Monday, June 5, 2023

Nissan Gearhead Lunch, Chance Encounter with Blog Readers, Nissan GT-R/Z Chief Product Specialist Reviews My Car

Hi everyone,

So thanks to all of you who have reached out to check to see if I am still alive. The answer is yes, and yes I still have my R33 GT-R.  But, this year is a particularly busy one at work (involving a huge deal for Nissan), it really reminds me of my days in the law firm where I literally went home only to sleep and shower (having eaten all my meals at the office). It may not be that bad, but without any real updates to my car, tech-wise, or travels in it, I decided there really was no need to do any blog updates.

But now...

This adventure began as an offshoot to one of the many virtual meetings I now have as an in-house lawyer at Nissan - a few of my internal clients who happen to work for Nissan Motorsports and Customizing, Inc. ("NMC") (better known as Nismo and Autech, respectively, before they merged into NMC) decided it would be fun to meet up for lunch on a Sunday and just nerd out over cars.

So I show up to the appointed place and run into this guy:

Backing into a spot with the precision to leave only a few centimeters between the wall and his car

So this yellow R34 GT-R is a VERY interesting car. Not that it changes my opinion on R34 GT-Rs, but it was actually one of the very first R34 GT-Rs ever made - in fact it was built as a press vehicle, meaning that Nissan took pains to make sure it had the stiffest body, best drivetrain, best suspension, etc. taken from all the early cars rolling off the assembly line. (i.e. literally "handbuilt" to have the best components).  Back then, most press vehicles were purposely created this way in order to ensure the motorjournalists got to experience driving the theoretically "best" vehicle... and if you recall what happened with Drift King Tsuchiya, it explains why he was so pissed off at the difference in his own brand new R33 GT-R and the press car R33 GT-R he drove. 

Some of you may have seen this same yellow car in this Best Motoring video, with Gan-san driving and praising:

Somehow, my friend Narita-san (who is actually now the Chief Product Specialist for the GT-R and Z... it is no longer Tamura-san for many reasons) got his hands on this car and made it his own. See photos later.

Anyway, since this blog is about R33s, yes I had also parked underneath the restaurant - and the beautiful 911 is owned by one of the senior guys at Nismo:

Of course, these car nerds were all quick to realize that the brakes on my car were superior to the 911's...
The nerds will spot it, but maybe I need to get my calipers painted Bright Yellow with the Nissan Carbon Ceramic lettering on it, to ensure others spot these rotors too?

Anyway, after a leisurely lunch, we decided to go for a quick drive. Both the Porsche guy and I live close to the restaurant so we decided we needed some expressway driving to properly warm up the cars.

And right as I was about to get on the expressway I saw this!

Because some us had other afternoon commitments, we kept it relatively close. We were thinking of Daikoku, but decided that was way too hectic. So of course...

... we ended up at Nismo Omori Factory.  Note the Mazda Roadster owned by another in our group, who works for what used to be called Autech.

But I was glad we did end up here, even though all of us are super familiar with this place.  Not only was I able to say hello to my friends Ochiai-san and Takasu-san, I had the pleasure of meeting the young man who approached me and showed me his really well kept Series 1 white R33 GT-R!

You know, I just noticed that jade thing in the background...

Ricky just graduated from the University of Connecticut and is now living in Japan.  I can tell he has lots of school pride...
Yep, beginner driver sticker, a nice touch!

And isn't afraid to show it! And his car has over 180,000 km on the clock, but check out how clean and well maintained it is!

First, the interior - no tears, no dirt, nothing broken, super clean!

Ok so he has some Nismo seat covers - and he told me he was bothered by the red dots in the middle suede portion clashing with the blue headset inserts.  My kind of OCD, nice!!!

But this door - definitely in better condition than my car was in before I sent off the interior to be redone in leather.

Oh but interior is not a big deal, have to check the strut tower area for rust, you say? Look at this! 
And yes, Ricky has now started to slowly collect Nismo items as well, too...

And from the side, the car looks great as well.  In fact, other than some dirt I really couldn't find anything to complain about, and neither could any of the Nismo guys! No rust!!

Anyway, Ricky if you are reading this, please stay in touch and thank you for showing me your awesome car! Good luck with it!!

During all of this, our group ran into some other people from overseas - a father/son duo from California (who collectively between them own a 32, 33, and 34...) as well as a (hopefully) soon to be 34 owner from Switzerland. 

Here's GT-R/Z CPS (Chief Product Specialist) Narita-san being photographed with his car by the guys from the US/Switzerland

Narita-san had been super curious about how the carbon ceramic brakes on my car worked/felt, so we exchanged keys to our cars, if only for a few minutes.

His first words - "What clutch is this? The meet point is so high!" (Nismo...)

Meanwhile I took the opportunity to check out his car while I waited for him to return (I took these photos before he left).
Obviously not Press Car spec...

So I think he was trying to convert this car into a high speed Bonneville Salt Flat Run capable car...

