Project GT-R Gets An LED Upgrade
Attention To Detail

As you may recall, one big goal I’ve had with Project GT-R is to modernise it where possible. If things have broken or needed replacing, I’ve always attempted to upgrade them, something that’s helped in a small way to evolve the car over the years. This has included both big and small stuff, like the Bosch one-piece wipers I fitted a couple of years back. As manufacturers continue to push technology and improve things on their latest cars, you can be sure that after a few years it trickles down to the aftermarket. And while wipers may well be the single most boring thing I could possibly talk about in a post on my BNR34, they’re something you use often on your daily drive, so they can make a lot of difference to the experience. At times, it’s the small details like these that bring the most joy. Seeing the smooth and effortless way in which those wipers clean rain drops away adds a little more satisfaction to the car as a whole; it makes you feel like you’ve added something positive to it. Either that, or I’m just weird and obsessive, which could well be the case…

But not so long ago I decided to tackle another small upgrade; something that would add an instantly perceivable touch of modernity to the car, as well as making life that little more pleasant.


After some online research I came across a company called VLEDS, and was instantly impressed by its extensive line-up of LED options for pretty much every automotive bulb type out there. The thing that interested me the most however, was was VLED’s switchback high-power LED lights, which incorporate two colors in one handy bulb enclosure. This sparked an old idea in my head, as for years I’ve been trying to come up with a nice and simple way to integrate a daytime running light (DRL) setup on the R34, without making it look messy or just plain tasteless. And believe me when I say there are plenty of those horrible solutions available in Japan… No, if I did go down this route it would have to be very clean and almost unnoticeable – like it came from factory.


A little while after, I made contact with the guys at VLEDS who were very much on board with the idea of supplying components for a model they had never previously catered for. They sent me the bulbs in question, and without delay I paid a visit to my long-time friend, Nakamura-san of Worx Auto Alarm.

If you happen to be into GT-Rs then you might have heard of this shop before. Worx specializes in the electrical side of our beloved ‘Rs’ fitting all sorts of aftermarket equipment, from alarm systems to custom audio installs, to the latest craze in Japan – drive recorders (think Russian dash cam videos). Being a GT-R owner himself (he has the whole set!), Nakamura has become a specialist in Nissan’s hero car, doing all types of work on these cars and generating a large following in the process. He’s very good at what he does and people trust him. Oh, and he also happens to be the same guy that owns the Chevelle Wagon I shot back in 2014.


When it comes to having the entire interior ripped out of your car in order to fit an alarm or the like, knowing that someone takes extra care is what makes the difference. In this area, Nakamura-san’s OCD is pretty impressive. He also takes his time; working out of little workshop right next to his house the priority is always on quality not how quickly the job can be done.


A day out at Worx is relaxing; you just sit and work on your car with Nakamura, nerding-out about GT-Rs and hearing about the crazy custom stuff he’s done on his and customer cars.


Seeing the fitting of the VLEDS switchback bulbs would require some pretty extensive wiring, the front bumper needed to be removed, which meant the front wheels had to come off in order to get to the inner fender shrouds. Nakamura quickly laid some masking tape around each bolt on my CE28Ns to protect them. Let’s call this OCD Step 1.


While he got this job taken care of, it was the perfect time to take a closer look at the bulbs.

Triton Power

VLEDS V3 Tritons are a good example of how far aftermarket LED technology has evolved over the years. The big, powerful light emitting diodes are encased in a specially designed lens which helps direct light smoothly in every direction. The main aluminium bodies also act as heatsinks to help keep the bulbs running cool, and there’s also an adjustable lower section which allows you to position the bulb correctly in any projector to get the best spread of light.


Each bulb is supplied with a control unit and the necessary wiring and connectors to fit in most applications. The white cable is for the dimmer, which decreases power to the white DRL light when the position lights or main beams are turned on. This automatically meant some hot wiring had to be done, so I was glad I had a guy like Nakamura-san on the job.


VLEDS also supplied a replacement LED for every single bulb in the BNR34. Not only would these add some modernity and make the car look a little more current, but they’d also decrease the drain on the electrical system. A win-win every way you look at it.


Nakamura-san got started with the side indicators on the front wings. With his trusty roll of masking tape in hand again, he lay down a neat protective square so that when he rotated the repeaters to remove them, he wouldn’t scratch the surrounding paint. He then proceeded to get angry at me, asking why I had allowed dirt to form underneath them. Grabbing a microfibre cloth and some polishing compound, Nakamura then went ahead and cleaned up the area before buffing it to a shine. The crazy thing is, he does this sort of thing to every customer car that comes through the door at Worx.


