Location: United States Arizona
Occupation: Programmer with not enough spare time
|#81277 2015-08-23 09:39|
My GT-R BCNR33 Build Thread
*LINK* - R33, Supra, and Pontiac G8 spec sheets
*LINK* - shop's R33 GTS 2JZ drift car
*LINK* - old S14 retrospective and some R33 pics
(OOC Note: Engine pictures are sub-optimal. The new RB26 mod isn't done yet; I'll take new engine bay shots once it's all imported. Also, all license plate numbers / vehicle history is fictitious, of course.)
Here's the story of how I came into possession of my pride and joy, my R33 GT-R.
I'm putting everything under spoilers, because this is a really, really long post. If you want to know what I've done to the car recently, skip to Part 5.
PART 1: ORIGIN OF THE CAR (2012)
PART 2: THE "MOSTLY STOCK" PERIOD (2012)
I didn't exactly know what I was getting into, when I started considering ownership of a genuine Skyline. The whole thing sounded like a wild ride, although one with the potential for a lot of difficult situations. For reference, my previous vehicle history looked like this at the time:
- nondescript Honda Accord CD7 coupe, no mods, stock LHD
- Nissan 240SX S14a, RB26 single turbo swap, RHD conversion
- Pontiac G8 Sedan V6, LS7 swap, stock LHD
The car arrived on US shores as a bone stock 1996 GTR V-Spec in KR4 Sonic Silver. I was not the first US owner, though. Motorex/JK bought this car in the early 2000s, in their later years, while they were still importing cars legally. They bought it at auction from an executive who seldom used the car, and who did nothing to it, except install a rare RS Yamamoto 320km/h speedometer and a stock Series 3 front lip. That owner put about 70,000km (44k miles) on it. Because of the shape and low mileage of the car, it was an auction grade 4.5. The only blemish on the car of any sort was that someone had peeled off the V-Spec trunk sticker.
Motorex/JK federalized the car, performing some basic modifications to it in order to get it legal, and sold it to its first US owner, who was a medical resident in Tucson. He used it as a weekend autocross toy, and did nothing to it except for a low-boost single turbo conversion. Because of the exceptionally good shape of the car and its provenance, I bought it off of him for $50k - an incredible sum, for sure, but it was worth it because of the phenomenal shape the car was in. At this point, the odometer read about 96,000km (60k miles).
We chatted for a bit and made some arrangements, including me having sold the S14 a while ago. Then, we met at a halfway point, a train station just outside Casa Grande, and he signed the title over to me. He wanted to keep the plates, though; since I had just sold the S14, this wasn't a problem, as I bolted one of the two S14 plates onto the rear of the car on the spot.
PART 3: FRESH PAINT (2012-2013)
I kept the car stock for about two months, but noticed after a while that the stock suspension and brake setup was feeling rather tired. Sure enough, I took a look at the front suspension and all of the seals and bushings were worn out, from the desert heat - not to mention the front CV boots. While I was at it, I realized that I was going to eventually go after some big power goals for this car, so I decided to take the opportunity to overhaul the whole suspension.
With help from a shop I've worked closely with, I had the car jacked up, and we took out the entire rear sub-frames and replaced everything, starting with reinforced R34 sub-frames. As far as shocks and springs, I went with a set of Tein adjustable coilovers, which are supposedly on the stiff side, but Arizona roads are silky smooth and usually flat, so I wasn't worried about that. While everything was off the car, I went for an overhaul of the brakes, springing for a set of Brembo calipers and rotors. (I later realized that, with the power goals I could hit, this setup wouldn't be enough to give me peace of mind; so these brakes ended up getting shelved. They had good pedal feel, though, and I later had them re-used on the Supra.) I also went with some 18" Advan AVS T5 wheels and matching Yokohama Advan tires. The rims were similar to the 19" set I had on the Pontiac, and were bought from the same broker. I kept the stock R33 GT-R wheels around; they ended up on the shop's 2JZ ECR33 drift car.
This was the setup the car ran on for another couple months, and I was very happy with it. This was what I refer to as the "streetable" period of the car, when it was actually pretty easy to handle. I was learning how the AWD dynamics of the car worked, and managed to get a handle on the finer points of ECU tuning an RB26 without having someone else create the whole map for me, as had been the case with the S14. I took the car out to an event just outside Las Vegas, where I managed to get some good photographs of the car, and where me and a buddy slid it around for a while. The car had about 400HP back then, so it was a good practice car without being completely overwhelming.