But he told me that the car simply was not as stable at high speed as a 33, so he gave up
He has the Special Order Umbrella option, I see

Still, it has some interesting features so next time we go for a drive I will get more details from him.

So, what did the current Nissan GT-R/Z Chief Product Specialist have to say about my car? First, he was totally impressed with how the car was super nimble - having less unsprung weight means lane changes are super quick and accurate.  Second, he loved the bite of the brakes, absolutely no problem in how they were set up.  Third, he told me the car was sprung perfectly on the Ohlins DFVs. And finally, he was super impressed at the high level of finish of the car, the very low NVH, meaning it really felt like a proper high spec GT car.  He thinks that I may have surpassed my goal of "this is what the 33 would be like if Nissan released it today."

Amazing what the pros pick up in only about 15 minutes of driving.  Anyway, Narita-san came back super excited after driving my car and has already proposed a 0500 group run in the Hakone mountains soon... stay tuned and maybe some of you out there reading this in Japan can join us!


Jason said...

Happy to read your posts again! Jealous of your life in Japan!

Aki said...

Thanks Jason!

andreasGTR said...

I love reading stories like this. Hopefully there will be more about that Hakone run :)

Anonymous said...

Aki, it’s great to hear that you’re still alive. Your schedule sounds awfully familiar like the time that I worked for JLR where lunch and dinner seemed like one single meal. As your regular reader haven’t seen you for months, I was afraid that you retired from this blog like BNR34gt-r. It’s good to have you back! And it looks like you’ve got nothing but great reviews and ravings about your 33. It must be some awesome feeling. Truly happy for you.
I’ve been trying to put my project car together in the last few years. Unfortunately, I am having some issues with a shop in Japan where nismo wheels and some parts were paid for and not delivered and they stopped responding emails. I’d really appreciate if you could give me some professionally advices and recommendations. Or perhaps there’s a more direct way to reach you? Hope to hear from you very soon. Cheers

Aki said...

What shop is that anon? Shoot me an email and let me know. Aitoh at Hotmail.

Simon said...

Hi Aki,

Hope all is good.

Nice to see people loving the brakes still!

Anonymous said...

Hi Aki, thanks for the reply. How was your weekend? I’d love to contact you directly. However, i can’t seem to see it here. So, what’s your email? Talk soon. Cheers

Anonymous said...

Is it the hotmail one on speedhunters?

Anonymous said...

Ok, thanks! I’ve sent an email to you. Had any interesting adventure over the weekend?
Have a great week. Talk soon. Cheers

Isuf said...

What an incredible day! It was my last day of my trip to Japan and it was an incredible day in every sense of the word.

Visit this museum, because it's so much more than a garage. Omiri Factory is truly heaven on earth for any fan of the Nissan motorsport world! First of all, I met this father/son duo from California. Passionate people like I've never met before. We'll certainly be seeing each other again, as it was a wonderful Switzerland and in California as we have to eat some good food while talking about cars.

Then, the arrival of this group of 4 crème de la crème as we say in French! You guys were so nice, so welcoming, so open to sharing your experiences that it really made an impression on me. I'm almost 36 but I was strolling through the streets of Tokyo with the goofy smile of a 5 year old! incredible to read a blog about this day..thank you so much for everything and I hope we'll have the chance to meet you again one day..ah one last thing..I've finally bought my Nissan Skyline R34 GTR of my should be leaving Japan soon...🥳🥳🥳
Isuf from Switzerland

Anonymous said...

Hello, Aki!

Great to see you back on the blog! If I may ask, what happened to Tamura-San and his position of being the Chief Product Specialist for the GT-R/Z? If it is too confidential, you don't have to answer this question. Thank you!

Aki said...

Hi Isuf - Congratulations! I am so happy for you!! Please tell us more about your car when it arrives, at least send me a few photos. And yes of course I will look you up next time I am in Switzerland!

Anon - not a secret at all - Tamura-san has retired from Nissan - so I think he goes around being called the GT-R Ambassador but that is a contract position that is reviewed on a yearly basis. I think however he does not go out of his way to correct those people out there who think he is still the CPS. I would probably do the same... but as for upcoming cars/projects I will stick to my friend Narita-san...

Jason said...

You blog is very, very entertaining to read - but I totally understand it is time consuming to post blog. Do you run an instagram account?

Z Ketrow said...

Finally close to being done with my master's and I can't wait to source an R33 and follow in your footsteps, Aki. Your blog taught me so much about these cars and it's been awesome to periodically come back and binge-read all the posts I've missed being caught in school. Thank you for continuing to post when life settles down for a bit!

Murray said...

Thanks for the detailed post!

RyanKuan said...

Is that yellow R34 originally built by Dandy that Dino did a story on the Speedhunters? If it is that's amazing that it ended up as a street car and still used!

Isuf said...

Hi Aki, thank you so much. I’m so excited and I can’t wait for my dream. It will be delivered in september and I’ll send you some pictures as soon as I have it in my hand. I’ll welcome you in Switzerland with pleasure. Let’s keep in touch😉..have a nice evening