The Z-tune is without a doubt one of the best cars to ever come out of Japan. It's rarity and performance makes it one of the most sought after GT-Rs of modern times, and after looking at how it performs out on the street I though it would be interesting to take a look at the car in more detail.
Back in 2006 I followed one step of the build process of the last Z-tune to ever be made. While the guys at Nismo Omori Factory had completed the chassis modifications with the tons of spot welding and stiffening of the shell with carbon fiber, one technician took care of building the engine that would eventually power this very last Z-tune.
During the course of one afternoon the bottom end was carefully put together, paying extreme attention to tolerances. It was a pleasure to see how real race-bread engine builders slowly build up an engine of this caliber. When I arrived, the forged aluminum pistons and connecting rods were already pre-assembled and had been carefully balanced to each weigh exactly the same to guarantee the smoothest and vibration-free feel throughout the rev-range.
Cooling channels in the GT-block had been carefully cleaned from casting residue to guarantee efficient flow at every load. The pistons and attached connecting rods were then dropped into the block…
…and then fixed onto the crank's journals with special Nismo bearings. The conrod bolts were then carefully tightened with a torque wrench and checked over and over again.
With the bottom-end taken care of it was then time to check tolerances very carefully. Here you can see the crankshaft play being measured. Also notice how every bolt that has been torqued is marked. This way when the engine is taken apart for maintenance one can see if any bolts have lost their original tightness.
Next up the RB26 head was ported and polished to guarantee the best flow. Intake and exhaust ports were cleaned up too as well as valve seats being cut and fitted with special seats.
The engine was eventually finished and I returned back to Nismo Omori Factory to see the final Z-tune being picked up by a transporter and taken to the port where it would be shipped abroad to its owner. This is what was waiting for me, a freshly completed Z-tune with a spotless engine bay.
This car is all about attention to detail, I mean just look at the welds on the titanium strut tower bar! And the carbon that has been bonded onto the suspension turrets to aid rigidity.
Nismo staff kindly positioned the Z-tune on the ramp behind the main factory building so I could grab some shots before the transporter arrived.
The badge really says it all!
The wheels had barely turned so the Brembo brake rotors were looking a little unused. Every Z-tune was fitted with Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R performance street tires, a model that has since been replaced by the new RE-11.
The small rear over-fenders had to be added on to comply with Japanese regulations, which state that wheels and tires cannot protrude over the dimension of the body. So by sticking on plastic strips the authorities were kept happy.
There wasn't much to see in the interior, as everything was wrapped in protective film. But you can see the red and black motif of the Connolly leather treatment.
As I was grabbing a few final shots…
…the transporter had arrived. Nismo never takes any chances when moving its precious cars, be it a limited edition street car like the Z-tune or GT race cars. Special transporters with self-leveling air suspension are used, while the car is safely strapped down from the wheels onto the flat-bed that hydraulically slides in and out of the truck.
It was a sad moment seeing such a special car being completed and whisked away to its owner. For me this was the moment that officially marked the end of an era, the last ever second-generation GT-R to be built. Since then the R35 GT-R has truly established itself as one of best supercars currently available, but as this new wave of GT-Rs take on the world I can't help but feel nostalgic about older Skyline GT-Rs, after all its because of their incredible achievements the GT-R name has become such a legend.
-Dino Dalle Carbonare