Purists, look away. I’m pretty sure that by now you should all know what the name Rocky Auto is synonymous with. This is one place that isn’t afraid to fettle with authenticity, taking a modern approach to the sort of Japanese vintage rides we all know and respect. Watanabe’s latest project couldn’t possibly be a better ambassador for this way of thought and it’s one we got a little glimpse of back in February at the Nostalgic 2 Days. Back then the car wasn’t even fitted with an engine yet, but it didn’t take much imagination to figure out that with a carbon fiber body…
… it would be running something pretty special for propulsion. The car isn’t actually completed yet, but Watanabe-san was kind enough to quickly fit the wheels and a bunch of other interior parts the night before my visit and get it down from the lift so that I could feature it. And I’m glad he did because this is one car I’ve really been looking forward to admiring in all its glory. It follows much the same recipe as the RB30-powered carbon S30 Rocky Auto built back in 2009, except what makes it very special is that you just don’t see these wild sort of conversions done to Hakosukas. Seeing that the car was only ever sold in Japan, it tends to be a more revered Nissan classic – one that people haven’t dared to meddle with too much. Most are usually more than content with going for a 2000 GT-R look and modding the L-series motor that usually powers them, except of course Watanabe had different ideas.
The exterior itself is mostly wrapped in carbon-look vinyl but countless bits and pieces have been custom made out of carbon fiber. So the whole bumper-less front fascia is carbon, as are the headlight covers, the hood and the fender flares. It all combines to give the car a sort of Works look but with the obvious modern feel carbon fiber introduces to the equation.
There are a lot of cool details that further spice up the looks like these prohibitively expensive dry-carbon fender mirrors from 09 Racing…
… or the C-pillar air outlets, again made in carbon.
Thanks to adjustable Rocky Auto coilovers the car has been significantly lowered onto a set of 15″ Work Meister CR01s, measuring 9.5 inches across at the front. The lack of appropriately sized tires needed to achieve the look that Watanabe wanted, led him to stumble upon a set of old 225/50VR15 Pirelli P7 Cinturato. As you can see from the picture above the aged rubber hasn’t particularly liked the excessive stretching its been subjected to and has begun to split along the rim.
The 11-inch wide rears are fitted with Pirelli P700s…
… in slightly wider 255/50VR15 size. The custom offset of the wheels has been perfectly selected for an optimal fit. The last thing remaining to be done is lower the rear suspension…
… pretty much as far as it will go. With such a unique exterior treatment for a KGC10, it’s hard not to get curious about the car’s driveline…
… which of course hasn’t got a single period correct component in sight. Recall our little tour of Watanabe’s new garage where we came across about seven R32 Autech Versions? Well this is why he has so many – they are donor cars for this rather rare and special version of Nissan’s RB26.
The limited edition Autech R32 was never regarded as quite the special car as other limited edition versions of the Skyline, but the engine that powered it was quite interesting. After grabbing RB26 shortblocks from the Nissan production line Autech would disassemble the engines, and get to work on them. They bored out the blocks to accommodate the 1mm oversized 87mm pistons that increase capacity to 2,627 cc and balanced the crank, con rods and flywheel to guarantee smooth, vibration-free operation all the way to the redline. Furthermore the head was polished for extra flow, helping to extract 220hp.
The engines are easily recognizable thanks the S/S plaque on the intake plenum, playing homage to Shinchiro Sakurai, Prince’s engineer responsible for developing the very first Skyline and later the Prince R380 race car.
To liberate a few more horsepower, Rocky Auto added Tomei Powered camshafts with slightly more aggressive duration and lift, and fine-tuned the overlap thanks to HKS adjustable cam gears. A full stainless steel exhaust system, including the six-into-one headers, helps give the RB26 a more vintage raspy tone and slightly increases throttle response. The engine is fitted with a lightweight Toda Racing flywheel and sends drive to a Nissan five-speed transmission.
Watanabe is still tuning the suspension and will probably end up running slightly more negative camber than what the top mounts of the coilovers allow.
To pay homage to the successful 2000 GT-R race cars that dominated endurance races in Fuji Speedway in the early to mid seventies, an external front-mounted oil cooler was fitted – quite a contrasting addition against all the black shiny carbon fiber.
