The "right" way to build a car. The eternally undefined quest of automotive purists. Die-hard performance nuts regularly slam the show community for the excessive camber and wheel offset, utility racks, or ground-scraping ride height modifications that, they'd argue, hinder performance. But the show crowd couldn't care less-they're building strictly for style, many times to agitate those they feel take performance too seriously. Considering the job they do to that extent, it wouldn't be wrong to say they're building their cars "right".
But such is the case in matters of subjectivity, where personal taste dictates the verdict. But the guidelines are clearer with performance builds, in which achievements of "fastest", "quickest", and "most powerful" are quantifiable boundaries to be broken-and if you're not doing it, you're doing it wrong. This month we bring you two contrasting performance builds, as different in their platforms and modification as in the culture each represents and the 6,700-odd miles between them, yet bound by their creators' shared drive for perfection. The bar for "right" has just been raised.
What you see here is the rolling embodiment of Japanese work ethic and discipline. This red R34 Skyline GT-R is possibly the most awe-inspiring time-attack car in Japan, and may soon prove to be the fastest. Behind this project is Hiroya Jin, a man who has a deep love for the Skyline GT-R, and who has invested well over $300,000 into this one to achieve one goal: to debut it at Rev Speed Magazine's Tsukuba Super Battle, and lap the circuit faster than any other production-bodied car ever has-including the MSpeed R34 Skyline GT-R, the HKS CT230R Lancer EVO, and the reigning champ: the Cyber EVO.
Whereas the American prerogative has nearly always been to intimidate and out-muscle enemies, defeating competitors with brute force, the Japanese have been known to topple their foe with planning, patience, and strategy. From the sidelines, Jin-san watched four of the aforementioned annual time-attack title fights come and go-waiting, examining the competition, learning from their victories and defeats, incorporating aspects of winning teams' builds into his own, and meticulously perfecting them. About the finished product on these pages (which, admittedly, may not yet be finished), Jin-san only offers, "There was no compromise. What needed to be done was done, and if it doesn't earn us victory, we will be back until we get it." Determination like that is hard to beat.
The most impressive facet of this car is the one rarely seen. We all know that a fast circuit car needs a lot of trick suspension parts, but what has gone on under this car is simply insane. With the help of Garage Ito and Ikeya Formula, the stock front and rear multilink suspension setups were replaced entirely by custom-fabricated subframes and double-wishbone systems. In the front, the upper arms use custom mounting points along a modified and reinforced suspension turret, while the lower arms are fixed to the new sub-frame. The stabilizer bar has been fixed to the upper arms via a custom linkage that's fully adjustable from the driver's seat. The steering column was relocated and actuates custom pillow-ball arms via a one-off pivot. The rear is even more intricate, as the subframe acts as the anchor for both the upper and lower arms. The lower damper mounts are fixed onto the factory hubs, while the tension rods are-like the arms-fixed to the subframe. Like at the front, we find adjustable stabilizer bars-necessary to give the best possible scope for fine-tuning performance on the track.
The braking system is absolutely top-shelf. Massive RDD two-pice floating rotors and Brembo magnesium-alloy six- and four-piston calipers replace front and rear stock, mounted on billet RDD brackets. This setup not only offers massive holding power, but thanks to the exotic materials used, reduces unsprung weight to further aid in acceleration and braking, and reduces corner weight to allow custom-valved Quantum dampers to perform their best.
The base car for this project was an R34 V-Spec II N1, a car that already benefits from a lighter curb weight. Even so, the chassis was completely stripped, spot welded, and reinforced in strategic points. Furthermore, a lot of work went into cutting the front and rear sections of unibody, which was needed to accommodate the custom subframes, and to save a bit of weight. A full roll cage was welded inside the interior and braced/gusseted to the pillars where needed. A smaller subframe was also built inside the trunk area to act as a solid mounting point for the adjustable carbon rear wing.
To compensate for the weight and length of the Skyline's straight-six, Garage Ito's Ito-san relocated the engine and transmission mounting points a massive 20 cm rearward. Sounds like a simple enough task, but the GT-R's RB26 has a rather strange oil-sump/front diff housing layout where the two are actually merged together. This meant that a custom sump had to be made, which had to incorporate the factory diff housing and keep it inline with the front track. This was achieved by taking out 20 cm from the section in front of the diff and welding it back together to create a custom rear section. A custom oil pick-up also had to be made.
The N1 block that this V-spec II N1 came with was actually replaced with the limited-edition RRR block-also known as the GT block-something already bored to 2.8L from the factory, and this particular GT's bottom end is comprised of a full HKS Step III setup: forged pistons, H-section connecting rods, and a fully counter-balanced crankshaft. The head was carefully ported, polished, and fitted with all the necessary valvetrain upgrades to maximize the efficiency of Trust 272-degree/10.5mm camshafts.
Timing of the intake bumpstick is continuously varied via an HKS V-Cam Pro system, to develop faster low-rpm pickup, given the size of the HKS T04Z turbo. While we power-hungry Americans prefer to build time-attack cars with gobs of power, to cut lap times by blasting down straightaways, Jin-san's prerogative is in keeping with standard Japanese M.O.: Maximize low- and mid-range power, and cut time through the corners. With footworks like this R34's, who can argue with that?
Elsewhere under the hood is a network of lightweight, fabricated titanium. On the intake side, a custom ARC intercooler feeds a Nismo GT plenum from behind an ARC radiator, which allows extremely short piping to be run for optimal response. Boost charge may not be as cool as with a front-mount unit, but according to Jin-san, it's much more consistent with the radiator acting as a giant thermostat.
