Woe unto thee, the youth of Japan. It’s a known revelation that the Generation Z of Japan has little or no interest in automobile tuning, let alone feel the slightest need to acquire a driver license these days. This is coming from the country that endowed upon the world the almightiest Japanese renaissance supercar, the iconic Nissan Skyline GT-R. In current times, the last model of the Skyline GT-R series—the BNR34—is becoming increasingly affordable to the average consumer, particularly in the land of its origin. For us, it is also a cruel reality that none of the Skyline GT-Rs were ever made available as a North American production model vehicle. Sure, a handful of these sought after machines managed to skip the Pacific to the American soil, but the importation methods that were utilized remain ever so questionable. Both lawfully and illegitimately, a few entities have challenged this overseas importation through various means but have inadvertently managed to create this seminal of controversy involving the DOT, EPA, and the Feds.
Regardless of the situation in the United States, the Japanese unquestionably have it easy when it comes to owning one of these automobiles. All they have to do is simply purchase and register—without any hassles like going through loads of paperwork, searching for regulatory loopholes, or buying one for close to $100K. But what about the R35? This one finally became available for purchase at any local Nissan dealer in the United States but failed to continue the RB26DETT legacy. In the realm of the enthusiast mindset, R34 and R35 are two completely different vehicles. In fact, the R35 lost its hierarchical inheritance when it was stripped of its Skyline badge and loaded with overcomplicated electronic gadgetry and chain-driven camshafts. The great R34 GT-R was known to excel in all forms of driving, even grocery getting whilst spitting out that distinct enraged sound that only a force-fed, cast-iron inline-six engine can produce.
For Sun Line Racing in Okayama Japan, the R34 represents the philosophy that an affordable and extremely capable machine doesn’t have to be high maintenance or a dust-covered garage queen. But every vehicle Sun Line touches doesn’t really turn to gold; instead, a definitive bloodred color that serves as the livery of the company’s tuning aptitude. With the only exception being the full dry carbon R34 that was built recently, this blood red is a trademark warning sign to the other vehicle tuners out there to get out of the way and make room.
Since this Nissan Skyline E-BNR34 is Sun Line’s staple representation of a street vehicle, the key factor when tuning the engine was efficiency, reliability, and comfort. Large turbochargers require a lot of maintenance and the higher the power output, the more chance that things will breakdown thermodynamically. Therefore the factory turbochargers were kept in tact, with emphasis on small but vital surrounding components such as Tomei valvesprings, 1.2mm head gasket, and NISMO motor mounts. The target goal for this machine was an estimated 500 “streetable” horses, which is plenty for an all-wheel-drive GT-R to handle in terms of laying the power to the ground without getting all squiggly like an FR-configured vehicle. Furthermore, since the factory turbochargers are forced into pumping more air into the engine than its stock specification, fuel must be compensated to avoid detonation. Sun Line chose to go with the tried-and-true combination of using a Tomei high-volume fuel pump, NISMO fuel pressure regulator, and Sard 700cc injectors. The HKS Type R intercooler handles the cooling department along with the Trust oil cooler and a custom radiator keeps the air, water, and oil temperatures down efficiently.
The transmission was kept stock. Although not entirely factual, the word Getrag is synonymous with the word bulletproof to many enthusiasts. Getrag is a German transmission manufacturer that builds and provides superior gearboxes to vehicle manufacturers typically for high-end sports cars. The only other vehicle that was worthy enough to receive this brawny Type 233 six-speed gearbox from the factory was the MK4 Toyota Supra. With an upgraded clutch, it is known to withhold some serious torque well above and beyond the intended factory numbers. Sun Line had chosen to go with an Exedy twin-plate carbon clutch and flywheel, solely because of carbon fiber’s immense grappling characteristic under high inertia load.
