Tuesday, July 29, 2014

R33 GT-R Design Trivia (Part 1 - Seats, Tail Lights and Headlights)

In doing research to discover how the R33 GT-R improved upon the R32 GT-R, I came across some interesting tidbits on the R33 - some items which even I had not thought about before, as well as some which had always bothered me.  Before I post what I found on the improvements over the BNR32, I have three posts on BCNR33 design trivia.

Blue vs Red Interior Stitching:

I've always wondered why Nissan did this. Why was the Series 3 given the red stitching, but the Series 1 and 2 blue stitching? Notably, the seats also have red or blue inserts to reflect the rest of the interior.
From a Series 1 car: courtesy http://www.gtr-world.net/gtr/archive/1858
Series 3 car
It turns out that in the beginning, there WAS argument internally over the stitching color – either red or blue – but blue was finally decided upon as it was Nissan’s image color.

Remember this is how the old logo looked:

The Series 3 cars did make the switch to red – but this was apparently because the main body color switched from midnight purple to silver (as can be seen in the TV commercials):

The "Speed King" commercial when the car was first introduced in 1995:

And then the Series 3 commercial in 1997:

Anyway, as everyone knows, the R33 seats are simply reupholstered R32 seats.  A bit of history on the R32 seats.  When designing the R32 seats, they had 2 goals - seats that could keep up with the GT-R’s performance, and seats ergonomically designed to fit well and allow for long drives without tiring.

So they looked and examined seats from Porsche, racing cars, rally cars, Recaro, and even seats with good reputations from other sports cars.  But the most attention was paid to rally car seats.  Most seats (at the time) really only supported the hips, but rally car seats support the hips, thighs, and shoulders, etc. in several locations.  So the GT-R seat was based around a bucket seat design found in rally cars. Data on how the muscles move, blood flows were recorded and used.  Initially, the seats held the shoulders more securely, but test drivers and journalists all reports this to be tiring in nature, so the shoulder areas were trimmed. 

Also two different sizes were considered for larger and smaller drivers but eventually only one size was selected.

For the R33, different seats were again examined, including those from Group C cars, but they settled back on the R32 seats.

As for the seat material – initially the same stuff “exse-nu” (not sure of the spelling, as the name was in Japanese in the reference text) as on the R32 was considered,  but a better material with better feel and finer fibers called Lux Suede was used. Although a NASA space material and real suede were also candidates, Lux Suede was selected in order to keep the seats as light as possible.

Incidentally, the rear seats of the R33 were designed in response to complaints that the rear seats in the R32 were too uncomfortable. (Both photos below courtesy of SkylinesAustralia.com)
R32 GT-R Rear Seats

R33 GT-R Rear Seats

Head and Tail Lamps:

Nissan designers had to design the head and tail lamps within the parameters of two design elements specific to the Skyline.  Everyone knows about the 4 rear afterburners (which in fact WERE inspired by the afterburners of jet fighters), but the designers also had to follow the Skyline custom of having 4 head lights as well - apparently, every Skyline from the beginning had 4 lights up front, which is not true of all cars, for example Nissan's own Z cars did not.
Speaking of the 4 tailights – it turns out that these rear circular lights are actually not perfectly circular, but slightly oval. The reason for this is that apparently, from afar, perfectly circular does not look circular (I've got to go out and measure them sometime!).  Also, the designers also claim that the donut design is necessary to make them look round as well.

The R33 GT-R headlights are different from the standard R33.  Naoto Shiraiwa, who designed them, explains that the design was based on Group C cars, and further the image he wanted to have was two eyes peering out from behind a visor shield of a racing helmet.  

From: http://www.lacar.com/?p=9538
It also turns out that light manufacturers wanted Nissan to use projector headlamps (like in the 32), but these required more depth than halogen lamps and further initially these lights were large and their use gave a disjointed look.

Incidentally, the R33 GT-R’s outer lens actually has vertical lines inscribed – this is so that if viewed from the side, the lens (apparently) gives a glitter effect!  What was also important from a design perspective was to make sure that these headlights actually looked like lights – looking securely forward.

The headlights on the 33 GT-R are actually 20mm forwards that of the standard R33.  This was because it was not possible to keep inside the hood area.

The front round turn signals were borrowed from the Nissan Figaro, although the color is amber to make distinctive. These lights were also later used in some 180SX models as well.