The amber VLEDS bulb snapped in place, and a quick test showed they were working perfectly. They’re significantly brighter than the stock filament bulbs, and have that sharp on/off appearance that LEDs in modern cars do.


Before the big work of wiring in the DRLs began, we walked around the car and swapped out each bulb with its corresponding LED replacement. Up until this point, the only LED bulb I had fitted in the GT-R was in the main central room light; it looked okay, but wasn’t all that bright. And since the map lights were still running filament bulbs, there was a mismatched feeling about it all too.


Nakamura-san removed both the front and central assemblies and took them to his work bench. Why? Because it turns out that if you remove the metal shrouding inside of the map light housing you can boost its brightness significantly.


After dropping in the VLEDS, the difference was like night and day. Now I finally have decent illumination for when I’m fumbling around in the interior looking for stuff!


We then made our way to the rear, where the license place lights and reverse bulb were in for an upgrade too.


Then came the time to finally get rid of my little custom rear fog light bulb, something I did 16 years ago when I replaced the stock red reflector with a clear one from an ER34. I remember it like the other day; after having no luck with red bulbs I went to my local Autobacs and picked up the brightest Raybrig clear/white bulb I could find, then layered on translucent red Tamiya model car paint – at least five coats. It’s done the job, but now I have something brighter and less ghetto doing a better job back there. If you’re wondering about the taillights, I already have the Nismo GT LED afterburner lights fitted, and 10 or so years ago I had a friend in the UK GT-R scene make up a custom LED center-brake light. So that’s all take care of.


Then came the red safety markers on the door cards; the VLEDS are probably five times brighter than what I had before.

Let The Wiring Begin

With all the little LEDs taken care of it was on to the big job. When Nakamura-san pulled out his yellow masking tape again, I knew things were about to get serious!


I should also mention that before removing the wheels from my car he wrapped a microfibre cloth around each of the front calipers so as not to potentially mark up both the wheels and the calipers when actually taking the CE28s off. Man I love this guy!


After a serious struggle with some seized bolts holding the under diffuser in place, we managed to remove the bumper as well as the fender liners.


Then it was finally time to prep the V3 Tritons and position them in the Nismo clear front indicators.


Originally, these units were only there to blink amber when I pulled up or down on the indicator stalk, but the idea with the V3s was to have them go full white brightness as soon as the ignition is turned on. The white light would then dim when the side or main beams were turned on, the amber switchback function only coming into play when the indicators are needed. Theoretically, this would be easy, but in reality it took a good four hours to complete.


We didn’t actually have the correct connectors to attach everything up to the R34’s factory plugs but Nakamura wasn’t fussed though – he said he has to do custom wiring jobs all the time. So I just stood there in awe as he cut wires, soldered them together beautifully, before sealing them with shrinkable electrical tubing and finally zip-tying them together.


And then it was all properly inserted into flexible electrical tubing before once again being sealed with that handy shrinkable stuff!


After fitting the LED flasher to make sure the indicators didn’t hyperflash, we did a quick test to see that everything was working as it should followed, before Nakamura-san figured out the best way to lay all the cables neatly under the headlights.


The final thing was to clean up the connection to the ignition and the dimmer through the firewall into the cabin. It’s all the little things that take time, and I was impressed at Nakamura’s patience. This kind of stuff is something I could never do myself; I would skin knuckles, swear profusely and probably set fire to the car in a matter of minutes.


But once the bumper was back on the car, all the effort – well, Nakamura’s effort really – paid off. The image I had in my head of using the pointless indicator lenses in the bumper in a better way worked a treat. The V3 Tritons are ridiculously bright, and that makes them perfect for a DRL application like this.


Of course, they are equally as bright when you flick the indicators on too. They flash orange, and then return to white in a split second after the indicator self-cancels.

Here is a (very) short video that gives you an idea of how it all looks.


A little test with the hazards on.


Nakamura-san even had a little surprise for me. Without me even noticing while he was in the cabin fiddling with wiring, he threw on one of his ignition illumination rings – a top-seller from the Worx line up. I was blown away, not only by his kindness but also how cool it looks lit up!


