In today's day and age we take many things for granted but none more so than technology. Take the modern cellular phone for example. We can check email, social networks or even watch videos from these devices. We can take pictures and review them instantly without a Polaroid camera and then share them with friends. We can even look up directions to a place we've never been, book a reservation and beat traffic all thanks to an invention that fits in your pocket.
But things, obviously, weren't always this easy. In the old days, you had to earn things the hard way and car engineering was no different. To build a fast sports car one must follow a basic set of rules: the car needs to have long sweeping body lines, must be driven from the rear wheels, have only two seats, weigh close to nothing and have tremendous power on tap. So how is it that Nissan was able to create one of the most iconic sports cars of all-time from, essentially, an over-weight, all-wheel-driven brick with seating for four?
The short answer is technology. The R32 GT-R almost single-handedly ushered in a new era of super cars and in the process created a Japanese automotive icon. Let's face it: on paper or at face value the GT-R doesn't exactly conjure up visions of sheer driving pleasure. However, thanks to advancements in technology the GT-R, and others that followed it, is a car far greater than the sum of all parts and has dominated almost every major form of motorsport it entered.
Nissan revolutionized the definition of sports cars with the R32 and along with it came quantum leaps in performance technology. One such advancement was the R32's state-of-the-art "smart" center differential dubbed ATESSA-ETS. The system would allow a range of 0-50% power distribution to the front wheels, something that was never achieved before. The other major contribution of the R32 is the now legendary RB26DETT. With its six individual throttle bodies and twin turbochargers the public was introduced to race items that formerly never saw the street on anything less than an exotic super car.
During the final steps of development on the R32 Nissan, began testing the car at the Nürburgring, the world's most grueling proving grounds. What is now a fairly common practice amongst all automakers was at the time almost strictly practiced by German manufacturers. After the production versions of the car became available Best Motoring took the R32 to the 'ring' and clocked a time of 8:22 seconds making it the fastest lap ever recorded by a production car at the time. Favorable press from journalists around the world cemented not only the car's fate as a Japanese powerhouse, but also its nickname: Godzilla.
So what happens when you take Godzilla beyond its factory trim with no regard for creature comforts? What happens when you bolt only the best, not to mention most expensive, parts available to this beast? You get a car capable of pushing the limits of physics. You get a sports car capable of slaying exotics. You get a car so fast you won't have time to crap your pants before dying of the ensuing heart attack. You get the Auto Gallery Yokohama (AG-Y) R32 time attack machine.
When I first came across this magnificent machine it was parked in Option magazine's "RB26 Tuning World" at Tokyo Auto Salon. To be asked to participate in this special area is a huge accomplishment and every machine in the stable was nothing short of jaw dropping. However, despite its age, the AG-Y car stood out like a sore thumb. It did the best it could to hide the fact that it really didn't belong with the street machines that surrounded it and at first glance it looks rather civil. But one look behind the wheels, under the hood or into the interior quickly reveals this is no street machine.
As good as the car is stock there is definitely room for improvement, but somehow AG-Y has managed to close up the gap rather nicely. Gone is the interior, air conditioning and most everything else required for street driving. Gone is the HICAS rear-wheel steering, Nissan's techno-gadget that didn't work out so well. Gone is the pair of ceramic T25 turbochargers in lieu of an enormous single. And along with the removal of those parts also goes any hope of ever driving this car on the street again.
Certainly the street was never where this car truly belonged to begin with. This example is owned and driven by an employee of AG-Y and is currently used as the shop's main demo car. It has been in a constant state of development over the last few years and has undergone two major iterations. Not only is the car modified very tastefully, it's modified entirely. In fact you'd be hard-pressed to find a more-modified R32 anywhere in the world. One quick glance through the spec box will leave any JDM fan drooling or wanting to commit suicide. The grand total in mods is likely higher than the original cost of the vehicle off the showroom floor.
Under the hood lurks an extremely potent RB26. Upon first glance, many wouldn't even recognize the power plant discretely disguised as an RB20 with custom modified valve covers that accept the HKS V-cam system. The head has been fully prepped by NAPREC, Japan's premier racing machine shop. In the bottom end resides no less than HKS' step 2 crank, pistons and H-section connecting rods. The HKS T51R turbo mounted to the engine via a Trust top-mount manifold is capable of boosting enough air through the NISMO surge tank to create 890hp after being exhausted through the door by the custom AG-Y turbo-back.
Separated by an ATS clutch from the monster 2.8L engine is a very special transmission. AG-Y is known throughout Japan for tuning GT-Rs but above all else they are the GT-R transmission specialists. Under the tunnel of this R32 is their premium SS690RS close-ratio transmission. For roughly $8000, AG-Y can rebuild any GT-R transmission to a stronger spec with lower gear ratios and convert the syncros from a single to double-cone design. A reinforced center plate and stronger input shaft will set you back another $2000. But if you're trying to put down anything close to 900hp this is definitely the way to go.