This warehouse was a really nice place to take photos. I should go back when I get a chance.
PART 4: 900 WHP - THE PROTOTYPE ERA (2013-2014)
Alas, all things come to an end. I decided that I was kind of bored with driving a stock-looking silver car, even if it was a genuine, federally legal GT-R. Forget resale values - I knew this car was a keeper. I told myself that there couldn't be a lot of harm caused by a simple respray of the car and a couple of body mods, and maybe - just maybe - I'd think about doing something to the engine while I had it out, since I was painting the engine bay too. There would be no corners cut here!
My plans for the body were originally going to be pretty simple - paint the S3 front lip, and install some N1 vents onto the front bumper - but then I tracked down a genuine Nismo bumper and Top Secret sideskirts in good condition, and I decided those were going onto the car too. I couldn't find a Nismo front lip originally, so I decided to go with my original plan of painting the S3 lip.
I took the car to Boss's Garage, where we fit the new body parts and carefully took the engine, radiator, etc. out. Everything we didn't remove, we covered up, so that stuff wouldn't get painted.
I made sure to keep myself busy while the car was out, because not having it around for me to drive was too annoying. I ordered a set of clear front and side indicators, a carbon rear spoiler blade, and carbon wing garnishes with decals, all of which were going onto the car as soon as possible.
They took good care of everything, stripping all the old paint off and laying down a smooth coat of primer.
When I returned soon after, the car was all painted in a fresh coat of Nismo Red (AR1), as requested. They did an excellent job - that was exactly the color I wanted, and the color I would have bought the car in if I had bought the car new.
The garage service also did me the huge favor of putting everything back onto the car, although not the engine. I had to say, I was incredibly impressed with how the car looked. I fell in love with the car all over again.
In about a week and a half, we got the engine and everything back in - no mounting points or anything had changed, so it was just a matter of putting everything back where it went. This was how the car sat for another five months or so. I was having fun with it, and it was now one incredible gem of a car, but I kept constantly having dreams of a car pushing 700HP or more.
A couple of small engine mods - better camshafts, better ECU tuning - brought the power from 400 up to about 450, with much healthier torque, which was enough for me during this period. I knew that anything more would involve a complete engine rebuild, which was not something I wanted to get into... yet.
I took this picture by parking the car across the street, crossing, and then taking a photo when no traffic was around. That was an interesting experience. I brought a friend along, so that the car wouldn't get stolen right in front of me!
Another picture in the same place.
This is how the engine looked in its last iteration before I started the new engine build. There were 140,000km (90k miles) or so on this engine, just like the car itself. I had a hell of a lot of fun with the car in this configuration; looking at it like this makes me nostalgic, because the car would never be this, shall we say, 'innocent' ever again.
PART 5: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS (2014-PRESENT)
I had been pretty thoroughly bitten by the 'speed bug' at this point, so I pretty much stopped caring about resale value or anything else. I stopped thinking about it in terms of having a clean, genuine bond-released R33 GT-R, and more about having a project car that was supposed to be the ultimate car I could have.
So, the whole front end of the car came apart, and everything came out. I sold the engine to a very deserving fellow BCNR33 owner in Canada, whose own engine had been ruined by a snapped timing belt.
To help pay for the car, this was about when I sold off the G8. I bought a cheap Civic to replace it as my daily driver; I'd have to live lean for a while, until the R33 was done.
I had been slowly sourcing parts for this engine for months before I took the car apart, and ordered more during the time that the old engine was coming out. The centerpiece of the engine, the N1 block, was a spare that would have otherwise gone into a Nur-spec BNR34. I had this bored out to 87.0mm; together with the Brian Crower RB29 crankshaft, the engine would displace 2817cc, rather than the 2771cc of a usual Nismo-style RB28.
The cylinder head was a full JUN head, with a set of HKS camshafts that I had ordered speculatively when I had the old engine. Good thing, too - they were out of stock when I looked at the website again. (I thought about HKS V-Cam, but I knew nothing about the system at the time, and it would have cost too much on top of everything else I ordered for the engine. Maybe another year.)
I also did some estimates and realized that I was set to way overshoot my 700HP goal, and that the brakes weren't going to be enough. This prompted me to purchase a set of Endless brakes: 380mm in front, 355mm in the rear.
