The V8 Hakosuka: Rocky Auto Does It Again

There is a right way and a wrong way of doing things. Or is there? As far as I know nobody has ever imposed any rules or guidelines when it comes to cars. Like works of art anyone is free to do whatever one sees fit with his own car. Last week’s feature on The Check Shop’s 997 GT3 RS 3.8 raised a few eyebrows, with some feeling that a set of street-wheels completely ruined such a focused modern-day performance car. Well this week I want to continue on that line of thought, not so much on the form vs. function debate but more on modified vs. authentic vintage car restorations.

That’s why I headed down to Nagoya for this particular feature, to meet up with Watanabe-san of Rocky Auto, probably one of the most recognized vintage car shops in Japan. Watanabe-san has developed a very distinct approach to restoring Japanese classics like the Skyline or the Fairlady Z; while he appreciates the unmolested and period correct look, at the same time he isn’t afraid to meddle with authenticity.

As he so simply puts it every time we talk about his cars, “I want to create cars that people want to drive” and by this he means drive them on a daily basis. This means make them “useable,” powerful but at the same time safe. It’s definitely an argument that’s hard to argue against, except by saying that it’s just not right. But right according to what? Who? Resto-modded cars have been all the rage for decades in the US, and what he is doing is precisely this…

…only done with a Japanese twist. The 1971 C10 Skyline 2-door hardtop he put together for this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon is probably one of the most talked about cars he has built, not because of power or carbon body panels like he has done in the past…

…but more because of the origin of the engine.

The Toyota 1U has become quite the popular engine to swap into small and light cars, we have seen them fitted to various generations of Corollas for example with awesome results. But into a Skyline?  An Hakosuka of all cars?

Aside for the fact that this will probably make a lot of Nissan aficionados cringe, not to mention those that in no way or form accept any sort of fettling when it comes to classic cars, Watanabe-san has created something quite different. Call it controversial if you want, but that is precisely what he was shooting for.

The 1U has fits without any problems in the C10’s large engine bay, most of the engine fitted behind the front suspension mounting point, for optimal front to rear weight distribution. Prior to the swap itself the Hakosuka’s chassis was fully restored, strengthened in high-stress areas to make sure it could take the low-rpm torque of the 4L V8.

Aside from custom exhaust manifolds adapted to match the Rocky Auto stainless steel exhaust system, the 1U is stock, so good for 250 HP and 260 lb/ft of torque…and plenty of reliability.

The engine sits so low that the stock intake plenum has no problem clearing the inside of the C10’s stock hood.

The only other modification has been carried out to the intake, with a bespoke induction pipe connected onto the stock air flow meter unit and then onto a shielded cone filter. The 1U is mated to a Nissan R32 5-speed manual transmission which sends torque to the rear upgraded LSD.

The custom adjustable Rocky Auto suspension allows the car to sit considerably lower than stock, but still set at a comfortable ride height for the car’s new owner to be able to enjoy it on a daily basis. The front upper mounts are fitted with Cusco adjustable camber plates for added negative camber in the suspension’s geometry. Along with an hydraulically assisted rack and pinion steering the V8 Hakosuka boasts adjustable lower suspension arms and thicker anti roll bars, along with harder bushes all round to tighten up the steering and overall feel of the car.

The donor car isn’t the rare KPGC10 2000 GT-R, but an entry-level model that has been converted over to the GT-R look.

It’s all about the details like the “S” emblem on the C-pillar.

The rear is finished off with bolted-on overfenders to help contain the more aggressive offset of the wheel…

…while the rear sports the GT-R’s raked trunk lid spoiler.

Wheel of choice, like on many of Watanabe-san’s cars, are 15-inch Rays Engineering Volk Racing TE37V, finished off with a polished outer rim and silver spokes. Hankook V8 RS tires are used all around 195/50 up front and slightly wider 225/45 on the rears. Rocky Auto never leaves anything up to chance so after taking advantage of the 1U’s ample torque and awesome acceleration there are reliable brakes to lean on in case you need to shave speed off fast! Both the front and rear calipers are borrowed from an R32 Skyline and are more than up to the job of hauling this modernized classic from any speed.

The result is a very authentic GT-R replica, also painted in the same factory sand-grey color the original cars were offered in.

Every badge or piece of trim is authentic Nissan equipment…

…which is why in Japan GT-R replicas of this level of quality fetch good money.