On the inside this GT-R is pure no frills performance. Once the driver manages his way through the 15-point AG-Y roll cage he finds himself firmly planted to the stitch-welded chassis thanks to a lone Bride Zeta II seat. To his immediate left a hydraulic ebrake and fire extinguisher patiently await. Beyond his hands is a full array of gauges from Defi complimented by additional meters from HKS and Neko. But the real magic happens where his feet reside. A Tilton floor-mounted pedal assembly has been installed to ensure no command goes unheard. From left-to-right there is one pedal used to introduce the HKS powerplant to the AG-Y transmission, one to call the AP brakes into action and one that makes mind-shattering noise.
All this madness inside the GT-R is perched atop equally exotic suspension components. Seldomly seen outside of the Lotus market the GT-R's Force Shocks are truly premium units manufactured by UK's famous shock builder Nitron. Accompanying the dampers is a full adjustable multi-link array from Japan's world famous Ikeya Formula. Often desired but rarely seen stateside, the Ikeya pieces are attached to many of Japan's fastest time attack rides. Duplicating this setup will take approximately $8500.
But are all these mods really worth it? Just how fast is the car? A little over a week after these photos were taken, the GT-R was hauled to a Super Lap event held by Option magazine at Fuji Speedway. Once unloaded the car preceded to thrash the circuit recording a blistering time of 1:43.845. For comparison the fastest time attack car currently competing, the Cyber Evo, holds the record at Fuji with a time of 1:41.434. When you consider the AG-Y R32 is not being driven by a professional the feat is astonishing, especially for a car of its age.
As we all know the true yardstick for Japanese time attack is the Tsukuba circuit and I'm anxious to see what this monster can click off. A rough estimate based on the car's performance at Fuji should yield a sub-56 second lap time, which is total insanity for a car built and driven by a privateer. Whether or not AG-Y is ready to fight with the big boys is yet to be determined. Hopefully by the time you're reading this I'll be dug-in at a corner of Tsukuba for the 22nd annual Rev Speed Super Lap Battle to find out.
1991 Nissan Skyline GT-R R32
Owner Auto Gallery Yokohama
Hometown Yokohama, Japan
Occupation Building some of the sickest gt-rs in the world
Power 890hp @ 8100RPM; 641lb-ft @ 6800RPM
Engine 2.8L turbocharged RB26DETT; bored to 87mm; stroked to 77.7mm; 8.7:1 compression; HKS V-cam 264° camshafts, cam gears, h-section connecting rods, step 2 pistons, rings, step 2 crankshaft, 1000cc injectors, fuel pump (x2), T51R turbo, headgasket, oil cap, under drive pulleys; ARP head studs; NAPREC head work; Tomei Type C valve springs; NISMO surge tank, radiator cap; Auto Gallery Yokohama (AG-Y) fuel rail, intake, custom titanium exhaust, 6L oil pan, valve covers, oil catch tank; Trust turbo manifold, oil pump; SARD wastegate, fuel pressure regulator; ARC intercooler and piping; NGK R7426-10 spark plugs; Billion radiator; ATI Super Damper; Blitz air filter; custom fuel cell; Aeroquip water-cooled oil cooler; Earls stainless lines for fuel and oil delivery
Drivetrain AG-Y S690RS Type 2 transmission, axles; ATS (Carbonetic) carbon LSD, carbon clutch; carbon driveshaft
Engine management HKS F-CON V Pro D Jetro, EVC III boost controller, Circuit Attack Counter; Neko AF700 air/fuel meter
Footwork & Chassis Force Racing coilovers; Hyperco 16k springs; Cusco front tower bar; AG-Y 15-point rollcage, type-r rear strut tower bar, 40mm front/rear sway bar, fully stitch-welded chassis; Ikeya Formula rear lower control arms, rear camber arms, traction rods, tie rod ends, front upper links, tension rodssion rods
Brakes AP Racing CP5555 6-pot front calipers, CP5200 4 pot rear calipers; 370mm front/340mm rear floating rotors; NISMO brake lines; IDI D700 front/ D500 rear pads; Racing Logic hydraulic e-brake
Wheels & Tires 18X11'' +21 SSR Type-F; 295/30ZR18 Hankook Ventus TD tires
Exterior AG-Y custom front under tray, canards, tow hooks; SARD type C rear wing; Craft Square mirrors
Interior Bride Zeta II seat; Defi Super Sports Cluster w/Defi Link ; Nardi steering wheel; Sabelt 4-point harness; Tilton floor-mounted pedals
Watch dailymotion.com/video/x1h0wp_best-motoring-skyline-r32-nurburgri_auto (BMI R32 Nürburgring video), youtube.com/watch?v=apUa3wteEUY&p=1BCB2ECFCE05FE59&playnext=1&index=8 (AG-Y R32 video)