Hail To The King: Australia’s GT-R Festival
A Relaxing Morning

Few sounds satisfy me like the deep, throaty growl of Nissan’s legendary inline six cylinder RB-series engine.

Over the years, I’ve developed an uncanny ability to recognize the unmistakable note of an RB engine from over 20 city blocks away. I didn’t have to strain my ears on my latest Speedhunting adventure though – I was surrounded RB goodness.

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The cacophony made by over 200 Nissan GT-Rs from all eras provided the day’s soundtrack. While the RB26 headlined the show, Nissan’s classic L-series and the R35’s current VR38 played strong support roles.

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The squad, gang or whatever a large group of GT-Rs should be referred to had made their descent upon Sydney Dragway for the 2017 Nitto Performance Engineering Australian GT-R Festival. Sure, the ‘Machina Magica‘ Show and Shine was a significant element of the festival, but from 1:00pm the dragstrip was opened up, and the assembled crowd had the opportunity to see and hear the majority of cars in action.

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2017 was only the event’s second year running and the first to have official support from Nissan Australia and also Nismo, who had a GT3 GT-R on display. The car was still covered dust and rubber from its last race, which was pretty cool; I much prefer the ‘driven’ look to showroom clean on a race car. It’s great to see such a big player in Australian motorsport connecting directly with their fans. The festival is organized and run by the team at Motive DVD and started as something of a hobby event that has since snowballed with the momentum and enthusiasm that Australians have for Nissan’s supercar.

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If you’ve been following my work, you may have cottoned on to me being something of a GT-R fan myself. Contrast to the usual running and gunning that is Speedhunting, I spent the first half of the morning at the festival relaxing with my family, doing my very best to indoctrinate my young son to the cult of GT-R. The future is looking bright, although it hasn’t been much of a challenge.

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I’m usually running solo and hiding behind a lens when attending festivals and shows these days, but the slower morning was a nice change of pace and reminded me what these types of shows offer to groups of friends and families.

Getting Serious

When playtime was over, the first arduous task would involve me walking through a personal field of dreams, soaking up the details and differences between hundreds of variations of one of my favorite cars. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

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This trio of genuine Nismo N1 GT-Rs all belong to a local Skyline aficionado and ex-president of the largest Skyline club in the Southern Hemisphere, Skylines Australia. While I’d seen all three cars separately, this was the first time I’d have the opportunity to share the same space with them all at once. Speedhunters has been invited to spend some more time with the collection at a later date, too.

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I used to own a black R32, but it never looked anywhere near as amazing as this gloss black family tree. I think everyone needs to own at least one black car in their lifetime, even if it’s just to fully appreciate the hard work it takes to get one looking half as clean as these three beautiful examples.

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The wildest GT-R on display, JUN II, was enveloped by a constant hive of activity. Croydon Racing Developments (CRD) had all spanners on deck the entire day as the team made their final adjustments and checks before they attempted to break records and reclaim the ‘World’s Quickest Street GT-R’ title in front of an enthusiastic GT-R crowd.

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The guys from CRD looked too busy and focused for me to interrupt on the day, so I’ll be following up with a JUN II story a little later on.

Sadly, the car didn’t run until after I’d left the event and I missed seeing it first hand, but the team’s hard work through the day paid off later that evening. You can watch the record-breaking pass in this clip.

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Not every car was capable of a 7-second pass though. Everything from pristine, showroom condition cars to JDM-inspired highway warriors were represented, along with every conceivable variation in between. It was a reflection of the broad and varied tastes of Australian GT-R owners.

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And just like their owners, no two cars were identical. Some were treated as investments, daily drivers, capable track hacks, drag monsters, or even a mix suitable to meet multiple needs. You can check out more in the massive Cutting Room Floor chapter below.

As the value of classic metal rises, we seem to be seeing more and more on display; collectors and restorers feel reassured they’ll be able to recoup the expense of restoring a piece of Japanese nostalgia. Hopefully, in the years to come, we’ll see the trend continue. I’d love to see more Princes, Hakosukas and Kenmeris surface around the globe; seeing these cult classics in person is a must for any real JDM enthusiast.

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It was fun to check the differences and similarities while each generation of GT-R congregated together. I’ve always been a fan of the R32, but more recently, and especially while window shopping at GT-R Festival, I found myself being drawn more to the R34s.

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Spending the entire day amongst so many excellent GT-R examples has since seen my time wasted on classified sites triple over the past few days. Is now the right time to buy? Will prices continue to skyrocket at an astronomical rate? Do you see things slowing down anytime soon? Throw your market predictions in the comments section below, and let’s fire up a healthy conversation about the future of the global JDM performance car market.

