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Tweaked Type M

A thoughtfully owner-modified R32 GTS Type M.

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • Late-model R32 GTS Type M
  • 90 percent owner-modified
  • Around 320hp at the wheels
  • Clean, simple style
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If you can remember back to our article Pre-Owned Performance - Nissan Skyline R32 GTS-t you’ll know that the Nissan R32 Skyline GTS is a much better vehicle than its reputation suggests. No, it doesn’t have the GT-R’s giant-killing RB26DETT or the R33’s RB25DET but it’s still a great overall package. Consider the R32 GTS’s modest 1320kg kerb mass and you’ll come to appreciate why the oh-so-smooth RB20DET makes it a good thing.

And John Di Mauro’s late 1993-built R32 is just the machine to prove its potential.

John picked up his Type M R32 about 2 years ago with just an aftermarket filter under the bonnet. John liked the Skyline’s smoothness, refinement and style but – having owned a VR4-powered Cordia, an 11 second Torana, RX-2 and various go-fast Commodores – its all-out acceleration didn’t get his blood rushing.

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There was no hesitation when John made his first mods – they were so obvious every man and his dog can tell you that the stock exhaust and intercooler are hopelessly restrictive. The factory exhaust system came out and John offered a 3 inch mandrel system to the back of the turbocharger. Oh, and John also replaced the existing aftermarket filter with a new HKS pod fed by a 3 inch cold air pipe.

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John shopped around for an upgrade intercooler to replace the factory item and settled on the popular Hybrid 600 x 300 x 76mm core. This is a pretty big ‘cooler so its no surprise the bumper had to be sliced to make space. The intercooler plumbing was fabricated by John and his brother-in-law.

The R32 isn’t John’s sole project car but when he discovered a Mines computer hiding in a R32 Skyline half-cut he bought (to re-power a Sil80) he roped it in for action on this machine. We’re told the Mines ECU eliminates or lifts the speed cut, boost cut and rev limit. John had been told all about the standard Nissan ceramic tubocharger’s reliability problems at high boost so he wisely kept the boost increase fairly mild – just 10 psi. A home-made bleed valve and restrictor arrangement allows this increase.

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Power at this stage was about 215hp at the wheels on Paramount Performance’s Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. Not bad, but the engine had the intercooling and breathing capacity to support a lot more...

As John pondered a turbo upgrade that would safely allow more boost, a mate offered for sale a second-hand Mitsubishi TD06-19C turbo with internal wastegate. Perfect! Or almost perfect...

To fit the TD06 John retained the standard RB exhaust manifold but used longer studs and a 12mm spacer plate to mount the turbo further away from the engine (to provide necessary clearance). We’re told the TD06 had the same stud pattern as the factory exhaust manifold so there were no problems with mounting hole alignment.

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The bigger huffer didn’t give the same sort of throttle response as the old turbocharger but it did provide a lot more top-end power. With boost pressure set to a high of 21 psi, the TD06 pushed 270hp at the rear wheels. On the downside, it had problems over-boosting and John tried a bigger exhaust housing to fix the situation. This successfully prevented over-boosting but caused unacceptable lag. Top-end power also went virtually unchanged.

A newer, more efficient turbocharger was what the doctor ordered.

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Recognising the limits of the TD06, John stepped up to a GT28-type ‘440hp’ roller-bearing turbocharger that is designed to suit CA and SR-series Nissan fours. Unfortunately, the RB20DET engine employs a T3-style turbo flange while the CA and SRs use a T25/T28-flange. At this stage most people would leap to the conclusion that an aftermarket exhaust manifold is needed – but not Do-It-Yourself John!

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With the help of John’s brother-in-law, the original turbine flange plate was cut off the RB manifold and a drilled-to-suit 32mm thick mounting plate was welded on. John says the original manifold was heated and maintained at a high temperature while the new adaptor plate was welded on using stainless rod. A key factor to avoid cracking is to control the rate of cooling once the plate has been welded – let the manifold cool rapidly and it will lead to cracking problems.

At the same time the turbo was being swapped, the existing Mines computer was ripped out of the passenger’s kick panel and a plug-in MicroTech LT12 ECU took over. The MicroTech unit contains a MAP load sensor so John made the most of it and removed the factory airflow meter to reduce intake restriction. A set of six modified Skyline GT-R injectors and a Malpassi adjustable reg team with a R33 GT-R in-tank pump and a Bosch 909 high-flow external pump. The ignition is stock.

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With its new roller-bearing turbocharger and tuned MicroTech computer, the car punched out a fairly easy 307hp at the wheels on 18 psi. Interestingly, John then decided to alter the cam timing (using custom adjustable sprockets) and found about 13hp more at the wheels - with only a touch more lag. John says the current cam timing specs are: inlet cam timing retarded 2 degrees and exhaust cam timing advanced 6 degrees.

As you may have noticed in our pics, a polished oil breather catch can and a GReddy Type S blow-off valve were also installed at this time.

The standard Nissan driveline is very strong, but when you add a no-slip ‘600hp’ brass button clutch, the poor ol’ gearbox doesn’t receive much slack when the rear tyres hook up. This is John’s fourth gearbox – he’s blown a second gear, third gear and an output shaft! The diff is the original viscous LSD – no problems with it so far.

John is pretty keen on the drift scene and has his R32 set up for easily controllable power slides. Tein HR coil-overs, pillow-ball upper mounts, a R32 GT-R rear swaybar and a disabled HICAS system give John the handling balance and response that’s essential when getting sideways at, well, a considerable speed... If he ever gets into trouble, John can always stand on the R33 Skyline brakes which are currently being bolted in.

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Cosmetically, John’s R32 is surgically clean. The factory white paint is immaculate, he’s removed the standard rear spoiler and the bumper is a base-spec R32 item that’s sliced to suit the ‘cooler. The wheels fitted during our photo shoot are 18 x 8s wearing 235/40 Bridgestone S02s.

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Inside, John’s car is inexplicably fitted with a R32 GT-R-like trim. John says he’s seen other GTS Type Ms with a conventional interior trim, so we can only guess the GT-R trim package came out in the late-model R32 Type Ms. John has also added an AutoMeter boost gauge, aftermarket steering wheel, gear knob and pedals plus a JVC MP3 sound system with a 12 inch sub. All the essentials.

At this point in time it seems John has taken his R32 GTS about as far as he intends. As a result, he wouldn’t mind selling it to put some extra cash toward his other project – his dyno queen/show car Sil80.

Hmmm. If this R32 is only a ‘warm up’, we dare to imagine what that l’il beast will be like!

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Footnote - if you’ve got around approximately AUD$23,000, John is willing to let his R32 go to you. If you’re genuinely interested, John can be contacted at vscalais304@hotmail.com

Contact/Thanks:

Paramount Performance
+61 7 4659 9711

Thanks also to MTG Engine Systems, Banzai Motorsports, Dave, Troy, Anthony and Angela.

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