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2009 Nissan GTR - The Leg End Is Real

Matchless Crowd Racing GT-R R35

Philip Okazaki
May 1, 2008 SHARE
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In 2001, two years after the demise of the Skyline GT-R R34, rumors began to surface across the globe of a new GT-R being developed by Nissan's top engineers. As information of the new GT-R began to slowly trickle in (mostly rumors) the initial reports weren't looking promising. Immediately brought to attention was that the once proud Skyline name longtime associated with the GT-R family was rumored to be non-existent on the new R35. Would the removal of the "Skyline" badge spell disaster for the next generation or perhaps invoke a less performance-orientated vehicle? While rumors continued at a frenzied pace as Nissan kept tight-lipped on the development, another surprise twist began to spread of Nissan planning the use of a naturally aspirated 3.0L engine with an automatic transmission brought a sense of frustration among hard-core GT-R fans. And, who could blame them? The once proud Skyline owners and hard-core fans who relished the GT-R's monarchy within motorsports were stabbed in the heart by a shocking vision that Nissan relented to the pressures of the economy and developed a car that stressed comfort over performance. The new GT-R was looking less appealing with every rumor that spread.

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The R34, known to be the last of the great GT-R family, paid a fitting tribute to the GT-R's 15-year dominance, winning numerous victories in the racing scene. The deadly combination of the RB26DETT engine, AWD platform and ATTESA E-TS Pro setup proved superior among Skyline owners and a virtual nightmare among those who dared to cross its path. In a fitting tribute to the R34, NISMO and Nissan developed the final production R34, known as the NISMO R34 GT-R Z-tune. The vehicle emerged in 2000 and was limited in production with only 20 produced in the world. Known as the cream of the crop within the GT-R family, the R34 GT-R Z-tune developed 500 hp from the factory and was brazenly dubbed "the strongest road-going car in the world." The vehicle enjoyed a short stint of fame before finally being put to sleep by Nissan-forever lost in the books of automotive history.

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On Oct. 24 2007, all rumors were finally put to rest as Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. announced the launch of the new GT-R. Powered by a 3.8L twin-turbo mill, producing 480 ps brought a sigh of relief to the many who dreaded the thought of an N/A powered GT-R. Among the many GT-R enthusiasts and past owners was Shinichi Kobayashi, owner of Matchless Crowd Racing (MCR) located in the heart of Saitama-ken, Japan. Kobayashi-san is regarded as one of the top tuners among the Skyline community, offering his knowledge and services to Skyline GT-R owners who build everything from mild to wild. Perhaps the most infamous car within the MCR fleet is his red Skyline R34 GT-R. The all-purpose street machine uses an HKS 2.8L stroker and twin GT-RS turbines, propelling this beast to the tune of 650 hp. Kobayashi-san, no stranger to the world of circuit racing, is a seasoned racer who takes pride in building and driving his own demo cars at variousmotorsport competitions.

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Nissan heritage runs deep within the blood of Kobayashi as he's driven, owned and built everything from track-prepped 400hp N/A powered Nissan 350Zs to 1,000hp Skyline GT-Rs. Kobayashi-san first entered the world of performance tuning and his passion of racing by wrenching on the Skyline known as the very first GT-R. The legendary KPGC-10 is called the "Hakosuka" in Japanese, which means boxcar for its square-shaped design. "I took my first Skyline to the track and from that point on I was thoroughly convinced that this was anything more than your average commuter car. I've owned more Skylines than I can recall but the engineering that went into creating those cars is just amazing. The R34's RB26DETT is an excellent platform from the factory but the great thing about this engine is the potential with a few modifications. From drag to circuit racing, all a weekend road racer has to do is simply add on an exhaust, put some quality suspension on the car and a set of good tires and he's clocking faster time than some of the more modified vehicles."

He added, "I've been waiting for the new Skyline since the first news of its release." Kobayashi-san says as he details about saving his money for the Dec. 2007 debut in Japan of the new GT-R. Within weeks of landing on the showroom floor, Kobayashi-san rolled into the dealership with $82,000 in hand and drove away with his pride and joy, a red (MCR trademark color) R35 GT-R. While spending time in Japan we had an opportunity to conduct a candid interview with Kobayashi on his thoughts on owning Japan's newest supercar. While the future of the GT-R is still too early to predict, the battle to break into the tuning world of the GT-R was evident at this year's Tokyo Auto Salon with MCR's top rival Mines Japan claiming to have the inside track on cracking the ECM codes for the VR38DETT engine. The official aftermarket parts racehas begun.

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Turbo: We've heard from numerous tuners familiar with the car that the new GT-R is untouchable from the factory. From the suspension electronics tied into the ECU system to the GPS speed sensor limiting the car to 110 kph on the streets, do the restrictions cause a serious dent into thetuning capabilities?
MCR: (smiling) Breaking the code? That's something that's not even an issue. MCR has been working on some interesting research that's sure to revolutionize the new GT-R world.

