Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Very Important R33 GT-R (for R34 GT-R fans)

Wow how time flies - one month since my last post!

As I've told NISMO to take their time with checking over my car, no real updates that I can talk about here. Hopefully soon...

In the meantime, I recently had an opportunity to drive my other car up to the Prince & Skyline Museum up in Nagano.  I will do a full blog post on the history of Prince Motors, the Skyline, and the cars in this museum, but there was one car that I felt deserves special attention. The R34 GT-R development car.
At first glance a BCNR33 with Series 3 headlights and matte black paint...
 With an official name of "Stealth," many Nissan test drivers at the time instead chose to call it the "Karasu" (the Crow). Note, here in Japan the indigenous crows are known for being supremely intelligent birds that not only remember people's faces, but will later attack/purposely drop stuff (their crap... seriously!) on people that have messed with them in the past. And they are large birds, very intimidating... so not sure if the nickname was good or bad...

Anyway, back to this car.

 Here is what it says:

R34 GT-R Development Car
Objective of testing: This car was constructed for the main purpose of evaluating aerodynamics
Specs:                 Base car is R33 GT-R V-Spec
                            Installation of Front Diffuser (Dry carbon construction)
                            Installation of Rear Diffuser (Dry carbon construction)
                            Changed Rear spoiler to R34 equivalent (height, angle, etc.)
                            Changed Tires to 245/40ZR18
                            Strengthened rigidity inside the rear fenders and rear pillars
Testing period: Around 1996-97. Mainly in Tochigi, and extreme test runs at the Hokkaido testing grounds

Behind the Scenes:   While this car was officially nicknamed the "Stealth" most of the test drivers at the time lovingly called it the "Karasu."

Let's take a closer look at some of the items listed:

I guess they decided on the 34's 18 inch wheel design fairly early 
In this photo, I was checking to see if the brakes were special. They don't appear to be. On the other hand, those lug nuts look weird...

Ok so let's check out the front diffuser. The car is wearing a Series 1/2 front lip spoiler, with the one piece dry carbon diffuser attached underneath.

I'm guessing the rivets on the side are for a bracket of some kind to attach the carbon diffuser. The tape appeared to be covering some damage.

Here, you can see some obvious curb damage - but you can also see that the diffuser extends back to the rear of the oil pan.

Here you can see how the front outlet on the diffuser extends to air in the back. Also, they've used what appears to be flexible black tubing used to cover wires to cover up the cuts made to the lip spoiler and the diffuser.
Can anyone make out what it says there?
Obviously, the car was jacked up quite a bit. And someone messed up at least once.
Exhaust looked pretty normal and OEM - makes sense as they weren't trying to improve power.  Also, you can see how far back the front diffuser extends.
 Ok and what about the rear diffuser?
Looks pretty boring...standard muffler too...
But when you take a closer look - the fins are different front to back.
Inside ones get taller towards the back, while outside ones taper off.
Looks like they just cut around the muffler. No need for the clean finished look. 
And here is a close up of the rear spoiler. Looks like they simply raised the OEM BCNR33 one, to be honest.
yeah, that 34 in the back... see below
 For me the most interesting improvement were those made to the C pillar and rear fenders.
In the 34s, the rear C pillars have foam that hardens- in this car, looks like maybe a plate or something was welded in place?
 Here is a better shot, you can see both weld lines clearly.
Any readers with welding expertise? What would these lines suggest to you?
Incidentally, I DID take a look inside the car, and found it to be a very normal car with the Series 2 interior.

And finally, here is one for the 34 fans. This is the car you can blame for not beating the 33's sub 8 minute Nurburgring lap time.

The description talks about how the R33 was fast enough but they wanted to make the R34 easier to drive - which is consistent with articles on the issue as I've covered before (you can also see photos of this same 34).
No excuses given as to why it wasn't faster than the 33. What is interesting is the claim that testing of improvements to be included in the next GT-R began 6 months after the 1995 R33 GT-R was released - my guess is this is where the trunk bracing for the Series 3 came about.  Apparently the objective was to beat the 33 by 10 seconds, but since Nissan didn't release any numbers, the public will never know the truth.  Of course, no doubt some diehard 34 fans will take this to mean that the 34 must have beaten the 33 by up to 10 seconds (but not more so Nissan couldn't announce) but of course they can dream on...

In the meantime, they should thank the Karasu 33 V-Spec for contributing to the improvements made on the 34.  In any case, a very interesting car that belongs to be better recognized for its contributions to the GT-R, both the 33 and the 34.

Check in again soon, I have a few dozen photos of the rest of the cars in the museum I will be uploading very soon!


Kevin said...

Hi Aki,

I sent you a message on IG, I saw your car at Omori. Check it out when you have the chance.


Anonymous said...

Very cool once again. Shame about the poor jacking, seems like this is a very common issue with unibody cars.

This is the sort of engineering prototype I'm used to seeing to be honest. Rough around the edges, clearly not ready for mass production but a critical proof of concept.

I wonder if anyone has tried to replicate the R34 front diffuser but for the R33. Most of the diffusers out there seem to be out of production these days.

Jason said...

Hi Aki,

A lot of the brochure's dont load anymore on your links, on the right side of your website.

Are you able to upload the brochure's please?

or can you post a link to a shared folder?

or I'll do it for you if and share with everyone?

Thank you,

Aki said...

Kevin and Anon, thanks for the comments.

Jason - which ones? They seem to load normally for me?


Leon said...

Hi Aki,

Another stellar post with some really interesting information and rarely seen images from the past.

You asked about the sticker on the underside of the front diffuser.
I copied it from your site, pasted it into PowerPoint, then cropped it and stretched it vertically. (In case you want to try it yourself).

I reads 'Team Four Legs'. I have no idea what this means though. Perhaps something Japan specific circa 1997.

Most appreciated

PS - Jason, viewing the site in Internet Explorer will show you the brochures down the side. I have the same issue of not seeing them in Firefox.

Aki said...

Thank you Leon!!

I have no idea what Team Four Legs could possibly be. But as you know, the Japanese can be very weird, and/or it's one of those Japanese English (japlish) terms that had some meaning back then...