Since as far back as brothers Mike and Chris Walton can remember, they’ve been Nissan Skyline GT-R fans.
Now they’re Skyline GT-R owners, and on a recent trip to Cape Town for a few shoots, I took a drive with the brothers in their epic BNR32 Nissans.
We met up on a rainy day for a road trip through the Western Cape countryside and an epic mountain pass as the destination. During the drive, I jumped between the cars, so to gain a better understanding of the special relationship the Walton brothers have with their Skylines, and to find out why they mean so much to them.
For Mike and Chris, their affinity to the Nissan brand comes as a direct result of their dad, Lance, working at the only Nissan dealership in their hometown of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Cruising through some tiny farming villages on the way to the mountains, even as a passenger I could feel why these cars enjoy such a following. There’s something so real about late-’80s and early-’90s performance cars when compared to modern machines, and the R32 GT-R – with its Group A pedigree – is extra special.
Regardless of whether people know what they’re actually looking at, the sound and appearance of this Skyline pairing guarantees attention and reactions of awe wherever they go.Arriving In The Mountains
Eventually we made it to Du Toitskloof Pass in Paarl, and were met with wet roads and thick cloud cover – a perfect setting then for these two cars.
We never got the BNR32 or BCNR33 in South Africa, but in the early-2000s Nissan South Africa tested the market for the final Skyline GT-R, bringing in four BNR34s. Mike and Chris were lucky enough to see these cars in person, and declared on that day that they’d both own GT-Rs in the future. As their favourite generation, they’d be R32s though.
Over the course of their schooling, the brothers’ love for Nissan’s performance icon only grew stronger. When the time came for Mike and Chris’s first cars, their father insisted they purchase projects so that they’d learn the meaning of hard work and have a greater sense of appreciation. Since dad Lance was now with Alfa Romeo, Chris found a 1984 GTV and Mike a 1973 GT Junior, and both got to work making them their own.
Upon graduating from university, Mike and Chris set up their own design and marketing business, but eventually ended up merging their company with another in 2011 and launching a very successful sports nutrition venture.
But that’s not all 2011 was good for; this was a pivotal year in the brothers’ car life too. It started when Mike was shown an immaculate white – and local – Mazda FD3S RX-7 on Facebook. This had to be import as there had certainly been none imported by Mazda South Africa.
Sitting over a burger and Coke at a local restaurant chain, Chris and Mike chatted with Craig, the owner of Touge Racing, about how he legally imported and registered his RX-7 in South Africa. Craig explained the import process, and immediately following the meeting both brothers put their Alfas up for sale to free up some funds for their future purchases – the two cars you see here.
Both Skylines were enjoyed in stock form for a few years, but eventually the lure to modify their GT-Rs won Mike and Chris over. There are a few Nissan RB specialists in South Africa, but Ian Oberholzer of Rezlo Racing was almost destined to work on the cars after a chance meeting (Chris and his friends had broken down in a Daihatsu and Ian stopped to lend a hand in his RB25-swapped S14).
Both brothers had a 600hp goal for their cars, which is a nice number for an R32 GT-R, and Ian set about ordering the parts. But that wasn’t all Chris and Mike intended to do, and back in the home garage the Skylines were stripped in preparation of complete nut and bolt restorations.
Three years later, both cars, now with immaculate bodywork, were trucked to Rezlo Racing where Ian got to work on his side of the builds. In December last year, the two GT-Rs drove out.Chris’s GT-R
Let’s take a look at Chris’s Gunmetal Grey GT-R first, which as I said earlier was built for a fun-and-reliable 600hp.
The GT-R’s original RB26DETT now runs a Garrett GTX3576R twin-scroll turbo mounted on a 6Boost manifold, with a TiAL MV-R 44mm external wastegate employed for boost control. Rounding out the turbo setup is a 102mm-thick GReddy intercooler to keep the charge cool, while a K&N 4-inch air filter draws fresh air through a Tomei headlight duct.
For fuel you’ll find a Deatschwerks DW400 fuel pump, custom stainless braided fuel lines, a Tomei FPR, HKS fuel rail and Injector Dynamics ID1300 injectors, with spark vastly improved through Ignition Projects Hexa Pac coil packs.
The exhaust runs a custom 102mm stainless steel down-pipe into a straight-through 102mm system. It’s loud, and even more so when the wastegate screamer pipe is screaming.
Other modifications include a Koyorad aluminium radiator with twin Spal 12-inch fans, an AEM water/methanol injection kit (with tank in boot alongside a race battery), and a Link G4 engine management system to control everything.
To date, the car’s factory 5-speed gearbox – now paired with a Nismo Super Coppermix twin-plate clutch – has held up just fine.
On the suspension front, the car has seen a full HICAS removal and now benefits from BC Racing BR coilover suspension and pretty much the full suite of Garage23 arms.
While the 18×9.5-inch wheels have a RAYS Volk Racing CE28 SL look to them, they’re actually older Volk Racing GT-N variants that have been refinished in flat black and wrapped up in 275/35R18 Toyo Proxes R888Rs.
Through the spokes you can easily see the front brake upgrade – 6-pot Vari 618R calipers with 356mm slotted 2-piece rotors and uprated pads. HKS braided stainless steel lines feature throughout.
The BNR32 looks so good in factory form that Chris found little need to mess with it. The only changes you’ll find are a Fujimura Auto Rocket Dancer carbon fibre Gurney flap for the rear wing and Nismo N1 bumper vents up front.
Likewise, the interior is mostly stock with addition of a few select items – a T&E Vertex 7 Star steering wheel, Nismo GT shift knob, and custom switch panel – and the removal of the rear seat.Mike’s GT-R
For the most part, the upgrades to Mike’s white BNR32 are almost identical to his brother’s, although the car looks a little different overall.
You’ll find the same fuel, spark, and cooling system modifications as in Chris’s car, but Mike’s GT-R differs with a Garrett GTX3582R Gen II turbo and a somewhat quieter Tomei Expreme Ti titanium exhaust and test pipe. To help get the power to the ground, Mike has opted for a ORC 659D twin-plate metal clutch.
Suspension-wise, the car features Blitz ZZ-R coilovers, a HICAS delete, and all the same Garage23 arms as Chris runs. However, Mike chose a Kansai service strut bar over the Nismo equivalent.
The wheels are RAYS Volk Racing and flat black, but this time classic TE37s in a slightly narrower 18×9-inch fitment with 265/35R18 R888Rs.
The exterior features Hasemi Sport carbon fibre side skirts, Nismo N1 front bumper vents, a Nismo carbon bonnet lip and N1 headlights.
And again, only minor changes were made to the interior – a Sabelt 330mm steering wheel, carbon switch panel, Nismo shift knob, and a couple of Mine’s gauges in the factory triple cluster.Just Go Drive
Both Mike and Chris’s cars were built to be enjoyed. Yes, they’ve had a lot of parts and money put into them, but nothing is over the top, which is not always the case with these types of builds.
While they look really great parked, we had brought them to this idyllic mountain pass to enjoy them.
Although semi-slicks weren’t the best match for these wet roads – especially when paired with 600hp on tap in each car – we had so much fun on the perfect ribbons of tarmac.
Spending the day in these two GT-Rs reminded me that there’s not much that can top taking your car out for a good old fashioned drive, especially when you have roads like those that the Du Toitskloof Pass offer up.