Too Low! Project GT-R Gets Lifted With KW’s HLS
Road To The Perfect Setup

You can imagine my feeling of joy that came with finally having custom-built KW Competition suspension fitted to Project GT-R.

I just love it when a well thought out plan comes together, and this was one of the biggest single modifications that I’ve been thinking about and working on. It’s literally taken years to realize what was needed to meet my needs, and the guys in the Motorsports department at KW in Germany looked at my suspension requirements and put together a one-off coilover kit for the car. But as you might know, it didn’t end right there.


You see, when I got chatting to KW I told them that I’d like to have a car that doesn’t make any excuses for its setup. The Nismo S-tune kit had, up until the point of fitting the KWs, been a good compromise. They worked well for city driving, twisty roads and the occasional track outing, but I never liked how they made the car sit, especially with my red RAYS Volk Racing TE37RTs fitted. The Skyline was a tad too high, something that came about through a safe ride height that didn’t screw up geometry too much and allowed for decent clearance. But you can’t have it all, right?


Essentially, I wanted a car that could handle at its best on the street and track, but didn’t want it to be scraping all over the place because of the lowered ride height. With the BNR34 this gets even more complicated as there are a couple of aerodynamic appendages that hang off the car, namely the front and rear diffusers (for the V-spec models at least).

How could I achieve this? Simple, by making full use of the technology that’s available now, and there is much to be learned from manufacturers of high-end supercars and the lift systems they employ to momentarily bump ride height of say the front axle. It’s the perfect solution, but it wasn’t until I borrowed Hashimoto Corporation’s Pandem-kitted R35 GT-R demo car some time back that I realized just how effective KW’s take on the whole lift dilemma really was. As the name suggests, KW’s Hydraulic Lift System (HLS) uses pressurized hydraulic fluid to expand the cups mounted on the dampers. It’s an extremely compact system; there’s no need for bulky tanks like on some air-based systems, and it’s both instantaneous and very quiet.


The fact it could be mated to the custom suspension that KW was building for was the icing on the cake. I really lucked it with the the fitting too, because aside from the cups and braided lines that make up the ancillaries of the system, the main pump/tank unit is extremely compact, meaning it it could squeeze into the only remaining bit of space in the portion of trunk where the R34’s Attesa and A-LSD modules are located, along with the battery. Kawanishi-san made up a custom bracket and in no time the pump assembly was secured in place.


This section of the trunk is normally hidden away by a massive vertical steel plate which makes up the fake back of the space, so not only was there room for the pump/tank but it’s totally hidden away too. This perfectly fits one of main themes for the upgrades I’m making to Project GT-R: keeping it looking as stock as possible and hiding stuff that just doesn’t need to be shown.

While I was shooting in the trunk, I thought I’d grab a shot of the R34’s yaw sensor mounted in the very center. Yep, it’s made by Mitsubishi, so I wonder if it’s the same item that was used in the Lancer Evolution VI? Maybe some Evo guys will be able to confirm or not…

Laying The Lines

And so we move onto the install itself. Now, truth be told, Kawanishi-san did his best to make full use of the time the car was at his shop, which meant doing parts of the HLS installation while I wasn’t there.


Before my next visit he had already securely mounted the 2-way split valve underneath the car, cut the braided hydraulic lines to length, and added the fittings.

Kawanishi-san had also run the longest bit of line from the pump, right alongside the brake lines that run under the car.


These continue all the way to the front where a valve splits the flow of fluid to the left and right HLS cups.


The remainder of the work would entail cutting the lines to size and adding the required fittings to connect everything up.


With no time to waste, Kawanishi-san got cutting!

All the parts for the install were included in the HLS fitting kit – we just had to add around 50cm of extra line to ensure that it would all be laid out as cleanly and neatly as possible. Kawanishi-san’s expertise here definitely made the difference; he fits KW HLS systems to many imports including Porsches and Audis, so he can do most of the work with his eyes closed.


Here you can see a coupler attached to one of the front cups. One thing that you will probably be wondering is if the extension of the cups would impact on damping performance, and the simple answer to that would be no. That’s because when extended there is no compression of the cylinder unit, nor a change of spring rate. The roots of hydraulic lift systems also come from motorsports; at the end of the ’90s when DTM/ITC race series cars required a hydraulic lifter, KW adapted this technology further for street use to have a hydraulic lifter bump ride height by 45mm.


