With asking prices on a constant upward trajectory, trying to get your head around the world of GT-Rs is enough to land you in a permanent state of confusion and utter disbelief. And it’s not only the BNR34 that this is happening to, it’s all generations of the GT-R and every other popular JDM performance car too.
With such high buy-in prices for even the most average R32 GT-Rs these days, you’d think that then modifying one to an ultra high standard would be prohibitively expensive for the average enthusiast, and you’d be right. Luckily for Matty, the owner of this Skyline, he got into the car just in the nick of time. Well, kind of…
Executing a big idea right down to the nth degree is never easy (or in the case of GT-R restoration and modification, cheap), and for Matty it was especially difficult as he refuses to cut corners. He’s very particular about his GT-Rs. Yes, he has more than one in his possession, something I’ll get to later on.
Having been a total GT-R otaku for decades, Matty knew exactly how he wanted this R32 to end up. The goal was to not only turn it into a potent street car, but address every single detail with the utmost attention to detail. This ended up happening in two very distinct stages, ‘stage 1′ beginning in Japan around five years ago.
It took Matty some time to track down the right Skyline for the project. It had to be a very late BNR32, which is why he was only looking at 1993 cars. He wasn’t interested in putting up with the horrendous prices that rare versions like the V-specII and N1s fetch, simply because tuning it and perfecting it his way was always on the cards anyway. This was a car that had to tick all the boxes, but also one that would be properly used.
Oh, and it had to be factory-finished in TH1 Dark Blue, a rather rare hue for the R32. In fact, Matty’s car is one of only 118 made in this color in 1993. For comparison, in the same year, 4,948 white GT-Rs were manufactured.
Newera Imports ultimately found the perfect car for Matty, and then the work begun. There was a long stay at Midori Seibi Center to get the engine and mechanicals in check, and then Robson Leather where the GT-R’s cabin was brought up to spec.
The R32 rides on a set of Nitron R3 adjustable coilovers, allowing the body to sit with just enough aggression over a set of RAYS Volk Racing TE37V MARK-IIs in classic bronze. The suspension and chassis now also benefits from Spoon Rigid Collars, Nismo sway bars, rear upper links and rear A-arms. Nismo underfloor bracing was also added to counteract torsional forces running through the aging Nissan.
The TE37Vs are shod in sticky Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 rubber to get the most out of the handling improvements, and I found it quite impressive that the Brembo 355mm and 345mm 2-piece rotors fit inside the stepped lips of the RAYS wheels. The rotors work with Brembo 6-pot front calipers and 4-pot rears, providing immense stopping power and a proper race car look to boot.
In my mind, the R32 really only needs minimal exterior enhancements to look its best, and Matty is obviously of the same opinion. Just look at that perfect squared-off fitment.
A subtle dose of class was added nonetheless. That meant N1 headlights (try buying these now…), a Nismo intercooler surround (impossible to find…) and a Top Secret carbon fiber front lip spoiler. Along with the N1 rectangular openings on the bumper – a detail straight from the Group A racers – the 32 has an aggressive front end appearance.530 Ponies
Lift up the stock hood and things quickly get serious.
In a world where four-figure power outputs have now become expected, I commend builds like this. Because 500-or-so horses in a finely-honed GT-R will result in one of the most capable cars on the road.
Sadly, something like this might be dismissed as being underpowered, but anyone who thinks that is wrong.
The build itself is centered around a fresh N1 block, which features thicker cylinder walls, stronger internals, and beefier oil and water pumps. Basically, it’s the perfect RB26 canvas to start with, and one so right for this level of performance.
Tomei Powered Arms M8260 turbos were selected and mated to a complete Midori exhaust, including outlets, front titanium pipe and main system. In the middle, a naughty Tomei cat bypass pipe makes sure the car shoots foot-long flames every once in a while, spicing up the driving experience. The HKS V-Cam inlet camshaft provides a wide spread of torque as well as fast spool and big power up top.
