Portland, Oregon—the City of Roses—is home to about two million long-haired Americans who wear Tiva sandals and hiking shorts year-round, only eat organic greens and drink microbrewed beers, and listen to underground punk rock while wondering how they can reduce their carbon footprint (hemp sandals, maybe?). Or so the stereotype goes, but truth be told there are more dynos per capita in the Northwest than any other part of the country, along with an equally large tuner community to support them.
And among the top tuner shops in the Northwest is Portland Speed Industries, a full-service facility with a state-of-the-art, 13,000–square-foot shop that includes a properly ventilated and sound-deadened dyno room where they tweak fuel and ignition maps on its brand-new AWD eddy-current Dynojet. But just in case you need some evidence of the company’s 15 years of tuning experience, co-owners Jason Oefelein and Erick Sackhoff and their staff at PSI have assembled this jaw-dropping R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R as a showcase of their detail-oriented and comprehensive tuning philosophy.
Like most shops, PSI felt it needed a demo car to promote its particular brand and style of tuning. Oftentimes the temptation is to build a race car and try to prove the shop’s credentials at the dragstrip or around a racetrack, but PSI isn’t like most shops. Jason and the crew at PSI gave their shop-car needs a lot of thought, and in the end they decided a show car/street car approach would be a better fit for their total tuning approach that includes paying close attention to cosmetic and aesthetic elements as well as power delivery and driveability. According to Jason, “We wanted something that was really fast but wasn’t going to eat up all the shop’s time to build and maintain [the way a race car would]. We really wanted to balance out the time and money invested in a shop car, so building something for the street just made the most sense.”
As fate would have it, Jason had been working on the performance end of a R34 GT-R project car build while working at a different shop. The GT-R’s owner, Joe Galante, an experienced SEMA car builder, had already made a bunch of high-quality exterior upgrades to it, including the Top Secret front bumper, splitter and rear diffusers featured on the car to this day, as well as the C-West side skirts, Craft Square sideview mirrors, Nismo clear corners and a fresh coat of PPG Gunmetal Gray paint. But Joe had a lot of other projects going on and decided to put his R34 up for sale in the DuPont Registry, where Jason happened to spot it. He immediately gave Joe a call, since the newly opened PSI would be able to make great use of it as a demo car, resulting in a quick sale being arranged. According to Jason, “Buying the R34 was really a no-brainer, since we already knew all the ins and outs of the car and Joe really wanted us to grab the torch and run with it while maintaining some input into the build process.”
That’s when the crew at PSI really sank their teeth into their newly acquired Skyline, with every employee pouring his blood, sweat and tears into a very quick and intense build process that lasted just two and a half weeks. Wanting to build something extreme but streetable—not some 1,000hp trailer queen that’s virtually undriveable—PSI contacted GReddy for one of its T618-Z twin-turbo kits. “Rather than going with a big single turbo, which would have huge turbo lag to go along with the huge power potential, we opted for a pair of smaller turbos that gives our GT-R excellent throttle response but still has plenty of top-end power.” In fact, this GReddy kit along with custom PSI intercooler piping and 2-into-1 intake, Top Secret exhaust manifold, Amuse titanium turbo-back exhaust and conservative tuning of the AEM EMS resulted in a very solid 450 whp on 92-octane pump gas at just 18 lbs of boost. With the newly added Tomei cams and a preliminary retune, PSI made 545 whp, where their R34 seems to be maxed out on pump gas.
Where the engine build gets really interesting is with the fuel system. Having done some R&D on ethanol, the PSI team decided to make some serious upgrades to their GT-R’s fuel system so that it could run on E85 or even E98 ethanol. According to Jason, “We’ve seen 6 to 7 percent more power out of ethanol compared to race gas because ethanol cools the intake charge more effectively, letting us get more aggressive with the ignition timing and air/fuel ratio. But because ethanol requires about 30 percent more fuel flow, we had to build a custom high-capacity fuel system including twin in-tank fuel pumps flowing through –10 lines to a Sard fuel rail and 1600cc injectors.”
Aesthetically, PSI put its own touch on the R34’s exterior by having HRE make a custom set of C20 19x11-inch forged wheels with a polished lip and brushed aluminum centers. Amazingly, these seriously wide pieces of rolling jewelry fit perfectly within the confines of the stock GT-R fenders, allowing Pirelli Pzero 295/30ZR19s to clear without any rubbing. With a set of mammoth 8-piston front and 4-piston rear Brembo F50 brakes tucked inside the HREs and SilkRoad coilovers completing the stance, PSI has put together what is arguably the finest-looking R34 to be found anywhere on American soil.
Inside there’s been just as much attention to detail, starting with a matching pair of Status Racing Laguna carbon-fiber buckets that Status custom-wrapped in gray suede. PSI also had Bishop Customs work its suede-wrapping magic in gray and black throughout the rest of the interior, including the rear seats, door panels and trunk, as well as installing carbon-fiber overlays for the center console, instrument cluster, audio console, door switch panels, interior dome light console and A- and B-pillars. Overall, the interior now has a very rich and elegant appearance, yet still maintains a decidedly performance-oriented feel thanks to the Momo Commando-R steering wheel and Nismo titanium shift knob.
With the makeover of PSI’s R34 Skyline GT-R completed, Jason described the driving experience as, “Totally transformed from a stock R34 GT-R. Stock, this car feels sort of like an AWD Toyota Supra—from its power delivery to its engine note. But now our GT-R just takes off when it hits full spool at around 3800 rpm and pulls like a train to redline. And it feels really stable at high speeds; 120 mph feels like 60 mph. Adjusting to driving on the right-hand side is no big deal, with the only confusing part being that the turn signal and windshield wiper levers are on the opposite sides of the steering column compared to a left-hand-drive car.”
Now that their masterpiece of a GT-R is complete, the PSI crew plans to just enjoy driving their Skyline and taking it to local shows as a way of promoting their shop. Given its super clean and subtly aggressive exterior styling, its impressive power and innovative ethanol fueling, it’s easy to see how this perfect piece of PSI tuning will attract many new and discerning customers. But the question remains, Is it possible to heel and toe downshift while wearing hemp sandals?