Nakamura-san was also really impressed with how the DRL idea turned out, and thinks many of his customers might want to go for a similar solution too. Me, well I’m not quite finished with my LED update yet, and you can expect another story once I get some more VLEDS fitted. Then, Project GT-R will really have modern day lighting!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

this guy is awesome! and i love things done properly, specially with LEDs that can be terribly fitted very easily. well done!


That's how I want my mechanics to work. ....itll never happen.


Dino, I am so with you on the small details on a car. Including the wiper thing. The new lighting looks awesome. Congrats man!


2 words: Mercedes Wagon


Looks great! Good idea to integrate the DRL's like that. Most aftermarket DRL's  look very ricey. In my Honda I converted the OEM foglights into DRL, since there is never fog where I live. The only upgrade I don't approve is the real license plate bulb, I want that to be as dark as possible LOL.


When I saw the title , I was thinking "oh no , don't you dare to fit those aftermarket LED DRL light bars like I did on my Corolla , but on your GT-R" ... but eh , everything turn out far better than I expected !

I'm a big fan of LED bulb replacement , but they're never cheap , and cheap one never last long !


Damn, this guys is the Larry Kosilla of the GTR aftermarket mods world.


hawi You should check out his website! He's a true master and I intend to do a lot more custom stuff there!


RDS LOL like the taxis in Japan, they even put blue strips down the inside of the doors so you can see them when they are open at night. Good thing, as usually Japanese taxis stop everywhere, in the middle of junctions, lanes they just don't care


koko san Rice is definitely something I wanted to avoid!


inspector_exacto Ah well spotted....


Smiggins Only in Japan...


Davids Kruze I'm happy to see OCD is a popular condition among Speedhunters readers!


danielbelvino Nakamura rocks!


That's a clever use of the indicator lights. The advantage of LEDs. Mmm...
The blue ignition illumination light really complement your car's colour.


I like the OCD-ness (if there is ever a word) of Nakamura-san. Hmm speaking of OCD, i seem to remember reading a part regarding resistors for this post (nakamura-san having a stash and how to properly align it to a metal part) earlier, but now, it seems gone. Hahahah


davanti all'officina c'è una ritmo Abarth seconda serie, o sbaglio??


Suppasandro stavo per dirlo io!


speedhunters_dino inspector_exacto and what about that Fiat Ritmo in the background?


speedhunters_dino My "car ocd" kicked in hard last summer, trying to match the color of every white-ish bulb around the car... I've spent more on bulbs then a full tank of fuel in rejected bulbs xD


This satisfies my inner-nerd so much...


Just a word to people wanting more useable / on road visible light. LED's have a narrow spectrum so can feel less bright even with considerably more measured output, especially in long range (open country roads at high speed) applications. After a fair amount of testing I found that LED output from replacements, light bars, spots etc didn't give as good a real world view to my eyes. We're all different and I by no means tested every product and have no experience with the ones pictured (which look like a VERY well built unit) but my 2c is try before you 100% commit to $$ and hard wiring. I have made a custom loom and board for my current setup which is 90/130's in the main beams, 2x 160w pencil beams for fast / open road and a spot / flood combo LED light bar for twisty gravel stuff as the flood lets me see such a wide angle and the light is brighter at close distance. Car is a daily and also used for personal point to point timed dashes (anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hour personal best attempts).


When you guys want to upgrade the headlights you should check out these guys:


Pancakes so i guess everyone should just listen to you then because you know all about leds? ill tell my friends to read this comment so they dont use leds because its clearly a bad idea due to the lack of usable light. /sarcasm


Looking forward to see VLEDS on the taillights!


Dino has already said about his rear lights - he's not putting VLEDS in then as he's got the Nismo GT LED Afterburner lights fitted


@Roy Pancakes - I can attest to Pancakes experiences. This is not true of every LED bulb, but is just an additional factor to consider.

If you are in doubt - look at the amount of R&D that was required for the manufacturers (Audi, Cadillac, etc.) to get it to pass inspection (just one technical paper worth reading:

I think the point Pancakes was making is similar to when HID retrofit kits came out - just slapping some bulbs in there doesn't necessarily make it safer/better.


Dino, I will be in Japan all of April and have been lining up visits to as many car shops and events as possible, such as Type One, Top Secret, and the Motor Sport Japan festival. It would be great to get some pointers on Tokyo's scene or meet up with someone I respect so much in the automotive photography world while I'm in the city. If you might be available, I would really appreciate the chance to get to meet.


