The Smart Way To Build An R34 GT-R
Picture this, it’s 2005 and the factory warranty on your BNR34 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-spec II Nür has just run out. What do you do?
I dare say, V-spec II Nür owners at this time would be split down the middle. Those who would feel liberated at the loss of warranty and start modifying to their hearts’ content, and those with either a little more restrain, or a crystal ball to see into the future.
The latter would have, foreseeing the model’s future value, locked their GT-Rs away in a safety deposit box at their local investment bank. V-spec II Nür values are either sickening or a blessing depending on whether you currently own one or not. If you are unfortunate enough to not own a Nür – or even a ‘regular’ R34 GT-R – you better get yourself a paper bag or a bucket now.
Back in 1999, you could buy a new GT-R V-spec for around US$70,000 in today’s money. Today, the cheapest V-spec I can find on Goo-Net (a used car platform here in Japan) is being offered at US$102,000.
It gets a little more nauseating when you look at the more desirable models like the GT-R V-spec II Nür, which had a Nissan dealership price of around US$79,328 in today’s money. Today, low-mileage examples are fetching well over US$400,000.
Now that I have well and truly filled my paper bag, a cup of tea, a Digestive biscuit and a little perspective is needed.
These cars were, and still are in some ways, Mr. Emperor Penguin. They deserve to be up there with the Ferraris and Porsches, although the most expensive Porsche of the same vintage I could find on Goo-Net (a Freisinger 993 GT2) was just over US$300,000. It’s apples and oranges, but some sobering perspective nonetheless.
When the R34 GT-R was new it was considered a complex, technologically-advanced machine straight from the minds of crazy Japanese boffins. But today, despite its all-wheel drive system, all-wheel steering and twin-turbo setup, it seems a lot more simple and analogue. It seems more like it’s just a car. No longer is it seen as some advanced alien life form from the Planet of the Rising Sun.
Still, the model commands some of the highest used car prices on the planet. Which is why most sane people aren’t really modifying R34 GT-Rs anymore. And that brings us to the point of this story.
If you want to build the ultimate customised R34 GT-R like this one owned by Koichiro Yamashita, you need to start with an ER34 Skyline 25GT Turbo coupe. Even better if you can find one already in Bayside Blue.
Koichiro-san has fully transformed the grandpa-spec 25GT Turbo using original GT-R front and rear bumpers, front and rear fenders (the later being OEM panels welded onto the original body shell) plus all the other GT-R-spec trimmings.
If someone did all the excellent things that Koichiro-san has done here to a bonafide GT-R, they could probably kiss that holiday home goodbye.
If you ask me, this is the better option.
I don’t think the GT-R was ever intended to be a collector car. It was never designed to sit in a gallery, or worse still, in someone’s garage, and not be driven. The BNR34 was meant to be a driver’s car from the minute designer Kozo Watanabe was given the green light from Nissan’s top-floor execs.
Not only was the R34 GT-R meant to be driven, it was meant to be driven hard. The drivetrain in stock form was built to withstand well over double what the stock engine could muster, which in turn means it was always meant to be tuned up to 11.
Koichiro-san’s 25GT has been turned up to 11, and then some. Pushing over 700PS to the wheels from a fully-built RB26 with a single turbo hanging off its side, this car can be driven like the GT-R was supposed to be, not pampered and protected like some endangered animal on the brink of extinction.
Having the liberty to modify as he likes has also allowed Koichiro-san to choose a configuration which suits his driving style perfectly.
He believes that FR (front-engined, rear-wheel drive) is the purest form of motoring, especially on the circuit. While the GT-R may offer monster grip in all weather conditions thanks to its all-wheel drive, the FR configuration in the 25GT Turbo demands a little more engagement to keep thing in check. Koichiro-san has swapped almost everything else from a GT-R, but by sticking with rear-wheel drive it’s a little more tail-happy and not as heavy.
The full-custom suede interior is another modification that GT-R owners today might think twice about executing in their garage-stricken investment. That’s a bit of a shame, because, let’s face it, apart from the computer-game-esque multi-function display, the interior of a stock GT-R is pretty dull. Like most similar Japanese cars from this period, you’re paying for performance not plush trim.
Speaking of performance, this is one area that Koichiro has elevated the humble 25GT Turbo to the god-tier standards of a hard-tuned GT-R. While it might not run the N1 block used in the Nür of which this car is badged as (Koichiro-san confesses without remorse as it’s purely a fashion accessory) this is an almighty RB26 bored out to 2.7L and built from the ground up.
I’ll drop the full spec list at the bottom of the page, but some of the interesting features include the OEM GT-R35 fender ducts grafted just behind the front wheel arches. There’s also the massive Brembo brakes from a late-model R35 GT-R, which sit behind some custom-painted 19-inch Nismo LMGT4 wheels.
Sitting at the 7-Eleven, the car idled like a delirious elephant thanks to the 272-degree HKS cams. I think this Skyline would rather be at the race track than posing for photos in the city.
The price tag of Koichiro-san’s 25GT Turbo may not be as obscene as a real GT-R V-spec II Nür , but I say it has as much, if not more, of the same spirit.
It’s driven on the track (which is where the GT-R smashed records at the Nürburgring) regularly. It’s making ridiculous amounts of power for a street car. And most importantly, it’s fulfilling its destiny as a driver’s car, customised for its intended use and used well.
It’s also given Koichiro-san the experience of building his ultimate GT-R, and that is priceless.
GT-R related stories on Speedhunters
Koichiro Yamashita’s Nissan Skyline 25GT Turbo (ER34)
Engine: Nissan ‘RB27DET’, Tomei oversized forged pistons, JUN I-beam connecting rods, stock RB26 crankshaft, TR cylinder head processing, HKS 272-degree camshafts, single GCG-Garrett GTX3582R GenII turbocharger, A’PEXi exhaust manifold, Walbro 525lp/h fuel pump, Trust GREX oil cooler, SARD BCNR33 aluminium radiator, Nismo engine mounts
Suspension & Brakes: Blitz Damper ZZ-R coilovers, Ikeya Formula front upper arms, Ikeya Formula rear upper arms, aftermarket reinforced tie rods, aftermarket tension rod, R35 GT-R (late) Brembo brakes front & rear
Wheels & Tyres: Custom-painted 19-inch Nismo LMGT4 wheels, 275/30R19 tyres, Nismo long wheel nuts
Exterior: Nismo Z-tune front bumper, Nismo Z-tune front fenders with custom-added R35 ducts, Nismo R-tune bonnet, Nismo dry carbon wing flap, Nismo rear fender arches, Nismo rear under spoiler, Ganador blue wet carbon mirrors, Duratec carbon wing stays, one-off carbon flap cover, Nissan BNR34 genuine rear bumper, Nissan BNR34 genuine rear wing, Nissan BNR34 genuine new rear fenders, Nissan genuine side steps, Nissan R35 GT-R emblems, Nismo front emblem