Motorsports serves as a nexus of automotive tuning, which continually advances adjacent to the interval of time. The machines and the applied technology are constantly evolving and don't seem to deviate from this course of technical progression. The skills utilized have undeniably advanced but the question is: What about the dedicated people who build these machines? Suppose if these tuning shops can adapt and master the concept of automotive tuning, it becomes increasingly difficult to financially keep afloat in these current times where as the industry becomes more focused on hybrid cars. This is a story of a veteran old-school tuning shop that has been successfully building fast petrol-powered cars by sustaining their business using tried-and-true traditional methods.
Alongside three decades, the JDM scene has been cracked open like a can of sardines and revealed its contents to the rest of the world with big names like HKS, and drifting virtually becoming household vocabulary. Furthermore, even the most minor of the Japanese vehicle tuning shops, parts manufacturers, and race car drivers achieved some sort of recognition, leaving almost no fresh stone left unturned in the small island. In a metaphorical sense, it's like the gold rush of the 1800s where the minuscule piece of land has been raided and searched over with a fine-tooth comb and in this day and age, scoring a piece of nugget is unheard of. However it's not entirely impossible, with sheer luck and favorable coincidence, to come across a high-caliber tuning shop that the Westerners may have overlooked.
Pisto Racing, serenely located at the baseline of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka, Japan, has been constructing some of the fastest vehicles in the country since the 1990s. It turns out, however, that they have been involved in this game much longer than the establishment of the shop. The owner, who refers to himself as "Suzuki", is an older gentleman whose wisdom can be sensed by a distinct calm aura that can best be explained as a composed and confrontational demeanor. However, when it comes to constructing race vehicles, Pisto is direct, uncomplicated, and most of all clean, which definitely reflects much of Suzuki's sensible personality. Pisto Racing actually started conquering the Nagoya drag racing scene, but quickly adapted their theories and conceptual knowledge to circuit racing and time-attack.
These guys are the epitome of old school, not by their tuning methods or the kind of cars they work on, but rather the definition that is closer to the term experienced veterans. Pisto has been conducting regular business operations without having a dedicated website or even an email address; all correspondence takes place by telephone or fax. This may be the reason why only true enthusiasts know of its existence, which might indicate why the rest of the world never found out about this hidden treasure of a shop.
One factor indicative of Suzuki's cool old-school nature is that he refers to the traditional Japanese calendar based on the reigns of the country's emperors when stating the year of the vehicle. In this case, the Nissan R32 GT-R was made in the fourth Heisei year, which translates to 1992. Its simple and clean look can certainly be deceiving. This machine is like the honey badger; it looks like an ordinary mammal, but devours poisonous cobras and raids venomous beehives without giving a single fuss out on the racetrack.
For Suzuki, his three basic requiems when building a fast drag car are making it lightweight, increasing power output, and enabling traction. This theory relates to almost all forms of automobile racing, especially applicable when battling against the clock for a fast lap time. The Pisto R32 GT-R weighs in at a slender 2,800 pounds, even with the hefty six-cylinder cast-iron RB28 engine creeping underhood. This RB28 code refers to the utilization of the HKS stroker kit, consisting of an 87mm bore and 77.77mm stroke for a total displacement of 2.8 liters. The majority of the bottom end internals are forged HKS parts, however the head assembly had been put together using Tomei Powered components including a full race-ported head. The only Tomei components used in the bottom end are the strengthened oil pump and oversized oil pan. Dedicated RB26 enthusiasts initially learn that when modifying this engine beyond factory the oil pump must first be upgraded to a Tomei oil pump to prevent a chain of catastrophic oil starvation failures.
Maximum boost pressure can be realized at 4,300 rpm, resulting in 700 hp at 1.6 kg/cm2 with the ball bearing anti-surge compressor-equipped HKS T04Z turbocharger. The exhaust gases are expelled through the HKS tubular manifold and an atmospherically dumped external wastegate to Pisto Racing's own fully custom titanium exhaust system. Engine management is regulated by an HKS F-Con V Pro, controlling the Sard fuel components and custom fuel system designed by Suzuki himself. In the trunk space, a fuel collector tank with twin external Bosch pumps line the mix of steel-braided and pre-bent lines that run across the entire chassis, straight to the fuel rail ready for injection.