@Roy You took that well. /sarcasm
He clearly stated that it was just his opinion and that his experience is limited.
If you are in the market for LEDs it would be good to hear different experiences.


Thank you very very much sir for sharing your work!! Always wanted a full LED setup on my old car! And it is made in japan too!!
I wish they had a light set for ST185 model. Well my car is not a gt-four. A fwd model
Thank you sir for making my day indeed

Aristides Cipollone

I have always loved your GT-R since day one Dino and you know it ;) It has come a long way and the car is an absolute credit to you! I am still blown away by the attention to detail and care taken while working on the car in Japan. From the tape on the wheels and bolts to tape on the bodywork while fitting the leds in order not to damage the paint... just WOW ! Love it and wish it could be like this elsewhere too ! Keep the brilliant job up Dino :)


Looks great Dino - really nicely done. I'm a sucker for this type of upgrade, something that makes a real difference but is completely sympathetic to the car's original function and form. I'm in the process of swapping all the auxiliary lighting in my Eunos Roadster for quality LEDs, and they make a real difference.


Kimchiwarui yeah cos I got rid of them and fitted flashers :)


DawsonLiri Suppasandro siiii!!! Una delle sue vecchie auto! Talmente tanto ruggine che ormai è semi trasparente


rook56 When it comes to low & high beams I agree, mainly because the reflectors built into "old" headlights were there to spread and diffuse the light emitted by filament/halogen/xenon bulbs. If you look at LED headlights on modern cars like BMWs, there are some complex lenses in there maximising spread and getting the best out of LED tech. Throwing on a high lumens LED onto the lights of an old car will probably not have a great effect....but I'm gonna try it just the same as I want to see it for myself. Trying and experimenting is half the fun!! They do work great for DRLs though!


raidensnakeezio yeah same, the indicators are pretty regular looking, need to spice them up :)


Tnwagn I can be found at Tatsumi PA on a fri or sat night ...usually :)


Project AT180R My pleasure!


antonyingram Yeah, it's a trye touch of quality if done well!


speedhunters_dino Great! I will be without a vehicle so I will try and contact you whenever I decide to head out there so I don't miss you. I will either get some of my coworkers at Bridgestone to join or I will just a catch an Uber.


speedhunters_dino ma l'ha acquistata in italia o è un modello con guida dall'altra parte esportato in giappone?? purtroppo le fiat di quegli anni erano tutte vittime della ruggine...purtroppo


Suppasandro speedhunters_dino non so se sia mai stata espostata la Ritmo in Giappone, ufficialmente parlando, quindi penso che sia un modello con guida a sinistra


Sureeee cause you get that same kind of service whenever you take your car to a shop in the rest of the world. Lol!
That's why I love japan.
The intro of this article about the whipers lol!!


Another amazing snap from Project GT

turbo BEAMS ae86

it is villanous
junk that red wheels


Will this LED mod work on my Civic with Skyline headlights?  Just kidding, fun read as always.


looks good, dino! he does some quality work too...wish more mechanics/installers were like that when i don't do it myself. loving the ce28's too!


Fantastic update. Might have to drop Miguel an email and ask if he can get me some of these bulbs!!


this does look very nice, although personally i hate the idea of DRLs they seem so unnecessary. but this is an excellent installation. the leds do suit the sanyon very well, and the level of care this guy takes is insane!


Tnwagn speedhunters_dino Uber?! in Japan?! Ha! Seriously though, no Uber here.


roryfjohnston Haha, I checked just the other day and saw like one car available. Guess I'll be finding friends to take me.


Wow. Now that's service.


wishing i could buy a 34 one day. Keep em coming!


How do the VLEDS compare to the items from Qest?


wow.  i think what's more impressive is nakamura-san's care to the car he's working on.

okay, the VLEDs look awesome too :)


The issue with LEDs like those is the cost of them and the control box for them. The old school filament bulbs are just far cheaper and wiring is simple. Also most LED setup in the U.S. are not DOT certified and will fail safety inspections.


jackal426 What's wrong with the control box?


nugundam93 Haha yeah, that's why he's the go-to-guy for GT-R guys!


@Strawchamp I don't know what that is sorry


Paolo Siega Yessir!


lewby The better taxis and bad drivers can see me, the better!


sebbennine It's a US company, not Japanese :)


OscarPais Oh you had me reach for the delete comment button for a sec lol


@turbo BEAMS ae86 uh?