An aluminum Flex radiator of generous dimensions makes sure the RB26DE never runs into issues even if its future owner decides to run the car hard on track.
It might be a sore sight to digest for those that appreciate only period-correct alterations, but it’s not like Watanabe cares. While he would never dream of messing around with a real S20-powered GT-R, these relatively affordable base model Skylines offer a fun platform upon which to go wild on and often create rather fast and exciting cars to drive.
Just like at the front, the rear end is pretty wild, with carbon fiber replacing the whole section, topped off with a carbon trunk and spoiler.
The interior is the final area of the car that needs to be finished off and the day before my visit they had to interrupt fitting the A/C system to get the car ready for the shoot, which is why there are a bunch of wires and looms hanging down under the dashboard.
And talking of the dashboard you may have noticed that it’s a one off piece, made out of aluminum…
… and wrapped in carbon-look vinyl to match the theme of the car. The Carbon-look AutoMeter tachometer and speedometer…
… join the four centrally mounted auxiliary gauges, all neatly positioned for clear consultation.
There’s no hiding the fact that this car will raise a lot of questions to different enthusiasts, but it’s hard not to commend the innovative way of thinking in which Rocky Auto always approaches vintage Japanese rides. If the end result is to extract more fun and enjoyment out of a car that was previously somewhat slow and uninspiring to drive, surely there’s nothing wrong with that?
Dino Dalle Carbonare
Rocky Auto Carbon KGC10 Skyline
Max power – 220hp, max torque – 245Nm
Autech S/S Plasma-RB26DE engine swap, Autech forged 87 mm pistons (2,627 cc), 11.5:1 compression ratio, Autech balanced connecting rods and crank, Tomei Powered 260-degree camshafts (IN & EX), HKS cam pulleys, Autech ported head, Trust air filter, Rocky Auto exhaust manifold, Rocky Auto exhaust system, externally mounted oil cooler
Toda Racing lightweight flywheel, R32 five-speed transmission
Rocky Auto height-adjustable coilovers
Work Meister CR01, 9.5Jx15 (front), 11Jx18″ (rear), Pirelli P7 Cinturato 225/50VR15 (front), Pirelli P7000 255/45VR15 (rear)
Rocky Auto carbon front bumper/structure, Rocky Auto carbon bucktooth lip spoiler, Rocky Auto carbon headlight covers, Rocky Auto carbon hood, 09 Racing dry carbon fender mirrors, Rocky Auto front and rear carbon fender flares, Rocky Auto carbon rear bumper/structure, Rocky Auto carbon trunk lid, Rocky Auto carbon rear spoiler, carbon vinyl wrap
Spot welded and reinforced chassis, Recaro seats, custom dashboard, AutoMeter gauges, Datsun Z steering wheel, automatic A/C
Well, check this Professional Quality Carbon Fibre Vinyl for Car Wrapping: http://www.stylemyride.com.au
As there are too many awesome things to point out Imma go the easy route and say what I don't like about it. The front is too low for my taste, and I ain't too fond of the fake carbon jazz they covered it with. Otherwise it is glorious.
I enjoy seeing Hakos dressed outside their norm. A white or silver Hako on black Wats is a beautiful thing, but builds like this are more fun to see. Looks like a proper street bruiser to me, I'm loving it! Part of the creative process is trying something different, and there is pure joy in that.
This would be like going to the unveiling of the Lamborghini Aventador, they pull the draped cover off the car, it is a glossy silver color, and then you notice the lime green twin windshield wiper blades:
Then the company rep proudly announces that Filippo Perini had personally specified that those lime green twin blade windsheild wipers would be factory equipment on every Aventador that Lamborghini made.
Everyone would be asking what kind of drugs he was on.
Same reaction to the fake carbon sticker.
@ylee Well that's the stock power, I'm sure it makes more with cams and exhaust
@meal stub Yup it's a meany :D
I go out in my driveway and I put a "Hemi 5.7 V8" engine cover into the engine compartment of my four cylinder, FWD car, and that makes the car rear wheel drive with a V8? NO!
I go out and I put a carbon fiber sticker onto/over my car, and that makes the car carbon fiber? NO!
The vinyl wrap is extremely insulting to us as the readers and does not live up to the level of quality that is expected of this website. I am embarrassed for you and I am embarrassed for the owner of Rocky Auto.
