHI turbines
large diameter turbo outlets
GT inlet plenum
stiffened and machined exhaust manifolds
stainless steel front pipes
Weldina NE-1 titanium exhaust
Twin oil coolers
large core aluminum radiator
large core intercooler and aluminum piping
gearbox oil cooler
rear diff oil cooler
Big capacity fuel pump and injectors
Nismo Z-tune ECM
Nismo copper mix twin plate
Front 1.5 way Mechanical LSD
Active rear LSD with 3.545 final
Attesa-ETS Pro control unit (Z-tune special)
Special carbon fiber PROPSHAFT
365mm 2-piece ventilated discs & Brembo 6pot caliper (front)
355mm 1-piece ventilated discs with Brembo 4-pot caliper (rear)
Braided hoses, Z-tune special pads
Carbon-fiber Z-tune special design FRONT bar
Carbon-fiber Z-tune special FRONT diffuser
Carbon-fiber Z-tune special wide FRONT fenders (GT-type)
Nismo ABS side & rear skirts
FRP rear overfenders
Carbon fiber rear spoiler flap
LED type GT500 spec rear lights
Z-tune special steering wheel with SRS airbag
Black leather seats with red alcantara center sections
Nismo white 320km/h combination meters
Nismo Version 2 multi-function display upgrade
Spot welded door surrounds
carbon-fiber reinforced front strut upper mounts
carbon-fiber reinforced central tunnel
Z-tune special titanium strut bar
Z-tune special 3-way adjustable]height adjustable Sachs dampers & springs
Large diameter reinforced stabilizers
Stiffer rubber & low friction bushes all round
Nismo/Rays LM GT-4 18"x9.5"(black, GT500 special)
Bridgestone Potenza RE01R 265/35/ZR18
|ENGINE:||RB26DETT Z2 VERSION|
|BOREXSTROKE:||87.0MM X 77.7MM|