Tnwagn speedhunters_dino Uber in Japan? Good luck lol


speedhunters_dino rook56 "Trying and experimenting is half the fun!!"
Isn't that the motto of us hot rodders :D


rook56 oh no i know what he meant i was just being a dick. just my humor. but yeah no worries i know everyone has their own opinion.


I cant wait to see what your car looks like at night or in the fog... or both!


Wow, the DRLs look awesome and OEM! :D


speedhunters_dino - There pretty well known but cost a bloody fortune haha


jackal426 Where is the source for this information if you don't mind me asking? Many cars are being produced with LED currently, so I don't see how DOT could have an issue with safety.


Nice touch! I have VLED bulbs in both my BNR32 and BM Mazda 3 (Axela) as well for all the interior bulbs, license plate, and DRL on the GTR. Very nice bulbs with the metal base, but I had one of them burn out after less than a year.  The rest are still going strong though.
I also recently got a taillight retrofit kit from ZLEDS.  You can see my pictures on their site to see how it turned out!!/Nissan-GTR-R32-Rear-LED-Panel-II/p/59598266/category=8336280


speedhunters_dino jackal426 
Most of the time no they are zip tie to the wiring harness and they get damaged just a pot hole hit and its damaged. Cheap plastic don't hold up in cold weather to well. Most state police hardware are now LED and its a non-serviceable item.


CharlesChris15 jackal426 
Those car's being produced have the DOT certified numbers stamped into them. Aftermarkets don't want to spend the money to get that DOT certified number, plus some folks think brighter is better and that sells parts... I used to do the emission testing and safety inspections when I lived in a green state.

turbo BEAMS ae86

dino which way best to export R34gtr to canada?  budget 50k cad
see some tempt ones on Tradecarview
any special exporter  u recommend?
language: english or croatian,  can not japanese

i wish everyone love

turbo BEAMS ae86

jackal426 speedhunters_dino How the f** can service a BULB???  patch the glass?  put new fillament?  what a mischief u cause

turbo BEAMS ae86

speedhunters_dino tongue and cheeck,  pardon my  english grammar


i love when people do things with care and attention like this, Nakamura-san does the install like he owns the car. must be a great experience having seeing him work like that in person @dino


That wiring job is insanely neat!


Neat lil post haha.  Nice video too!! :D


I love the way those LED's work. It makes me double take every time! The LED bulb is something not seen everyday none the less in a GTR such as this one. Simply beautiful touch to a beautiful car. There is something to the fact that you can mod a car and get the same amount of happiness out of a mod that doesn't add any more horsepower at all, but a mod that is useful in more ways than going faster (as much as we love those kind of modifications). Really awesome upgrade to the car as well as the car itself. speedhunters_dino


jackal426 look into vleds they are a top of the line product! not some cheap ebay led i spent close to 400 usd replacing bulbs on my truck. worth every penny!


Hey everyone, can anybody please tell me what steering wheel he has? And possibly where I could buy one? Thank you :)


Hi Dino,

Is the front GT-R badge gone for good or just an experiment? I see it's missing on the last photos. The current look adds more aggressiveness to the front of the car though.


Too bad this mod would be illegal where I live.


That dog was barking in Japanese in the video, very impressive.


To hone logic, supported with open minds and a lot to learn. For logic that is already extensive, balance it with humility


the car was very good 
really really like to see the car that shiny new car fits like made ​​for walking trailsthe car was very good" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> and very fast" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> mix of colors" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> from which to" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> make want pobud see hatnya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> kecepatanya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> was very nice ," rel="dofollow" target="_blank">  suitable for a "" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> sharp bend or not sharp I guess motorists like this is" very skilled in the speed I hope I can membilinya someday will whether there are new cars are better I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> 'll wait for it , with a stylish car classic" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> style I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> also like" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> to see would be whether there is a" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> car that is as fast and forius like in the " movie , the car very good car designed a way apparently hopefully there will be new cars more good and the price is quite pantastis then chances are I can membilinya the same as you have at this time


Hi speedhunters_dino,

Is it possible to list the LED model numbers you picked up from VLEDS and where they go in the GTR? I tried browsing the VLEDS page but they don't have a 2001 Skyline in their vehicle selection so couldn't see what LEDs they have for the R34 GTR. Thanks.