Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Quick Visit to NISMO Omori Factory...

As long as I've owned my car, I've never had my car actually worked on or even inspected by the guys at Nismo Omori Factory. Granted, I've had many many different Nismo parts installed on my car over the years, and Nismo trained mechanics (the guys at Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Factory (Yamada-san in particular) as well as Ninomiya-san at BeAmbitious) but maybe it's not quite the same? 

Time to find out! A few weeks ago I received an introduction to Takasu-san at Omori Factory, and went down to visit him. I show up at the appointed time, and had to park next to this very nice Nismo Z34. 
Cannot believe how small my car looks next to the Z! Maybe it's the angle?

After the pleasantries, I first made clear to the guys at Nismo that I was a regular working man with a growing family - i.e. I'm not going to be able to spend as much as some people and reproduce a Clubman Sport car. And in any case, I am not going to change the way my car looks  - I just want to see what they can do to fix/improve/modernize.
Master Mechanic Takasu-san checking out the Mine's engine...
I know my car intimately - both good and bad - and so what I thought was going to be a short conversation ("how about this?") turned into a long one.  Truth be told, to make the car perfect/brand new would simply cost too much. Basically anything Nismo Omori does is NOT cheap - whether engine work, body work, restorations, etc.  And apparently more and more owners throughout Japan (as well as a select few from overseas) are now contacting Nismo Omori with the same thing in mind - can you make my car better/newer/more special. So basically, Nismo has no incentive to give me a discount on anything...(time to start playing the lottery?).

Here is the view walking BACK to the public area. Love that R30, and that 33 is actually PURPLE, not black!
As a Nissan employee, even though they didn't give me a corporate discount (yet...), they DID let me walk around and check out some cars they were still working on (Ale's car, for example) as well as a very special R34 Z-Tune from Australia. And of course the cars shown above - most of which had come in for body work - except for the R30 which is being gradually rebuilt from the ground up (this time it was for an engine refresh, previously it was the body, maybe next the interior....??)


Just LOVE the way my car looks. Classic lines, smooth body, still looks fresh.
Unfortunately for me - Nismo Omori in the end told me that they could NOT work on my car - at least in its present state. You see, as an OEM manufacturer they apparently can't take any short cuts. Takasu-san had noticed that my shaken (registration) papers weren't quite up to par.  This is because when I got my GETRAG 6-speed installed, I had failed to properly re-register my car - technically it's no longer a "BCNR33" but a "BCNR33-kai" (BCNR33改).  At the time - it just didn't seem important and no one at the inspection center seemed to care.

Anyway - I guess if I really want Nismo to take a look I'll just have to fix the problem - take the car in and get the paperwork sorted and then see what Nismo believes they can do to improve the car...hopefully I can get this project started soon. It sure would be interesting to see what they suggest I do to improve my car.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Real Life History: The Nurburgring Car in the Flesh!!

So anyone who's an R33 GT-R fan knows that the 33 was the first production car to lap the infamous Nurburgring in under 8 minutes - 7'59" to be precise. (FYI, the BNR32 did so in 8'20" but it was a struggle with the car understeering heavily and the brakes not up to par...)

As a result of the 7'59" lap time, Nissan engaged in a media campaign which highlighted this 21 second difference, starting with this TV commercial:


And here is the promotional video that was shown at Nissan dealerships all around the country when the car went on sale:


I've never been interested in any of the pre-production GT-Rs, 33 or otherwise, until now.  That's because this week at the Nissan Gallery at Nissan's Global Headquarters, I spotted this being displayed (cars that are stored in the Nissan Heritage Collection at Zama are rotated on a 2-3 week basis):

Initially, I have to admit I was more interested in the Z31 - haven't seen one since I was a teenager back in the USA.
 I thought the 33 was just another AL0 silver R33 GT-R...
But wait a minute - what's up with the red brake lamp in the bumper??
That's when I decided to read the plaque up front and...
HOLY TOLEDO!

So this is the ACTUAL CAR that did the 7'59"!! Factory test car, chassis number 000055!

I posted these photos to my Facebook account, and I think some of my R33 Facebook friends were just as excited - some of them were asking for more close up photos... so I went back down later and took the following. (Note, I did NOT open any doors or step over the barriers - hey I follow the rules!)

You can make out the padded rollcage showing in the left A pillar and front of the roof lining.
Better view of the rollcage - and barely used seats. Note the degradation of the door rubber though.

Best view of the rollcage set-up
Ok but I also heard rumors of other mods other than just body rigidity improvements (plus a cage would be needed presumably if they crashed on the track so it makes sense from that perspective too). So I walked around to see what I could find. Obviously not allowed to pop the hood, but I have an idea for that in the future...

Brakes look like the OEM 4 pot Brembo calipers

Note how the caliper paint looks messed up, as if they spilled too much brake fluid when bleeding the brakes. However the Brembo logo is still white, which means the caliper didn't get as hot as I had on my car - better driving by the pros probably lol.
Underneath the car - I did look under the FRONT side as well, but it looked very OEM. The rear underside, however, was interesting:

Note the oil cooler on the right

And this exhaust. Looks OEM - 2 pipe muffler, but from the down pipe to the muffler itself that looks like about 90mm...!

And what about mileage? How much has this car run?
Oh, the 300km Speedometer is interesting...

10,416 kms!
And if you look closely, looks like they installed extra padding for the driver's left knee and right knees. Check out this post and you will see it.