The Nissan Figaro. The resemblance is uncanny (not!)
from http://www.sillbeer.com/blog/entry/sweet-nissan-180sx-type-x-on-yahoo-japan-auctions/

Finally, what Shiraiwa wanted to do was to have an “S” mark inscribed in both the 32 and 33 headlights. (in the photo of the R30 headlamp below, you can see an “S” mark between the two lamps, at the top where the light doesn’t hit).

Next in R33 GT-R Design Trivia, Part 2: Emblem, Steering Wheel and Gauges

Friday, July 18, 2014

A New Type of Roll Center Adaptor

So I took a day off today as I had some errands to run and stopped by Do-Luck again as they are only 5 minutes away from where I live.
Looks clean as usual, right? Unfortunately not underneath!!
They have a new product which I've been interested in since its release a few months ago - their new roll center adjusters.  Actually, ever since I lowered my car by fitting the complete Nismo link set, I've studied, read up on, and been told that ideally the car should have some roll center adjusters.  I've been meaning to do so, but other stuff kept me distracted.  Here is a well written site which explains what they do, if you need a refresher like I did.

Moonface is probably the Japanese company best known for their roll center adaptors. Here is a photo of the kit for the BCNR33:

From: http://www.superlap.jp/item_detail/57/
Do-Luck has, however, recently helped in the development of this very interesting R33 GT-R which Dino has featured on Speedhunters:

And as you can see from this video, it is a very, very fast car (his time here at Fuji Speedway is about the same as a GT race car):

Anyway, this car runs Do-Lucks's new Roll Center Adaptors, available for the R32, R33 and R34 GT-Rs:

Which you can tell, by looking at the shape, are not your typical roll center adjuster/adaptor.  These work by not just restoring the angle of the lower arm (of a lowered car) to near horizontal/stock angles, but ALSO simultaneously work to restore the tie rods to their pre-lowered state.  In fact these may be the first ones on the market to combine roll center adjusters and tie rod ends into one piece.

Further, these are designed specifically for cars still running the OEM arms and OEM tie rods - in my case, I have the Nismo arm which is OEM shape but with stiffer bushes, and yes still the OEM tie rods. So perfect for my car!

Camber is increased another 1 degrees, and so with the Nismo links like me you end up with about 3.2 -3.5 degrees of camber.

Do-Luck offers these S7075 duralumin items in two colors - the anodized silver above, or anodized black. I went for the black, simply because I thought it would stand out from the rest of the suspension pieces.

For the left side, facing up
I actually took a bunch of photos as the install was happening, but having driven my car most recently in a rainstorm and not having properly washed the under carriage, I am choosing not to embarrass myself with how dirty the car was underneath!

But as I discovered, the install was not as easy as it could have been - maybe for a DIYer with the proper tools, it would be possible.  Basically, while it is obvious that the lower arm has to come off the hub, and the tie rod comes off of the hub piece as well, in my case, the brackets for the R35 Brembos meant that fitment was a bit tight - necessitating removal of the driveshaft to make sure everything was bolted up properly tight.  Then after it was all bolted and connected together, the alignment had to be redone as well.

Anyway - to get a better understanding of how and where it fits, here are some photos (and again, I am distraught about how dirty it is...)

Before (left side):
Looking from back to front - Circled in blue are the bits between which the Adjusters fit

After (Right side):
Looking from the front to back. Obviously the arm is not connected yet.

Looking from the front to back. Circled is the adaptor installed. Note lower arm is now connected.

Looking from back to front - you can see, circled in red, where the tie rod USED to be connected

View from the top - you can clearly see the tie rod is no longer connected directly to the knuckle

Driving Impression:

So after both sides were done, and the alignment fixed, I went for a spin.

The first thing I noticed was the steering felt lighter. Almost as if the power steering had gotten stronger, or the car itself lighter.   Ito-san told me this is because the tie rods are no longer in the "Y" shape, they are more parallel with the ground. In fact this is, if I recall correctly, how the car felt BEFORE I lowered it.

 I then noticed that the front wheels felt like they stuck to the road better because the car seemed to react a bit quicker than before, going left to right.  In other words, the car felt more "flickable."  Obviously, this is because the arms are also more parallel to the ground, and not doing the "Y" as can be seen in the Megan Racing link.