That's a bit harsh, it's not like it's permanent. I don't like the vinyl but I can see beyond it, surely there is enough substance to overcome the use of something they may think is still 'fashionable" to do
Dino, the vinyl can be removed true...but Rocky Auto usually has impeccable taste in producing cars and the idea is to make a perfect car with no cut corners and no costs spared (a build like this typically is not terribly restricted by budget as evident by the depth of build and parts). Rocky Auto is usually amazing at inspirational builds that do everything the best.
While the fake carbon vinyl can be removed, the point I feel is that Rocky Auto is a taste maker and they have a reputation to uphold as being a thought leader in their realm of vintage car restorations. Their work is always incredible but there's a responsibility in being a taste maker and trend setter. I just would have loved to see them come out and do it 110%. They didnt cut corners anywhere else, so why not at the least overlay the body with real carbon instead of using fake carbon sticker. They were so close to hitting a home run with this car but this shortcut was really just unfortunate with the fake carbon vinyl.
I still love Rocky Auto and their work. I just don't understand the route then went with faking the carbon on a car that otherwise promotes usage of carbon fiber.
Ben, don't you run lots of vinyl and stickers on your cars? You color coordinate bits and pieces with strips of vinyl or even paint for highlight, isn't this the same thing? To each their own, I'd never probably do either to my car but to disregard what is in effects an interesting and cool build for the sole use of removable wrap, I don't think is correct. Nonetheless, next time I see Watanabe san I will tell him the sort of feedback the 3M 'carbon' generated :)
@speedhunters_dino Hey Dino, yeah previously we used to use a lot of vinyl on a few of our demo cars in collabo with MSR (Manabu Suzuk)i. Definitely it is a style thing and some love it, some hate it. For me though the idea of fake carbon vs colored vinyl are two different topics altogether. Just the same way that I would think a fake titanium exhaust that has colored treatment to imitate blue burning on stainless steel is cheesy, that's how I see fake carbon sticker.
My opinion is solely that, an opinion of mine. But if the concept of a car is a carbon fiber hakosuka (as the title suggests even), my first impression likely would be seeing a carbon fiber hakosuka, not a 30% carbon fiber and 70% fake carbon fiber hakosuka. My only point is that I've been a huge fan of Rocky Auto's work for years and I still am...and that it is a bit of a letdown to have a car promoted/written up as a carbon fiber car where the majority of the car is fake carbon. And Rocky Auto keeps it REAL more than most companies in the industry so perhaps unfairly to them my standard is a bit higher for them than for other less credible garages. Rocky Auto never lets people down with their builds...in this case perhaps if the car wasnt touted as a "carbon" car I would be faster to overlook that indeed it is mostly fake carbon.
To be fair I would have said the same thing if the car was called a titanium bodied hakosuka and it had fake titanium look vinyl with maybe just the exhaust in titanium. Or if the car was called Aluminum bodied hakosuka and it had brushed alumium vinyl with 3-4 aluminium parts that were real.
Anyway...I don't mean to put down a great company. Fact is I've been following Rocky Auto for years and it is only because I respect them so greatly that this fake carbon thing mattered to me. Nothing can take away from the fact that this car is incredible if you look past the fake wrapper its in.
Sorry to chime in if I led in any way to steering this too negatively. Fortunately for most I don't comment much or get too involved with the blogs these days, this was just an honest reaction of how I felt at the time. Great work to you Dino as always for your extensive coverage of the scene in Japan. I know and I hope that others do to that just because you feature something it does not mean that it is your personal stamp of endorsement for every product and decision used on the car. I think sometimes people take this stuff with too many false assumptions. I just hope that people can have differing opinions respectfully always, the point is never that everyone agrees all the time but if we are passionate about this car life we love we can have interesting debates about our differences of opinions and learn from each other. Tell Watanabe-san to keep up the great work he's always done and obviously I'm sure he wont take comments like mine to seriously anyway but if there were less fake carbon (or fake anything for that matter) in the future that'd be wonderful from my point of view.
@speedhunters_dino 100% perfect comment Mr Schaffer!