It may not have the legendary S20 straight-six screaming away up front but it’s still is a vintage Skyline! Plus as Watanabe-san says, this is actually a lot more fun to drive than the all-original KPGC10, something you can believe has he owns about three of them, including a couple of Z432 that of course also came with the GT-R’s S20 2-liter.

I’m not one to be so fussy about cars of this nature. Unless it’s a true GT-R, which I would never dream of altering in any way but in the way it would have been done back in the early seventies, then I’m not really against this sort of resto-mod approach. In fact after Watanabe-san allowed me to take the Hakosuka out for a short drive I came away even more convinced, having enjoyed the explosive response of the Toyota V8 and the modern feel of the steering, suspension and gear change. The only thing that just felt wrong was the engine’s sound, the brain just refusing to compute hearing a V8 burble scream out of a Skyline’s exhaust!

The same recipe has been applied to the interior; you get the vintage feel – and smell – of the classic cabin, spiced up with comfortable and supportive…

…Recaro reclinable seats…

…and a Nardi steering wheel, which thanks to the power steering can be turned with one finger even at parking speeds.

The stock dashboard and instrumentation remains…

…like the speedometer…

….but the rpm gauge has been replaced with a more accurate AutoMeter unit, neatly enclosed in the stock binnacle.

But it doesn’t end there; like pretty much every single car in Japan…

…a latest generation navi system was almost obligatory, doubling up as the main control center for the CD and HDD audio system…

…and display for the digital TV tuner.

The modified center console houses the hard disc portion of the navigation system as well as the R32’s A/C control unit, one of Rocky Auto’s most popular retrofitted upgrades. There are also power windows, just in case you were wondering!

It may have been brought into the new millennium, but it’s still very much an old Skyline!

Rocky Auto continues to shock the motoring world every year with interesting new takes on their tried and proven approach to vintage car restoration. It’s just a different way of doing things, one that you either appreciate or you don’t.

The last say is down to each individual car enthusiast.

Specs:

Engine: Toyota 1U engine swap, custom mounts, custom induction sustem, custom exhaust manifolds, Rocky Auto exhaust system, custom wiring

Transmission:  R32 Skyline 5-speed transmission and clutch, LSD

Suspension: Rocky Auto adjustable dampers, Cusco camber plates, Rocky Auto lower arms, Rocky Auto sway bars, hydraulic rakc and pinion power steering (from R32)

Brakes: R32 Skyline brakes all round

Wheels & Tires: Volk Racing TE37V 15x8J front, 15x9J rear, Hankook Ventus V8 RS 195/50R15 (front), 225/40R15 (rear)

Exterior: 2000 GT-R replica kit

Interior: Recaro reclinable seats, Nardi steering wheel, AutoMeter rpm gauge, R32 A/C unit, power windows, custom center console, Panasonic navigation & audio system

Rocky Auto

-Dino Dalle Carbonare

ADVERTISEMENT

Comments

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.

97 comments

by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest
1

I ask myself one question : why use this motor ? I get the fact of a V8 in this car. But why only 250HP/260lb/ft ? He could easily get this power from a 4 or 6 cylinders. He just wanted the V8 burble ?

2

 @t1p14k My thoughts exactly.
 

3

 @t1p14k Because V8s make great torque and horsepower in NA form. If he went to a 4 cylinder engine he would have to turbo charge it to get those torque figures. It would change the entire feeling of the car in doing so. 
 
A 6 cylinder engine would be long and is probably harder to fit, makes the car more nose heavy as well. You can get good power and torque out of a 6 cylinder, but the V8 in this case is the best choice. The 1UZ is an alloy motor so it's not terribly heavy. 
 
I'm with you on the power issue though, would have liked to see this motor with ported heads, exhaust, intake, and maybe slightly higher compression etc to get maybe 300-350hp and 300-350 ft lb of torque. 

4

 @t1p14k When i saw the 1U i thought, why not use a LS. The 1U use to be a good choice 10 years ago when they where still relatively new and LS's were expensive. Nowdays i would only consider one to meet engine size restrictions for registration. 

5

I Want it. What would be required to get something like this made and exported? Glad it wasn't done to a GT-R though.

6

V8.. Jdm... does... not... compute...
 
very interesting idea!