But then there was a problem: the 18" Advans only just barely cleared the calipers, and didn't leave a lot of room for the lines to flex. Remembering my S14, I decided then and there that I'd have to get a set of TE37s; good thing they come in 19" diameter now! I sold the Advans and the tires they came with in order to recoup some of the lost money, but I had the shop hold onto the brakes.
After about three months of not driving the car at all, I finally had everything in place. My heart jumped when the engine started for the first time: this engine was a lot louder and deeper than the old one, especially because of the custom 4" downpipe and the lumpy cams. The old engine was gone, and the training wheels were off; this was now a completely different car.
I got the front end back together, and took it for a couple of questionably legal runs on the highway. Everything was rock-solid, but the stock seats didn't feel like enough any more, and I was starting to get seriously worried about roll-over protection. Some research reassured me that I was smart not to put a roll cage in the car, though. One of these days, I might spring for removal of the rear seats and then a half-cage, but I still can't quite justify having two cars without rear seats.
The chassis problems were pretty easy to solve: it turned out I could have my cake and eat it too, by having the interior stripped out and having a body shop install chassis bracing all over. While this was going on, the few blemishes there were on the car - and there weren't any, really - were sorted out. Overall, the build was solid, and this is - for the most part - the way the car is now.
I haven't done almost anything to the engine, since first building it, except regular maintenance. When I got it dyno'ed and tuned, it returned 720AWHP on a preliminary tune. After some work on the dyno and some further tuning, I managed to get the car set up for multiple tunes, including a 450WHP street tune, and a very aggressive map on high boost that generates an incredible 900 wheel horsepower. This was so awesome that I had to memorialize it with the car's current license plate: a vanity plate, reading "R33 900".
One of the few persistent problems I had with the car was that it felt a little unstable on track days, due to the combination of wide tires and a narrow track. I solved this by doing the one thing that has defined the look of the car since - installing the Abflug front and rear arches. Although I couldn't help but cut through the rear fenders to get the wheels to clear at the back, I bought a replica set of R33 GT-R front fenders so that I could put the front end back to stock if I wanted to.
That was the only major change to the car for a long time. I let it stay as it was, and tried to let my finances recover for a while; although, I didn't do so well in terms of self-control, because I had bought the Supra and helped build the shop's 2JZ R33 drift car in the meantime.
I experimented with a few parts, including this titanium muffler. I went back to the muffler I had on before, because this one actually caused the engine to lose power; I think it had more back-pressure.
I also ran a Top Secret hood for a while. I still have this, and I might have to put it back on; it cooled the engine down, but didn't do me any favors during monsoon season, when I was always worried about keeping water out of the engine bay.
More recently, I finally got a Nismo rear bumper after a long time searching. It was either this or a Top Secret rear diffuser, and I went with this, even if the Top Secret item probably has better aerodynamic properties. I'm currently on the hunt for a matching 400R rear diffuser, or a replica of it.
Just a couple weeks after, I got a Nismo lip at the front. The old S3 front lip had always obstructed part of the intercooler, and this solved some air-flow problems that I was trying to address with the Top Secret hood. I thought the car was finally finished, at least for a while.
One month ago, I got this cryptic snap-chat from the original owner of the car, in Tucson.
Apparently, this car was from Canada, and was used as a daily driver. Someone here had bought it, not knowing that they couldn't drive it on the street, so they sold it to the guy in Tucson so he could get rid of it.
I was going to tell him "no", because the 2JZ drift car was done, I was pretty sure my own R33 didn't need anything off of something like that, and certainly neither of us needed a track-only project car. But then, I looked at the picture more closely and noticed something strange about the car, and decided to head over.
I was right. Looking closely at the car, it had been meticulously converted to LHD while it was in Canada, using custom LHD dashboard parts. This was the cleanest LHD job I had ever seen, and made me entirely rethink my ideas about keeping my own R33 RHD. I sat in it, and it felt a little strange, but not bad. The rest of the car was surprisingly clean, too - too clean to sell for parts. While I was sitting in the car, I broke out laughing with the single most ridiculous idea about this car build - and, considering that this is a car with 1050+ crank horsepower, I didn't think things could get more ridiculous. Besides, the interior had all been taken out of the car and put back in once, so what was the problem with doing it a second time?
