A Big-Boosting R34 Skyline GT-R V-Spec

To many of us, the Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R is the holy grail of JDM cars. Wherever the influence came from, we all tend to share the same appreciation for this forbidden fruit from Japan and fantasize of the day we might actually own one.

Unfortunately for those of us stateside, the rules for importation still require cars to be at least 25 years old. That makes the most cherished version of the GT-R produced from January 1999 to August 2002 just out of reach right now, never mind the buy-in price these days. There are however, a few ways to get around the former issue.

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You can purchase a Motorex car (I am sure most of you are familiar with these, and if not a quick Google search will net you days’ worth of content) and use it as a pure track car. Or, you can import one under the ‘Show or Display’ exemption, but only the 282 Midnight Purple II V-spec cars, along with the 285 M-spec Nür models that were produced in various colors, fall into this category. In importing a car under this exemption, you can’t do more than 2,500 miles per year, and must agree to make the car available for federal inspection when requested, until the car is over 25 years old.

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You might be aware of the R34 GT-R that sold a couple of weeks ago for US$314,000, along with the one that sold last week for US$310,000. The R34 GT-R I’m going to share with you today is neither of those cars.

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Through my own Skyline ownership, I’ve been able to meet many people online with the same passion, one of whom is Brad Nielson. Brad has become a friend to me, and is known locally as ‘The GT-R Guy’.

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Brad has always loved cars, and like many of us, he caught the bug early on from his father. “When I was young, my dad had a ‘68 Ford Bronco called ‘Fred’. He would let me sit on his lap and drive Fred around. I loved driving from that point on. Several years later, I saw the movie ‘No Man’s Land’. I haven’t seen the film in about 30 years, and it’s probably terrible, but I remember Charlie Sheen driving a Porsche 9111, and that was the first car I fell in love with. I will own a GT3 RS one day.”

I inquired about Brad’s first car, which as it turns out wasn’t an import but a ’91 Fox Body Mustang 5.0 “with a big diesel-sized turbo on it. Before that, it had a 150 shot of nitrous. One time, I had a nitrous backfire and blew half the intake manifold off. To the Mustang’s credit, it drove three miles back to my house.”

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I was curious about how Brad ended up becoming such a huge fan of the GT-R. “In the ’90s and 2000s, Skylines were [relatively] cheap, and you could do a moon tune to them and make them rip, so that was the first thing. Then, ‘The Fast and the Furious’ came out and I got a bit more into JDM cars. I started buying ‘Best Motoring’ DVDs. I was pretty into the Skyline at that point. When I got the Best Motoring DVD where Keiichi Tsuchiya drove the white Mine’s R34, I was amazed by how quickly it revved and the way it handled. That was the moment I knew I needed one.”

This attraction ultimately led Brad to a mutual friend, Chris Driver, who owns and operates Driver Motorsports in Lynchburg, Virginia.

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This introduction really opened Pandora’s box. “I got into a place financially that I could afford to buy and modify a Skyline, so I searched the internet and found Driver Motorsports. Chris, the owner of Driver, and I spent months looking for the right one. I ended up buying a pretty much stock R32 GT-R that had a roll cage already installed. That project grew and grew to the point that I realized I wouldn’t be street driving it very often. I wanted to have the ‘Skyline experience’, so Chris found me a low-mile R33 and had his team give it a ‘Stage 1′ build with upgraded turbos, suspension, TE37s, and some other minor mods resulting in 420whp. The R33 is a dream of a car. If you hate them, then perhaps you haven’t seen one in person. Around the same time that I bought the R32, I also bought a lightly-modified 2016 R35. I don’t think at any point I thought I was collecting Skylines, then people locally started calling me ‘The GT-R Guy’. It’s a title I’m very proud of. I think cars are like significant others; you don’t choose who you fall in love with. I just happened to fall in love with Skylines, and my wonderful wife, who sees how much I love the cars, supports me and has never tried to talk me out of buying any of them.”

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Brad now owns a total of five GT-Rs – one R32, an R33, two R34s and an R35. With his obvious love and admiration for these cars, I was curious if he had become more interested in the history of these cars and whether he still loves them as much after experiencing his halo cars. “Honestly, I know a lot about the history of the Skyline and the high praise it has received and still receives. After owning a few I think it’s just made my appreciation grow. Something that always makes my day is when a kid on a bike sees me in my R33 and points and yells ‘Skyline!’. I would like to shake their parents’ hands. To me, and many others, the Skyline is more than a car – it’s Godzilla. Watching people react to seeing their first Skyline in person is my favorite thing; more than beating up on supercars in it.”

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The car before you is Brad’s 1999 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R V-spec in famed Midnight Purple II, sitting on the perfect set of wheels for a JDM icon – bronze RAYS Volk Racing TE37s.

