Good things obviously take time to materialize. It all started back in June last year when I got a call from Allen Lorenzo at Tomei Powered asking if I'd be interested in lending them my car for a couple of days. They needed an R34 GT-R so their exhaust specialist Hatanaka-san could begin the development of an all-new Expreme Ti titanium exhaust system. I was happy to hear that Tomei, along with other Japanese tuners and parts manufacturers are going back and restarting R&D on new parts for the RB26 and older GT-Rs. Perhaps the novelty of the R35 has worn off a little? I don't know, but either way, since my car spends the majority of the time sitting in the garage (work has been hectic to say the least lately) I promptly delivered it into the safe hands of Hatanaka-san.
That was over a year ago. In that time Hatanaka-san has been busy not only coming up with a design that fits, but fabricating this new system to ensure the best possible flow and therefore potential power gains. Not an easy task…especially when you consider he had to do exactly the same with the R33 GT-R.
But after much work and testing the time came to see the final result and my car was once again delivered to Tomei for the first fitting of the final prototype. I returned a few days later (thankfully Tomei is only a short train ride away) as Allen told me they would also be shooting the car for the catalogue and parts advertisement, so this is something I really didn't want to miss seeing.
It's not every day your car is used for an ad!
Allen was busy doing his own bit of photography so he could keep the Tomei blog updated with all the goings on.
This was the first time I laid eyes on the finished Tomei prototype and I wasn't disappointed…
…I was very impressed.
Kenji Hatanaka is nothing less than a master fabricator. Over the years I've visited Tomei Powered a few times to do tours of the facilities or preview new products, and every time I dropped by his section he was busy coming up with new crazy designs for exhaust manifolds or complete systems. There is far more work involved in creating something like this than most would ever imagine, first beginning with the construction of a jig. This helps hold up all the different slices that are used for the bends…
…so that a working initial prototype can be made. Before Tomei, Hatanaka-san used to work at Yoshimura and what makes his work so special is that he applies bike exhaust know-how to the car oriented systems he now creates. This is exactly the way in which the R34's Expreme Ti was made.
Tomei had also borrowed a rather familiar Mine's tuned BCNR33 from a friend. I've been wanting to feature this GT-R for years now but it's one of those cars in a perpetual "almost-finished" state. This is one of the cleanest R33s I've come across in Japan and it deserves a proper shoot. I think I'll just have to steal the keys one night and shoot it without the owner knowing about it! Anyway, with both cars all polished up and ready to go…
…Yamamoto-san of Tomei had everything set up to begin the shoot. Yamamoto-san, who has a lot of experience with photography, takes care of shooting all the product pictures at Tomei, so knew exactly what was needed to make the final images of the Expreme Ti system.
With a diffusion screen nicely blending the lighting onto the underside of the R34 he began snapping away at an angle that would help show the design of the exhaust, which features only a very few gentle bends.
With the first few shots taken care of Yamamoto-san then called in Ogasawara-san (Tomei's chief engineer and engine builder)…
…and Hatanaka-san to remove the carbon fiber diffuser.
With the diffuser out of the way…
…I finally got to see the exhaust in more detail. Smooth hand-welding aside, you can see how Hatanaka-san has avoided using additional flanges to connect the rear silencer, preferring a technique borrowed from motorcycle exhausts where the two ends of the pipes slip into each other and are held in place with a series of springs.
90 mm all the way!
Here is my Mine's titanium exhaust sitting on the ground next to the R33's Fujitsubo stainless steel exhaust.
Time for some more shots.
Yamamoto-san and Ogasawara-san trying to figure out how best to swap the two cars around with the limited space they had available at the back of the workshop.
So after moving the R33 out of the way, my car was reversed out…
…and placed in the correct position for the next series of shots. This was the first time I heard the exhaust and I have to say it made my still stock-ish RB26 sound deeper and meaner compared the very different sounding Mine's pipe I had.
In went the R33.
No diffuser to remove, so it was all wrapped up in a shorter time.
The second shot for the catalogue would be a regular 3/4 rear showing the exhaust from standard height.
Little close up. The diffuser was fitted back on of course.
Yamamoto-san and his assistant…
…Kubota-san, who does all of the computer work to create the final images for print and web-use, had the tedious job of positioning all the lights and diffusers…
…in order to highlight all the right areas of the R34's angular body.
There you go, perfect light!
For the shoot my R34 was fitted with this set of satin-black 18-inch by 9.5J Volk Racing TE37s, running sticky Yokohama Neova rubber.
And one with the Nismo GT LED lights turned on for extra effect!
It was then the R33's turn and I attentively observed how Yamamoto-san and Kubota-san made the silver body pop under the diffused light.
The R33 was fitted with a set of Volk Racing RE30s in the same sizes as the TE37s…
…but sporting aggressive Bridgestone RE55S semi-slick tires.
And here are the final pictures. Pretty good I thought, nothing like a bit of underexposure in the right places to highight a specific detail or area of a car.
And with a bit of Photoshop magic you can see the exhaust snake its way under the diffuser. I'm told the Expreme Ti exhaust system for the BNR32, BCNR33 and BNR34 will go into production by the end of the year.
-Dino Dalle Carbonare