Taking a break from the no doubt boring photos of my car's interior build, here are some photos from last Sunday's GT-R Festival at Fuji Speedway, sponsored by GT-R Magazine and known as the "R's Meeting 2017."
Being lazy, I'll let the photos do the talking, mostly, although if you want to see some higher quality photos and more balanced, professional coverage, here is the link to Dino's Speedhunters article
. And actually you will see that this article is in somewhat chronological order as it's more about how I spent my day following Dino around...
|The quaint looking Tokyo train station in his neighborhood where Dino told me he'd pick me up at 0700. |
Meaning I had to get up at 0600...
|I arrived at 0655. And low and behold I see a familiar car...|
|Yep, Mr. White Glasses in the official Speedhunters car. Project something, I forget.|
Along for the ride were two friends from Malaysia, Sean (Supra guy currently working for MoonEyes in Yokohama) and his friend Reno (currently a student). Good guys to have around to chat with while Dino was earning his keep...
|We soon get on the Tomei expressway and see some interesting machinery... |
|While Dino naturally followed a Bayside Blue 34, I spotted some better machinery up ahead...|
|We were soon on some back country roads. And followed this beauty for a while...|
|Right outside the gates to Fuji Speedway, we found this monstrosity. While the 33 looks fine without a spoiler, |
the 34 was definitely designed to have one
|We found some parking, Italian style, then proceeded to head to where the cars and displays were...|
|Where Mr. Dalle Carbonare immediately set to work|
He was busy trying to take some good photos of this:
|Nismo's R34 GT-R Clubman Sport. I didn't care much except for those red things...|
|Where it says (試作品）those are parts being developed. The others will simply cost you an arm and leg.|
So those red things are "radiator air guides" - my guess is that they will be made out of carbon. Time to buy some carbon sheet for myself lol...
Next to that was the R33 GT-R that NISMO recently modernized from the shell up:
|I was more interested in FINALLY seeing this car up close...|
|And close up of the engine bay.|
Conclusions... well it's very nice and clean yes but somewhat weird, as they KEPT the Series 2 brake booster when they could have upgraded to the smaller unit found in the Series 3 cars. But, it has the latest 35 brake upgrade? I mean, if you are going to rebuild from the ground up and "modernize" there was so much more NISMO could have done. Check out that simple rubber (versus silicon) coolant hose... I guess I will have to go by NISMO and show them how it's done....
|You can get a sense of how things were set up. The covered area in the back is where they have the talk show with GT-R famous people (like Ito-san, Watanabe-san, Tamura-san), and the tuners set up tents and park their demo cars in front.|
|And here is a nice 32. Love that carbon intake ring on the that enormous turbine...|
|NAPREC is basically who every tuner and serious mechanic will send their engine's heads to, in order to be properly prepped. My car's Mine's complete engine also had its head work done here. |
|And they do not just RB26 heads but those from other engines. Dino did a nice write up here.|
If you read that Speedhunters article
, you can see the amount of detail done to these heads. Incidentally, Nagoya-san, owner of NAPREC told me that more of the work done on my car's engine was by hand versus if I had gotten it done now, as they have their new CNC machine now. I have no doubt either method results in a fantastic result.
|We spotted this contraption across the way. I DEFINITELY need this, even in my small garage it would fit!|
If you read the Speedhunters article, you will see why Dino spent some time hovering over these cars.
|The blue car had an interesting billet front engine cover...and the silver one some amazing titanium piping work.|
|Super clean engine bay...but note those Z-tune type fenders!|
|WOW. Simply WOW.|
I then stumbled upon Garage Yoshida's R32 GT-R demo car. Interesting car, it was originally a one-off project by S&S Engineering where they converted a GT-R into an automatic transmission car. Hence you will see only two pedals there.