The drivetrain make-up resembles that of a full-blown GT car, exhibited by the HKS triple-plate clutch-equipped Holinger sequential dog-geared transmission transferring the torque to an oversized rear differential with an ATS limited-slip unit.
Much of the suspension tuning remains lucrative, since, after all, the vehicle is used competitively in the circuit and time-attack against many big torque-wielding opponents. The suspension is a custom unit put together by Pisto, using Quantum shock absorbers and Swift springs, which is changed frequently depending on the layout and condition of the racetrack. Flawless hand-TIG-welded custom lower suspension arms with gigantic pillow ball ends, combined with more Heim-jointed ends enables limitless suspension changes to the machine. The entire vehicle itself has been stripped and reinforced with seam welding on a chassis rotisserie, with many components cut off for several factors (weight savings, clearance, and air ducting design).
Peering inside the front mouth of the custom aero kit, Suzuki's technological emphasis on his definition of an effective aerodynamic design can be seen. The V-mounted HPI radiator and intercooler direct incoming air efficiently, also in conjunction with more ducting to the turbocharger inlet and engine oil cooler. The usefulness of an aero kit depends on the amount of ground clearance, which, in layman's terms, translates to the lower the better. Figuratively, a front air dam will generate low-pressured air beneath the vehicle, so precisely engineered side skirts were needed to keep the high-pressure outer air from rushing in. Next, the Sard rear GT wing was adopted and successfully tuned to work harmoniously with the same wavelength of other aerodynamic components to finally achieve 317 km/h at the Fuji Speedway straight section.
The interior has only the bare necessities, practically an HKS/Bride bucket seat and MOMO steering wheel. On most dedicated race machines, a line of multiple gauge clusters can be seen exhibiting each sensor output, but in Pisto's case, everything was condensed into the stack meter accompanied by a Blitz boost controller. A custom FIA-approved steel rollcage snugly rests alongside the pillars with so many points that you start to lose count, with various lateral, diagonal, and horizontal bars caging the beast and confidently keeping the driver safe during the hairiest crashes.
For a small tuning shop operating in the middle of the countryside, Pisto has done some amazing work building a machine with this high of a construction quality. The results are impressive. With the current setup, the Pisto R32 trapped in at 1 minute 47 seconds at Fuji along with an additional aforementioned 317km/h top speed. The last we heard, Pisto was planning a nitrous oxide setup in this machine. Once everything is dialed in again we expect to see them being gawked at for coverage by the English-speaking automotive media-that's if they can get a hold of the mystical Suzuki-san of Pisto.
Behind the Build
Building and breaking cars
Going H.A.M. on the racetrack
One car to rule them all.
1992 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)
Engine RB26DETT HKS 2.8L stroker kit (pistons, crank, and connecting rods), fuel rail, cam gears, turbo manifold, T04Z turbo, and wastegate; Tomei camshafts, ported head, valvetrain, oil pump, and oil pan; HPI intercooler; Sard injectors and fuel pressure regulator; Bosch fuel pumps; Greddy oil cooler; Pisto Racing titanium exhaust
Drivetrain Holinger sequential transmission; HKS triple-plate clutch; Carbonetic limited-slip differential; custom upgraded rear differential housing
Suspension Pisto custom-valved Quantum coilovers and custom lower arms; Swift springs; Nismo strut tower bar
Wheels/Tires SSR Type-C
Brakes Brembo F50 calipers; IDI brake pads; Earl's stainless steel brake lines
Exterior Pisto Racing aero kit; Sard GT-wing; EC-Works side mirrors
Interior Limited HKS bucket seats by Bride; Willans camlock harness; Stack metering system; MOMO steering wheel; Blitz boost controller; 12-point rollcage
Audio The simple sound of titanium exhaust and a hard-locking LSD