Finally, my biggest issue - on center numbness - seemed to have improved.  The zone (the angle of the steering wheel from left to on-center and then from on-center to right) over which the car feels relatively numb (remember I drove my friend's non-power steering NSX, which remains my personal benchmark) has shrunk substantially.  But dead on center, the feel can STILL be improved to be honest.

So I am one step closer to obtaining the kind of handling, both in feel and in response, I want with my car.  The more nimble handling (which I was told may actually make the car feel a bit jittery on bad roads), coupled with improved on center feel.

The only caveat I have is, these are expensive, with a retail price of 84,000 yen for the pair!  Perhaps I should have done some more research, but how much of an advantage do we gain by utilizing one solid piece vs corrections at both locations (by using roll center adjusters and tie rod ends)?  I guess one thing about high prices, however, is that likely not many people will have these on their car so it will add to the "bespoke" nature of my car.

So what do you all think? Post a comment and let me know! (and yes, I know, I'm still working on the R32 vs R33/R33 trivia blog posts...thanks for your patience on those!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Best Motoring (Keiichi Tsuchiya) Review of the Series 3 GT-R vs. Impreza WRX vs. NSX 3.2

I'm still working on a bunch of posts on the R33 vs. R32 as well as some R33 trivia...in the meantime your patience is appreciated! 

I had found this video before (and posted it), but lost it when Best Motoring had it removed from YouTube.

But I stumbled upon it tonight, so while it lasts - and yeah the quality isn't great:
Part 1 (to about 8 min):

Tsuchiya reviews the then new Impreza WRX Type R Sti, vs the new 3.2 liter NSX, vs. the Series 3 R33 GT-R (non V-Spec).

Not surprisingly, he loves the NSX (engine power is nice, great brakes, very stable, easier to drive than the previous version), is impressed with the Impreza (very readable, like a well designed FR car).

Compared to older R33 GT-R models, he notes
1) the ABS braking is fantastically good (but the car is heavy... not surprising considering the other two cars)
2) Std car (not V-Spec) is more than enough if you're not always doing track days
3) Can really feel the front sticking to the road - this allows you to read how the rear is moving
4) Unfortunately he notes that the test car, without an oil cooler, shows the oil temp rising very quickly (by the 3rd lap)
5) Fastest of these 3 cars around this track.

In his summary comparison, the Drift King says that the car is significantly improved and of the three cars it's the most stable, and most confidence inspiring to drive at full speed. But yes the oil temp goes up too quickly, car should really have a large oil cooler for track running.

However, the brake balance, suspension balance, as you drive the feeling as its cornering, pointing it into corners, or stomping on the brakes, the GT-R had the best stability of the three.

What follows are a bunch of 0-400 runs, the results of which are obvious from viewing the video.

This second section begins by showing how turbo lag can really affect the GT-R's times (if the race begin at idle versus full revs, clutch drop).

The cars are then taken to Tsukuba for the famous Best Motoring "race" test. The results are again obvious if you view the video - with the lighter cars gaining an advantage over the GT-R.  Naoki Hattori complains that the brakes are weak, for such a heavy car.

Finally, whether those testers would buy each of the seven. Impressions of the GT-R:
Takuya Kurosawa points out that the car is on the edge of oversteer and understeer, depending on whether the turbo is spinning or not given partial throttle. That "delicious" neutral is hard to find and doesn't appear often.

Four of the testers would buy the GT-R; three would not.

Nakaya - (would not buy) If I were to get this, I'd get a V-Spec instead.
Tsuchiya - (who would buy it) retors - buy it on the premise you wouldn't take it to the track. You can have a family of 4 ride in it, no problem. And, a just a "bit" faster than most (family cars). I can't forgive it for being slower than an R32, but it's a "buy."

Ooi - (who would not buy says) Sure I'd buy it if I wanted to drive easy.
Nakaya -  then get a V-Spec.
Ooi - no, then the ride is too stiff.
Nakaya - well that's because the purpose is different.
Tsuchiya: So don't take it on the circuit, as a road car it's a good car!
Gan-san (who would buy): Yeah but the gas mileage is bad!
(everyone chuckles)

Aki comment: given how well known Tsuchiya did not like the R33 GT-R (he bought one after test driving a press car, which was fantastic. His personal car did not live up to that press car's performance after which his opinion soured), I am amazed he had relatively positive things to say about the GT-R.

Again, a few more days and I should be able to begin posting the posts which I have been conducing lots of research for.  Appreciate the patience!!