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The rain arrived just five minutes before the scheduled drag racing, but thankfully it only lasted a little while before clearing up. The entire day was peppered with scattered sunshine peeking through dark clouds that did little more than threaten from above.

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As punters flocked to the undercover sections of the stadium, a parade that highlighted the heritage of the mighty GT-R rolled past.

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Everything from a Prince 2000GT right up to a current GT3 R35 GT-R completed a lap of honor in a roughly chronological order. It was interesting to see how each new iteration translated the key design elements from the previous model.

Now I know it’s a GT-R Festival, so I understand why they weren’t present, but it sure would have been amazing to see an ‘Iron Mask’ DR30 and HR31 GTS-R rolling down the strip with their brethren.

GT-Rs In Action

A well presented GT-R on display is a special thing, but nothing compares to the sights and sounds of a pedigree sports car being used to its full potential.

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The display area was book-ended with action; on the western side, a motorkhana course (read: excuse to skid, slide and have fun) was set up by the Skylines Australia club. And yes, I’m aware that isn’t a GT-R in the image above; I guess being a genuine Japanese GT300 S15 Silvia in Australia made it eligible for a special invitation to the event.

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For the motorkhana, drivers took part in timed runs through set courses. The courses are usually quite tight and very twisty, designed to limit top speeds and really test a driver’s ability behind the wheel. Hit a marker, go off course, or fail to stop inside the box and you incur a penalty time.

The hard decision is choosing whether to test your abilities and take it seriously, or just to let loose and enjoy what would usually be considered anti-social driving. Don’t look at me, I’m not here to judge. However, I will say that hanging the car out at every opportunity is the preferred option for spectators.

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If you’ve not driven in a motorkhana and have clubs in your local area that run them, give them a shot. You won’t even need a fast car to be competitive; you could even potentially even drive your mother’s Camry. It’s some of the best fun you’ll have with your vehicle; I’ve personally learned a lot about driving and my abilities behind the wheel during similar events.

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The level of competition on the drag strip seemed far more serious, even if the majority of cars were competing purely against themselves.

Seeing three Hakosukas on the strip at the same time was something I won’t forget in a hurry. Some of you might even recognize these guys as some of the Datsun crew I introduced during my maiden Speedhunters story. While these vintage racers may have been some of the slowest at the event, they all had a blast, laid down some personal bests, and most importantly have started planning how to modify their cars for quicker times at the next GT-R Festival.

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The best ET of the crew was a 14.1-second pass, but when they return they’ll be looking to crack into the 13s. While that doesn’t sound terribly quick by today’s standards, a 13-second pass in a 1970s Japanese street car is plenty fast.

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The more modern street cars were pushing times down around the 10-second mark; I’m talking legitimate cars that you’d use to buy milk and bread in, too. Technically, you could do some shopping in the mental cars built by Croydon Racing Developments or Maatouks Racing, but I struggle to see them waiting in a McDonald’s Drive-Thru. I’d love to see them order a Cheeseburger and prove me wrong though.

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Sydney’s cold winter air provided the right ingredients for the professional cars to lay down some remarkably quick runs, including that world record-breaking 7-second pass by JUN II that I hope you’ve already watched.

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It’s quite remarkable the impact that one single red badge from one particular model has made in a country where the majority of models were never officially sold. Such is the power of the mighty GT-R.

Matthew Everingham
Instagram: matthew_everingham
matt@mattheweveringham.com

The Cutting Room Floor
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32 comments

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1
Richard Shumack

The collective noun for GT-Rs is a MEGABASK

2

My opinion on nissan prices for the r34, etc:

The R34 will see the big price increase once it is legal in America, due to the 25-year "ban" on them. However, once they arrive, many shops will also tune them, meaning a "unicorn" GT-R becomes very rare. I would not be surprised if by, say, 2030, GT-R prices to rise to £100,000.

The R33 will see a small price increase by comparison, maybe £10,000.

3
Christian Clark

I'd say it will be $100k by 2020. Especially for a low-mies, unmolested or lightly breathed on GT-R. People here in the states are already foaming at the mouth.

Author4
Matthew Everingham

Lots of R34's are asking over 100k AUD already. I'm not sure how many actually sell at those prices though. By 2020 though, I'd imagine even the thrashed examples will be up over $100k

5
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Theo: But some of the more desirable ones aren't too far from that already in Japan. My car is insured for more than I paid for it new as of last year. So you are low-balling a bit there IMO :)

6

Was that the actual Richards-Skaife 1991 Bathurst winner they had there? Or a replica? Either way, fantastic!