Uchinaga-san at Midori revised the stock fuel system adding a Nismo fuel pump and FPR and a set of R35 injectors, fed through one of his billet fuel rails. These join other retrofitted R35 components, including coil packs and air flow meters. Refinements on the intake side include a Nismo GT plenum and a Nismo intercooler.
The whole ensemble is controlled by one of Midori’s proprietary ROM upgrades to the stock ECU.
It wasn’t just aftermarket parts lists that Matty scoured and purchased from. He knew that many OEM Nissan parts for the BNR32 would sooner or later be discontinued, or in fact were already hard to find and costing far more than their original price. A good example is the factory-fresh heat shield on the underside of the stock hood.
Looking around the engine bay, you realize that it’s very much the case with every detail, from the window washer tank and radiator overflow tank to the little clips that hold the brake/ABS lines in place along the firewall. Every component is new.
I have so much admiration for this painstaking level of detail, but at the same time it makes me feel slightly guilty that I haven’t kept up the maintenance on some of my GT-R’s parts.Leather As Far As You Can See
In every respect, this is one of the cleanest 32s around. I mean, it even makes Nismo’s own demo car seem slightly underwhelming.
Where Nismo pursues the ultimate expression of conservatism, Matty’s car takes things up notch to execute a high-end feel overall.
Masa and his team at Robson Leather truly outdid themselves with the interior, upholstering the front seats, rear bench and back rest, and door cards in soft leather. The dash meanwhile received the full Alcantara treatment, highlighting the design and edges with matching red stitching.
A white-faced Nismo instrument cluster and matching triple-meter gauge set were sourced and fitted in place of the OEM items for an extra touch of exclusivity.
The result is something else; you can even smell the quality.
To keep things clean, the glove box was sacrificed and converted into a pop-down get fighter control center where you can find everything from the auxiliary Defi gauges to the GReddy Profec boost controller and a Do-Luck DTM2 G sensor module. It’s a cool ’90s JDM touch.
But it’s always the final judgment that makes or breaks a car. So how does it all feel out on the road?
I got thrown the keys to the GT-R and had a chance to drive it up and down the costal road that overlooks the Tokyo Bay and gives you an amazing view of the bridge section of the Aqua Line (opening shot).
The RB pulls strongly and smoothly from as low as 2,000rpm, the HKS V-Cam adding a much-welcomed touch of flexibility in the rev-happy RB. This makes it a far more easier engine to live with, but that said, if you keep this thing above 4,500rpm you have a massive power curve to play with – one that never seems to run out of puff. I lit up the cold Neovas in first and second gear before they could even generate any heat, putting an instant smile on my face.
There’s no hiding the fact that this is a superbly put together package. It’s strong and reliable, and all the modern advancements work to bring the RB’s inherent character into the modern era.
Could you have move power? Sure, but that’s where you enter the realm of diminishing returns in any GT-R. I’m pretty sure Matty has hit the sweet spot of what a freshly-built and modern second-gen GT-R should be.Yet, He Still Managed To Improve It…
Fast forward over a year and the BNR32 had made its way to the UK, sitting right next to Matty’s other GT-R – a 2019 50th Anniversary R35 that he uses as a daily driver.
Upon its arrival, Matty wasn’t totally happy with the state of the original paint, so he decided that perfection was worth shooting for.
The car was duly stripped down and repainted by Matty’s trusted body shop. Furthermore, all the glass and rubber seals were replaced with fresh OEM items. These had to be supplied by the guys at Trust Kikaku, because Nissan and Nismo are simply sold out of most R32 parts at any given time.
Last time I talked to Matty he said the car was pretty much “finished”, a word any GT-R owner should know better than to use. Since then, the GT-R has received a carbon fiber Nismo inlet piping kit and air box, so the build is still ongoing.
That said, you do have to wonder what else could now possibly be done to improve it…
Dino Dalle Carbonare