Japanese Classic, New Experience: A GT-R Built By Legends

What would the perfect Skyline GT-R restomod look like? If you’re like me, you’d have pondered this over and over in your mind for years on end. If you own one yourself, then you might’ve even had a good crack at executing your vision. Dreams are often just that though – dreams – and prohibitive costs can often put a pretty quick end to an awesome idea. But what if there weren’t any limits or restraints to consider – how would you approach it then?

The guys from Built By Legends have attempted to answer this question with the project you see here. It’s a car that took a couple of years from concept to actual finished product, and one that I was given first dibs on checking out and driving.


But first off, who is Built By Legends? The short answer is a team of car enthusiasts that run a video production outfit. Even if you don’t know the name, you’ll definitely recognise them as the guys behind the English versions of Best Motoring and Hot Version. Over the years they’ve worked closely with true legends in the JDM world, and strong relationships have been formed.


From bringing the Western world Japanese automotive culture through video content, they are now doing the same with cars. Their approach is beautifully summed up in the name they have chosen for this venture; the cars we love and lust over, taken to the highest levels of perfection by the legends that we all know and respect. That’s Built By Legends.


To fully understand the thinking behind this first GT-R build, I met up with Katsu and Masa from Built By Legends on a sunny afternoon down at the Mine’s HQ just outside of Yokosuka.


First on the agenda was to take the Skyline out for a drive. I’d be able to familiarize myself with it, and also find a decent location for the shoot.


We’d then spend some time delving into the details back at the workshop with Niikura-san, the president of Mine’s and one of the JDM legends involved in the project.


Aside from shooting the car, my biggest task for the day was to make sense of it all, which of course meant nerding out over all the details. And trust me, there are a ton of those.


The Skyline’s exterior is finished in a custom color named Shiranami White Pearl Metallic.


‘Shiranami’ means white wave in Japanese and the pearlescent hue has two drops of blue in it to achieve just the right shade. The inspiration was white-wash waves from the Pacific Ocean hitting Japan’s shoreline…


As you’ll see, this is one of many Japanese touches and easter eggs throughout the car. The one most people won’t even notice at first – despite it being right in front of their eyes – is the painted racing stripes that run along the car’s sides. These are done in darker white and mimic the stripes that Mine’s demo cars have always proudly worn.


But this is all on the surface, and to get to this level of minimalist perfection in the first place, the car spent months at one of the most respected GT-R body specialists in the country: Garage Yoshida. This Nara-based bodyshop was recently entrusted to restore Mine’s own R34 demo car, so that should be all you need to know about their quality of work.

At Garage Yoshida the donor BNR32 was stripped all the way down to bare metal and put on a chassis jig to realign everything to the tightest of tolerances. It was then spot and seam-welded before being meticulously painted alongside a bunch of carbon fiber exterior parts custom-made by Benetec in Shizuoka. In total, five layers of paint were laid down.

Benetec is a composite specialist that supplies various industries and the quality of their dry carbon is second to none. So while the NACA-duct equipped hood, front bumper and fenders were painted, the underside of the rear spoiler was given a paint fade to show off the perfectly aligned carbon weave.


The geeky touches continue with a Nissan Serena rear wiper blade, which looks more modern than the stock item and is able to lift and tilt back to facilitate glass cleaning. It might seem simple, but to get this to work on an R32 it was necessary to fit the R34 wiper motor and assembly. I’m definitely stealing this idea, thanks Katsu and Masa… The front wipers have also been upgraded with modern NWB items.


At the reassembly phase, only factory-fresh new parts were used throughout, the goal being to offer what is in essence an OEM++ car to customers. Why the double plus? Call it a reflection of the quality that’s been achieved, the performance hike we will get to in a second, coupled with a level of attention to detail that only true GT-R otaku will get.


Obviously all of this comes at a price, and the complete cost of the Built By Legends R32 GT-R – including the base car – is US$380,000. As a bespoke car-building service, the cost can be higher depending on spec.

Geeking Out Over The Interior

Nowhere does the ‘factory fresh’ feel hit you more than inside. Close your eyes and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re sitting in a new car.


The steering wheel for example is built around the OEM item, but Mine’s have finished it off with a smaller diameter yet thicker and more modern-feeling rim and a mix of nappa leather and Alcantara. The embossed GT-R logo on the horn button is a really nice touch.


Yoshi of Design Build Studio was tasked with selecting many of the interior elements, including the materials and colors used. He also designed the shifter, which is perfectly weighted and ergonomically shaped to feel comfortable in your hand. Such is the level of detail that the shifter boot fabric only has a single stitch so as not to obstruct and interfere with the feel of shifts.