7

I love it, Nice and different 

8

Needs ITB's asap

9

 @t1p14k Think about how many cars in Japan would come with an LS1, I dont think they would be very cheap...Rocky auto has done plenty of stuff with 6 cyl in the past, he probably wanted to do something different.Looks like this car is street registered so you have to take legality into account. It sounds like its running a stock computer so it probably wouldn't support mods too well. I dont know about japanese regulations but it might also have to go through emissions testing so engine modifications might make it fail that. 

10

This car is like a hater's ball:
 
Stance Kid: "Way too much wheel gap, BRO."
Hipster Kid: "I liked Skyline's before they were mainstream..."
Purist: "NOOOOO, Someone screwed up ANOTHER Hakasuka!"
Resto-Mod Kid: "Pfft, Needs ITB's asap."
Hot-Rodder: "When I saw the 1U I thought, why not use an LS motor? Obviously if you're going to go V8 it HAS to be an LSx."
Actual Speedhunter fan: "Hey, that's yet another original ride brought to us by the always excellent photography of DD Carbonare. I'm sure glad he brought us another great spotlight on this FREE blog about the amazing and addictive world of Car Culture at Large."
 
More please Dino. Good work as always.

11

Rocky Auto Y U no VK swap....
 
but seriously beautiful car with a proven engine love everything about it.

12

@TBravo bravo.
I think people need to appreciate the amount of work someone has put in to a car like this rather than quickly judge. Maybe the guy didnt want 300-400bhp, sounds like he wanted to create a really reliably daily driver. Amazing car.

13

Thank you!!! Its nice to see that there are some people that share the same ideas. I know people are not going to like this but i LOVE how Dino brings us such amazing content for FREE. I LOVE Speedhunters and every bit of content they provide us!

14

I love how internet ''car guys'' are bitching about the choice of the engine but noone ever stopped and thought about how great he made this old ride!

This would make an awesome daily driver for anyone who has money and doesn't want to drive around in a Camry.

It's fuel injected
It has upgraded brakes/tires/wheels/suspension
It has power steering, power windows, ELECTRONIC climate control and great seats, yet it still looks stock and probably as an OEM fit and finish.

This is the true meaning of a resto mod.

15

I don't think anyone with THAT kind of money will drive around in a Camry.....

16

Dope ride!  Love the modern upgrades i.e. p/s, p/w, a/c. It's always cool to do something outside the box....  even though he did something different inside this Hakosuka.  I would like to see the R35 engine dropped into one of these.   Great coverage Dino!

17
speedhunters_dino

 @wigg1 You won't need to wait long for that;)

18
speedhunters_dino

 @Vilko  @t1p14k Yes the choice was more for ease, with decent power and ease.  LS would have been too much for what he was shooting for, a comfortable everyday car

19
speedhunters_dino

 @Vilko  @t1p14k Yes the choice was more for ease, with decent power and ease.  LS would have been too much for what he was shooting for, a comfortable everyday car

20
speedhunters_dino

I think the car sold for ¥10 million, or maybe a bit more

21
speedhunters_dino

 @Hollagraphik Maybe a next step!

22
speedhunters_dino

Thanks buddy!

23
speedhunters_dino

 @TheRobotCow Thanks!

24
speedhunters_dino

 @TheFinn How about VR swap?  They have 2 sitting in the showroom!

25

that engine fits like a glove!!
and whats that thing under the oil pressure dial? (http://cdn.dev.speedhunters.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/AY0F2216.jpg)

26

Throw a turbo on it and id give up both my nuts for it.....Real talk.

27

@mazdaspeeder86

Camry = Metaphore for: Uninspired daily driver.

28

That being said still dont think this is worth roughly $130,000 =/

29

Amazing car!
Regarding the engine, I really don't think the nine choice was bad. A reliable Japanese V8. Brilliant.
Some of the sting is taken away by the fact it is not a genuine GTR.

This is going to be a brilliant daily driver. Some great mod cons inside with modern brakes and suspension. I want this car badly.

30

uh oh, something spectacular is about to come about.  ah the suspense.

31

@Tbravo  LMAO, although the end of of your post is a bit lipsticky and mushy you perfectly nailed that synopsis!!!! NIce post to you and nice article DC.     
 
Side note.   Not taking away from this creation, personally this restomod would be everything for me with an available Nissan engine. 

32

 @Nikhil_P  a clock ...