Turbo: We've been told that MCR has taken the new demo car out to numerous tracks across Japan. How does the GT-R perform on the track?
MCR: I wanted to see how well a showroom-driven GT-R would hold up against some of the previous GT-R models so MCR decided to take the vehicle to the various circuits to see how the car would perform. We've managed to get some track time at Fuji Speedway, Ebisu and Tsukuba Circuit. The stock MCR R35 GT-R ran a 1:01:9 at Tsukuba in completely stock trim. Compare that to a stock R34, which clocked in at 1:06:5, nearly five seconds slower than the R35 and you'll come to appreciate the vehicle's potential. It's an amazing feat considering the GT-R Z-tuned, which comes with a sticker price of $170,000, and considered the best GT-R of the R34 family clocked a slightly faster time than the fully stock MCR GT-R R35. The R35 at Fuji Speedway tested at 1:56:6 and with simple modifications such as exhaust, suspension and tires, the R35 is sure to break the 1-minute marker at Tsukuba-that blows my minds.

While most shops are busy test-fitting body kits on the car, we at MCR already have some important data on the vehicle's handling and engine performance, which will be crucial when the time comes to begin developing parts. I took the car to the track to see firsthand what the strong points and weaknesses were within the GT-R.

Turbo: Can you briefly explain thosekey points?
MCR: If I had to point out any strong points within the vehicle itself it would have to be the transmission. The layout and feeling of the full sequential manual control and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters feels really good. The transmission setup on the GT-R has a dual-clutch design that changes the gears in less than a second and decreases the work needed for the driver. Obviously the VR38DETT 3.8L engine is fantastic and delivers a more improved torque response compared to the RB26DETT engine. The new GT-R is definitely more capable of handling tighter circuit courses, but coming out of the turns you can definitely feel the effects of the heavier weight of the R35, as it tends to display more understeer.

Weak points would be the obvious, which would be the weight of the car. The R35 is longer, wider and heavier than all previous GT-R's, weighing in at 3,836 pounds. In comparison to the R34 (3,388 pounds), the new R35 GT-R weights approximately 500 pounds more. But even with the added weight, the handling is obviously much improved over the R34. I think this car would be excellent for most circuit courses in the U.S. With the R34 the power potential is nearly limitless but I'm sure within time the R35's VR38DETT has the same capabilities. As of how you can't compare the two engines because the time and effort in engine research with the RB26DETT give it the definite edge over the new 3.8L powerplant.

It's interesting that Nissan went with 20-inch wheels and tires combo on the GT-R. Currently, there aren't any high-performance tires designed in that size here in Japan. The MCR GT-R is currently running on Enkei GTC01 two-piece wheels with a 20x 9.5 +40 offset in the front and 20x10.5 +15 offset on the rear. The stock tires on the original wheels were removed and placed on the new Enkeis. The tire sensor Nissan placed on each wheel was found to be integrated with the tire valve stem. We found you can take the factory stems and use them in certain brands of aftermarket wheels since Rays Japan was the main manufacturer for the GT-R wheels.

Turbo: Has MCR begun any of their development on aftermarket parts for the GT-R?
MCR: Final production of our new exhaust has been completed. The MCR GT-R was used as a prototype vehicle by ARC Japan to create a new cat-back system. The exhaust displayed at this year's Tokyo Auto Salon show was the same unit designed on this vehicle and will be bolted on in a few days. With the new exhaust we will see a substantial increase of the stock-rated 480 ps to 530 ps or540 ps.

Turbo: Any plans for an air intake system?
MCR: Ahh... I wouldn't recommend an intake system in the early stages of development due to the computer not taking a liking to the new setup. The same goes for a downpipe setup since I don't think it's really necessary. Adding aero kit pieces such as canards, diffusers and a rear wing will improve downforce to the factory body. When you drive the car on the track, it doesn't feel fast at all but when you rocket through the turns, the GT-R displays some good lap times.

Turbo: Are there any things you see on the new R35 that are in need of upgrading?
MCR: First off is the exhaust system. Second is the suspension. The Bilstein's designed for the GT-R aren't good at all. The rear spring and shock setup is super stiff while the front is soft. Perhaps the development of the suspension using the German Autobahn had something to do with that. The car feels stiff when driving on your city streets but when you take it to the track, the car tends to display excessive body roll. The GT-R feels like your typical European car such as the Porsche. The suspension feels hard until you enter a corner on the track and it's too soft. By the end of February, MCR will have their custom lineup of suspension packages for the GT-R. The suspension was designed after months of testing and will be collaboration with Endless Zeal.

Turbo: Any final thoughts on the R35 GT-R?
MCR: The potential is limitless. Give it one to two years and I bet the new GT-R will have unimaginable speed and power that will kill any and all competitors. Until then, even with some light tuning this machine will be one tough car to beat.

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By Philip Okazaki
12 Articles

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