Among gearheads, the topic of supercars is a subject that’s hardly ever truly agreed upon. The debate as to what makes the “best supercar” is heated and impassioned, classically fought out between fans of Italian and German automakers. Lately, however, there’s a new player in the game, and now the debate has two basic schools of thought: should a supercar be a true halo car, a lavish and expensive toy only attainable by the super rich, or is it possible for a mainstream automaker to create what could be thought of as the “supercar for the masses?” Until recently, the latter wasn’t even an option, but Nissan changed that in 2008 with the introduction of its highly anticipated production-model R35 GT-R. With an entry cost of well under $100K and Ferrari-spanking performance figures, the aptly nicknamed “Godzilla” burst onto the scene in a fiery blaze of raw, unadulterated power and an immediate and empathetic “thank you” from Japanese car enthusiasts the world over.
Before we go any further, I must note that in my own mind the GT-R isn’t really a fair car to compare to something like a 458 or Gallardo. You won’t find extravagant hand-stitched interiors or dry-carbon-fiber body panels in the GT-R, nor will you find the intangible yet undeniable element of overall bad-assedness associated with having a horse or bull on the front emblem. But does that fluff really matter to hardcore enthusiasts? I think not. How would you feel getting blasted by on the freeway or through the corners on a track by a car that costs about half of what you just paid for your Italian luxo-sports car? Personally, I would be a bit miffed and probably reconsider what I had really paid for. Thankfully for Jason Purdum, this is never a situation he will encounter, because he’s the one who blows past the other guys and leaves them wondering, “What on Earth is done to that Nissan?!”
Jason’s GT-R is a car that has been a long time coming, and you can tell that paying attention to all the small details has been thought of as the only way to do things right. “I have always loved all types of vehicles,” Jason tells us. “Shortly after I got out of college, I began selling cars with the intention of one day owning my own dealership. With a lot of hard work (and very long hours), I made this a reality back in February of 2001 when I opened Boulder Nissan in Boulder, Colorado. I was one of the youngest non-family owned Nissan dealers in the country.”
Jason has built quite a few other vehicles in his day: a plethora of Nissan cars (including a fully built 10-second 350Z that he still owns), a dozen or so motorcycles (both off-road and racetrack-oriented) and even a custom modernized ’66 Corvette. With an obvious passion for fast cars and motorsport, Jason was ecstatic when he learned that the always-coveted and ever-elusive GT-R would not only finally be coming to the North American market but would be wearing a Nissan badge and wouldn’t be lost to the Infiniti brand name.
Owning a Nissan dealership might seem like it would open up doors to expedite the process of buying a GT-R of your own, but that wasn’t the case for Jason. “Once the decision was made from the factory that the GT-R would indeed come to the U.S. as a Nissan, I could barely contain my excitement,” Jason says. “I was one of only two dealers that got to go to the Reno-Fernley road course to try the car out on the track the day before the press arrived back when the car was first introduced. Once I arrived home, I told my general manager to order me a Gun Metallic GT-R when we received our first allocation. However, the GT-R was in such high demand that we were pre-selling every car we had coming in. As hard as it was for me to do, I told my GM to continue to order my car as we were allocated GT-Rs, and if a customer wanted to buy mine, go ahead and sell it. Finally in 2010, my car hadn’t been already sold by the day it arrived!”
I can only imagine the frustration of a situation such as Jason’s, but his dedication to customers is admirable. By putting the client first, he tested his own patience for many months while waiting for a car for himself, but it sure paid off in the end. “I drove the car for maybe two to three months in stock trim and then began to make modifications over the following few months,” Jason says. “As the aftermarket developed more and more parts for the car, I began to make my list of changes. I made a promise to myself that I would keep the car daily driver–friendly, because as much as I love to drive my 350Z, it is a bit extreme for everyday use. With that said, I drive the GT-R daily (assuming it’s not snowing too badly). I also road course the car every chance I get. I qualified and received my Time Trial license with the NASA organization this summer and have participated in a few of their events.”
