Project 33 Gets Some Protection
Protection Means Freedom

Those readers who follow my blog will know how obsessive I am with keeping my GT-R as clean as possible. I try to avoid driving in the rain, and I am fortunate to have a shuttered concrete garage where I keep the car safely tucked away – a real luxury here in Japan. But, there are always those times when something on the road, be it large or small, comes flying your way, and the car takes a hit. It happens, even here where the roads are super smooth and clean.

Until now, I’ve dealt with the issue by having the front bumper and lip spoiler touched up or repainted every few years, as necessary. And not driving much. But recently, after such a repaint, I was able to obtain a brand new, unpainted N1 spec hood. Once I got the hood painted, I went in search of a more convenient solution.

In the US, ‘clear bras’ are ubiquitous, but here in Japan paint protection film is still almost unheard of, and so it was a real struggle to find a shop that had the experience and know-how to do an install correctly. Luckily, I found Yes!PPF (obviously a specialist in Paint Protection Film) which operates out of well known Yokohama-based Porsche tuner, CREF, just 15 minutes from my house. So I placed a phone call and got the process going.


On arrival I felt a bit lonely, surrounded by all of this beautiful German machinery!

Ishiguro-san, seen here taking measurements for an estimate, runs Yes!PPF. He told me that they have patterns for various cars in their database, from which they cut the film from, but mine was the first ever R33 GT-R. So, everything would have to be done by hand. No problem for me, I like bespoke, although I first made sure the estimate wasn’t going to bankrupt me.

For my car, Ishiguro-san decided to wrap the entire hood, wrapping the edges to eliminate any unsightly lines. From a distance you can’t even tell the film is there.

He also did the entire front bumper and the center of the lip spoiler, which is scraped on the bottom and needs a repaint soon anyway.

It turns out that Yes!PPF, and specifically Ishiguro-san, is one of the pioneers of paint protection film in Japan, having started up in 2008. So I was lucky that I had found someone so experienced in Japan to do the work. I’ve struggled with applying film on my headlights by myself, so I was glad to leave this to a pro.


Being a custom job, Ishiguro-san focused on areas most likely to receive damage, at the expense of some other spots. Here you can see the break lines both on the leading edge as well as next to the light grill. In any case, I now have the freedom to enjoy some of the local back country roads without fear of paint damage from road debris. Give me an excuse…

Enjoying Some Of Japan’s Best Roads

The excuse I needed was an old friend deciding to vacation in Japan. Russ used to live here and is well known in RX-7 (FD3S) circles as he had chronicled his FD adventures on his blog, RE-Xtreme. Naturally, we agreed to meet up while he was in town and go for a drive. Our other mutual friend, Miguel, decided to come along on his customed HRC race-spec 2002 Honda VTR SP2, lending Russ his Knight Sports-tuned FD. Although I was hoping Dino would show up with something interesting, he decided to ride shotgun with me. Fresh from his adventures ECU tuning Project GT-R, this turned out to be a wise decision.


After meeting up at the Ebina Service Area, I asked Dino to take the wheel and we proceeded to drive until we saw this familiar green sign. The Mazda Turnpike Hakone, formerly known as the Toyo Tires Turnpike, is a collection of windy mountain (and privately owned – no cops!) roads, perfect for any Speedhunter. Anyway, we followed the sign, paid the toll and soon found ourselves blasting along the touge.


Pictures certainly don’t do it justice; it was nice to be away from city traffic, surrounded by nature, with the air crisp and cool. I decided to let Dino keep driving, he knows these roads intimately, having tested dozens if not hundreds of press cars here. A perfect opportunity to get some feedback on the car. [Dino: Actually it was because 'someone' had forgotten his wallet, driver license and everything else...]

Dino immediately noticed that my car’s custom Mine’s VX-ROM tune could have been better – remember, he had just spent a few days fine tuning his car’s Haltech Elite 2500, and so he was particularly sensitive to the differences between a modern, sophisticated ECU versus an ‘old school’ ROM-chipped ECU. For example, he observed a flat spot when applying throttle, a lack of ignition retardation when coming off throttle and what seemed to be too much turbo drop off between gear shifts, although the last one might be something that Mine’s did not foresee, as my car doesn’t have the stock gearbox anymore.


We soon got to the top of the Turnpike, where we took a break, letting the cars cool down. Dino had also noted that, on a particular stretch of road that is especially useful for testing out handling and ride, my car’s suspension wasn’t as responsive as it could be – the rebound was too slow. So, I adjusted the dampers (softening both front and back), and we set off again.


By the next stop, with the suspension now behaving to near perfection, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel. After a quick break I jumped into the driver’s seat, and even despite the minor issues Dino recognized, promptly enjoyed myself.