A wider shots shows you the line dropping down from the damper.


The following step is when those handy zip-ties with the metal grip fasteners come into play to secure the lines tightly against the inside of the wheel arch. And don’t worry, once the wheels with chunky 295-section tires were fitted back on clearance was checked at both the left and right bump stops.


The line then gets pulled towards the splitter valve, ensuring that you’ve allowed enough slack for it to then be secured with more zip-ties.


Here you can see Kawanishi-san adding a little mark to where he needed to cut the line.


Once cut, the outside plastic sleeve is trimmed to allow just enough of the metal braided mesh to be pulled back and revel the inner rubber hose.


The fitting is added and then tightened in place.


Once plumbed in, zip-ties were added before everything was triple-checked.


I loved how Kawanishi-san even cleaned up the two lines leaving the trunk room, using a rubber grommet to seal them through a factory hole.

Hydraulic Fluid In & We’re Good To Go

While air systems use, err… air, hydraulic systems use hydraulic fluid or oil. In the case of KW’s system, Ravenol TS32 is included as part of the package.


Not wanting to make a mess, Kawanishi-san unbolted the bracket that holds the pump/tank in place, moved it onto a meal tray and positioned it flat on top of the space saver so he could fill the tank properly.


I didn’t really think much about it at the time, but it was cool to see that he had left enough slack in the lines behind the pump to allow for its removal. I bet you if I had done this job I’d have cut them way too short and ended up in a bad situation.


Thankfully, I didn’t though. The tank was filled up to the top and then the ignition switched on.

And now we move into the cabin, where the underlying simplicity of the HLS system stretches to its control. To operate it there is only one button: you press it to lift the car and you press it again to drop it. There’s also a speed sensor which recognizes when the car is travelling at over 30km/h and drops the car automatically. A few test runs and both ends of the car were rising and dropping without issue, and there was only a faint buzz from the pump in the trunk during operation.

Before anyone addresses the button situation in the comments, let me explain why I had Kawanishi-san leave it unmounted in the coin tray. Nakamura-san at Worx Auto Alarm will mount it in due course, as right now we are trying to come up with a cool fitting arrangement with another button I’ll be installing. I thought it would be better to be done at the same time. Trust me, it will make sense once you see the update on that, which will come after the engine work.


With all systems go, it was time to finish up and refit the parts that had to be removed for the install.


This included the massive steel trunk separator which I mentioned earlier, something that’s fixed in place by a ton of bolts.


And then the V-spec’s instantly recognizable pièce de résistance, the rear carbon diffuser.


It’s something that for me has always defined the R34, but boy is it a big pain the behind when you need to do something under the car. Same with the front, which is actually made of cheap ABS plastic so is continuously splitting along the main fuse line.


But thanks to that gearbox lift, it was all positioned and secured in around a third of the time it usually takes me with nothing but a jack.


So with the car back on solid ground, the KW install was well and truly completed.

While shooting and shadowing Kawanishi-san I also had my GoPro handy, so you can see some behind the scenes video of the fitting.


The above image is GIF so you’ll probably have to open it up in its native size to see the KW HLS system doing it’s thing, which is essentially a 40mm bump in ride height. It will be enough to tackle the occasional hard-to-clear ramp, and even help me get the car into its parking spot next to my house. By throwing technology like this at the good old R34, you’re definitely are able to have the best of two worlds. Now, to start enjoying the benefits of it all!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Awesome story. I was looking forward to the .gif doing it's thing but maybe i'm a dumbass and don't know how to make it work. the Gif on the recent Stanceworks story about fitment worked so not sure why this one couldn't work here. Nevertheless, badass car and super clean install.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It works when you click on it! lol


You need to remove the "-1200x800" part from url


Mine worked by just clicking it and letting it load.

Dancing Beat R34!!


Thank you!


