The times, they are a-changin' as newer generations enamored with Japanese car culture are far more mesmerized by iconic JDM chassis than the European supercars and Americana muscle once plastered on the walls of the now 40-plus crowd. Embedded with cars like this 1992 Nissan Skyline GT-R at a young age, these '90s heroes have often served as aspirational cars for the younger demo and for some, like Tony Hakku, owner of this R32, a significant goal to strive for. He adds, "The GT-R R32 has been my dream car ever since I was little, so when the time was right, I had to buy one."
Window Shopping Gon' Wild
Being in a position to get your hands on a dream car that will most likely carry a price tag quite a bit higher than your average project car isn't for everyone. In Tony's instance, it was within reach, and when he spotted a potential chassis for sale, he wasted no time. "The plan was to only go see it and check the car out but I ended up going home with it." Not so subtle but completely understandable as it's not every day that you come face-to-face with your dream car and have the funds required to bring it home.
Summers in Finland lend themselves to enjoying your car of choice at will and Tony did just that, driving the Skyline exactly as it was purchased and getting used to being behind the wheel of the car he'd been obsessed with for so many years. Once winter rolled around, the car would be put away for the season and he decided that was the perfect time to fix a few things and make a change or two.
Nasty Surprise Turned Makeover
Not uncommon in his region, he spotted a bit of rust on the rear fenders. Fully accepting that it was just part of the deal, the intention was to rectify that spot and turn his attention elsewhere. However, once he started digging in, that minor patch up was far worse than expected. Purchasing new OEM parts like fenders or quarter panels is not only a tough search, but also going to hit the bank account pretty hard. Trying to come up with an alternative, Tony began looking at the Rocket Bunny kit available for the S13 chassis. Not only would it update the look, but it would allow him to remove a large portion of the rusted arches, which, with the body conversion, is already a necessity.
The flares on the R32 Rocket Bunny kit essentially cover the entire front and rear fenders, whereas the S-chassis kit carries a more traditional arched flare, which Tony liked. However, the cross-platform effort had a few sticking points that he wanted to address to truly make it his own. "Once I got the kit and started installing it, I didn t like how it fit on the lower parts of the car because the fenders were already bulky and too round. I ended up modifying it till I liked it." Sculpting additional material in some areas and making adjustments, Tony eventually found the right combination.
To fill the now rust-free, much wider arches, a set of 18x11 and 18x12 Work VSXX wheels were bolted on and the car lowered using Tein coilovers with their driver friendly EDFC controller. Tony then prepped the car for an exterior respray and thanks to a good friend, a fresh coat of Nissan's Charcoal Pearl Metallic was applied.
The look was vastly different from the stock R32 body, and being that the aero portions were borrowed from the S-chassis parts bin and then further customized, Tony's Skyline is literally one-of-a-kind, and he was content, but of course, there was still more in store. He notes, "I drove the car like that for the next season, but once winter came along again, I wanted to make it more aggressive."
More Custom Touches
The car's aesthetic changed once again, this time with the addition of a carbon-fiber hood and trunk from Seibon Carbon and a new wing with home-built, chassis-mounted uprights. The DIY additions also included front bumper canards, a splitter and a rear diffuser. The original S13 Rocket Bunny rocker panels wouldn't have worked well with the boxy R32 flanks, so Tony incorporated carbon fiber R34 side diffusers to bridge the gap from front to rear flares.
The interior was completely stripped, and the same factory color code was chosen to refresh all of the cabin's metal. Any interior pieces behind the new Sparco Rev seats were left out of the car, and a Cusco roll cage, painted candy red, was installed. A carbon-fiber center console trim piece surrounds a group of gauges and switches and there's no audio on hand, as this has become an all-business affair.
Having done so many changes to the car while still maintaining the factory RB is a miracle in and of itself, but with the aggressive new look, Tony felt it was time to address the engine. He began by upgrading injectors and associated fuel lines so he could safely run E85 and then picked up a Haltec PRO plug-in ECU. From there, he ran into a recurring leak issue. "I had a lot of problems with the exhaust manifold gasket, so me and my friend made a custom v-band manifold with over 114 pieces, if I remember correctly." That custom manifold supported the Holset HX52Pro that was added with a 60mm TiAL wastegate brought in to regulate. A complete 4-in. downpipe and exhaust system was fabricated and actually incorporates a working catalytic convertor in order to pass inspection. That's right, inspection - because this R32, which now makes about 650hp, is street legal in Finland.
You're taught at a very young age that you have to set goals to strive for. Whether to serve as motivation, an end point, or a steppingstone to change direction and aim higher, it's a vital part of your existence whether you realize it or not. For Tony Hakku, he not only met his goal but went on to completely customize it and he's nowhere near being finished, as there's now new goals to chase with his R32.