Only thing i would add is that to me, the real carbon overlay to sheet metal is not actually any better than the fake carbon vinyl sticker. They are both "dishonest" (as architects would say), albeit in slightly different ways... and sort of pointless. What i would LOVE to see is ALL the bolt-on panels replaced by real CF mouldings (and the remaining visible parts of the body shell painted a low-gloss black as somebody said below).
Other than that, love it - and i totally get that parts of it are temporary-mocked-up.
I really like Watanabe-san's new building, good architecturehunting Mr DC!
PLEASE tell me he has plans for at least one of those 32 4door donors... one of the best-looking saloons ever IMO. An all-carbon version maybe?
@Daode Absolutely correct! They can do whatever they want and they have.
all you faggots need to quit hating,I am getting fucking sick and tired of it. EVERYWHERE you go on the internet there's some stupid fuckin trolls who don't know their heads from their asses trying to talk like they build savage ass car's on a daily basis. NONE OF YOU have any sort of qualifications to pass this sort of judgement ( where's your shop and massive car collection?) and obviously none of you are true car guy's (or have ever turned a real wrench), true car guys don't hate on anything,even if we don't prefer something we have decency enough to respect it and the work that went into it. Watanabe-san is a true master at his craft, and posses probably ever car that NONE of you ass hats will ever be able to afford,all by building things he loves with his own 2 hands. Pretty sure if he had any sort of bad rep people would not be continuously coming to him for work or buying his amazing creation's. Speed Hunters is the first place Ive ever found where all types of car's are present,loved,praised and shared. Sounds to me like some of you are on the wrong site.
@Hotcakes here, take my like <3
@TalonScottLewis Posts smart ass comment, doesn't actually respond to any of the content. Also you write like you should be on Hypebeast or Canibeat. 0/10 would not read again.
@TalonScottLewis Nice comment delete/edit. How am I a troll when I've said both what I like and dislike about this car? You're the one calling people faggots and generally being the troll here.
@TalonScottLewis You ARE a troll.
@TalonScottLewis You're just as bad as the trolls, blindly defending anything and every thing. If we weren't allowed to comment on these articles without owning a shop, the comment section would be irrelevant and useless. People can post constructive criticism without being called "faggots ". Go back under your bridge.
@matthews940 I noticed that also, I would assume that it is to hold the camber at the desired level because he can't get any more adjustment out of it, possibly the camber tops are worn out? I know mine will knock themselves out of position if I hit potholes and such a bit hard (I might actually try this bolt trick myself!)
carbon wrap or not its still a badass car, and the thing i find funny the most is that the people who hate on this are prob. the same people who want one, its a street car that may see an occastional track day, theres no real reason for the huge weight reduction with the use of carbon fiber plus the fact that if this thing ever see an accident do you really wanna pay the price to remake those carbon parts all over again? i sure wouldnt no matter my money situation, those are honsetly my opinion on the situtation tho . . . . i feel some hate coming on
Don't really care about the cf wrap, its a bit silly but whatever. The rest of this build it awesome! I love small na rwd cars. One thing that irks me though are the oil cooler brackets, everything looks clean and high quality except those cheap little brackets. Its the details that make difference between a great build and a incredible build
@jayemyau As far as I know they were put on quickly for the pix. He literally fitted the oil cooler a few min before the shoot. Like I mentioned the car is close to completion :)
This car seems almost perfectly balanced; every high-end, bespoke detail has a cheap, grubby counterpart. For every eye candy pillar vent there's grease stained loom. For each beautiful carbon headlamp blank there is meccano set brackets and a cobby old oil cooler plugged together with high-school metalwork level welds. It seems so half arsed compared to the zed. For every CR-01 there is a knackered and dangerous old P7 Cinturato that should have formed half a coffee table. The beautiful header is held on with hardware shop bolts and the engine bay is packed with hellishly rare RB26DE covered with dried and degraded hoses and oxidised non-ferrous components.
@seventhskyline I will pass your feedback on to Rocky :)
@speedhunters_dino @seventhskyline Let me put it this way...its not bad by any stretch, and as you noted in the article its unfinished, but its probably both a blessing and a curse that the bar was set so high by some of their previous builds (e.g. the 'carbon' zed, the champagne RB20DE GT-R replica). It looks kind of rough and unfinished in a lot of areas, I daresay its more due to being shot before it was ready than the demonstrated quality of Rocky Auto's work.