Welcome to Part 2 in my series ‘Super Cool-Looking Race Cars That Weren’t Actually Any Good At Being Race Cars’.
Okay, so the title needs a little work, but following on from Part 1 – where I featured a Sard MC8 – the homologation model for the Sard MC8-R - Part 2 is equally as paradoxical. Suza-san has created a stunning tribute to the Nismo GT-R LM – another race car that looks like it has annual reservations at the Podium Hotel, when in actual fact it didn’t quite make it onto the A-list.
Much like the Sard MC8-R, the Nismo GT-R LM race car was Nissan’s attempt at world domination. Although unlike the Sard MC8-R, Nissan had already achieved it with the BNR32 Skyline GT-R. That car was dubbed ‘Godzilla’ by the Australian motoring media after its domination of local Group A touring car racing.
The R32 Skyline GT-R won 29 races out of 29 starts in the Japanese Touring Car Championship, making it basically unbeatable. It was a very big fish in a medium-sized pond. However, stepping into the Le Mans arena with the R33 Nismo GT-R LM and going up against the likes of the McLaren F1 and the Porsche GT1, was very much a case of a big fish in a much, much bigger pond. A pond full of blood-thirsty Europeans.
I won’t go into all the details of the GT-R LM, because there is a comprehensive history lesson right here on Speedhunters, split into Part 1 and Part 2. But in case you can’t be bothered with all that mouse clicking or thumb scrolling, here’s the short of it:
Nissan entered Le Mans in 1995 with the intention of testing the waters before an all-out assault in 1996. They entered two GT-R LM race cars – #22 with a Group N specification engine and a standard Nissan Getrag gearbox, and the ill-fated #23 car which was tasked with going full-welly using an experimental gearbox jointly developed between Xtrac and Nismo. Unfortunately, it seemed a little more R&R was needed. So #22, which took it steady, finished a respectable 10th overall out of 20 finishers. Not bad for a first run, and surely a victory for Nismo to come out on top of a Ferrari F40.
1996, however, was not so triumphant. This was thanks in part to Porsche’s new 911 GT1, which devoured the competition with a glass of Bordeaux wine and rillettes (shredded pork pâté). Both GT-R LMs, #22 and #23, were now equally specced and using the trusty Nissan gearbox, but this time it was car #23 that crossed the finish line, placing 15th out of 25 overall finishers.
The results may not have been as abysmal as the outcome for the Sard MC8-R, but it probably wasn’t the outcome Nismo was hoping for. And let’s be honest, it was probably a bit ambitious to pit a little sports car against a battlefield of supercars.
Nonetheless, the Nismo GT-R LM is still the coolest-looking GT-R ever made, which is why Suza-san has created his own homage to the road car, built from a regular BCNR33 Nissan Skyline GT-R base. It’s awesome to see, especially when most R33 GT-R owners who go down the replica route will opt to build a 400R look-a-like.
We headed into the hills to embrace the beauty of some fine Japanese automotive craftsmanship… and some lacquered wooden bowls.
Suza-san tells me that his GT-R LM replica body kit was moulded off one of the original cars, but he has chosen not to plaster a race car livery all over it as it’s his date-night cruiser.
For wheels, there was only one choice – 2-piece Nismo LM GT beauties, made by RAYS of course.
Exactly like the single, homologation Nismo GT-R LM road car built by Nissan and stored in their Zama Heritage Collection, the RB26DETT engine in Suza-san’s car is mostly stock (the Nismo road car had 305ps). He’s added a pair of Trust Airinx air filters, an equal-length front pipe also from Trust, and a stainless steel muffler from Be Free, so it definitely sounds the part.
Edging through the eerily-quiet streets of this picturesque village, the ORC metal twin-plate clutch shimmered like two katana swords clashing in combat.
The fact that Suza-san uses the car for special occasions, like dates, perhaps this sums up the attempts of the Nismo’s GT-R LM race program beautifully. The ambition and spirit was strong, but in reality the GT-R is a better all-rounder than a full-blown race car.
What Suza-san has built here is a one-off homage to the one-off homologation special built so the Nismo GT-R LM race car could compete at Le Mans back in the ’90s, and it’s crazy-cool in every way.
Love to see an homologation special being driven on the road
"...his GT-R LM replica body kit was moulded off one of the original cars..."
Are we missing something here? Who is Suza-san and how did he even get an original to mould off from? Must be connected somehow to get an original race car part to design from.
I like these... Finally light shown on the pretension that killed the true sports cars with compromise. If a thing is better used as a date night car than to embarrass itself, a full on factory fighter landing amongst the "gentleman driver$$$", then here is the proper use. Still a badass on the streets, I would love to see this on the street over a real deal race car being pointlessly bent out of straight over the cobbles.
Homie needs a Big old Wang
hey Toby, love the write-up & the pics taken, awesome job on capturing these moments in time, that perfectly tells the story of this build; quick question- what paint exactly has applied to the color of this car?
it isn't the same silver as the official 1-of-1 homologation street LM, looks almost white, but not quite; chalk maybe? do tell!
One cool car
That LM result is the price of Japanese being conservative tuners. They're conformists, and they paid(and are still paying the price for it.
Would you say that about the most recent factory efforts from Nismo at Le Mans? They've been the most off-the-wall things on the field. They have been about as middlingly successful as this, but can't fault them for going all out.
The GT-R LM NISMO was developed by Nissan USA, the Japan office had very little to do with the project. It was also hampered by their decision to use a kinetic hybrid system rather than a battery or supercapacitor (worked on the test stand, not so much on the track due to oil starvation).
This makes me very happy. It had always been a pipedream to one day build a daily-driveable homage to the R33 GT-R LM. I'm glad someone's actually gone and done it.
Thanks for the article, Toby. Good as always.
This is really a specimen car indeed, even if it isn't the real deal,
I reckon the rear spoiler could be made wider to suit is sexy white (actual wide) ass.
This is literally my dream GTR, so jealous!
I really like that it's not a race car but a road car with a race inspiration. Very cool!
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