I’ve always been a big fan of itasha-style cars. Actually, let me rephrase that; I’m a huge fan of some itasha-style cars, and Julian Adriano’s track-prepped BNR32 Nissan Skyline GT-R checks all of the right boxes.
The aesthetic caught my eye, but more importantly it appeared to be set up properly. J was quick to corroborate my assumption, sharing that it’s “a performance car first, but we’ve always been geeks at heart.” The ‘we’ here is referring to some of his friends at Garage Drydock, which J helped found.
He says Garage Drydock is “a team of sorts [which] started as a group of friends who for many years were using often incomplete or insufficient sets of tools to accomplish maintenance jobs on one another’s cars, and [we had] to use creative solutions rather than brute force on problems.”
Sound familiar? It certainly does to me…
J continues, explaining that “after over a decade of doing that, we all grew up and our collections of tools became more complete and our techniques more refined. What Drydock has evolved into now is a think tank to bring aging but still respectable cars, like the R32 GT-R, to a point where they can be driven against modern machines without turning them into pure race cars.”
This is exactly what J and his friends have done to his own R32 during the 12 years that he’s owned the car. He tells me the Nissan remains mechanically stock for the most part, with a focus on building a street car which is capable of going to the track rather than a race car which could, in theory, be driven on the street.
As such, the creature comforts that came standard inside the car remain; you get A/C, OEM safety restrains, rear seats, and there isn’t a roll bar.
The daily driving experience has been further honed by replacing the bulbs in the instrument panel with LEDS, “white for the main instrument gauges and red everywhere else, so as not to compromise the driver’s night vision while still retaining readability and [directing] focus to the main cluster.”
Details can make all the difference.
Of course, the car isn’t entirely stock, and features rebuilt twin T25 turbos, an HKS down-pipe which feeds an HKS Hi-Power silenced exhaust, modified APEXi Super Suction air filters, and a Blitz DSBC dual solenoid boost controller.
A good amount of detail work has gone on under the hood as well, including Splitfire coil packs, a Wiring Specialties ignition harness, and NGK Iridium spark plugs.
The factory ECU has been reprogrammed with an EPROM tune to provide extra juice to the thirsty motor under higher-than-stock boost, and the result is 330hp to the wheels (and 279ft-lb of torque) at 17.4psi.
Federal 595 RSR-R rubber delivers said power to the tarmac and is wrapped around 18-inch 5Zigen Pro Racer GN+ wheels. Tucked into the wheels are V-spec style Brembos with Endless slotted rotors and MXRS pads.
Handling is further refined by eliminating HICAS with a Kazama rear bar — I’ve never driven a rear-wheel steering car, and I’m not sure I want to. Furthering the street-first philosophy, J makes use of Cusco Street Zero A coilovers which “provide a ride which is still comfortable, but controllable.”
Back on the topic of Garage Drydock, J shares that the group has been busying themselves “finding problems brought about by antiquated technology [in older cars] and creating solutions from more readily available modern parts and theories.” One such innovation is an in-house digital G-sensor which is a replacement for the factory unit that helps regulate the GT-R’s ATTESA-ETS all-wheel drive system.
The all-new G-sensor was first tested at last year’s R’s Day (which I missed, sadly), which resulted in an upgrade to an OS Giken 1.5-way Super Lock LSD to help further refine their data. At the Gridlife Streets of Willows event where I ran into J’s R32, Gridlife veteran driver Charles Miller — pictured here sitting cross-legged — was behind the wheel for additional troubleshooting and tuning.
Aesthetically speaking, J tells me the car is a nod to nose art on WWII bombers with “the traditional red-silver-black Nismo pinstripe livery palette-swapped for purple and lavender tones to complement the subjects of the car.” And the subjects themselves, custom artwork of Nozomi and Kanan from the anime Love Live!.
Inside and out an all-round solid car, I hope to run into J’s R32 at future track events, and at the same time catch up with Garage Drydock’s progress on their side projects.