That's a very neat install! Very impressive.
Have you ever thought about upgrading the factory yaw sensor to a Midori digital yaw sensor?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Midori doesn't make a replacement Yaw Rate Sensor. They do a G-Sensor box which is a totally different thing and I've actually been running the Tarzan/Do-Luck version of it on my car since 2012. You can see the install and test on this post :)


Here you go. I haven't seen too many reviews on this yet, so I'm not sure how well it works. It also seems like Midori is the only company who makes a Digital Yaw Rate Sensor.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Very interesting, I wasn't aware of that. I might talk to them about it next time I stop by:)


I don't care if cars with straight-sixes, manual transmissions or two-door bodies are "obsolete."

They are the stuff of dreams, inspiration to put in long days at work, mobile sculpture to spend time and love and energy on.

I get a bigger kick out of driving a decades-old car with a significant fraction of a million (miles or kilometers, doesn't matter) - that I love and work on myself - than having a new car. Hell, there aren't all that many new cars I'd want anyway.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well manufacturers try to follow trends or at least they believe they are with often misleading and inaccurate market research. This results in the products being catered to this image of what manufacturers believe their clients want and these clients get convinced they need these cars due to all the marketing. Vicious circle but it has resulted in a ton of unnecessary crossover type cars that are just cumbersome, awkwardly designed and have no performance to offer. But they look edgy and fashionable and often powered by hybrid drivetrains that return good mileage. That and boxy vans of all shapes and sizes. That's what it's all come down to. If people are taught that they need performance they will go for it. The germans are doing well at this, while Japan has fallen off the map. Pity as the knowhow is there.


Straight-six, manual, two-door bodied cars are obsolete? I just want to know what you mean.


Obsolete in the sense that the most common type of vehicle on the road today is some kind of small vanlike box with short overhangs, more height than width, a windshield larger than the hood, a very low machinery-to-interior ratio, a small 4-banger and a slushbox.


Most car manufactures are switching to smaller engines that are turbo charged. Better fuel economy in a small, light weight package. Take for instance the new Mustang. Four cylinder turbo that can make 300HP, go 0-60 in 5 seconds, and still get 30MPG on the highway. Same principal applies for the new Type-R Civic as well.


You've got a point. Thanks for explaining I don't know why I didn't just observe. By the way that EcoBoost Mustang has an amazing feel to it.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Oh and BTW Mercedes is working on an all new straight six motor...


Very cool stuff.


This is stunning! I appreciate your step by step postings Dino! Best way to realize what really happens here.
(But ... your underneath definitely needs some attention asap!)
Thinking about ordering the same option as yours for my BNR... hope they'll remember your order when I'm asking for a quote haha

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes it does :( All in good time, it's mostly superficial but it's the couple of bushes that have shat themselves that I'm more worried about.


Looks fantastic, great to see the gt-r back in the galleries.
My keyboard keycaps are made of abs plastic, and they're a pain too. Not all plastic is equal!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes it's nice to see it make a return. I pray the fueling gets done this month. Not ideal however as it meeds I'd need to put the car on the dyno in mid-summer which would mean stupid temperatures. Counter productive for sure ahhhhh

MPistol HVBullets

I couldn't support this enough! This is exactly what I'm looking to do when my magnetic shocks need replacement

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks! Which car?

Jan Pommerenke

Dude...why did chose red rims? I don't think they work well with the Bayside Blue. Imo the only wheel color that works awesome with Bayside Blue is gold. But that's just my opinion, so no hate :)

Dino Dalle Carbonare

These are my track wheels. The bronze CE28Ns are still the road wheels.


That's a Subaru thing with the blue & gold


This is a very cool product and a great alternative to the cumbersome air tank and ancillaries as you pointed out. And 45mm is a relatively significant measurement, just about 2" which is quite a bit and should be more than enough to clear most obstacles and inclines.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

More than enough. In fact the car will get lowered more, it's just I can't do it now or the rear tires will catch on the fenders. I need to get the inner lip rolled as I mentioned in the KW Coilover install


It's high enough to not need it anyway


As Dino says; these cars, even with stiff suspension, bottom out on many b-roads when even lowered only a few mm. If you're serious about driving them on the roads they were (imho) built to run on you'd get it ;)
Maybe fine for a cruiser on urban streets, but you come across a back country pothole, outta nowhere, at 4am, full chat and the guys behind you are going to see sparks ;)
Dino - you learn to eye-roll at this question over time man :p

Dino Dalle Carbonare

My front diffuser will tell you otherwise. Plus as I said the car is being dropped more once I roll the rear fenders. :D


dino, those red rims gotta go


Loving those red wheels! I'm running a similar-looking combi on my Porsche 997. ;-)

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Go where? lol

Paddy McGrath

I'll have them. #redonred

Dino Dalle Carbonare

LOL let's try then. Can you clear 295s all round? Shall we call Miura?