I was interested to see this car in person, because of course either great minds think alike or this guy saw my article in Speedhunters
and decided to copy me.
|Other than the full leather interior, the new carpet was noteworthy. |
|Once I saw this, I was reassured. Even more so after I touched it. Nice try, but this leather is decidedly pedestrian compared to what I used in my car. Whew.|
In my anger and angst, I lost Dino, so decided to check out what was happening on the track.
|Taking a quick look into the pits, nothing particularly interesting... except this means that later there was a track day|
I soon found him, but as this photo shows, he was having a reaction to the strong UV radiation that made its way through despite the clouds and relatively cool weather...
|Not a good day to forget your hat|
|Luckily for Dino, Lerry Liu from Skyline Syndicate had an extra club hat for his use...|
Ironically, once Dino wore this cap we kept losing him... no longer could we simply look for a red bald head sticking out amongst the crowd. And lots of people seemed to be wearing dark colored hats.
|There was oddly a covered areas just for cars. Found this black beauty with those wonderful yellow headlights|
And that's when I lost Dino again. So Sean and I wandered around, and we found this on the other side of the displays:
|Interesting! Looks like a rally car!|
|Here is a close up... yeah not sure I could live with rivets in my bumper but oh well.|
I then happened to look inside, as I'm always seeking out new ideas for MY car...
|Ok, I'll admit this is an interesting way to integrate aftermarket gauges into the 33...at least he had a Getrag.|
|And here is a close up of that auxiliary cooling device... yes the fan...|
We also stopped by the TRUST/GREDDY booth, where they had this:
|After. So you can overlay that clear lens on top of your existing gauges to expand their functionality!|
|I want. But I'd never use it to pin stuff to it, so it would just take up space. That's how I justified not buying it. I think it was being sold by Kusaka Engineering, the same guys who do the 1:12 scale model RB26 engines.|
|Swinging by the covered stage, we saw that NISMO racing driver Michael Krumm was being interviewed. |
And yes he speaks fluent Japanese!
We caught up with Dino as he was checking out some GT-Rs that were parked BEHIND the display area.
|AUTECH GT-R! Very nice. (I don't like the gold Nissan badge TBH lol)|
|So this was certainly a stand-out. Have no idea if the livery is original or copied from a race car, but there WAS that guy with the video camera on a gimbal taking a lot of shots.|
|It appeared to be a silver car with lots of wrapping...|
|Not sure if I'd run around with a used car dealer's (Manaboon) sticker like that...|
|Here was another white 33... with a custom white and shiny carbon interior...|
|Unique yes, but not for me.|
|Finally a nice red one!|
We then decided to start wrapping things up. We had arrived at 1000, and now it was pushing 1400 and Dino wanted to get back on the Tomei ASAP to avoid the inevitable traffic jam as people from the Tokyo metropolitan area return home on Sunday. So we made our way back to the car, but not before I took this photo:
|He he. IS-F Pace cars at Fuji!|
Although Dino briefly considered stopping by to check out the 1JZ drift competition at the drift track, the lack of parking space and the time meant it wasn't to be.
We did stop by the lower parking lot in front of all the pits, just to see if there might be anything interesting.
|I did find this trio of LeMans Limited cars... this front one has some crazy camber...|
And my last photo of the day:
|Another beautiful red one. And the cool Z on the right. Oh and the white IS-F in the background, lol...|
So there you have it. Just as if you had been with us, or at least me. I forgot to mention that I ran into several people I knew and others I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time, even some who knew me from my internet presence! Maybe at next year's I'll be able to run into you?
It's unfortunate, I was in Japan but just barely missed R's meeting. I landed on Tuesday 9/12 and left on Thursday 9/14. I did drive an R33 though and even stock it lives up to the hype.
Rubber is "better" for street cars in the sense that it doesn't allow water vapor to seep through so it is lower maintenance. However, silicone coolant pipes are better if you're willing to put up with adding some distilled water to the overflow every so often.
