When you take a step back and think about it, our hobby has changed considerably in the last couple of years. With new blogs popping up by the hour, enthusiasts have the opportunity to get their cars noticed by thousands of people without ever leaving the comfort of their keyboards. When instant gratification and recognition are the priority, sometimes quality and attention to detail get lost in the shuffle. If a set of cheap coilovers, wheels, and some spray paint can get your car into the spotlight, why bother messing with a long-term build filled with painstaking details?
Despite this shift in perception, I’ve always remained appreciative of the few folks left out there who are willing to take their time and do things right. After all, half the fun of owning a modified car is the build process itself, right? Fortunately, there are guys like Cory Stovall, owner of the gorgeous black R32 featured here, who feel the same way.
Cory has been a die-hard Nissan guy ever since he bought his first car, a ’90 Nissan 240SX. Despite that the car was more or less junkyard worthy, the exterior was rust free and the interior was in decent shape. The S13 became a great entry-level platform, allowing Cory to learn how to drive a stick and turn a few wrenches in the process. Over the next four or five years, the once-aging and rundown chassis became a beautiful candy-red Sileighty powered by an SR20 engine swap and sitting on a set of Advan wheels. Having done all the mechanical and bodywork himself, Cory was left with a long-term build to be proud of.
Like most Nissan S-chassis owners, Cory had always dreamed of owning a Skyline. There are obvious challenges associated with obtaining one of these cars in the United States, so most are content with simply swapping the drivetrain and other components from these coveted cars into a much easier to obtain S13 or S14 240SX. Eventually, Cory decided to post his Sileighty up for trade. As luck would have it, he stumbled on an R32 Skyline that was also up for trade.
This is the part of the story in which anyone searching for instant gratification or quick Internet fame might want to flip the page. After towing his car for 15 hours to Florida, with no certainty that the trade would go down, Cory ended up bringing home a beaten and battered R32. The chassis was rusty and the engine was blown, but at least he had something to work with.
After tearing into the car some more, he determined that the structural damage from years of rust was worse than initially expected. Cory dropped a few grand on replacement body panels and knew that a long and hard road lay ahead of him to get the car anywhere close to what he had originally envisioned. Fortunately, opportunity came knocking for a second time, and another rolling shell popped up for sale. This shell featured some of the same rust issues as the first car, but not nearly to the same extent. “Being a paint and body guy, I always want a nice paintjob. I tend to buy rough cars for a good price and build them up over time,” Cory explains. With the second shell acquired, he began the painstaking process of turning two beat-up cars and a hodgepodge of random parts into something worth driving.
The first order of business was tearing the chassis down to a bare shell. The undercarriage and body were completely stripped, repaired, and rust proofed for a full restoration. Few people truly go to the great lengths Cory did to restore an aging platform, spending hundreds of hours on every panel and chassis detail to ensure perfection. After months of painstaking labor, Cory was finally able to lay down the DuPont Super Jet Black paint. You won’t find any wild or gaudy body modifications here, though. The simplicity of the R32’s classic lines combined with the incredibly detailed and immaculate black paintjob allow this GTR to truly shine. Simple exterior additions like R34 emblems, N1 headlights and front bumper vents, and smoked front corner lenses ensure that the focus remains on the craftsmanship rather than flashy exterior add-ons.
While all the body and chassis restoration work was taking place, Cory was also hard at work replacing the less-than-operational engine that came with the first R32 he purchased. The N1 RB26DETT was worked over with a completely fresh rebuild to ensure its performance and longevity. A host of quality components from several big names in Japanese tuning were employed. Power levels are up considerably from the factory numbers thanks to a Precision 6265 billet wheel turbocharger mated to a BMPC front-mount intercooler. Spent exhaust gases are released via a Tial 44mm wastegate and HKS high-power after-cat exhaust system.
With the RB26 completely rebuilt, the car’s factory fuel system would need to be beefed up to accommodate the 500 whp it’s making on pump gas. Cory spared no expense and went all out with the car’s fuel system, installing a 15-gallon fuel cell with sump mounted to a custom trunk pan. A ’cage was added to the trunk area to protect the fuel cell from potential impact. A Bosch fuel pump gets things moving from the fuel cell toward the engine where Precision 880cc injectors are mated to an OBX fuel rail to keep the thirsty engine well fed. Tuning is handled by a Vipec v44 full stand-alone engine management system.