Pfffft, I'll onikyan that GTI. Problem solved.


I didnt know the 34GTR used a Mitsubishi sensor. Most likely would be from an Evo 6 or 7. Pretty interesting fact.

I havent seen coilover a set up like this before . It's pretty cool and would be so useful.

Glad to see the GeeDeeAhh getting mods! Hope you come to WTAC this year and maybe pick up a RB30 bottom end :D


Mitsubishi electric made a few sensors for cars. Have a look at the Cam Angle Sensor, you might find the three diamonds on it somewhere. I can't remember if they made alternators as well for Skylines.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

GeeeDeeeeeeAhhhhh mate! Yeah I'll be there but I'll stick to the 26 for now, maybe a billet 30 later down the line lol


It's our hidden shame :(


Hahaha No shame in getting parts from one of the best AWD systems in the world!

Graeme DailyDose

Haha Dino that shot where Kawanishi-san is holding the rear diffuser and the look on his face says " urg just take the photo already" even though i know he doesn't mind. Epic install looks like it works a treat!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

LOL he was a legend! I love seeing real pros at work, you learn a lot!


Godzilla = Dino evolved

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Or just fat lol


Loving the flip flops style Dino. Lol!!! #nomanshouldwearflipflops

I want the kit so bad. Lol!

The real questions is will KW have this kit available for R34 owners or would you go into my haters gotta hate black list for being the only one with it? Lol!!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

What's wrong with flip flops? Ask Hawaiians what they think about that lol KW doesn't offer it but if you call them up and tell them you want something like what's on Dino's car maybe they'll sell it to you :) I'm sure they'll have more and more requests for second-gen GTRs


Stupid keyboard prediction. I mean a FD RX7 engine swap into a Rx8. Using the rx8 engine front cover and a costume front counterweight so as to retain all the rx8 factory functions a.c., power steering, oil metering pump etc ..


Hahaha!! I was born and raised in the Caribbean I know all about flip flops. Lol!

I was assuming that KW was using your car as a test bed for development of the product. I will copy paste your msg when I contac them. Following by the words Dino Says. Lol!!!

I'm currently doing a Rx7 f2f swap into a RX8 to be my daily drive. So the KW will need to wait a bit.

I'm looking forward to see the next chapter in the upgrades of your car.

Malcolm Robinson

Would love this for my own R34... I had KWs on my E46 M3 and thought they were awesome. Have you picked up any indication that KW might offer your setup as anything other than a one-off for you ?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Nice Car BTW!

Malcolm Robinson

Cheers- I did spot the similarity between our cars :-) . I have followed your build way before I got my GT-R; please keep up the updates - I'm interested in what you are going to do with the engine. Did you ever get the new turbos fitted ?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

If the demand is there I'm sure they could offer it.


Is that a speed hunters sprinter van beside the shop?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes haha, that's the van that our Japan distributors use to hit up events and set up the Speedhunters booth

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Number 5 in Japanese?


I support the Red Rims and Blue Body!

Before tinkering with cars, I was really into BeyBlades in my younger days. And Dranzer rocks the Blue primary colour with Red secondary colour.
So I see it as pretty bad-ass

Btw great article and I really do envy your HLS! haha

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks! Like I keep telling everyone that comments negatively on the wheels, they are for track/grippy rubber so I wanted something with lots of contrast/easy to spot. The RTs were perfect! Once I get the fenders rolled I can try fitting the 19" and see how much more I can lower it!


Can't wait to see them in action!

any plans regarding the rear diffuser ? It looks like it can take a refresh of brackets, rivets and bolts. but get a set a set of new nuts and bolts. Most of them snapped when I was refreshing mine smh


Big fan of the red wheels. This car has some weight trimming potential if it had a Braille battery and a rear steer delete. Looks like a really nice ride height system.

Matthew Everingham

A very cool addition.


Maybe just an idea you should spray the rims gun metal grey.


Try some BBS Wheels