Author7
Matthew Everingham

Genuine. Check my other stories of you missed the piece on it. :)

8

What a fantastic article (on the 1991 R32). Can't believe I missed that when it was first posted. Really great. Nice to get that kind of depth on the development and race history of such an iconic piece of Australian motorsports history (also: for my money, Jim Richards is pretty much the greatest touring car driver of all time. Toss up between him and Roberto Ravaglia).

Author9
Matthew Everingham

Thanks Malcom!

10

Such an awesome event. Love that Nissan and Nismo backed it and gave their support.
The Sydney GTR scene is something else. Massive attention to drag racing as of late. It really blew up out of seemingly nowhere with big shops putting up small (low) numbers.

Author11
Matthew Everingham

The GT-R is almost like an adopted national treasure. Drags, Circuit, Street. We love them!
The rivalry between CRD and Maatouks has really sped up the development cycle on the drag strip.

12
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Indeed looked very impressive. Looks like Australia's love for the GeeDeeAhh is far from dead :D

13

Two of the most beautiful sights in the world are money dropped on the ground and stacks & stacks of unbuilt model kits.

I've always preferred the RB26 to the 2JZ, but why do you see the JZ more often hot rodded and swapped into other cars?

Is it because there are more of them out there, or that they're easier to make fit into nonstandard chassis, or are they just cheaper? The RB's just as durable and capable an engine as the JZ, so what gives?

Personally, I think the fact that the RB's a SLANT six makes it cooler - something about an engine leaned over.

14

Listen to the americans... there is no replacement for displacement (and this is coming from an RB26 owner)

Author15
Matthew Everingham

This seems to be covered already but cost, availability, reliability, and also the bigger pool of knowledge to pull from would be handy if I was planning on building a thirty-gigawatt drag car.

16
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Definitely more of them around plus they are quite a lot more reliable than an RB26 when pushing more power.

17

From the 2 minutes that I thought about this.
It seems lie it iseasier to bring 2JZ engines to high horsepower levels, so they are liked

18
Dean Mascarello

Proud to see more and more content coming out of Australia.

Good job Matt!

Author19
Matthew Everingham

Thanks Dean, stay tuned. Plenty more to come!

20
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Matt...sounds like you need to give us more from Downunder m8!

Author21
Matthew Everingham

I'm on it, M9!

22

These photos are crystal clear and well shot, major props!

23

When you drive a Hakosuka, speed doesn't matter at all because you're making HISTORY rather than just going fast!

Author24
Matthew Everingham

I've been for a couple of spirited runs in the 14.1sec Hako and I can confirm it feels about 10x faster and 1000x more fun than my 13.4s second Evo.

25
Dino Dalle Carbonare

.... and a shit load of noise! It's not always about outright velocity

26
David Sciberras

Awesome coverage of an awesome event. Pulled in a better crowd than Sydney jamboree by the looks of it LOL I know there are a couple of rotary boys considering jumping to the RB dark side.

27

I'm torn between the awesomeness of a modified C110 and completely stock version. They look so cool modified but another part of me is sad that such a rare, and expensive, car is no longer original.

28

In Hakosuka owner circles, we say that if you don't mod your car...you're basically saving it for the next owner who will :-)

29

An awesome event I must say - thanks to all those who helped out to make the day a great success! Special thanks to Skylines Australia NSW and major sponsor Machina Magica

30

The GT-R craze will continue driving the prices up. The R32 is already past the US 25-year limitation, and you could see the prices climb by over 200% in the past 2 years. Although the R34 did not break the 25-year rule yet, the death of Paul Walker and the F&F glory already drove the prices to astronomical heights. The last "affordable" model was the R33, I thought. Until I tried to import a largely unmolested example in 2015. During the course of action, I was able to witness the raising prices, although in more modest tempo compared to the R32 and 34. In 2015, in a timespan of a mere 5-6 months, R33 prices rose as much as 50-100% which made them unobtanium for me, just like its elder and younger brothers... :( :( :(

31

Well, I've got another 4 years (13 year of age) before I can drive. By then I predict a well and decent Skyline would be 60k. Currently in the UK, GTR R34's go for 50k. So if you know your math, it's 10k increase within a 4 year time period

32

Opening Pic, slightly left of center at about 9:00, Black on Black on Black R34... that thing looks positively LETHAL!!

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