With the help of some great friends, Cory was able to drop the completed drivetrain into the R32’s freshly painted engine bay without a scratch. As completion of the car drew nearer, several suspension items were addressed before the car could be deemed roadworthy. Cory chose a set of HKS Hypermax D coilovers to bring the ride height down, while a pair of front and rear Apexi strut tower braces stiffen things up. A set of gunmetal Rays Gram Lights 57DR wheels paired with Hankook Ventus HR II tires provide plenty of grip while lending the car a very tough stance.
Always a stickler for fine details, Cory made sure the interior of this R32 was just as clean as the exterior and engine bay. Though not nearly as easy as finding S13 interior components stateside, Cory was able to piece together a complete OEM interior reminiscent of when the car first left the Nissan factory in 1988. A trio of Defi gauges is displayed prominently on the dash alongside a trusty AEM Uego wide-band gauge to keep the driver informed of the engine’s vitals. Should the occupants tire of the sound of the tuned RB26 under the hood (we don’t think we would), a 7-inch Panasonic in-dash touch screen and speakers throughout provide the tunes of choice. And what Japanese monster would be complete without a Nardi steering wheel? The suede, red-stitched wheel adds a hint of race car to an otherwise tame interior.
In the end, Cory and his friends spent two and a half years piecing together this beautiful example of an R32 GTR. It took years of planning, painstaking labor, and working odd jobs. Cory didn’t even have a garage of his own to build the car in. It’s increasingly difficult to remain persistent and focused on the hundreds of details involved in a long-term, ground-up restoration like this R32, but Cory and other enthusiasts like him out there continue to remind us that if you stick it out long enough, the results can be breathtaking.
Specs & Details
1989 R32 Nissan Skyline GTR
Engine N1 RB26DET turbocharged I6
Engine Modifications GM LSX coil pack setup; MSD wires with custom bracket; Samco radiator hoses; temperature sensor sleeve; NISMO thermostat; Tomei cam gears, oil restrictor, 1.2mm head gasket, oil pan baffle; Power Enterprise timing belt; custom oil drain from head to pan; ceramic-coated intercooler downpipe, intake; Cusco catch can with -10 nylon lines; Koyo radiator, aluminum reservoir; Trust oil filter relocation; Precision 6265 billet wheel; BMPC intercooler; HKS high-power 95mm after-cat exhaust; limited-edition black SSQV blow-off valve, superflow air filter; Tial 44mm wastegate; ATI crank damper pulley; ARP head studs; engine harness reloomed and heatshrinked; Precision 880cc injectors; OBX fuel rail; Earl’s nylon black fuel line, fuel fittings; 15-gallon fuel cell with sump; Bosch 0.044 fuel pump; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
Engine Management Vipec V44 full stand-alone 4.5 bar map
Drivetrain NISMO engine mounts, clutch fork pivot ball; Tilton twin-disc clutch; Espirit short-throw shifter
Suspension HKS Hypermax D coilovers; Apexi strut tower bars (f/r); Energy Suspension sway bar bushings; Cusco brake master cylinder stiffener
Interior Defi gauges (oil pressure, boost, water temp); AEM Uego wide-band air/fuel gauge; Panasonic 7-inch in-dash touch screen, Bluetooth; Infinity speakers (f/r); Nardi suede red-stitched steering wheel; custom trunk pan/’cage for fuel cell
Exterior Fully restored body and undercarriage; DuPont Super Jet Black paint; N1 headlights, bumper ducts; smoked corner lights; R34 GTR fender/trunk emblems
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Gram lights 57DR wheels 18x9.5 +12 (f/r); Hankook Ventus HR II 245/45/18 tires (f/r); candy-red powdercoated brake calipers; drilled brake rotors (f/r)
Thanks My good friend Derick Bradshaw, Mason Hargrave, and a few others who had their hands on the car occasionally. Without them, or Hal Heiner—who owns Dynosty—the car would not be as nice as it is. Thanks to Jeff Creech for the amazing photography.