Additional cooling is achieved via a pair of HKS oil-coolers. Fuel is picked up from the ATL safety tank via a pair of Bosch fuel pumps, swirled around a custom collector tank, and shot through to an HKS fuel rail that feeds six 1,000cc/min injectors. A lot of work also went into the transmission side of things, with an Exedy triple-plate carbon clutch coupling a Hollinger six-speed sequential box, which in turn sends power to front and rear ATS LSDs. The factory transfer box sits on custom mounts and its actuators and control unit have been moved from the trunk to their new position under the car. All engine control is handled by a Motec ECU, which is set up to offer an ignition cut while gears are being selected, to allow flat shifting.
The logic of relocating the engine for more even weight balance applied to moving the driver's seat as low as possible, between the B-pillars, and extending the steering wheel and pedals to compensate. The safety benefit of doing so was also a welcome advantage. The main dash has been replaced by a featherweight dry-carbon piece, which is only adorned with one bit of instrumentation: a Motec dash-unit/data-logger. The shifter for the Hollinger sequential is within easy reach, in close proximity to two adjusters for the front and rear stabilizer bars fixed to the side of the transmission tunnel.
Weight was shed to around 2,600 pounds-almost 900 pounds lighter than stock-largely through the use of dry carbon fiber for nearly every body part. The front bumper has been redesigned from the center grille down, and extends all the way to the ground where it meets a long front diffuser sitting virtually millimeters from the asphalt. No headlights are used, and in their places are now carbon covers. Aiding cooling is the carbon aero hood with its central vent. The car has been widened 50 mm on each side to allow for massive 18-inch Volk monoblocks and plus-sized Advan rubber, which altogether give the R34 a much rawer look. The rear carbon bumper has been shaped according to the factory piece, but has no reverse or fog lights, or center license plate recess. Above it is a dry carbon trunk that's been cut to clear the spoiler stays. Craft Square mirrors were the last carbon detail added.
Jin-san initially set himself a 53.111-second lap goal for Tsukuba circuit, which many speculate this car should have no problem reaching. The 2011 Tsukuba Super Battle will ensue in the coming months, and when it does-and this R34 validates its time in the spotlight-I'm sure we'll agree its owner built it "right".
Claiming the title of "Japan's fastest production-bodied car" in the realm of time-attack means toppling these giants:
MSpeed R34 GT-R
Tsukuba record :54.481 seconds.
"Monster Patrol", December '07 Turbo & High-Tech Performance
Behind The Build
Owner, Pro Stock Racing
To achieve what hasn't yet been done with a GT-R
Engine Nismo GT RRR engine block, ported and polished cylinder head, large-diameter valves, complete valvetrain; Trust 272-degree/10.5 mm camshafts; HKS V Cam Pro, Stage III 2.8L kit (pistons, connecting rods, counter-balanced crankshaft), ported shroud type T04Z turbocharger, GT II external wastegate, 16-row oil cooler (x2), billet fuel rail, 1,000cc injectors; ATI crank damper; custom-made billet auxiliary pulleys, oil sump; Tomei oil pump; Garage Ito custom 45mm exhaust manifold, 100mm titanium exhaust, custom titanium intercooler piping, custom collector tank; ARC custom-made twin-row intercooler, side-flow radiator and air separator tank; Nismo GT intake plenum; Bosch fuel pumps (x2); ATL 30L safety fuel cell; Pro Stock ECU
Drivetrain Hollinger six-speed sequential transmission; custom gearbox mounts, relocated transfer case with custom mounts, relocated ATTESA ETS-Pro control/actuator unit; Exedy triple-plate carbon clutch; ORC braided clutch line; ATS front and rear carbon LSDs
Suspension Quantum fully adjustable dampers, 18kg/mm front springs, 16kg/mm rear springs; custom reinforced front suspension turrets, front and rear subframes, steering rack, suspension and diff housing mounts; custom Ikeya Formula double wishbone suspension layout (front and rear upper arms, front and rear lower arms, roll center adjusters, custom hub/suspension mounts, front and rear adjustable stabilizers, steering linkage and steering arms), pillow-ball links; Nismo titanium front strut tower bar
Wheels/Tires 18x10 Volk Racing TE37 wheels; 265/35-18 Yokohama Advan AO48 tires
Brakes Brembo Racing monoblock six-piston front calipers; RDD 380mm two-piece floating front rotors, 355mm rear rotors, pads
Exterior Custom full dry-carbon front bumper, front diffuser, front +50mm wide fenders, headlight covers, aero hood, side skirts, doors, rear fenders, rear bumper, rear diffuser, trunk lid, GT wing; Craft Square carbon side mirrors; Acrylic side and rear glass, N1 windshield
Interior Fully spot-welded bare V-spec II N1 unibody; modified transmission tunnel, custom welded-in rollcage with additional gusseting/bracing, air-jack lifting system, extended steering column with custom mounts, repositioned pedal box, adjusters for front/rear sway bars, handbrake lever, dry carbon fiber dashboard; Nismo 330mm Alcantara steering wheel; Recaro SP-A bucket, custom mounts
Electronics Motec dash unit, data-logger
Gratitude Thanks to Garage Ito; Pro Stock Racing; Ikeya Formula; Pop Moonwalk; Double Rainbow Guy