When Roman Castillo stepped up from his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X into this Nissan GT-R, it was a major upgrade with one hefty drawback. Actually, there were about 300 problems with it — 300lbs, that is.
As you may well know, regardless of how much horsepower you throw at a car, it’s tough to actually make it feel lighter. Ronan started by picking up a standard coilover kit, aftermarket control arms, and a set of RAYS Volk Racing TE37 wheels wrapped up in some good rubber. This helped inspire confidence on the great backroads you can find in California’s Napa-Sonoma Valley area, but while the wheels freed up a few unsprung pounds, the R35 still sat just over a curb-crushing 3,800lbs without a driver.
So really, there was only one solution available: Carbon fiber. All of it.
It just so happened that Ronan came across an article on Speedhunters from 2014 by Dino, after he borrowed the Overtake GT-R demo car for a few days. That car is, of course, an entirely carbon fiber-clad R35 GT-R, so the gears started turning in Ronan’s head. He was able to get in touch with Bulletproof Automotive in Southern California, who is the local distributor and installer of Overtake’s carbon fiber kit.
A year later, Ronan had his lightened GT-R all wrapped up, and his experience with the car has proved Dino right: less is indeed more.
Ronan enjoyed the car’s newfound agility, not only through the corners on spirited drives, but also through the shoddy streets of San Francisco. You see, this car was never meant to be just a show car, nor a simple weekend warrior. This is a car that Ronan wanted to be able to use at any time, and the less weight you can lug around the steep hills of one of California’s densest cities, the better.
Seeing this car in person, the first thing that grabbed me was the glass-like finish across the exterior.
Of course, it would be a complete travesty to hide the beautiful autoclave-baked pre-preg composite bodywork under paint, but Ronan didn’t want to leave it exposed, either. Several painstaking layers of clear-coat later, and you have the glossy final product you see here. The bodywork was treated to full paint protection film and ceramic coating, too.
When I caught up with Ronan’s GT-R, it was actually in Karlo Belarmino’s workshop at Sonoma Raceway — Horsepower Industries — for some routine maintenance.
Karlo has handled all of the mechanical upgrades to the car and continues to keep it in ship-shape for his friend Ronan. Karlo explained that since the car is driven on the street quite often, they wanted to improve the responsiveness while not raising too many red flags for ‘illegal’ modifications in California.
Job well done I’d say, and the factory-looking engine runs a simple tune via a COBB Tuning AccessPort as well as COBB intakes. The Overtake 100-V Saiku full titanium exhaust by R1 Titan Japan helps shave some more weight, and sounds and looks great to boot.
While Ronan enjoyed the car’s more lively feel, he realized that this gave him a bit of a buffer to explore some other options to create his dream R35. Custom interiors are generally quite heavy, but by choosing to go with Alcantara upholstery throughout the cabin not much weight was added back in.
And of course, you couldn’t call it a carbon fiber GT-R unless the interior was carbon-clad as well. Fear not, it is.
What I love the most about the Overtake kit is that it’s not so much a kit as it is an entirely new car. Every last panel is truly a complete carbon fiber recreation, and despite the extra weight from other components in the custom interior, the car ended up shaving a healthy 220lbs from its factory weight.
For reference, the Overtake demo car that Dino drove was able to push that figure just past 300lbs saved, which is a remarkable achievement. In Ronan’s case here, he’s seen an 8% decrease in overall weight, with no sacrifices made on the comfort front.
Also aiding the quest to shave weight, especially where it matters the most, is a set of RAYS Volk Racing TE37 Ultra wheels in Hyper Blue that measure 20×10.5-inch up front and 20×12-inch out back. They’re wrapped up in 285/35R20 front and 345/30R20 rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, and just typing this out I fear the sheer amount of grip this car is undoubtedly capable of. The factory bronze-finished Brembos are more than up to the task at hand and look great against the contrasting blue wheels, too.
I couldn’t get enough of the fine machine marks in the Volk Racing lettering, either, but I digress.
I didn’t think I would be able to get caught up in the nitty-gritty details on such a major overhaul as the Overtake carbon fiber bodywork, but I really enjoyed seeing how each component plays its role in this GT-R. Ronan managed to nearly approach his previous Mitsubishi’s weight without making any sacrifices, and he has gobs more horsepower on tap. It looks fantastic, it’s comfortable, and it can be driven anywhere.
All in all an ideal street car, and one that I’m sure has continued to evolve since I had the pleasure of shooting it.