After another quick stop, I then decided to ride shotgun with Russ in the FD. As we set off, he immediately remarked at how much heavier the car was with me in it! Nevertheless, he did his best to keep up with Dino and Miguel. And as the fog began to roll in, I was reminded as to why those iconic rear lights are often referred to as afterburners.


Eventually, we came to another toll booth. And of course, I just had to take this photo. I wonder if this is the car’s namesake road?


We spent some time driving up and down the lower portion of the Izu Skyline before going all the way back to Gotemba via the Ashinoko Skyline. There, we found a small cafe at the very top of the pass (with a goat freely wandering around) where we sipped some coffee. Unfortunately, it was so foggy that the view wasn’t worth taking any photos of.


Then it was time for me to get back behind the wheel. After a few more high and low speed twisty roads we headed back into Tokyo for dinner.

Next Steps

With the front of my car now immune from most road debris thanks to the paint protection film, I plan to go on more road trips like this. Driving the car hard gave me insight into areas that still need improvement, but at the same time I can’t help but be impressed at how incredibly awesome it is, especially in the hands of an experienced driver. It truly is a pure driver’s car. Granted, over the years I have modernised and improved the base platform (whether through better body rigidity, better brakes, or modernising the ATTESA four-wheel drive system with Do-Luck’s digital g-sensor DTMII), but all this does is allow the car’s best qualities to shine, consistently. In any case, I now have some concrete ideas on what I need to do to further improve the car’s performance, even though by any standard it’s probably performing at nine tenths already.

But before that, I plan to upgrade one aspect of the car that has been bothering me ever since I bought it…

Aki Itoh
Instagram: aki_itoh



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I recently took ownership of my first car, and a month later got a paint protection coating. Now I'm wondering if I should spend more and get this clear protection films...


Are you thinking of running it on track? just to see how it fares out?


Brilliant! A good car deserves to be driven more often.
And I hate cliffhangers! lol Tell us more!




Great read, I am super envious of those toll roads with no cops and no cameras! As for the clear film, what made you choose that over a coating solution as mentioned below?
A buddy heads marketing/branding for Ceramic Pro, and it seems to be pretty impressive stuff. I believe many of those coatings are formulated in Japan, actually.


That was a great read, It's nice to see cars like this used properly. I bet the sound from those 3 vehicles was properly epic in the tunnels too.


Great writeup, Aki - Was a great day on fantastic roads - definitely my favourite realistically accessible place to play on and enjoy great views (usually!) in Japan. Although we only do this once every distant now and then, hopefully we and others will join in the nearer future as you do more of these trips. Count me in! :)


Good choice going with the PPF. Working at a Porsche dealer, almost all of the special order cars the treatment and some go even further applying a coating like ceramic pro on top of the clear bra.


Turbology Truth be told, I was under the impression that the film, having used it before on my other cars, was still superior to even the newest coating type products, at least when it comes to impact protection.

Now, if your friend wants to prove me wrong, I'm happy to try out the Ceramic Pro on my car and publish the results here!


Attila_UK Thanks! It was absolutely EPIC! lol


RickyVasquez Hey man, I've been to Florida - it sure has some charms you can't find in Japan!!


@Matt Lol thanks! I don't like cliffhangers either, but if I don't do this I won't be incentivized to come up with more articles!


Paolo Siega I've done track days before here in Japan with the car - Tsukuba and Fuji Speedway for example - but I think the first thing that needs to happen is,  I MYSELF need to first improve my driving skills to take advantage of what the track could offer!


jay8393 I guess it depends on your level of OCD. I myself am probably a bit extreme - for example, for the longest time could not stand seeing a slight crease in the aluminum hood (apparently somewhat had sat on the hood when I wasn't looking) that I eventually replaced with the N1 hood. Not noticeable to most, but very annoying to me.


RonforUSPresident2012 Thanks! Definitely need to find excuses and more friends to enjoy these roads!


Aki_Itoh Nice to hear that this beast still roams the track :D Have fun getting better in driving! Hope to see more in the future!


@Trackrabbit Well I suppose that's why Yes!PPF is located at this Porsche dealer. I can imagine Japanese Porsche owners being extremely demanding...


Hello Aki, could you please tell me the name and code of your car paint color, I love it and I want it in my Z32 

Best Regards!


Ferras Yes of course - it's Nissan's Sonic Silver, paint code KR4.


hm..somehow only one pic is loading when clicking of any of them..the first one


Aki_Itoh RickyVasquez yeah publix subs, thats about it!


That SP2 must be an animal. I know it's not speedhunters thing but is there any more info on it?


