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2002 Nissan Skyline R34 - R34 vs R35

Who Reigns Supreme?

Scott Tsuneishi
Oct 1, 2009
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper
Impp_0910_02_z+2002_nissan_skyline_r34+rear_view Photo 1/16   |   2002 Nissan Skyline R34 - R34 vs R35

The R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R has been recognized as Japan's premiere supercar from its debut in 1999, until production ceased in August of 2002, marking the end of Nissan's fabled, over-engineered, over-powered, European-exotic-killing machine. To many, the R34 is the pinnacle of the Skyline dynasty; one of the best-some say the best-sports car in the world. The Skyline lineage established its reputation with an impressive history in motorsport, dominating every race series in which it campaigned, culminating in the creation of the R34.

On July 7, 2008, nearly six years after the demise of the R34, Nissan released the R35 to much-hyped anticipation. "I was literally salivating when I heard the new R35 was released," says Alex Shen, owner of SP Engineering in City of Industry, CA. Shen, no stranger to the GT-R world, used to own a 1,000 hp R33, and still holds titles to a Nismo R32 and R34. Most recently, Shen has added a new R35 to his long list of exotic cars and hasn't stopped praising the GT-R lineage since. "My first exposure to the GT-R was in '89, watching Japanese Video Options during the same time I was playing around with my 7MGTE-powered MA70 Supra. I saw a video of the HKS R32 blasting down the track and was like, 'Damn, why is that thing so much faster than my car?' My Supra wasn't slow by any means-it pushed 440 whp, and was capable of 12 second quarter-miles-but the R32 made my Supra look like a snail."

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We asked Shen to compare the R34 to the R35; he had this interesting statement to offer: "If we were comparing the R34 to the older R33 or R32, then of course, the R34 is definitely more clumsy, bulky, and the heavier of the three cars. Breaking down the R34-versus-R35 scenario becomes more of an apples-to-oranges comparison, since both cars are so different in their own unique way-it's hard to love or hate one more than the other. The R34 has a more rugged, raw, race car demeanor that demands the driver to give it 110 percent of his skills and ability, while the R35 is a more refined sports car that offers comfort and performance, all rolled into one package. When I purchased the R35, my initial reaction was complete shock at how well the vehicle was designed, from the aerodynamics to every nut and bolt assembled. Sometimes I get the impression that the R35 is a very refined and faster version of the 350Z-a car you can rip an 11-second quarter mile with, park, and then have your girlfriend drive to yoga. Honestly, I think my mom can drive it without a problem-it's that easy."

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CONFIGURATION 2.6 Liter RB26DETT twin-turbo inline-six
POWER 276 hp at 6,800 rpm, 290 lb-ft torque at 4,400 rpm
BORE 86 mm
STROKE 73.7 mm
REDLINE 8,000 rpm
Impp_0910_06_z+2002_nissan_skyline_r34+graph_2 Photo 4/16   |   2002 Nissan Skyline R34 - R34 vs R35
CONFIGURATION 3.8-liter VR38DETT twin-turbo V-6
VALVETRAIN DOHC 24 valves, variable intake-valve timing
POWER 480 hp at 6,800 rpm. 430 lb-ft of torque at 3,{{{200}}} rpm
BORE 95.5 mm
STROKE 88.4 mm
REDLINE 7,000 rpm
Impp_0910_11_z+2002_nissan_skyline_r34+engine_bay Photo 5/16   |   2002 Nissan Skyline R34 - R34 vs R35

RB26dett Engine Analysis
The R34 has always been a popular candidate for modification across the world, due to its stout AWD drivetrain, and the strength of the RB26DETT engine-one that can produce as much as 500 whp with little modification, and be made to withstand much more, thanks to over-engineered internals and a block made of iron. This engine is also widely considered one of the most durable powerplants when heavily modified, known for its strength and extreme power potential. Having an unequal bore-to-stroke design (unlike the SR20DET or the 2JZ-GTE) means the RB can rev higher-up to 10,000 rpm with basic headwork. However, the RB is not without its problems. For all its attributes, it is a little temperamental. The standard internals are fine for Skylines making up to 550 whp, but exceeding that mark puts strain on the oil pump, causing it to fail. "With the Supra's 2JZ oil pump, you won't have the same problem," says Shen. "Anytime we at SP Engineering build a 2JZ engine for a customer, we simply buy a $380 pump (aftermarket RB pumps cost upwards of $2,000) from the dealership and drill a few relief holes to improve oil flow-that's it." Shen points out that another weak point of the RB26 revolves around its non-counterweighted crankshaft design, which becomes an issue when the motor is pushed to its upper limits. "Many customers don't understand that anytime you build an RB26 for high power, it's very important to purchase a fully counterweighted crankshaft-or a stroker kit that includes one-or the engine will fail at high rpm." Shen's Athletic Silver R34 was recently dynoed at 982 whp on Q16 race gas, with a maxed-out wastegate spring at 2.2 bar. With a stronger wastegate spring, Shen assures the car can produce 1,200 whp. But in the meantime, he's dialed down boost for California's crappy 91-octane pump gas, with output at a "conservative" 790 whp for street driving.