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I have to say, Midnight Purple II is the hardest exterior paint color I have ever tried to capture. Depending on the light, you get purple, blue, green, brown and even burgundy. But it’s simply stunning, and one of my all-time favorite automotive paint colors.

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When Brad purchased this car, he sent it straight to his friends at Driver Motorsports. The crew got to work on some fairly extensive modifications, most notably the use of Vibrant Performance tubing and hardware. You can clearly see the heavy use of titanium in the piping with perfectly-executed pie-cuts and welds. Devin at Driver also added some custom-fabricated tanks and lines for the breather, coolant lines etc.

To top this off, a Custom Plenum Creations carbon/billet runner intake manifold and CNC’d valve covers were added. These items are masterfully crafted. The valve covers are a simple but effective touch, and are more in line to how many feel Nissan should have designed them.

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Feeding the RB26 is a single Precision Turbo Gen2 6466 turbocharger. Not seen in the photos, a number of other modifications were made, including Tomei 262-degree cams, an ARC front-mount intercooler, TiAL 38mm wastegate, Nismo Super Copper twin-disc clutch, and a Haltech 2500 engine management system with a host of Haltech sensors. While all of this work was being done, and with the engine out, full maintenance was addressed to keep this R34 leak- and trouble-free for years to come.

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Another major change to the car was the addition of Fortune 500 coilovers with Swift springs and air cups, the latter allowing Brad to raise the car for better clearance. I can attest to the fact that this car is low, but with the cup feature you can put the fear of speed bumps and sharp incline/decline angles behind you.

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With the modifications and in-house tune from Driver, the Skyline makes 505rwhp and 378ft-lbs on 17.5psi (1.2bar) boost pressure, but feels even faster. It has tons of power but doesn’t suffer from major lag.

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When I started writing this, Brad had yet to even receive and experience the R34. It was surreal to be shooting and riding in his car before he was able to see it in person. He has since taken delivery and had the chance to enjoy the car a bit, so I asked for initial thoughts. “I bought the car in October [2020], and had it shipped straight to Driver Motorsports to do all the modifications that Chris and I had talked about. I thought it would take a couple of months, but thanks to some global pandemic that you may not have heard of, getting parts became very challenging. It ended up taking about eight months to have the build finished.”

“If I’m being honest, with the value of these cars going up like they are, I thought I might sell it when it becomes too valuable, but when I saw the car for the first time in person, I knew that I would never be selling it. It was incredible. I had been worried that I wouldn’t be as excited as I would’ve been if I hadn’t had eight months of build-up, but it was better than I could’ve ever imagined. Devin, Dan, Ed, and Chris really knocked it out of the park. My first drive in the car was about two hours after taking delivery, to a Cars & Coffee event about 10 miles from my house. My R33 feels like a car from the ’90s and I love it, but the R34 honestly feels like a new car. It drives so well.”

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I had to inquire as to which GT-R is Brad’s favorite. “Looks-wise, my white R34 that I have in storage at Top Rank Japan [until it becomes 25 years old and can be sent to the US], probably because of the Mine’s R34 I talked about earlier. There’s just something about a white R34 GT-R; they’re stunning. However, my favorite to drive is my R33, and because the value hasn’t gone up too much I don’t feel guilty driving it like Ricky Bobby. The Midnight Purple II Skyline is kind of nerve-wracking to drive down the street because they are so sought after and the value on them is so high.”

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I was also curious about Brad’s first experience of GT-R ownership in general. “It was a strange experience. When you buy one from Japan it takes a couple of months to get them to the states. It’s a lot of waiting. I flew to Virginia and was picked up at the airport by Chris from Driver Motorsports in a JDM import FD3S RX-7. That was my first time being in a right-hand drive car. We got there and I toured the shop, and we took the R32 for a drive. Driving right-hand drive isn’t all that difficult – you are used to it within minutes – but the things that are strange are really strange. Like the rear-view mirror being on your left side, and the blinker being on the right side. I just remember being really disoriented but so excited with the way it felt.”

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In wrapping up the interview, I also had to ask, if there would be any other cars added to his collection, particularly, Hakosuka and Kenmeri GT-Rs. “Honestly, when it comes to a Hako or a Kenmeri, I don’t think I will ever own them. I love speed and power, so if I bought either of the older models, I think I would probably do something to make them fast. However, if I find a Hako that is in really bad shape, I would love to build one with a rotary. Imagine a Hako with an naturally-aspirated three-rotor with semi-peripheral ports… Aside from that, I will build my collection. I need to get some non-JDM cars eventually. For instance, I currently own an NSX that is being imported. I will own a Porsche or two. I really have the itch for a V12 Ferrari, but I don’t know that I will ever own one. I probably will.”