Yoshi designed the custom Mt. Fuji pattern on the seats, and Taenaka Pile out of Wakayama brought it to life. Taenaka Pile were responsible for the fabrics in the first-gen Lexus LS as well as the Honda Legend and other JDM cars right up to the mid-1990s when manufacturers began sourcing cheaper materials for their interiors. Today, they also produce seat fabric for the Shinkansen, which is beyond cool.

The actual upholstering, which also added black Alcantara for the outside sections of the seats, was handled by Saito Kougyo, a company known in GT-R circles for trimming the interiors in Nismo Omori Factory cars.


Along with a new dashboard, a Muse Concept Design x Mine’s OEM-like center console surround has been fitted. In this car, Mine’s have blocked off the single DIN space with a sheet of carbon fiber, but customers will be able to add a headunit here if they so desire.


I felt very lucky to be able to drive this car pretty much as soon as it was completed. The odometer on the special 320km/h Mine’s speedometer read just over 800km.

By far one of my favorite touches has to be the black chrome finish applied to the wiper and light switches on each side of the instrument binnacle, as well as the interior door handles. It’s such a nice detail that really elevates the interior, and the smooth paint finish feels really nice to the touch.


The BNR34 GT-R mirror was one of the first things I spotted.


That Mt. Fuji theme from the seat fabric is carried through to the black-anodized, billet aluminum key that all buyers of a Built By Legends BNR32 will receive.

I could spend a lot of time going over all the details in the cabin. Like how that under the one-off deep-pile carpets (and under the headliner) are a series of sound deadening mats that help keep intrusive vibrations muffled while also offering heat insulation. And how the speakers on the carpeted rear parcel shelf have been fitted underneath so that they are not visible through the rear glass.

The Mine’s-Built Heart

By now I’m sure you must be quite curious as to what’s been done with the engine side of things…


Lifting up the beautifully constructed carbon fiber bonnet reveals all.


Mine’s’ master engine builder, Nakayama-san, put together the 2.8L RB around a Nismo Heritage block. In the truest execution of the Mine’s philosophy, it’s been engineered with balance in mind. So with the use of some GCG GT2860R turbos running at 1.2bar (17.64psi), forged internals, bespoke head work and valve gear prep, there’s 500hp on tap, which thanks to the increased capacity comes with a very nice spread of torque and the signature response of a complete Mine’s engine.

In all honestly, that 500hp figure seems quite conservative, but then again, Mine’s has always preferred to keep things understated.

Before I talk you through how it all feels, let’s check some of the details.

On the crackle-finish Mine’s cam covers is a special engine plaque that repeats the Mt. Fuji design in the cabin. Even the profile of the billet aluminum plaque has been given a conical cut to hint at the cone-like shape of Japan’s famous dormant volcano. This was made as a bespoke piece by Kusuka Engineering, who are well known for their 1/6th scale engine models.


The Mine’s titanium strut brace was powder-coated black before a topographical map of Mt. Fuji in Built By Legends colors was painted on. It’s a superb touch.


They even went so far as to design their own maintenance instructions on a factory-like metallic sticker placed exactly where the OEM one was on the factory air box.


The telltale signs of a ground-up build are everywhere you look around the engine bay.


Each car comes with its own certification plate in the engine bay too.


The fact that they have chosen not to mess with the BNR32’s clean lines in any way is something I’m glad to see.


This is a very well thought-out creation, right down to the brushed stainless steel Mine’s badge on the rear, which is exactly the same size as the OEM Nissan emblem it replaces.


Customers can choose from a variety of wheels for the car, but this demo machine runs RAYS Volk Racing TE037s. They’re a good fit being a more rigid and natural evolution of the original TEs, in the same way that this R32 tries to be the best version of a Skyline GT-R that it can be.

The Brembo F50 calipers and F360 rears are mated to RDD slotted rotors perfectly matched to the performance and weight of the car, which in case you are wondering comes in at 1,357kg (2,991lb), 122kg less than a stock BNR32. The caliper color is matched to the Mine’s engine cam covers, or at least it will be once a few heat cycles darken the paint.


We’ll take a closer look at things like the Mine’s exhaust once the car is back on the lift in the workshop.


Now it was time for me to grab the billet key and take the car out for another drive.


I’ve driven my fair share of BNR32s in the past, but no car has ever felt so tight and as rigid as this one. The communication through the steering wheel is something you only get when a chassis has been refreshed and dotted with supple new bushes all round; it makes such a difference and elevates the feel of a car so much.

