When it’s the done thing to bolt on huge turbochargers and invest in exotic
engine internals, it’s easy to underrate anything that’s not as extreme. But
let’s get our feet back on the ground - a relatively small number of mods can
transform a car into something that, in real-world driving conditions, is almost
as quick as the all-out monsters.
Just take Chris William’s Nissan R33 Skyline GT-R as an example. It mightn’t
be the wildest GT-R, but we can tell you its damn quick and is genuinely driven. And, to demonstrate its practical usefulness, it also happens to
cart a set of golf clubs in the boot!
Chris handed over the cash for his R33 GT-R after growing tired of his
previous ride - a mid 12-second Holden V8 ute with a 150hp nitrous kit. The
Japanese supercar appealed because it enabled Chris to drive fast around corners
– not just in a straight line. Certainly, the R33 GT-R was the perfect machine
to satisfy Chris’ growing enthusiasm for circuit racing.
This particular GT-R arrived from Japan with most of the mechanical
configuration already sorted. The factory fitted 2.6-litre DOHC twin-turbo
(RB26DETT) was equipped with an A’PEXi 3 inch exhaust and dual air filter
system. The standard ceramic turbine turbochargers (which are notorious for
failing at increased engine output) had also been replaced with steel wheeled
jobs. These twin turbochargers pump the in-line six with up to 1.1 Bar of boost
in normal conditions and up to 1.4 Bar when toluene is added to the tank. The
standard intercooler remains - why change it when it’s performing perfectly
The tweaked RB26DETT is tuned using an A’PEXi Power FC plug-in programmable
ECU. This drives the standard direct-fire ignition and factory injectors teamed with a Sard pressure regulator and pump.
This dyno graph shows the at the wheels output when Chris took delivery of
the car. As you can see, there was initially 270hp at the wheels (indicated
by the green plot) increasing to 298hp (indicated by the red plot) after
tuning on 1.1 Bar boost. Then, with 20 percent tolulene in the tank and 1.4
Bar boost, the car was tuned to approximately 335hp at the wheels (though
this hasn't been confirmed). It might not be up with some modified GT-Rs but
it's still powerful enough to turn the speedo needle to just over 300 km/h.
Chris has graphic proof stored on his mobile phone
To ensure the engine runs sweetly when pushing those high speeds, Chris has
added an Earl’s oil cooler with a remote oil filter kit. Chris says this has
reduced the maximum oil temperature from 135 to 105 degrees Celsius (as
indicated on the factory oil temp gauge). As seen in this photo, Chris has also
cable-tied socks over the header tank for the power steering, brake and clutch
master cylinders – these are a preventative step to eliminate the chance of
fluid seepage while on the racetrack.
Chris has beefed up the driveline with an OS Gikken twin-plate clutch while
the rest of the active AWD system remains unaltered aside from a C’s
short-shifter. Handling is seriously improved with Tein coil-overs, Tein castor
rods and front and rear camber kits (currently set to around 1 - 1 ½ degrees neg
at each corner). The standard R33 Brembo calipers team with custom slotted
versions of the factory discs. High-performance pads, ADR-approved braided
stainless lines and a master cylinder brace improve stopping power, consistency
The immaculately presented car looks magnificent with its Works 18 inch rims
wearing Firenza ST03 265/35 tyres, which we’re told are adequate for the street
but can’t quite cut it on the track. Chris says one of the most dramatic on-road
improvements came from revising the adjustment of the coil-overs and wheel
alignment. The handling is now described by Chris as ‘"#%^&ing awesome."
Inside, the cabin is kept neat and useable. Chris has added a 320 km/h Nizmo
instrument cluster, an A’PEXi turbo timer, Razo white gear knob, boost gauge and
a big - but not over-the-top - sound system. At the head of the sound system is
an Alpine flip-face CD feeding MB Quart front splits and there are standard rear
deck speakers teamed with an unusual 11 inch Focal Utopia sub-woofer. It’s all
driven by a Xtant amp which lives in the boot; Chris has made sure there’s
j-u-s-t enough remaining boot space to swallow his beloved set of golf
You never know when you’ll get the urge to sink a few balls!
With the golf clubs removed, Chris has driven his R33 down the quarter mile
in 12 seconds flat with a 115 mph terminal velocity. Combine that with its 300+
km/h top-end, circuit racing prowess and golf club carrying abilities and it’s
easy to see how much enjoyment Chris gets from the car. But, at the time of
writing, Chris is undecided whether to upgrade to larger N1 turbochargers and
bigger injectors or to start afresh with a R34 GT-R. A later model Skyline would
be nice, but he’ll have to measure the boot space before making the switch...
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