33

This car is pure porn. One of the coolest, hottest cars I've seen. Just wow.

34

Amazing build from Rocky Auto once again! Nothing crazy or over the top, but still an amazing chasis with a great reliable engine and all modernized up - brakes, suspencion, interior, everything. Definitely a breath of fresh air!

35

Great build and clean work, just one question: would a Nissan VK56VD fit just as well?

36
Nicholas Rodriguez

I'm not saying that V8's suck and blah blah turbo blah blah but I just don't like this. I want to hear a carbed vintage Japanese motor that revs to infinity in an older car like this. /rant 

37

Great! Needs more low IMO but otherwise a sweet ride

38
speedhunters_dino

 @Nicholas Rodriguez OS Giken twin cam head on an L24 maybe? 

39
speedhunters_dino

 @MattAtDoyle I think it would fit in rather nicely.  We don't get that engine out here but that's something I'm going to mention to Watanabe-san next time I see him LOL

40
speedhunters_dino

 @The Big Yin I don't think anyone would ever touch a real GT-R in this way! The Nissan otakus would probably murder anyone that would try haha

41
speedhunters_dino

 @LavarBowers It might sound expensive but if you consider it takes months of work to get the chassis restore, reinforced, prepped and painted...that's a lot of man hours.  I've seen the work they do to stripped down chassis there, it's very meticulous.  I guess that's where a lot of the price comes from 

42
speedhunters_dino

 @uN_emperador  @Nikhil_P That's a Yupiteru Speed Cat radar detector and scanner.  Pretty much one of the most handy things you could ever put in your car in Japan! I have a similar one integrated into the rearview mirror 

43

I feel that he should've kept the engine within the same family, so the VH45 or whatever it is. It's a well presented car, but just doesn't quite do it for me. 
I would've preferred a carbed RB over anything except stock, though.

44

*within the same family
I mean within Nissan.

45
speedhunters_dino

 @pesugob6 Well no surprise, Watanabe has had the VR38s at Rocky for over a year now. It's just the electronics side of things are a bit of a pain apparently...oh and getting rid of the diff/drive shafts from the sump too

46
speedhunters_dino

 @Tbravo Someone mentioned a VK56....uhmmmm

47
speedhunters_dino

You know he has done the carbed RB already right? He is running our of things to try hahaha

48
speedhunters_dino

You know he has done the carbed RB already right? He is running our of things to try hahaha

49

I wish there was a video with some engine sound clips

50

I wish there was a video with some engine sound clips

51

 @speedhunters_dino yeah, on that beautiful Carbon 240Z? I love that car. 
There was a ITBd project 370Z with a VK56 I believe, and it looked beautiful. It would've been my choice of engine.
 
But hey, he owns the car and has the money, and I'm a poor student.

52

 @speedhunters_dino yeah, on that beautiful Carbon 240Z? I love that car. 
There was a ITBd project 370Z with a VK56 I believe, and it looked beautiful. It would've been my choice of engine.
 
But hey, he owns the car and has the money, and I'm a poor student.

53

 @speedhunters_dino *the 370Z was at MotorEx, I believe that you've got pictures of it somewhere.
 
I swear to god, every time I type something on this site I forget a part of it, and have to add it on later.

54

 @speedhunters_dino *the 370Z was at MotorEx, I believe that you've got pictures of it somewhere.
 
I swear to god, every time I type something on this site I forget a part of it, and have to add it on later.

55

 @speedhunters_dino *the 370Z was at MotorEx, I believe that you've got pictures of it somewhere.
 
I swear to god, every time I type something on this site I forget a part of it, and have to add it on later.

56

@speedhunters_dino Haha. Yeah your probably right on that one.

57

 @t1p14k
 a 6 cylinder wouldn't be harder to fit, as they came with one from the factory

58

 @Hondafan
not even a japanese v8?

59

 @speedhunters_dino  @Tbravo
 now that would be a difficult engine to make fit, those things are massive

60

 @speedhunters_dino
 most likely the MCA Suspension 370z, it has caused quite a stir in the internet realmthough a vh45 would be a good choice

61

so should of put in an rb26 its a perfect choice for it

62

 @777  @speedhunters_dino VH, that's the right code. Thanks for that. I just feel that it'd be better suited than a Toyota donk.

63

Lovely machine but please switch to a VH45!!!!!

