For all of its highly sought after attributes, you'd think that Nissan's short-lived, micro-sized Pulsar GTiR would carry much more fanfare even today, almost 30 years after its inception. Attributes included a very capable turbocharged powerplant mated to an AWD system all packed into a lightweight hatchback design. However, ask the average import fanatic today about how they feel about the early '90s dynamo and they're liable to shrug their shoulders as they unapologetically file the Pulsar under the same segment that includes less than stellar performers like Toyota's Paseo and Geo's Metro of the same era.
For those in the know, the GTiR designation—produced specifically to meet World Rallycross requirements—was often referred to as the "Baby Godzilla." In factory form, the 227hp SR20DET combined with the same ATTESA AWD system found under the chassis of its older sibling, the Skyline, packed a lethal punch. At just over 2,600lbs it had no problem outrunning vehicles that carried a much higher price tag.
With less than 15,000 GTiR models ever produced way back in the "Saved by the Bell" era (the original one, not the college years crap; shout out to Kelly), you won't find very many of them in decent condition popping up via online auctions. Find your residence in Thailand and the chances of you coming across Nissan's forgotten hot hatch fall off significantly. That's exactly what pushed Jatuphon Manpatarapong—we'll refer to him as "pop" - to search high and low until he found one for himself.
Initially Pop intended to leave the car as is, relishing in all of the greatness that Nissan managed to pack into the three-door hatch. That didn't last very long once he started envisioning upgrades, a rebuild, and all of the additional power he could extract from the venerable SR20DET. Rather than bolting on parts here and there as he saw fit, Pop decided if he was going to make the car his own, he was going make changes everywhere, all at once.
As the owner of Monster Fixed Garage in Thailand, access to parts isn't typically an issue for Pop, but the shortage of available goods for the GTiR certainly was. In order to get the body looking exactly the way he wanted, Pop reached out to local aero firm 25/one to create some custom body pieces. The parts development included front and rear over fenders, a hood with air duct, complete hatch replacement, and a set of side skirts. To add a little more bulk appeal, a set of WRC side mirrors were bolted on for good measure. Then of course there's the 25/one front bumper, which carries obvious similarities to Nissan's R34. It's something Pop fully intended to incorporate for a much more aggressive look while further playing into the Baby Godzilla label. A complete color change inside and out took place prior to a set of 15x8 +0 TE37v in classic bronze wrapped in Advan A050 meats being bolted on over the Project Mu brake kit. The wider track isn't just for appearance but also intended to maximize performance, and to that end a set of Tein HR coilovers replaced the aged factory springs.
Inside, once the car's paint job was complete, the rear portion of the interior was left out entirely, while up front, a set of Bride edirb seats were installed and the original door panels and dash top were replicated in carbon fiber to act as replacement pieces. A Cusco bolt-in roll cage was then installed and all of the focus quickly turned toward the engine bay.
Leaving the SR in stock form would have been a tragedy, and fortunately Pop felt the same way, which lead to a complete tear down and rebuild of the iconic 2.0-liter. JUN sleeves stuffed with CP pistons and Eagle rods fortify the bottom end, while up top JUN 272 cams help move air along through the ported head. Breathing heavily into the stock intake manifold that's been cleverly cut in half and retro-fit with a custom spacer to increase intake volume is an HKS gt3540 turbo mounted to a GReddy exhaust manifold. A front mount intercooler replaces the original top-mount set up that Nissan designed and the ignition system is modernized thanks to a set of AEM Electronics pencil coils. Under the watchful eye of an HKS F-Con system the car currently makes 500hp, and though more power is readily available, it won't be added to the mix until the upcoming transmission upgrades that Pop has planned are complete.
Long forgotten by some, yet beloved by many, we haven't seen a heavily modified Pulsar GTiR in quite some time. And the fact that this outstanding version hails from Thailand, a region quickly earning a well-deserved reputation for some very unique builds, is really no surprise.