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Breaking down the VR38DETT Power Plant
"The R34 was the end of the GT-R dynasty," begins Shen. "I was happy that Nissan was offering the R35 GT-R in the U.S., but I wish they would have kept some of the original GT-R blood in the R35." Shen hesitates for a split second as he lights a cigarette and continues, "I just can't see the lineage transition from the R34 to the R35. The loss of the inline-six for a 'V' was a big surprise, but I understand that in keeping with the new technology, Nissan engineers are phasing out the old cast iron blocks for newer, lighter engines." Shen speaks in reference to Nissan's decision to replace the GT-R's traditional inline-six with the cast-aluminum V-6 design of the new VR38DETT. Twin turbos were retained, displacement was bumped up from the R34's 2.6 liters to 3.8 liters, and the VR engine's all-new cylinder heads are rumored to flow better, stock, than a ported RB head. But could it deliver over 1,000 hp? Shen points out that anything is possible with a sleeved block, but is quick to ask, "Why sleeve the block when a 700whp R35 with minor bolt-ons is not only fast and reliable, but also very streetable?"

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The most impressive feature of the VR38DETT power plant is its linear power delivery, creating a quick-responding, well-balanced engine with minimal lag. From as little as 2,200 rpm, the engine develops 350 lb-ft of torque or greater. "As we continue testing the VR engine, we will eventually find out if this well-engineered motor can handle more boost and power than most anticipate," explains Shen, "but at this time, the biggest downfall is the GR6 dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, and its reliability at handling 700 lb-ft of torque or more." Another major concern is the electronics of the car, namely the secrecy surrounding the OEM ECU, on which Nissan seems to have no intention of releasing any information. "I don't think Nissan could have imagined how far aftermarket tuners would have progressed with the R35 in such a sort time frame," says Shen. "The R35 was once said to be untouchable, and we have just begun to scratch the surface, but the progress has been nothing short of amazing."

Just one month after purchasing the R35, and installing and tuning the HKS GT570 kit, Shen clicked off an impressive 11.41-second quarter-mile time at 125 mph, prompting NHRA officials to advise him that any further runs would require the use of a fire suit and roll cage. "I was kicked off the track when I posted a mid-11-second pass on my very first run," he explains, "but I wasn't ready to drill and weld a cage into my GT-R just to run down the track. It will be interesting to see how the GT-R will do, now that it's making an additional 100 lb-ft of torque." With HKS soon to release the F-Con IS engine management, and GReddy their turbo upgrade setup, it's going to be a very interesting year for the R35, indeed.

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Vehicles currently owned, or owned within the past three years

Alex's Garage

- Ferrari 360 Stradale
- Ferrari 430
- Ferrari 430 Scuderia
- Porsche Carrera GT
- Lamborghini Diablo
- Lamborghini Murcielago
- Lamborghini LP640
- Lamborghini Superleggera
- Ford GT, supercharged
- BMW 750
- Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R
- Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R
- Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R
- Nissan R35 GT-R

"I know people will hate me for saying this, but the car I think is really bullshit is the Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Even though it's all raced out with carbon fiber, that thing is way overpriced; it's a Ferrari stooge's fu*king dream car! I hate that car-it's a $330,000 pile that I only drove for 800 miles before I couldn't stand it any longer and had to sell it. The people who've never owned a Ferrari will say, 'Oh man, look at this Ferrari with carbon fiber and F1 technology!' That's total bullshit.