The Öhlins dampers give a nice mix of firmness and compliance, more geared toward fast road driving than relaxed cruising – as you would imagine – and that’s precisely how a car with these sort of capabilities should feel. You know that if you lean on it, it will take all you dish out and all the engine can muster.

And there is a lot it can do; it hits you with a creamy low-RPM burble and as it sends copious torque through the driveline. It’s an RB so it still likes to be revved and it pulls relentlessly at anywhere above 4,500rpm. It’s explosive but controlled and smooth, as you would expect from one of Niikura-san’s engines. It is everything you would want in a GT-R, a well-rounded mature take on one of the best cars to ever come out of Japan. It’s not crazy in today’s wild world of performance cars, but it hits a sweet spot.

Back At Mine’s

I had been waiting to drive this car ever since Katsu and Masa told me about what they were doing more than a year prior. They were men of their word, allowing me to have the first look too, so I must thank them for that.


Nakayama put the car on one of the lifts and I geeked out some more.


I haven’t even touched on it yet, but that carbon fiber front bumper is actually one piece with the lower lip spoiler, something that on a stock car is a separate piece of ABS plastic that bolts on. Here, it’s simply been left unpainted and that luscious carbon weave is visible under the layers of clear. The same intricate painting has been done around the air dam, number plate mount and the start of the wheel arch. Even the grille is a custom piece.


Here’s a look at the Brembo F50 calipers, and you can see how they are bolted onto billet and anodized caliper mounts from RDD, the same outfit that did the 2-piece slotted rotors.


What wasn’t sand-blasted and powder-coated was replaced and then mated to fresh bushes. They’ve even gone so far as to protect the steering links and lower hub bushings from the heat of the rotors.


The full titanium exhaust sings like a race bike as the revs rise, and reminds me of when my R34 used to run the same system. For this car, however, the rear silencer and tip have been coated in a black finish. Remember, the goal is to go for an OEM ++ look, so there is a need to stay a little conservative with the details.


Check out how clean the rear hubs are, not to mention the arms. A good deal of the weight-saving has come from removal of the HICAS system, which was done so for the purity of handling.


Built By Legends will offer this car as a base package, to which customers can add whatever request they may have. In a world where GT-R prices have gone through the roof and where Nissan sells an Italdesign limited edition R35 GT-R for a sweet $1,000,0000, the sticker price of $380,000 seems justified.


What you get is a brand new 30-year-old car, perfected and brought into the new millennium by the men you see here. These are the sort of cars that I just have to applaud. These are the real legends.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare

Built By Legends BNR32 Nissan Skyline GT-R

Engine: Mine’s complete 2.8L engine, bored out Nismo Heritage engine block, weight-matched forged pistons (87mm), weight-matched H-section connecting rods, counter-weighted forged crankshaft (77.7mm stroke), 1.2mm metal headgasket, 8.7:1 compression ratio, 2,770cc capacity, reinforced metal bearings, N1 water pump, N1 oil pump, oil plan baffle plate, lapped valve seats, new oil seals, polished in/ex ports, 260-degree/9.15mm lift camshafts, GCG GT2860R-1 turbos, reinforced actuators, Mine’s Super Outlet Pro II, Mine’s titanium front pipes, HKS sports catalyst, Mines x BBL special titanium exhaust system, HKS R-Type intercooler, HKS intercooler hard pipes, Koyo Type-R radiator, HKS oil cooler, Mine’s ECU, Sard R35 550/min injectors, Mine’s fuel rail, R35 airflow meters, Tomei fuel pressure regulator, Nismo fuel pump, HKS EVC7 boost controller

Driveline: Nismo Copper Mix clutch

Suspension & Brakes: Öhlins DFV dampers, Hyperco springs 12kg front & 10kg rear, refreshed subframes, arms & links, new bushes all round, Brembo 4-pot F50 front calipers, Brembo F360 rear 4-pot calipers, Racing Disc Development brackets, 2-piece slotted rotors 355mm front & 343mm rear

Wheels & Tires: RAYS Volk Racing TE037 18×9.5-inch, Bridgestone RE-71RS 255/35R18

Exterior: BBL carbon fiber front bumper, BBL grille, BBL carbon hood with NACA duct, BBL carbon rear wing, Mines x BBL stainless steel badging, BBL Shiranami White Pearl Metallic, painted-on Mine’s stripes