Nice article!!! The film doesn't even look like its on the car. I need some of this paint protection for my s14 after I get it repainted.
I have a question though, how tall is Dino? He looks like he is as tall as myself. I am 6 foot 3 inches and there is no way I could fit comfortably in a FD3S but he looks like he fits perfectly in that R33. Its a bit of a challenge for myself to get in and out of my s14 but I was curious if he struggles to get out of the R33 or his own R34.


Aki_Itoh seems that may be the case, from doing some more reading and chatting with him, the film is indeed hugely impact-resistant, which is great.
My buddy did say you could apply coating on top of the film, which someone mentioned above. Happy to connect you guys if you want to char about it.


RickyVasquez  What part of Fl?


Oh gosh Hakone with an r33 nuff said.


That's not OCD, that's true love.


Personally, I'd love bikes to become part of the hunted...


R33 looking good as always. And Russ from RX Extreme is a name I haven't seen in a while. His blog provided a lot of inspiration. Regards from Florida.


Under the 33 rear plate, is that extra brake light or rear fog light...?


c22tch Yes, he is one of a kind. More OCD than me, probably.  He DID blog about his adventures with us, by the way:


pckupelan This was conceived as an extra lamp for the track, actually. It can turn on when the lights are on, but then like those F1 brake lamps, flashes when the brakes are applied.

I have a video clip in this post from my blog, below.  Thanks for the question!


Paolo Siega Thanks! Definitely!


90nissanS13@my350z RickyVasquez Last time it was Gainesville to visit a friend, and then a trip out to St. Augustine - the oldest town in the US, right?


Turbology On top of the film? Interesting. Sure, please have your friend email me!


@Dom Yeah sorry man. I'm new at this Speedhunters thing, in future posts I'll try to figure out how to make all the photos clickable.


@Kenny I asked Miguel about the stats on the bike.This is what he said: "There's a lot of stuff on the SP2.  Original HRC complete race spec. Ti exhaust, Ohlins FG43 forks, Maxton custom GP10 shock, Dymag DA5 carbon wheels, Brembo GP spec narrow track calipers and SBK discs, high volume carbon airbox and intake, custom one-off titanium all over the bike, etc. It's about 25kg lighter than standard."


For good measure, Russ sent me a photo he took of the bike.


TarmacTerrorist Me too! Let Dino know!


bluestreaksti LOL Thanks!


@tom I had to ask Dino - he says he is 190cm. And yes, he could not fit into the FD. No problem fitting into the 33 or his own 34, however!  Come to think of it, he often does "note" that Japanese cars often do not have adequate adjustments to lower the driver's seat for tall drivers!


There's a lot of changes to this bike, but as it's not the subject of this post probably best to keep the spec. list briefest. Basically it's just got the best of everything I could find over an 11 year span. Works pretty well. Here's another couple of pics.  Cheers, Aki!


@Kenny It's not an animal - unless perhaps an agile one. Suspension and brakes are well above original quality - very precise, which adds confidence. Steers a lot quicker than standard with geometry changes (with quite a lot more ride height especially at the back). Lightening the bike also makes a lot of difference. Surprisingly, UK made carbon wheels probably give the best improvement, as it's possible to flick into turns in a way the standard bike doesn't, allowing easy mid corner corrections, etc. Engine is standard internally (for reliability) but has improved torque and a little more power especially higher in the rev range thanks to the carbon intake & roughly double volume carbon airbox (with throttles inside it, not underneath as standard - and top of the tank as the lid!), Durbahn throttle bell mouths, Dynojet power commander and an unobtainum titanium HRC complete race spec. exhaust that was never available to the general public, only factory supported race teams.
It's a confidence inspiring bike to ride as standard, but in this guise it's  considerably better. 

Rossi, Hayden and C. Edwards approved so they signed it for good measure a couple of years ago.


You are correct on your history. Florida was discovered in the search for the fountain of youth, now ironically, people come to retire here and spend the rest of the years. I was "lucky" enough to be born here.
You were actually in the more interesting part. If you think that was flat and hot, come to West Palm Beach, lol. Jk, don't. They drive like nuts here. Although, we have publix subs!...


Aki_Itoh You should ask Dino about it


Aki_Itoh First time I met him at the Art of Speed event back in June, I was surprised at how short I was compared to him. He is tall, gargantuously tall. And Dino if you are reading this, im the guy with that black and gold Maximum Velocity sticker.


Fort myers


I am far from a experienced driver but when i switched from a JUN reflash ECU to a F-con 3.24 i noticed a world of difference! Still can't believe so many JDM tuners are still using those re-flash stock ecu's.


Can we get a feature on that RC51? Please?


Aki_Itoh I just spoke with him, he would love to chat with you!
matt (at) ceramicpro (dot) com


TarmacTerrorist True, my wife calls the car my "girlfriend"...