64
speedhunters_dino

 @jacobnorton He has done that many times already!

65
speedhunters_dino

 @LouisSoon Well actually there is!  Just wait until December to see what I mean!  I quite vividly remember dropping the clutch at 4,000 rpm in this V8 Hako for the particular "video" I am talking about....:)

66
speedhunters_dino

Yes in that S30 but also in a C110 Kenmeri as well as an Hakoska he is working on now

67
HeathvanderWaerden

I reckon the front seats should be in vinyl not cloth, and the polished stuff under the bonnet should be blacked out. Really nice though. I do like the notion of a V8 Hako :P

68

The rain drops make the  pics look good

69

 @speedhunters_dino well I expect reports on the kenmeri and the other hako then! get to it, chop chop! :)

70

I find it funny that the people sooking about it not being an RB or at least a Nissan engine variant are probably the same people that laugh and cheer when an RB or LS1 appear in an FD....whether you're a Mazda/rotor fanboy or a Datsun/RB fanboy, it hurts to see a nice car ruined by the wrong type of motor, so maybe don't laugh and cheer next time it happens to the make you're not so interested in!

71

Another awesome piece of work from these guys.  Love this!

72

I love it! All-aluminum V8 mounted way back and low in a not-so-rare classic Skyline coupe. I want to see it roasting tires with that newfound power and torque!

73

Love it! Nothing else to add.

74

This car is incredibly neat and very nice to look at, but it should not have a Toyota V8 in its engine bay, whether it is a neat as hell Rocky Auto conversion or not. Such a shame...

75

 @speedhunters_dino  @Nicholas Rodriguez Yes Dino! Yes a million times... This is just wrong man. (Still very neat work though...)

76
Nicholas Rodriguez

 @datsunsss  @speedhunters_dino Exactly awesome work and a very clean swap just not my taste.

77

If non hakosukas were rare i'd be cringing.
But its good!

78

If non GTR hakosukas were rare i'd be cringing.
But its good!
 

79
OutlawDrifter89

It is a very well done build, but I honestly can't decide whether I like it or not. 

80

I like it, I think it looks good, but I'm somewhat of a purist, I like to keep it in the family, with the exception of the rotary...

81

 @speedhunters_dino Cool!

82

IN CHILE ONE IN PERFEC CONDITION IN MY FACEFOOK YOU CAN SEE GREETINGS

83

MY FACEBOOK JOAQUIN ANDRES RIVEROS ARRIAZA

84

  Very well put. You summed it up.

85

No gripes here about the swap...just a few editorial nitpicks.  It's a 1UZ engine, not a "1U."  The UZ series are V8's, the U series were all boxer engines.  The Toyota Sports 800 used a 2U flat-twin, and the Toyota designates the new, Subaru built flat-four a 4U.  Also, the quoted tire sizes are off.  In the article, it states 225/45R15 in the rear, and in the specs section it states 225/40R15.  The 40-series would be smaller in diameter than the 195/50R15 fronts, and the 45-series would match.  The rears appear to be larger than the fronts.  I'm going to guess that either 195/50R15 is incorrect, or the rears are 225/50R15.

86

Love this but why not a VQ35DE (plentiful, plenty of aftermarket back up) or VQ37VHR (current hi tech). Both engine have outputs of between 290~332hp and 270ib.ft of torque, which is a touch more than 1UZFE. You would also get the six speed box. I'm not saying old Nissans should have Nissan engines, but as the RB26 has been done why not an engine from the next skyline platform?

87

Im very relieved to see that they didn't make this out of a 2000 gtr

88

Im very relieved to see that they didn't make this out of a 2000 gtr

89

Im very relieved to see that they didn't make this out of a 2000 gtr

90

Im very relieved to see that they didn't make this out of a 2000 gtr

91

@Seanskee yeah you're right about the rotary, everything you put it in becomes pure perfection

92

@Seanskee yeah you're right about the rotary, everything you put it in becomes pure perfection

93

@Seanskee yeah you're right about the rotary, everything you put it in becomes pure perfection

94

@Seanskee yeah you're right about the rotary, everything you put it in becomes pure perfection

95

Realy good jobs
cheers

96
JonathanMcAnenly

aah gawd.... i love it!!
its awesome...

OFFICIAL SPEEDHUNTERS SUPPLIERS