Anyway, I'm still curious about what other mods this car had. From what I could see, looked pretty stock except the exhaust pipe suggests not all is stock in the powertrain. Maybe a personal visit to the Heritage Collection is in order soon.

Meanwhile - here are a few more photos for Z31 fans. Pretty cool car, considering at the time it was sold I thought it was a bloated, tech loaded and slow car.
That turbo scoop and pop up lights are pure awesome!

T-Roof, leather seats... and auto transmission. Yeah, rich housewife's car
Please, someone tell me what this "Bodysonic Amplifier" is!!!

Actually, thanks to Mr. Google I know what this is. Very cool feature! Ah, the 80s....

PS - I found an article about Gan-san and his trip around the Nurburgring in a 33...enjoy!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Why the Silence??

So yes my friends, I have been very very bad about posting here. And I apologize.  But I have two good reasons.

The first, as many as you know, is that for the last 2 years I have been working as an in-house lawyer at Nissan. Yes, Nissan Motor Company. And, as a senior lawyer in the company, if you have been following the news since last November, it's been a pretty busy time for us.

In other words, my work has been keeping me extremely busy.

The second, is that I am rebuilding my house, and that means each weekend we are meeting with the builders and the architects.  I plan on doing a series of blog posts to show the difference between the old and new house, with emphasis, of course, on the garage!

Meanwhile, I have some fun stuff coming up for my car, and the R33 GT-R in general. Appreciate the patience as I will have some blog posts coming up later this week!

Aki

Sunday, February 24, 2019

OK OK - Maybe I have an LED addiction?

So in my last LED post for 2018, I mentioned that I had been tempted to replace the rear turn signal bulbs with LED ones as well.  But, I was too lazy to figure out how to wire in the resistors - but a couple of you quickly educated me on replacing the OEM turn signal relay with one that works for LEDs.

I may just have to go that route in the end, but for now, I was able to find some orange LEDs that not only claimed to be super bright, but had the required resistors already built in! I am too lazy to figure it out, but one question I had on the relays was, would using such relay require me to change out ALL bulbs in the turn signal circuit (so all of the orange ones - front, side and rear) or would the relay be able to handle a mix?

So for now, since I wanted to experiment and see how much brighter LEDs were for the turn signals, I went ahead and ordered these:
Pricing wasn't that bad - around 3400 yen for the pair.

Here are the specs, for those interested

Saying it has good heat dispersion and is high quality. We shall see...

Flash forward a few days and I got this in the mail:

With apologies to my Chinese friends, yes, it appears Chinese quality cheap... But hey since most  smart phones and electronics are now made in China, I'm not going to just on packaging... for now. After all, performance is everything in the end.

So here is how my car looks with regular bulbs:


And then the difference between the LED on the left and the regular bulb on the right (check out how the incandescent bulb on the left turns on slightly before the LED bulb does).

And finally with these LEDs on both sides:


So what do you all think? Frankly, while I like the brightness, here is what bothers me - the light isn't as evenly diffused across the lamp housing. It's more pinpoint really. Also, yes it is very bright - I wonder if it's too bright?  Finally, while I was handling the bulbs and switching between the LEDs and the regular bulbs (to take these videos - I neglected to take the one with regular bulbs until AFTER I put one LED bulb in), I realized these LEDs run VERY HOT!  Is this normal?

In any case - I think more research is needed here. Maybe a cool upgrade would be an LED strip that lights up directionally, like the newer cars? Keep the outside housing the same but just replace in the inside with such a strip... that might work?

But I'll keep these for now!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

First Mod of the Year - Super Easy!

Welcome to 2019 - and yes it's already one month old!  Here in Japan it's been cold which is always an excuse for me to not work on the car.  Luckily, the first mod of the year was a super easy one, thanks to my misguided 34 owner friend Ale who kindly came over to drop it off.

I have no idea whether what he told me is true (you know those Italians), but he told me "this is a NISMO item that's not even in their catalog."  Duly curious, I popped open the hood and waited to be surprised.

What does the nice NISMO bag contain?
What's this? Large thin rubber rings with holes in them.
It turns out that Nismo Omori Factory uses these to prevent galvanic corrosion between their titanium tower bar and the steel body chassis mount point. Of course, I beat them to this idea, because about five years ago I found a tower bar modified with rubber strips on Yahoo Auctions, for the same reason.  But because I don't cut rubber strips well, I went with another route.
Plasti-Dip does wonders!

Because I didn't source these parts myself, this means is that I have no idea what these gigantic rubber washers cost, nor whether it really is rare, or even whether Ale punked me by picking up some cheap rubber at the local DIY store and had someone at Kinkos punch holes in them. (I DID check the NISMO OMORI website but couldn't find them either...)

Anyway, installation is super easy - just take off your tower bar, make sure the surface is clean, and then place over the strut tower bolts.
Here is Ale showing us how to do so, singlehandedly!
Being NISMO, of course it fits perfectly.
After that, just bolt up the tower bar again and you are done! Maybe 3 minutes from start to finish. Don't forget to use a torque wrench to properly torque up those bolts! (39.3-53.9 N-m or 4-5.5kg-m).

Anyway, the following months of 2019 promise some interesting mods I have planned. For one, it's been over 11 years (!!) since I got the Mine's build engine installed - maybe it's time to tinker with it or improve it? My car still shows some other problems from the horrible, crap work done at Worx Autoalarm and so I really want to finish fixing all of those issues as well.  So let's hope 2019 is a great year for all of us! And thanks to Ale from taking time to stop by and drop off these parts!