The GT-R is a fantastic platform for anyone who wants to have his cake and eat it, too. The idea of driving to the track, thrashing about all day and then cruising home all in the same car is something that any track rat can relate to, and Jason is able to do just that. And don’t be fooled by the subtle (yet awesome-looking) exterior package Jason has selected for his car. The lack of outlandish aerodynamics is something that we really appreciate from a true dual-purpose car, and thanks to a Switzer 800 engine package (which consists of upgraded turbochargers, higher-capacity fuel system, intercooler and an array of other goodies), it packs around 700 whp, so this GT-R can scoot its way around with the best road cars in the world.
“Looking back on my build, and after having a chance to drive and road-course the car this year, I can say there isn’t anything I would change,” Jason says. “My favorite aspect of the car is its stance and look; I tried to make the car look aggressive and different while being subtle at the same time. I’m currently very happy with the car, but I will probably have my 6-point rollbar replaced with a full cage and integrated into the stock interior panels, roof, pillars, et cetera, next fall. This will not only allow me a bit more safety over my 6-point on the road course but will allow me to pass quarter-mile tech inspection well below 10.0 and 150-plus mph if I decide to do a bigger turbo setup down the road. Overall, the car is everything I had hoped it would be and more. It is a very potent and driver-friendly street car, a very fast road-course car and a respectable quarter-mile car.”
All things considered, I can’t really think of anything better than a car that runs consistently fast times, retains the creature comforts a reasonable human being expects from a daily driver and does so with a certain combination of hardcore performance and elegance you just won’t find in many other street cars costing less than six figures. So is Jason’s GT-R a supercar, or is it just a superb car that happens to be faster than most supercars? We can leave that open to discussion, not that it will amount to much in the end. Either way, Jason is happy with the car, and that’s all that really matters. We like it, too, and find ourselves wishing we had such a well-rounded and versatile car. Maybe someday we could all be so lucky!
Specs & Details
'10 Nissan GT-R
Engine Nissan VR38DETT V-6
Engine Modifications Switzer P800 package (fuel injector kit, monster intercooler kit, upgraded turbochargers, high-pressure wastegate actuators, MAF/intake & filter assembly, high-flow turbo intakes, off-road test pipes, fuel system upgrade); AAM downpipes; CBRD mid-pipe; HKS Legamax rear exhaust; Switzer upgraded radiator; custom front-mounted transmission cooler, oil coolers, front differential cooler, power steering cooler; Willall rear diff cooler, larger oil pan; Password:JDM carbon-fiber battery & brake covers, plenum cover, cooling shroud
Engine Management Switzer P800 calibration for COBB AccessPORT
Suspension JRZ RS pro coilovers, 1,200K (f) & 1,000K (r) spring rates; Dodson front upper control arms, rear lower control arms; Stillen adjustable sway bars (f/r)
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Advan ADV 10 wheels 21x10.5" (f) & 21x12” (r); Pirelli PZero Nero tires 295/25R21 (f) & 375/20/R21 (r); Braided brake lines; PFC rotors & pads; Willall brake mister cooling system
Exterior Top Racing painted dry-carbon hood w/ aero catch flush latches, dry-carbon front bumper, dry-carbon lower rear valance; custom black powdercoated reinforcement bar w/ additional tow hook locations; cooling passages & splitter reinforcement mounts; Craftsquare Super GT carbon mirrors; factory side skirts; Titek carbon vents; Password:JDM rear carbon canards, mid height carbon rear wing on factory deck lid; Tommy K smoked LED side markers (f/r); smoked tail lights; flat-black painted emblems & door handles
Interior Password:JDM carbon doorsill kick plates, carbon rear speaker shelf w/ rear seat belt delete; rear seat delete; Racetech seats; 6-point “half cage” w/ swingout/removable door bars; Schroth 6-point harnesses; Willall shift light
Thanks To The NAGTROC (North American GT-R Owners Club) forum; the fellow vendors & members are great to work, communicate & conduct business with; Eric Stockton, my parts & performance manager at Boulder Nissan, as well as my lead technician on all of my performance builds