I'm a bit of a snob though, stuff like high mount turbos to me is less refined. A big single is "better" as you can use more modern turbos and you can feed 2.6L of displacement into a single turbo instead of 1.3L into two, but OEMs don't use high mount configurations because more heat is lost to the engine bay instead of being converted into useful work by the exhaust turbine. If you look at BMW and Mercedes, both of their I6 designs are low mount with either a single twin scroll or two single scroll turbos.
Stuff like pod filters, oiled panel filters are also questionable to me as they don't filter as well as paper air filters. Maybe the restriction is less, but sensor(MAF) and engine longevity are impacted.
Nice complement to Dino's article on speedhunters (and more 33 oriented :D ).
It make the waiting for the end of the repairs on my own 33 a little less difficult .
I definitly fall in love with the Le mans color (but not the camber of the first one :p ).
If I'll travel in Japan one day, I think I'll try to make it during a "R" meeting for sure.
Anonymous - yes agree on the low maintenance issue. One day I may mess with the turbos again... and glad you were able to drive a 33, although most likely fairly standard?
Skodajocky - well let me know if you do make it out here!
I suspect that if you have the GT-SS turbos already it doesn't make sense to try and use something different at this point. The high mount stuff is going to be a major change, most of the manifolds out there delete the MAFs. If you want to keep the individual throttle bodies, you don't want to switch to speed density as it relies on either a pressure accumulator or throttle position sensor blending to try and get an accurate load value. This is all very hacky and you will probably give up everyday driveability in the process.
One option if you want to do something to your turbos is to send them out to have the bearings replaced with Garrett's new ceramic ball bearings: https://garrett.honeywell.com/about/turbo-bulletin/tech-corner/garrett-by-honeywell-ball-bearing-turbochargers/
Other than that, I would say that a more modern ECU like the Elite 2000/2500 may help quite a bit with enabling better turbo response as the ability to use a wideband O2 sensor means you can run a little leaner outside of the stoichiometric part of the map without worrying that you'll get something wrong and blow the engine. It would also allow for you to run things like HKS VCAM without the VALCON controller or closed loop boost control which reduces boost leakage from the wastegate. I would be careful with this though as the Nissan CAS is pretty complicated compared to a normal cam/crank sensor configuration, a lot of aftermarket ECUs aren't designed to handle that kind of cam-only input with a "fake" crank signal even though it's not an issue until you exceed 8000 RPM on the stock ECU.
The R33 I drove appeared to be almost completely stock down to the 180 kph speedometer, about 110,000 km indicated on the odometer. I might lack perspective as my experience with cars has basically been a 90s Camry and an F80 M3, but I found the steering to be quite responsive and I'm not sure I really felt the on-center vagueness that you've mentioned before. I did notice that the car likes to tramline a little bit. The steering didn't feel particularly light as some have said, but I think driving an LS400 makes everything feel like it has heavy steering.
I liked the smoothness of the engine quite a bit, even though I was mostly just puttering around at low RPM there wasn't any engine vibration. The one I drove had a fairly tired gearbox so I found shifting into gears a little difficult, especially first even from a dead stop. The clutch was very easy and light, no issues there.
The turbo lag is definitely evident. I'm not bothered too much by it as I kind of liked the dual personality of the car where it was quiet and a fairly normal car at low speed but if you floor it at about 3000 RPM it starts to wake up and pull. Like most cars from the era it has a distinct sense of more engine noise and less exhaust noise unlike modern cars which are a little too insulated from the engine. It also has noticeable induction noise from the diverter valves and turbo spool which is a lot of fun. The exhaust was actually fairly quiet and well behaved stock, although I'm guessing something like Tomei's exhaust will change that quite quickly.
The car itself is quite long, I think the R33 can comfortably fit four people unlike most four seat coupes including the R32. The seats themselves are comfortable with good support, it's a solid GT car with pretty compliant stock suspension despite being the stiffer VSpec model.
I didn't try to discover what the car was like to drive quickly though as it was a rental car and I wasn't interested in paying a 10k USD deductible. But as an everyday car I found it to be what I was looking for.
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