The tranquil calm of the Izanagi Jinjya is shattered by the barely muffled SR20 barking to life. The aural assault gets even worse as the Cusco LSD engages bolt-action style, causing the massive rear meats to jerk and chirp, reducing the perfectly manicured gravel parking lot into a staccato shower of pebbly projectiles. The cacophony proves too much for the shrine's resident golden lab, who runs off in search of more peaceful surroundings. The other visitors are also rattled, not expecting to find such a car, along with us motley gaijin, within the confines of this peaceful sanctuary. Others may come here seeking serenity now but on this day our shrine is the house of Signal Auto and we came to worship at the bumper of its JDM Fairlady Z.
Sacrilege never felt so good. Signal Auto Grand Poobah Kousuke "Mad K" Kida is a certifiable Nissan zealot with a fever for the flavor of the GT-R and Silvia. His younger brother Hiko is Signal's top tuner and is also tight with the peeps from Izanagi Jinjya, a very zen-like religious shrine located in the Suita City district of Osaka, Japan, just a pebble's throw from Signal Auto HQ. We've been here before, flaunting our complete disregard for Japan's social construct in order to shoot some of Signal's other super dupa cars. Come to think of it, we've even shot this exact same car before, for the cover of our November 2004 issue.
Back then the Z was a mildly-built demo car with a radical SR swap intended primarily for drift exhibitions. While the car you see before you may look like the same Z33 Fairlady we featured almost two years ago, there are very few shared traits between the two variants aside from the Signal signature Andromeda hue, a custom blend from those colorful characters at Maziora lovingly applied by the gang at Show-Up Full Spot. As I watch the idling Z shake the shrine's paper lanterns "mildly-built" is the furthest descriptor from my mind.
In the locker room a man is often measured by the size of his big swinging, uh, gym bag, but in terms of Japanese tuning potency inches don't matter as much as seconds, more specifically how many of them it takes to complete a single lap around a circuit such as Tsukuba. A demo car designed for light drift duty just ain't gonna cut it as a super lapper. With this in mind Mad K completely rebuilt his Z33 to prove the Time Attack potency of Signal Auto; and prove it he did when the Fairlady threw down a 1:00 minute lap at Tsukuba late last year.
Yukihiro Takenaka was at the helm for that session. Takenaka-san has driven in Super GT and Super Taikyu, which makes him, well, a super driver. While nothing to brag about in the sack, hitting the minute mark at Tsukuba is seriously fast for a four cylinder FR, and Kousuke-san believes the car has another three seconds in it when completely dialed (even though its current time is already the fastest for a Z33 at this circuit). The car may even make time at our upcoming 2006 Time Attack Finals on November 8, where long-time Signal Auto friend (and super driver in his own right) Tsuneaki "Manchan" Mankumo will take the wheel. If the Z comes to Buttonwillow in November Kousuke-san thinks it could pull a 1:52, which would place it atop the Unlimited FR ladder. That's big talk, but it takes more than talk and a set of big brass ones to score that perfect lap. It takes the perfect blend of parts selection and precise tuning.
When we first featured this car two years ago Signal was one of the first to perform the VQ-ectomy on the Z33, opting for the lighter, more compact, more tunable Seor Twenty. Kousuke-san says he will eventually turn his tuning prowess toward the VQ in the future. But right now he can get more power from less mass with the SR20 and, most importantly, position that powerplant lower and farther back in the chassis to achieve a better weight distribution and a lower center of gravity.
Visually the engine bay looks much the same in this redux, with the matched Signal intercooler and Super radiator mounting each other in not doggy but V-style. It's even boosted by the same HKS GT2835RS turbine. Although if you had x-ray vision-in addition to spending most of your time outside the girls' locker room-you would be able to see that this version 2.0 is actually a 2.2, indicating the increased displacement of the Toda Racing engine kit. An Exedy Super Single clutch, Tanabe Ultra Medallion exhaust, and Turbine Tube front pipe are just some of the other major motor mods, while an HKS F-CON V Pro engine management system makes sure the fuel, air, spark, and timing are shaken and not stirred.
The interior is where the change is most apparent and the silhouette of the factory dash is about all that remains inside of this stripped Z33. If the lone Bride Zeta seat, Simpson four-point harness and Nardi wheel don't announce the Time Attack intent of this car then the ATL fuel cell and the remote reservoirs of the Tanabe Sustec Pro Seven coilovers shout it even louder than Ricky when he trades pleasantries with his noisy neighbors. Perhaps the most glaring tell of this Fairlady's transformation lies tangled within the custom Signal 18-point cage (yes, 1-8). The bare elegance of the stripped interior and a cage like this are the most obvious clues to the Z's record-breaking potential.
Some modifications are more subtle, such as the ings Type-E front bumper (part of a four-piece kit) and custom Signal Auto vented hood. These are all part of what Kousuke-san calls his Hand-Made Induction Plate. The HMIP (as Mad K would no doubt refer to it on IM) matches sheets of aluminum with the ings bumper to precisely direct fresh cool airflow into the V-mount while the mesh insert in the passenger side headlight assembly does the same thing to the Power Flow air cleaner. The excess hot air exits through the hood vents. In addition to adding power and improving efficiency by cooling the intake charge, this setup also increases down force, much like Mugen's matched front under spoilers and aero hoods.
But the single most dramatic element of this car is not even on it yet. This Fairlady is code-named KD-Z33 because of the BFGoodrich g-Force T/A rubbers in a yummy gummy KD variety. The car's title is also a reflection of the close partnership Signal Auto enjoys with the tire maker. The KD's may be the ultra highest of BFG's ultra high performance lineup but they simply are not as fast as the DOT R compound rubber favored by other top time attackers. Some of you tire whores may remember BFG's DOT-legal R compound R1 concept tire from last year's SEMA show. The word on this tire is that BFG is trying to get it into production in time for our '06 Time Attack finals. The other word is that this new tire is going to be fast-real fast. If Signal wraps these hoops onto its Z33 the paper lanterns at the Izanagi Jinjya won't be the only things shaking.