Interior: BBL Alcantara & bespoke Mt. Fuji moquette fabric upholstery, BBL x Daiko Rubber heat & sound absorbing sheets, BBL carpets, Mine’s nappa leather & Alcantara steering wheel, BBL custom shift knob, BBL neoprene shift & side brake boots, Mine’s nappa leather handbrake, black chrome door handles & lights/wiper switches, R34 interior mirror, R34 pedals, Alcantara headliner



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Simply jaw-dropping car right there. Really enjoyed every word of this post

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

The thought of damaging the carbon fibre front bumper is enough to scare me from getting one. LOL!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

LOL it would be definitely something you are always aware of


Wow! $10 million or 1 zero too many?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

10 mil? What? Where?


"Nissan sells an Italdesign limited edition R35 GT-R for a sweet $1,000,0000"

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Some enthusiastic 0-key hitting I guess.


Awesome! Really like all the details on this car.


It's a great build, not for everyone but miles behind an original low km BNR32. The Nismo restored car is much better imo.

Why? The owners of BBL have too much USDM influence, you can see it in aspects of the cars and the fact that it's called built by "legends" proves this.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

But what you get there is a car that is totally OEM. Might suit some but not everyone would want. I mean GT-Rs are great but let's not kid ourselves, stock they are pretty underwhelming in the world we live today. I think if you are a collector that just stocks up cars in a garage it might be the better choice


I'm sorry, let's agree to disagree.

I think it's easily overlooked but the label of the project in itself shows this is very much targeted to the USDM market. It might as well be LHD to honest. The clues are subtle but there if you think about it a little.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well the car is on it's way to the US right now. Toprank will be demoing it around so your observation is 100% spot on.


Dino, you stated it was on its way to the USA. Do you know exactly where and what state? If it is close to me I'd like to to see it.


There is only one detail that I'd change to make it my dream car: I'd prefer it painted in Gun Grey Metallic. Personal tastes apart, it's an amazing build, if only I were rich...

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Pretty sure you can have them pain it any color you would want


What purpose does the NACA duct serve? Seems like the car is too pupose-built to have a superfluous aero feature.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It decreases engine bay temperatures by 6 degrees.


More importantly, it's pointed at the rear turbo which tends to get the hottest and tends to fail sooner than the front turbo.


Interesting. It is obviously set up to intake air under the hood, as opposed to extracting air, so they must have figured a good exit path for the air that gets captured.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It follows on pretty much from the Naca duct placement on the LeMans cars Nismo did back in the nineties


So if the civic by spoon costs 150k, is safe to assume this costs 300-400k then?


Look at that i was right


Not paying 380k for a r32, dont care who builds it

Dino Dalle Carbonare

OK thanks for sharing that with us


Soo, what's the purpose of the NACA ducts?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It lowers engine bay temps by 6 degrees


This is definitely a legendary car done by a legend

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Multiple legends combined


Man that is a clean R32 right there
Love how he got the aesthetics on point


So much work put into all this and then they chose those fugly ass wheels..man oh man.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

As I have mentioned in the story, you are able to spec any wheel you want.


Gorgeous car and love these cars but the price, a lot of yayo for a skyline.


I guess you might not want to think of it as just a skyline but more like a piece of history and and (I'm sure) incredible driving experience that will be cherished in another decade, more like a Singer than just a modded old car But you are right that is a LOT of money for and car, let alone a 30-years old Nissan:)

Tom Westmacott

Very cool, I'm glad that people are taking so much care over every detail of the R32 like this. Beyond the sheer quality, the 122kg weight saving is very impressive and must have a noticeable impact on the drive. Expensive, but I'd rather have this than a Singer 911 ;-)

To return to the question in the intro, what would my perfect R32 look like - probably with a McLaren M838T turbo V8 engine. It's an engine with Nissan racing heritage, and should push the weight back a bit compared to an inline six. With the way McLarens are depreciating, we could yet see someone do this!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Tom, a GT-R without an RB? Is that what you are saying? Let me go and sit down and take deep breaths ...


It might be even cheaper (just the engine itself, I have no idea how much it would cost to swap it) than a fully built rb, especially if it don't chew itself to pieces (hows project r34 going?), In all seriousness I can totally see a youtuber doing this to a salvage r32:)

Dino Dalle Carbonare

With the amount of wealthy young kids crashing McLarens there should be an abundance of those V8s on the market lol. GT-R is slowly coming along, 1 step forward, 2 steps back seems to be a theme at the moment!

Tom Westmacott

Sorry Dino, I should have prefaced my earlier comment with a "Trigger warning - Heresy. May upset purists".

