If we could travel back in time to about 2006, the automotive world would be a very different place. Although many great cars existed, there was a gap that needed to be filled. A gap in the North American market, that is. There is a car that today is a staple of performance, a car that all sports cars and many super cars are compared against, and this car wasn't even available to US customers for over 40 years. In case you haven't picked up on it, I'm talking about the Nissan Skyline GT-R, known now in the latest generation as simply the GT-R.
This AWD turbocharged vehicle burst onto the scene in a display of pure unadulterated ridiculousness. The GT-R is fast, nimble, and reliable as well, something not many supercars can claim. Now before you get all in a fuss, the GT-R doesn't qualify as a supercar and I'm not calling it such, but the performance figures certainly stand up to the best of the best. Everyone took notice of this new beast from Japan and it was aptly nicknamed Godzilla, in a positive light. Every JDM fan boy's dreams now existed, and could be had…for the right price. The GT-R is not cheap, and modifying them is not either. But thankfully, there are people out there like Ricky Kwan who bite the bullet and make it happen, and boy has he made something awesome happen indeed.
When I first saw Ricky's GT-R at SEMA, it looked a little bit different than it does here. As it turns out, I wasn't the only one who thought the car was incredibly badass. The production team for the upcoming Fast Six movie approached Ricky to use his ride as Paul Walker's hero car. Let me just pause now and say that this would probably be every early 2000's JDM kid's dream, whether he would admit it or not. I mean that's just awesome, I don't care who you are. Ricky's car, formerly painted red, was wrapped in a light blue metallic vinyl for the movie and we decided to keep it for our photo shoot. The blue compliments the obviously intense BenSopra wide body treatment, giving this Godzilla a more Mechagodzilla kind of appearance. In case you're not a big geek like I am, Mechagodzilla is a, you guessed it, mechanical Godzilla, a more intense and crazy version of the traditional beast we are all familiar with. The wheel selection for Mechagodzilla was the newly-released Yokohama Advan GT ET5, sized in 20x11" all the way around. Advan A005 racing slicks have been equipped on all for corners as well, because why mess around with semi-slicks or R-Compounds when you've got a build of this caliber? Stopping duties are performed by Brembo calipers and carbon ceramic rotors, fitted with Endless ME20 brake pads and fed by Endless brake lines. We're pretty sure this setup kicks major ass, and it's definitely not for show.
The racecar stuff doesn't stop on the outside of the car. Inside Ricky and his guys over at his shop, The R's Tuning have fabricated a FIA certified rollcage and equipped the car with all needed safety equipment for competition use. Weight reduction has been performed in a major way, carbon-fiber doors, trunk lid, and roof skin have been installed to ditch the heavy OEM parts. This car really is ready for battle. Both passenger and driver are held in place by carbon Sparco Circuit Racing seats and Schroth harnesses, and the steering wheel has been replaced with a custom Sparco wheel. The dashboard remains in place, but that's pretty much the only thing that isn't removed or altered from the interior. Ricky has also set up a firewall and custom fuel cell, because you guessed it, this car is strictly for track.
The performance of the Nissan GT-R is incredible straight out of the box, but as we know there is always room for improvement. A Switzer P800 turbo kit has been chosen because Ricky knows this kit is proven and reliable, and also makes a modest amount of power. It's not a setup that makes crazy numbers to brag about, but it's reliable, and that's a huge part of making a good track car. With that in mind, Ricky added a HKS downpipe and resonated Y-pipe to aid in flow, and the car is equipped with a custom center-exit exhaust. The exhaust looks great and actually flows quite nicely with the super over- the-top BenSopra bodywork. Ricky also went a step further in the pursuit of racecar reliability (that's kind of an oxymoron, but you know what I mean) by insisting on a custom cooling system. This setup consists of an air-to-water intercooler, twin core transmission cooler, an oversized power steering cooler, extra large radiator and oversized oil cooler. Pretty cool huh? (Get it?!) A COBB AP005 handles EMS duties and has been tuned to perfection by Ricky's friends over at SP Engineering. The drivetrain of the GT-R is stock for the time being, as it has not caused any problems or needed upgrading. It's also worth noting that the car starts up normally with the key and push button; no crazy launch sequence needed here.
The suspension department has been appropriately upgraded as well; Ricky didn't want to get caught slippin' out on track with so much power and no way to keep it under control. JRZ RS Pro Coilovers have been chosen for their proven reliability and known high performance, and Ricky's guys have fabricated their own camber arms for added adjustability. That might not seem like a long list of parts, but lets not forget that this is a GT-R we're talking about here. You don't need much to go a long way. These modifications paired with the racing slicks are sure to keep Ricky's booty planted on the tarmac where it belongs.
At the end of the day, I find myself just staring at this car. It looks incredible, and although there are a few things about it that are not pure race, it really doesn't matter. Ricky is not a racing team, he's one guy (who does own a performance shop), but this car is not necessarily a fully-fledged racecar…yet. That's the plan according to Ricky, he says the car needs some more work but that he hopes to compete in wheel-to-wheel racing with it in the near future. We can't wait for that to happen, but Ricky please! Don't stuff this thing into a wall, it's so beautiful!
2009 Nissan GT-R
Location: Irvine, CA
Occupation: Owner, The R's Tuning
Engine: Switzer P800 Turbo kit; The R's Tuning custom cooling system (air-to-water intercooler, twin-core transmission oil cooler, oversized power-steering cooler, oversized radiator with engine oil cooler) Godzilla Exhaust system; HKS downpipe & resonated Y-pipe; Seibon carbon-fiber cooling panel set, engine cover
Engine Management: COBB AP005, tuned by SP Engineering
Footwork &: Chassis The R's Tuning FIA certified "Godzilla" rollcage, custom camber arms; JRZ RS Pro coilovers; Project Kics wheel spacers
Wheels &: Tires 20x11" Yokohama Advan RS ET5 wheels; 290/710/20 Yokohama Advan A005 racing slick tires
Exterior: BenSopra widebody kit and wing; Seibon carbon-fiber doors; AMS Performance dry carbon roof and trunk
Interior: Seibon carbon-fiber door sills and trim; custom Sparco steering wheel, Circuit Racing seats; Schroth harnesses