Party Like It’s 1999: The Blitz Autobahn Project

The year is 1999. The Blitz ‘R348 Autobahn Project’ is due to make a pass on the German autobahn in a few days’ time. The target for the Nissan R34 GT-R? 348km/h.

This number, which translates into 216mph, was crazy for a street car at the time. It also was not coincidence, but rather conveniently a few clicks faster than the then-current, albeit relatively unofficial, record held by the RUF Yellowbird.

Gary Castillo, who I met at Sleepers Speed Shop earlier this year, was invited by Blitz and flown over to Germany to capture the story of the R348 for Turbo & High Tech Performance magazine. Gary was there during these days beforehand with the team; even better, he already knew all of the engineers and mechanics working on the project. He described the experience to me as more like buddies hanging out than a journalist assignment.

So, what happened?


Before the speed run, the car underwent final prep and testing in Germany. Gary went along for a little test run with an engineer, which he can describe only as “the nuttiest thing I’ve ever felt.” Still, to this day, he says the Blitz Skyline is the only car that’s pinned him in his seat and kept him there all the way up to 315km/h (196mph).

It may not seem like such a crazy number today, but keep in mind, this was not a safe, controlled test environment. This was the autobahn in 1999.


Ultimately, Blitz was able to propel their GT-R to a blazing 343km/h (213mph), but in the process the power steering belt decided to disintegrate. Looking at the data afterwards, the team realized they effectively tied the Yellowbird’s famous record.

Seeing as how the RUF’s autobahn speed was measured by a look-at-the-speedometer sort of thing, and the Blitz run was all verifiable with laboratory-spec speed reading equipment, the team gave up their search for a new belt and called it good enough.

From here, the car went to the US where it was modified to compete in the Silver State Classic, an event where State Route 318 is shut down for a 90-mile speed run. Plagued with setup issues to get the car to spec, the Blitz GT-R ran out of gas a couple miles before the finish line. Still, it averaged over 290km/h (180mph) on the two-lane American highway.


This ridiculous speed comes thanks to a number of factors, one of the most significant being what you see under the hood. The RB26 was stroked to 2.75-liters and converted to a big single turbocharger for top-end power. Power that, like Gary said and felt, just never seemed to run out as it climbed to over 320km/h. Looking around the engine bay it’s cool to see simple little details like the carbon fiber strut brace, something that would have been pretty exotic in the ’90s.


343km/h was also possible thanks to a number of Blitz upgrades, namely their complete aero kit on the car. Compared to what we see today it’s visually understated for a top speed car, but the important thing is that it actually all worked. Before proving itself on the autobahn, this kit was wind tunnel-verified; it’s quite an impressive and technical setup, even for today’s standards. The front lip acted more like a splitter, extending back underneath the car and integrating into a belly pan, for example.

Perhaps what’s most impressive about this car is the fact that the entire interior remains. The driver got a lightweight Konig bucket, but the rear seats, speakers, door panels, and all of the trim pieces were left in place for the speed runs. Gary insists that this car drove itself everywhere the team went in Germany, too. To the shop, to the autobahn, around town, whatever. It wasn’t trailered; it wasn’t babied. It was driven.

And, if you’re wondering, the odometer now sits at around just 6,900km (4,300 miles). On the same token, all of the stickers (besides a couple) on the car are original to that run in ’99.


Back outside the car it’s all so ’90s. Stunning Blitz Technospeed Z1 wheels can be found on all four corners in 18×10-inch size, alongside that iconic black and red livery.

Even if you gathered all the parts, you could never build this car again though. For Gary, he says that’s what makes this thing so special, in fact, “one of the most sentimental cars to me.” It was Gary’s first international assignment for the magazine and this car ended up being his first cover shoot and feature.

But more importantly, Gary tells me this car is special to him because he could call the guys running the car on the autobahn his friends. It was about the people, the experience, the history.


It’s been nearly 20 years since that famous run, and while there are plenty of famous R34s, Gary says this is the one for him. As time goes on this car carries its amazing history with it, introducing the next generation to the greatness of ’90s Japanese cars and tuning legends alike.