The story's opening paragraph got me thinking about how the GT-R could take a step onwards as a pure drivers' car, and to me the obvious answer is the all-aluminium turbo V8 that is the legacy of Nissan's 1990s Le Mans programme - low, short and light with extra displacement and proven ability to make 600hp in stock form.

Anyway, not to detract or distract from the most excellent feature car here. Also great write-up, it's very valuable to have a real Skyline expert like Dino to pick up all the small but significant touches on a car like this.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

haha yeah, a warning would have been nice. I mean if you you really needed to do a V8 swap to a GT-R then that motor would make sense. Maybe drop one into a a non-GTR chassis, that would make more sense to me


wow.. this is so tasteful. it's the small details that gets me going. biggest applaud!


I started skeptical but that is one clean ass build Wowee


Paying heaps of cash for such hi built quality (plus the reputation of such Legends) is justifiable to me.
Were the head lamps and rear lamps being given OEM++ treatment? Any up-performance?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well what you see if what they offer. Headlights are fresh new OEM N1 units.


For the foreigners reading this the GCG GT2860R-1 is better known as a Garrett GT2860R-7 in Australian/US circles. I'm sure a lot of people are going to dump on the price but until you've gone and paid for even a quarter of the work that they've done to this car you won't begin to understand how hard it is to execute a build of this level. Personally I would absolutely, 100% buy this over the Nismo restored car. My car has been touched by Garage Yoshida, nowhere near as extensive but enough to wish that I had the budget to do an even more extensive restoration like this one.


Also, I applaud BBL's restraint in picking the turbos that they did. Far, far too many builds select a large turbo for big power which really exaggerates the turbo lag of the RB26.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Not so much in Japan, I'd say that it's always the opposite here which is why HKS GT-SS and 2530s were always the most popular upgrades

Tatenda Jinya

love this car, I'd love to do something like this for my Z32..nothing over the top but just that extra something. As someone else mentioned, Singer Porches are cool but i kinda hope we see more of these JDM restomod OEM++ builds....now to just rob a bank....

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Z32 should be the next platform they develop... now that would be cool!


Breathtaking. I'm sitting here awestruck. I have a rare Mine's part myself for my GC Impreza, and am thankful for that - I only wish I could get more info on how many were made, more photos from Mine's - but my years of hunting has come up fruitless. Impeccable work, I will be a caretaker for the part for many years to come, and this article reminds me of the level of engineering and thought that goes into each and every detail of a Mine's part. Fantastic writeup!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks! What part is it though?


I would love to find more, especially photos of the gel-coat decal as that has seem to be lost to antiquity.


The Mine's "Rear Spoiler Stay" riser for the V4 / RS coupe spoiler. One of three known to exist as of this time. One was found more recently in Thailand, the other is in Guam, and mine attached.




Regarding the brakes, do you mean f 50 caliper as if FARARRI brakes!?! That's so cool! And paint that color match AFTER heat cycles! Wonder how much my house is worth nowadays...

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes the same caliper design as the F50. Pretty much the most popular front brake upgrade for R32/33/34 for the last 20 plus years in Japan.


Today I learned!


Is that carbon NACA duct hood available for purchase? or is it special order?

Dino Dalle Carbonare


Oskar Pettersson

Really the ultimate version of an R32, real jealous of you Dino who get to experience this in person...

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah it's a fun job!


That's an absolute dream car right there. Built by Legends, the name says it all. I would love to take some photos of any BNR32 let alone drive it...


What a great car, probably one of my favourite write ups. The only things I didn't like were the way the strut bar was painted, and the built by legends logo stamped everywhere on the interior.


I mean it is a demo car so I guess it's ok to have logos... I'm sure the productions once won't have them:)


380K for a BNR32 that is not all original, nor a crazy specced and fleshed out one. So that price tag just to try and nerd-out in front of other GT-R nerds. Which then probbaly still say you're kinda stupid to pay that much for a non-limited "beefed-up" standard GT-R.

Might aswell build it by yourself anywhere for half the price.

I get the dedication behind this but not the purpose overall.


Why do middle-aged Japanese guys always have that You're-Not-Good-Enough-To-Marry-My-Daughter look on their faces?

Daniel Simons

Wow this is amazing. Really digging these resto-mod cars like this and the Alfaholics GTA-R
Better go buy a lotto ticket


Um rusty tie rods? Confused. Exposed carbon but titanium exhaust tip painted black? Other than those two everything else is very OP.