STJ88 And some people consider the F-Cons old school too!


What, no pictures of the free-range goat?


My other half has called both of mine "the other women" too.
Then she drove the NC34, understood the rb25/atessa a little better and suddenly changed her mind on that one. The track day car? She detests it. But then half of it is in the living room and the other half is in the bed room so I kind of get that.
She drives the Stagea more than I do now. The cheek of it.


RonforUSPresident2012 I was wondering if it had half a WSBK truck worth of engine mods or not, but regardless that is one beautifully done RC51.  I may have a bit of v-twin jealousy




muse_coyote Well, it wasn't really fast so the Speedhunter instinct to take photos of it didn't get activated...


Jaemcius  @ Well until that can be arranged, here are its specs: "RX-7 has all the available Knight Sports mechanical upgrades they offer including 480SS turbo kit, custom-built Bilstein coilovers & many other suspension components, BIOT 350mm floating discs at each corner and F50 Brembo front calipers, BBS Anniversary wheels, Scoot bonnet, interior mods, etc."


Turbology Aki_Itoh Thanks! Email sent!


Ha! We're all writing the same thing...

By the way, there are cops on some private roads in Japan! Including here. I've seen them! Carefully...

Newera Imports Japan

Aki- Really good to see you guys all getting back together...All you needed was Gio, Bean and the rest of the "team"

miguel said he had a great time....flash back pic (think 2005?) . Hopefully my 32 will be finished shortly to take on that road as well :)


@Kuroneko That is one gorgeous Honda! Well if you live in Tokyo/Yokohama the choices are limited. And that's why I let Dino drive


My Uncle Wyatt recently got a great Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML63 AMG only from working off a pc...


My Uncle Wyatt recently got a great Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML63 AMG only from working off a pc...


If Dino says your car is not responsive enough.... your car is the cleanest, most non responsive r33 i've ever seen =P Great coverage!!!


My Uncle Logan got an almost new blue Mercedes-Benz C-Class Convertible only from


My Uncle Mason recently got a 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S65 AMG just by part time work from a macbook air...


Newera Imports Japan Thanks Matt - in 2005 I was learning to drive on the "wrong side" in my trusty Civic, pre GT-R! LOL. Yes hope to see you on the roads here soon.


d_rav Thanks, but there is always room for improvement, in any area. Just watch....

Newera Imports Japan

Aki_Itoh Newera Imports Japan . i think 2005 was my first year too! i am over next month, so maybe catch up? drop me a mail.I need t pick your brains on Midori, as the R32 will go there for fitting of vcam etc. I still have the "speedhunters Rebirth" Hipo. Always puts a smile on my face, and taking alot of inspiration from your 33 posts. speak soon!


Aki_Itoh d_rav I've seen your blog along time ago and I am blown away by your dedication to this car. I envy you guys in Japan living the dream! My mind was was blown when I read that initial statement 'gt-r unresponsive' but your right, there's always room for improvement and I can't wait to see what gets dropped in next. (hence why I think Dino is trying to modernize the 34) I'm always curious as to which brands tuners pick and their insight on the products that gets put into their cars. Cheers!


My god, that's a beautiful colour choice.


My Uncle Nicholas got
an awesome green
Mercedes S-Class Coupe
only from working off a pc.See it here====ᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵ


Aki_Itoh cheers, hope you guys connect!

Lars Pjusken Gipling

I frickin' love the 33! And this one is absolutely gorgeous :)
Moar pixturez plez :D


Lars Pjusken Gipling Thanks - Check out my blog:


what Brenda replied I am in shock that a mother can earn $8865 in 1 month on the internet . go now
❥ ❥ ❥ ❥ ➥ ➥  ➥


as Mary replied I am impressed that some people can get paid $9771 in a few weeks on the internet . check my source
❥ ❥ ❥ ❥ ➥ ➥  ➥


My Uncle Colton just got green Volkswagen Tiguan SUV only from working part-time off a laptop...


The 33 style is not my favorite but I will say yours is the best looking one I have seen. Your car is really hot! Every mod you did is perfect.


Buick Man Thanks very much! Appreciate the kind words, even if the 33 isn't your favorite!!


d_rav It's somewhat like how people take old shells of classic cars and revamp them with the latest drivetrains - except for me, I think it's more about upgrades that are consistent with the character of the car, and arriving at point where the car, if sold new today by Nissan, would likely be.  Minus of course all of the electronics... anyway thanks for your feedback!


Love the way you're keeping your car in shape And the article was fun to read!


Rubienator Thanks very much! Writing is my forte vs photography, so glad to get feedback like this. I hope to do an update soon!


as Ellen explained I'm blown away that a stay at home mom can earn $5286 in four weeks on the internet .  


very inspiring r33. ^_^