"If I had to rank the GT-R, it would definitely be in the top three, perhaps number one or number two-right bellow the Carrera GT. The reason why it's a tossup between the two is I've never maximized the full potential of the Carrera GT. I am not a good enough driver to realize its true being, and every time I jump into that car, it's a handful with its lightweight construction. Even though it's a naturally aspirated vehicle, it still pumps out 557 hp. The R35, however, is such an easy car to drive and enjoy on the streets. Ranking the R34 in the top five is another easy decision. It would either be tied or a close second to the Lamborghini Superleggera. Dollar-for-dollar, the GT-R is the best bang for the buck."

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'02 Nissan R34 GT-R

Output 982 WHP, 660 lb-ft of torque

Engine RB26DETT; Garrett twin GT35 turbos; HKS exhaust manifold, Step 3 stroker kit, F-CON V Pro engine management system, 1.2mm head gasket, valve guides, valve springs, Step 1 264 intake cam, Step 1 264 exhaust cam, adjustable cam gears, DLI II Twin Power ignition amplifier, fuel delivery pipe, fuel pressure regulator, EVC VI, Mixture Controller, exhaust, oil cooler, external wastegates, Kansai carbon/Kevlar plug and cam gear cover; GReddy Type R three-row front-mount intercooler kit, Type R blow-off valves, downpipes, suction kit, oil pump, high-capacity add-on oil pan; Hypertune intake manifold, fuel rails; SP Engineering intake, ported and polished cylinder head, catch tank; ARP head stud kit; Denso 1,000cc injectors (x8); TITEK Innovations high-flow fuel pump; ARC radiator, over flow tank, breather tank; Garage Defend radiator diversion panel

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Drivetrain Hollinger sequential transmission; OS Giken R3C triple-plate clutch; HKS axles

Suspension HKS Hipermax II coilovers; Cusco 24mm front sway bar, 24mm rear sway bar; Nismo bushing kit

Wheels/Tires 19x9.5 Volk Racing TE37 Time Attack Edition wheels; 275/30/19 Toyo Proxes T1R tires

Brakes Brembo GT kit w/ cross-drilled rotors (front and rear)

Exterior Top Secret front bumper, carbon fiber lip, under tray, FRP aero bonnet, hood dampers; Do-Luck side skirts, rear wing, shortened plate stands; ARC rear under-diffuser; Nismo carbon fiber door pillar covers

Interior Nismo gauge cluster, floor mats; Sparco Champion Limited Edition Steering Wheel; Works Bell quick release; Splash short hub; SP Engineering dry carbon panels

Behind The Build

Head to the message boards at to chat about this feature Vehicle

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'09 Nissan R35 GT-R

Output 578 whp, 621 lb-ft of torque

Engine HKS GT570 package, Super SQV blow-off valve kit, racing extension pipe, racing center pipe, intercooler pipe kit, pre-programmed EVC VI (JDM Spec), Pressure Release Computer (PRC), reinforced actuators, Super Fire Racing spark plugs (M45HL), Premium Suction kit, Racing Suction kit, F-CON V Pro fuel management, AFK knock amp, Legamax Premium exhaust; SARD fuel pressure regulator; TITEK Innovations 800cc injectors, carbon engine dress-up; GReddy Type-06 R-spec HG intercooler

Drivetrain Stock

Impp_0910_14_z+2002_nissan_skyline_r34+r35_interior_shot Photo 15/16   |   2002 Nissan Skyline R34 - R34 vs R35

Suspension HKS Hipermax III Sport coilovers, Kansai front and rear sway bars

Wheels/Tires Limited Edition R35 BBS LM DBK wheels (20x9 front , 20x10 rear); Dunlop Sport 600 tires (255/40/20 front, 285/35/20 rear)

Brakes Brembo brakes w/Motul fluid

Exterior Titek Innovations carbon front lip, carbon side skirts, carbon antenna stay, carbon rear wing

Interior Bride Strada seats; SP Engineering Alcantara dash

Impp_0910_18_z+2002_nissan_skyline_r34+owner_shot Photo 16/16   |   2002 Nissan Skyline R34 - R34 vs R35

Alex Shen


San Gabriel, Ca

Owner, SP Engineering

Fast Cars

Build Time.
R34: 2 Years
R35: 9 Months


Favorite Quote.
"The R35 Is One Helluva Amazing Street Car!"


SP Engineering
City Of Industry, CA 91745
Los Angeles, CA 90061
Cusco USA
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Sparco USA
Irvine, CA 92614
Bride USA
Torrance, CA 90501
Irvine, CA 92618
By Scott Tsuneishi
247 Articles



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