Friday, November 22, 2013

Photoshoot at Tatsumi PA

Last Monday night, my good friend Dino Dalle Carbonare invited me to join him for a photo shoot. Turns out there is a delegation of German motor photojournalists in town, with world renown Japan based motorjournalist Peter Lyon showing them around! And they wanted to shoot a few nice GT-Rs! 

Anyway - I arrived at the PA at around 2045, and after answering questions about our cars we then got the cars lined up under the direction of the photographers.  Here are a few shots to show what they were doing (apologies for the iPhone night shots):

Turns out this gentleman shoots often for German magazine Auto Motor und Sport! So it will be interesting to see how these turn out. We ALSO drove along the wangan with him hanging out the window of Dino's car and Peter's van taking shots of us "racing" along the Yokohama bay bridge, etc.

When I get wind of the final photos, of course will share here! Thanks again Dino for the invite!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Skyline Festival, Mine's, Nismo and Nissan in One Day! (Part 2)

So as I mentioned in Part 1, after checking out some cars at the Skyline Festival, we decided to drive to the tuner which blessed my car with a handbuilt RB26DETT, Mine's.  

Not surprisingly, upon arrival we found a customer's white R33 GTR in the parking lot:
Note interesting vented front bumper!
Very clean
Speaking of clean I was parked next to a very clean 34...
I didn't like those wheels too much though...too much hassle to keep clean
This photo got me thinking... do I need to darken the red lens of my diffuser LED?
Obviously for Kunal, this was tuner heaven, and they were even kind enough to show him around (the garage, the engine assembly room, etc.) while Thomas and I asked a bunch of technical questions as well as inquiring into some future products... lol. (something to look forward to on this blog!)
Kunal with Nakayama-san, Chief Mechanic
(and yes the Takumi who built the engine in my car!) at Mine's.
The man has built over 1000 RB26 engines during his career...!!!
 The boys memorialized their visit with this photo:
Thomas trying to act cool, Kunal WAS cool...
And then we were off to our next stop...

The new NISMO Omori Factory, no longer in Omori Tokyo but in Tsuzuki-ku, Yokohama (access map here). Inside, we saw there were several cars displayed, including the original Z-Tune, but also noticed actual cars being worked on behind the glass:
Like this Clubman Sports BNR34

There was also a 400R, but it was slightly out of camera range, darn (and we were not allowed inside).

Of course there was the gift/parts/accessories store selling all sorts of interesting goodies:
Not enough time, not enough money...
But I really enjoyed the nice touches on stuff like:
A NISMO vending machine!
Camshafts being used as door handles to the bathrooms!
And more camshafts in the bathroom!
As we were leaving, we took one more photo outside... I didn't want to do this but the guys insisted, so:
Backing the car in as if it's being driven off the showroom floor!
It was getting late, so then we headed over to nearby Nissan Global HQ in Yokohama to check out what cars were on display as well as do some more shopping at the Nissan Gallery Boutique store.
Kunal found a cool T-shirt...
Nice clock, but why the black caliper? Need gold!
And of course, the $5000 carbon fiber GT-R suitcase...
And check out what we found on the Nissan Gallery floor:
Trunk of an R35 GT-R. And herein lies a clue to a future mod for my car...
We then headed to a nearby restaurant to discuss all things cars while eating all sorts of Japanese food, a good way to finish a LONG, but good day! Thanks to Kunal for understanding my obsession to keep my car clean and parked securely (and for patiently tagging along with me lol), as well as for letting me share some of COE's pictures on this blog!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Skyline Festival, Mine's, Nismo and Nissan in One Day! (Part 1)

So let’s take a break from the technical stuff.  This post and the next will be light on words, heavy on pictures...

Recently when my friend Kunal Arneja, (a Skyline R33 GT-R owner himself, and co-owner of the Cars Over Everything Facebook page or "COE" as I refer to it) visited Japan from Canada, my schedule just happened to be free his second day in Japan. Naturally, we decided to make it a Nissan Skyline kind of day!

Waiting for Thomas, showing various bits to Kunal
First, I picked up Kunal and my friend Thomas at a Yokohama hotel.  From there we set off under Tokyo Bay using the Aqua-Line to get to Sodegaura Forest Raceway, where they were having the annual Nissan Skyline Festival.  It was my first time going, so I didn’t know what to expect.

When we arrived, I was directed to a huge gravel and dirt parking lot. I thought I bottomed the car out on the bumpy dirt trail leading to it, but luckily no damage at all. The parking lot though, was amazing, with Skylines from all generations, shapes and sizes. As well as other more normal vehicles.
After parking, and making sure no dust was on the paint,
we started wandering about....
Skylines and Nissans from all years...
Of course our eyes were drawn to R33 GT-Rs
Oh lord, a "V-spec II"??
This should have been a warning to us... overdone 33s? But we then started seeing some nice ones:
Kunal and I posing in front of this beautiful blue one
Here's a better shot of the same blue R33, courtesy of COE
 Obviously some other nice 33s in the lot too, such as:
This purple beauty on R34 rims...
I've never seen these kinds of wheels before on a 33!
We found an American guy who owns this Hakosuka, so had to take a look inside...
Kunal and Thomas with an Autech 33 GTR, R31, R34 and Stagea
(never mind the next rows and rows of goodness!)
Lovely Autech 4 Door GT-R... I want one! (Eventually)
A short walk then took us to the asphalted area near the pits, where we spotted some more interesting cars:
IMPUL R33-R (one of only 200  made) - front
IMPUL R33-R - rear

Not only was this ECR33 painted an interesting color...
but it had Z-tune style fenders...!!!
this R31 GTS-R was awesome though
This is a STREET LEGAL REPLICA of the real thing!
Yes, it certainly attracted attention!

Some huge rear over fenders... interesting rear spoiler

And in the tents, you could find Skyline and car related stuff, including rare mincars..
Even K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand) was there...
No Michael Knight to be seen, however
And then we spotted two very interesting and memorable (in a bad way?) cars:
Looks OK, right?
NO!!!! Why these pseudo Ferrari tail lights?
This one, I still have nightmares about:
Note creative use of silver door edge guard to protect lip spoiler...
Oh and also the fender mounted turn indicators
(usually popular with the over 60, Toyota Crown driving crowd...)

I almost fainted when I saw this... excessive stickers are one thing, but look closely...
WHY???? Not just the wiring, which lead to spoiler mounted rear facing LEDs,
but the crystals on the side plates...
The ultimate in car security, I guess....(but with crystal accents)??
We then heard the announcement, they were going to let a few cars drive on the racetrack, so we went to take a look:
A nice lineup...
But already a couple of hours had passed, and so we made an impromptu decision - rather than stay at Sodegaura for the rest of the day, why not let my car stretch its legs some more and visit some other places? And so we left for Mine's, which is probably the least accessible by public transportation of all the Kanto area tuners...

Photos and write up in Part 2!