Tein plays a vast role in the vehicle’s suspension makeup. The vehicle was going to be used primarily on the streets but Sun Line needed a suspension system that could also be used competitively on the racetracks. The Tein Circuit Master Type N1 coilover system was the textbook verdict. Yes, this unit is made strictly for the track, but don’t forget that it features a wide compression and rebound parameter that can be set precisely to almost every kind of situation. Besides, an external reservoir suspension always looks so menacing in the wheelwell! Other accompanying components include NISMO front and lower arms, with Sun Line’s own front and rear camber adjustable arm setup.
A full-fledged tuning shop must consider the affect one modification has to another no matter how trivial or unrelated they may seem. A perfect example is that once a car is modified to accelerate quicker, it must be counteracted with an approach to make the car decelerate equivalently—unless it’s a drag machine packing a chute in the rear. The factory Brembo brakes are an outstanding package but Sun Line decided that a circuit vehicle required more precise braking control so the Endless brake calipers, rotors, lines, fluid, and pads were chosen. The massive front six-pot and rear four-pot calipers are dimensionally harmonic with the oversized rotors as well as the MA22 brake pad compound for maximum initial bite, braking control, and longevity. A couple drawbacks to this modification are the hardened ceramic metal blend pads, which make a lot of squealing noise and are designed to work optimally with R-compound tires.
The interior of the vehicle remains very much like how a street car should be—no jungle gym rollcages or various gauge clusters littered about. The only indications from the interior that this is a tuned machine are a Blitz SBC DC sequential boost controller, Bride GIAS reclinable bucket seats, and a Nardi Classic steering wheel.
The R34’s full NISMO Z-Tune body kit was shot with Sun Line’s trademark red paint and topped off with a Sun Line 3D GT Wing Type II and cooling hood. Be careful staring at the exterior, you may experience arc eye symptoms from the contrast emitted off the gold SSR Type F 18x11 wheels and the popping red paint. Yokohama Advan AD08 compounds were selected because of its Micro Silica + Hyper Density Carbon composite properties, which provide great traction on wet and dry surfaces.
To have an automobile of this caliber that’s readily available for purchase with its price dropping every year should be considered a blessing. Plenty of aftermarket go-fast parts are available on the market, still far from becoming discontinued. For us, Americans, it first starts with envy, then irrepressible jealousy, followed by uncontrollable rage, since the Skyline GT-R is our forbidden fruit of the automobile world. We, the people, who inhabit this great nation of the United States recognize this cycle of emotions whenever gazing upon one of Nissan’s greatest creations. As long as vehicle manufacturers keep producing four-wheel machines, tuning companies like Sun Line Racing will continue making them faster than no other.
Behind the Build
Sun Line Racing
Tuning Shop, Parts Manufacturer
Nissan Skyline GT-R R34
490 ps at 7,000 rpm
Engine RB26DETT, Tomei 87mm bore 1.2mm head gasket, fuel pump; NGK Racing spark plugs; HKS Racing suction air intake; NISMO fuel pressure regulator, catalytic converter; Sard 700cc injectors; HKS Type R intercooler; Sun Line Racing titanium front pipe, GT-spec EX 90RS titanium exhaust, radiator; Trust oil cooler; SAMCO hoses; Plasma Racing coolant
Drivetrain Getrag transmission; Exedy twin-disc carbon clutch
Engine Management HKS F-Con V Pro ECU tuned by Sun Line Racing
Footwork & Chassis Tein Circuit Master Type N1 (18kg springs); NISMO lower arms; Sun Line Racing camber control arms
Brakes Endless Racing six-pot caliper (front), four-pot (rear), MA22 racing brake pads, brake lines, brake fluid
Wheels/Tires SSR Type F 18x11 +22, lug nuts; Yokohama Advan AD08 265/35-18
Exterior NISMO Z-Tune aero package; Sun Line Racing 3D GT Wing Type II, GT cooling hood
Interior Bride GIAS reclining bucket seats; Takata racing harness; Nardi Classic steering wheel; Works Bell steering hub; Blitz dual SBC-ID boost controller; NISMO cluster