I plan to feature Brad’s extensive R32 GT-R build in the future, but until then, make sure you check out the video above to see and hear his Midnight Purple II R34 GT-R V-spec in action.

Brandon Miller
Instagram: rvae38

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1

Car of Cars

2

Brandon,

That's a nice ride! My neighbor has a RHD that's silver. He says it's 600HP. There's another RHD one down near Old Bridge, NJ I saw one day. I'm not a JDM guy and don't know much about these cars but they're nice. And apparently expensive. What's the history of these cars and why all the hype? Just asking and trying to learn. I'm a GDM guy. German Domestic Market. There's some nice rides in New Jersey. Check out azevedomotorsports.com. 3 neighbors have E46 M3s. And I have a tuned/restored MKIII Jetta.

3

The 2nd generation Skyline GT-R (R32, 33, 34) is like an E46 M3. 1st generation was the Hakosuka and Kenmeri GT-Rs. 3rd generation is the R35. But instead of just an NA I6 and RWD like an E46 M3, Nissan added twin turbos, AWD, active rear axle steering, and they did it in 1989. BMW would not go to turbos in the M3 until the 2014 F80 generation, AWD would not arrive until the G80 generation, and BMW has yet to consider adoption of 4WS. Obviously we can argue about the value of the 4WS system, in the R32 it really didn't age well but the other aspects really were game-changers. The combination of all those elements in what was basically an RWD sedan platform like a 3er turned it into something that was seriously challenging the Porsche 911 back in the 90s and put it on par with if not above all Corvettes of the era short of the ZR1. It proceeded to dominate group A division 1 touring car racing.

These days the value is in the modernity of the car in many ways, but it manages to retain an old-school feel. Obviously there's also just pure social media/FnF hype and the general appeal of the "forbidden".

4
Turboboxer6spd

Do a quick search on the late 80s, early 90’s GTRs. The cars dominated Japanese Touring Car Championship (JGTC) and Australian Touring Car and was banned from that series in 1992. These cars are well built and make a lot of power. They were nicknamed Godzilla and had a lot of technology as they advanced. Amazing cars.

5
Michael SantaMaria

These are the best photos of a midnight purple car I've ever seen.


Nice!

6

Thank you!

Brandon

7
Kevin Reynolds

What the heck does this guy do for a living?!!!!! Lol!
Beautiful car.

8

The details you present on purchasing a car in Japan, storing in there, first experience with right hand drive, etc, answered many questions I've had. What a well written and pictured story! Love the GTR's, hope to get one someday....

9

Awesome car. Brad is a super cool dude. I met him about 10 years ago when we used to play shows in the Northern Utah scene. I remember talking cars with him a bit back in the day. I'm glad to see he's fulfilling his dreams. Cool story.

10

Curious about those hard lines running from under the fuel rail to some kind of dump tank. Can't say I've seen hard lines run from the engine to the body without some kind of flexible hose to take up vibrations. Maybe I just can't see it?

11

I believe those are coolant lines

12

Ed looking like a damn boss

13

Just the right amount of everything. Prime example.

14

GTRs cost a bomb in my country. To avoid breaking the piggy bank, many resorted to convert GTT to GTR, just to satisfy their lust and desire. Depending on the "craziness" level, some goes for cosmetic changes, while other goes for engine upgrade, and a few went from rwd to 4wd.

Now, anything associated with GTR, prices will rocket sky-high. Even die-casts cost 25% more than others. I am curious to see how high the prices will go in the future.

15

I’m confused about the statement of 282 Midnight Purple 2 V-Specs and 285 M-Spec nur in this article. In the R34 coverage you had last month on the Global auto post, it says there's 300 Midnight Purple 2 and 250 M-Spec nur. That doesn't make any sense having different numbers. So what's right and how come there's different numbers on the 2 articles? What's the source for the two statements and all of the other production numbers in the Global Auto post?

16

The numbers I quoted are far more accurate it seems. So you can either get an MPII v spec or a more expensive M spec Nur car of which fewer were made but in more colors. Alternatively, you can get a motorex car, track car or wait a few more years.

17

hot

18

I don't care what anyone says but the R34 GTR is one of my ultimate dream cars and hopefully someday I get to have one

19

Great shots of a fantastic car, but I only skimmed the words. Like the mk4 Supra, I feel like everything that's to be said about the R3x GT-Rs has already been said.

20

Godzilla!! This car is beautiful and to me a inspiration for something to achieve.It makes my 10year old son as exited as it used to make me when they were new and one day we will have one.

21

Been searching for the music credits for at least a hour now and no luck.

22

ES_Spanish Harlem - _91nova
ES_Call on Me (STRLGHT Remix)

23

I'll try to find out for you. I only did the photos.

Brandon

24

Your photography is evolving at a pretty nice pace Brandon. Keep it up!

25

Thank you!

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