The Purist Toy Drive this last weekend — an awesome Southern California event which Antonio and I will soon break down for you — was where I first came across the car in person. It’ll probably be the last time, too, as I’ve heard it’s heading back to Japan again to be quietly tucked away somewhere.

Project Autobahn, an icon in hiding.

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Wow, what an article. Really enjoyed this as my daily dose of 90s sports cars input.

It´s impressive, that Blitz as a company had some kind of relation to Germany back in the days. They also tested their new Supra A80 aero and performance parts at the Nordschleife.

Those cars, the Blitz R34 and the Blitz A80 are so iconic. :)


Too cool! I remember seeing the progression of this particular vehicle through the Option magazines I use to buy at the local bookstore in Chinatown. I didn’t understand a word of Japanese (still don’t!) but could kind of piece together the story through the pictures. Super cool to see this car again!


I was just an old Option article and videos about the japanese maximum velocity tuning culture, and this was one of the cars mentioned. Top Secret's Nagata also apparently did a run on the autobahn and reached 341kph (according to Option's Daijiro Inada, the person who drove this Blitz GT-R.)


Just one question... why would you tuck away a car like this one,with a lot of history? i know it has value (R34's are already expensive as f.... i can only imagine an R34 GT-R with less than 7k kms) i mean... it's ok to add it to a collection,but every car in general ( and especially this one) are meant to be driven!


Well...what I said about that may not be entirely true. The owner wishes to remain anonymous, but time will tell ;)


i totally uderstand his wish of stayin anonimous,but if i were him i would drive the living hell out of it :D


also: no one named hoonigan's build biology of this car?


I believe that video is still available on YouTube. Daijiro was telling in the video how he actually feared his life when a VW cut him off on autobahn at 300+km/h lol


Yeah I've seen that floating around. I should have put it in the story but here you go. You can see Gary running around in the background snapping some shots, too!


Great article about a great car. Really liked looking at the way the wide-body was added with such subtlety. One thing I noticed (that really turns me off to most recent wide body add-ons) is the way the gas filler door was FULLY integrated into the fender lines. Sorry, but for me, slapping on any sort of wide body/fender kit and leaving this deeply recessed hole for the filler door means you don't have any sense of esthetics/style. Totally ruins the look of an oftentimes radically beautiful build.


Thanks! And yeah, I agree. Also, if the kit wasn't continuous through that point it'd lose a bit of aero advantage, which wouldn't be acceptable on this car.


When i was a kid, i've got a magazin with this Beast in it. Maybe that was the first time i heard about GT-R.


Same, and I still have it somewhere :) I love the car, and the fact that it has been given a modern-day, English-language homage like this. My only other thought was that in terms of outright maximum speed, equaling or slightly exceeding the speed of the 1987 Yellowbird wasn't that impressive in itself. In 1984, Willy Koenig's powered-by-cocaine Testarossa was going 210 on the road, and just a year after the Yellowbird wowed us, the Callaway Sledgehammer went an unthinkable 254mph.

Those cars were a lot more aerodynamic, too. I'm guessing the drag coefficient on an R34 is in the barn-door range of .38-.40. Pushing past the 200mph barrier with 90s technology on *any* inline six...THAT is impressive.


Wow an Autobahn R34 GT-R?!?!?!


Thank you for sharing the story of the car. Very enjoyable read


Thank you! It was an awesome surprise to run into it


Ditto, nice work


Appreciate that!


Oh man. Blast from the past. I was obsessed with this car in the 90s when all of this was going down. I must have read the all the articles a dozen times and loved watching the Video option dvd. More than Gran Turismo or Option2 or F&F, this build and the stories about it are what made me dream of owning a silver R34 on Blitz Technospeeds some day. Thanks for the feature, Trevor!


For sure, definitely cool its survived as well. Glad you enjoyed the feature!


Exactly the sort of story that made me fall in love with Japanese turbo cars. Such a great read! I can hear the howl of the RB26 and the BOV in GT2 now...


omg....I remember watching the eurobeat song back the 2fast2furious days.. I wanted a R34, just like this one..