I took both cars to Boss' Garage again, where we carefully stripped all of the LHD dashboard components out of the GTS, and did the same with all of the interior in my car. We took about a hundred pictures during this process, but they are mostly incredibly close-up and don't show anything interesting at all, so I'm not posting those.
Here are some photos from last night.
The car was finished yesterday afternoon. I took it for a drive today, and while it still feels weird to drive, it also feels like the R33 is finally 'home', in a way. It wouldn't ever be mistaken for a genuine ex-Wangan-runner imported as-is from Japan, but perhaps that was the whole point.
Maybe I'll have to part ways with that fancy RS Yamamoto speedometer, and install one that reads in MPH? We'll see.
Updated spec sheet:
Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec (BCNR33)
- 1996 / Series 2 car.
- One of the few Motorex imported cars - federally legal, and with as solid provenance as you can get with these kinds of things.
- Was originally Sonic Silver (KP4); has been repainted Nismo Red (AR1)
- Completely stripped down inside and rebuilt, to remove any rust spots or potential problem areas, and to add chassis bracing.
- Left hand drive. Still getting used to it, but between that and the Motorex papers, this is as close as anyone is going to get to a genuine "USDM" Skyline R33.
- Front and rear bumpers, and front lip, are Nismo. Sideskirts are Top Secret; eventually these will be Nismo 400R items as well. Fender flares are by Abflug, with some modifications to make them go on cleaner.
- Tarzan G-Box to improve AWD response. I can also put the car in full RWD mode, but it becomes too much of a handful if I do, so I usually don't.
- Full R34 rear subframe, and lots of modernized suspension all around.
- Endless 6-piston brakes with vented rotors.
- Volk TE37s in 19" with Advan Neova tires.
2817cc displacement. 11.4:1 compression.
10,000 RPM rev limiter. I regularly wind it up to 9000 or above when driving hard.
RB26 N1 block. I would like to have started with a Super GT "RRR" block, but I don't know how I could have gotten one.
Nismo 87.0 over-bore
Brian Crower "RB29" 79.0mm stroker crank and connecting rods
JUN Auto full cylinder head
Unknown spec HKS camshafts, probably discontinued. I would have installed V-Cam, but it was too expensive when I built the engine and would have added a layer of complication I didn't need.
At 4.5bar boost setting and most aggressive tune:
1055BHP @ 5250RPM. (For reference, that's 900 all-wheel horsepower.)
832 ft-lbs of torque @ 5250RPM
At 1.5bar boost setting and a specifically restrictive tune:
581BHP @ 9000RPM. (I don't know why it takes it that long to make power under these conditions.)
322 ft-lbs of torque @ 5500RPM
R34 Getrag gearbox with reinforced gears. Super tall 2.7 final drive ratio. Theoretically, this car can reach 220MPH. I'll probably never know. All I know is that I've nearly gotten in trouble a few times because I couldn't convert from KM/H on the dashboard to MPH in my head quickly enough, and the car gets to really high speeds at an absolutely scary rate at full power.
As an update, the cars I have (OOC: in this RP, of course) are now:
- Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec (BCNR33, 1996)
- Toyota Supra Turbo (JZA80, 1997)
Cars I have owned:
- Honda Accord EX Coupe (CD7, 1995)
- Nissan 240SX, RB26 swap (S14a, 1997)
- Pontiac G8 Sedan, LS7 swap (VE, 2009)
The shop also owns:
- Nissan Skyline GTS25t, 2JZ swap (ECR33, 1994)
This post was edited by Harrison15 (2016-02-24 23:56, 399 days ago)
My Roleplay Thread
Roleplay set roughly in a fictionalized version of Phoenix, Arizona. The time varies, with a lot of flashbacks / stories told through old photos as well as flash forwards to later times, but is intended to be one continuous story. My character is about 5 years older than myself, and considerably richer. lol. I have a couple of other made-up characters for the RP too.
- Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec (BCNR33 1996 S2)
- Toyota Supra (JZA80 1993) - auto N/A; work in progress
Shop drift car: Nissan Skyline GTS25t 2JZ Swap (ECR33 1994)
- Nissan 240SX RHD Conversion / RB Swap - parted out
- Pontiac G8 V6, LS7 Swap - sold
- Toyota Supra Turbo (JZA80 1997) - stolen
Others' featured cars:
- Luke's Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec (BCNR33) "Wine Red" with Nismo RB28