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Deported Assassin

Nissan Gazelle FJ20 Turbo

By Michael Knowling
Photos by Julian Edgar

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With a long line of victims in its wake, this Gazelle is now embarking on another reign of terror.

The sun's shining at the gathering of fours and rotaries, with plenty of gleaming cars and a good turn-up of people. There's the occasional deep note from an exhaust as the latecomers idle their cars into place, and enough bass pumps out from the mega-stereo hatchbacks to rattle number plates. But the noise that pulls the biggest audience is the turbocharged rhythm of a certain Nissan Gazelle.

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Yep. Every now and then, Danny casually slips into the Bride racing seat, turns the key and repeatedly mashes his right foot. Each time he does it, an almighty roar erupts from the tip of the straight-through exhaust and the massive Garrett turbo screams shrilly. Every time he snaps the throttle closed the big Blitz blow-off valve cracks like a whip. And to top off the show, flames occasionally belch from the drainpipe! Ahhh, the amusement of turbocharged engines...

Danny's plan was to get public attention directed to his new business (Japanese Motorsport) and he sure as hell got it!

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The car was imported from Japan as a promotional tool. Compared to Australia, Japan's selection of high-performance cars is dirt-cheap. And depending on certain legislative requirements, some are permitted to be registered for road use in Australia without any problems. Apparently, Danny can bring Japanese cars 15 years or older into the country and have them on the road for around A$5,000.......

Danny found this notchback S12 Silvia (Gazelle) on a recent visit to the densely populated country. Having most of the current go-fast goodies already bolted on it was ideal, so arrangements were made for it to take a trip on the slow boat back to Oz. A couple of weeks later it arrived on the wharves and since then, it's been running around claiming the scalps of many of the local hi-po's.

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The engine is Nissan's FJ20DET 2 litre twincam 16 valve injected turbo, which came fitted to this model in Japan. Or at least it was 2 litres; Danny says its displacement has gone up to 2.1 litres, probably the result of a slightly longer stroke crankshaft. Standard, drive-down-to-the-shop cams were removed in Japan and replaced by Nizmo products which offer substantially better mid-to-top-end performance without destroying the car's ability to be driven in traffic.

That big sucker of a turbo is responsible for most of the extra power though. For an engine of just over 2 litres, the Garrett T04E turbo is plenty big - it's more than capable of keeping up with the requirements of the engine. The turbo is bolted to an exhaust manifold that looks very much like an HKS design, the manifold improving throttle response and peak gas flows over the OEM part.

The turbo's boost curve is controlled by a Blitz electronic boost controller set at 17 psi (1.2 Bar) maximum. A large diameter HKS external wastegate bleeds off exhaust gas that's superfluous to the turbine's needs. As an extra precaution, a Trust 'safety valve' vents excess boost pressure should something go wrong. The Trust name is certainly appropriate in this application! On the road the engine has little torque before the big turbo starts to boost at around 3500rpm. But it isn't a big-lag engine, coming on boost at similar revs to a Subaru Liberty (Legacy) RS or early WRX.

Being a supplier of Japanese import parts, Danny had no trouble sourcing an intercooler and stuffing a large ex-Supra twin-turbo air-to-air intercooler in front of the radiator. Insulation-wrapped mandrel bent 2½ inch turbo plumbing - incorporating a Blitz blow-off valve - is used throughout the engine bay. Even though heavy duty hose clamps are used, the car keeps blowing off turbo pressure hoses as often as it goes for quarter mile sprints!

On the track, the best time the car has so far managed is a low-fourteen - and on that run, the intercooler pipe popped at about three-quarter track distance. As the car revisits the track, expect this paragraph to change!

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Because the motor pushes out a fair amount more power than stock, an HKS FCON-V piggy back computer is wired into the management system to manipulate fuel and ignition outputs. Danny hasn't hit the rev limiter yet (if there is one) even though the tacho has scaled over 8500rpm! The HKS controller uses inputs from a lap-top computer to change its parameters.

The exhaust really lets the engine breathe deeply. Already hung under the car before it left Japan, the system is labelled Bee-Racing and is specifically set up for the Gazelle. It maintains a 3 inch diameter from the turbo to the tip and is vaguely muffled by a single straight-through muffler (no cat is fitted).

A Nizmo ceramic clutch divided into 8 or 9 separate material sections is used. It offers a compromise between full-face and savage paddle clutches. The friction plate is clamped against a JUN lightened flywheel by a Nizmo high-pressure plate. The gearbox looks like the standard 5-speed manual; it was being rebuilt to replace worn synchros as we were writing this story. The diff is the standard 3.9:1 LSD, but there are plans to fit a 4.1:1 ratio to really get the car off the line.

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An upgraded braking package sees the front of the car decked out with APEXi vented and slotted rotors, Endless pads and Earls braided lines. The rear also gets the APEXi treatment, but with non-slotted discs. During a brief passenger seat ride in the car, it was obvious the brakes were monumentally strong.

The Gazelle (antelope?!) has quite an aggressive stance, sitting on Skyline GT-R rear springs, custom lowered fronts and adjustable KYB dampers. The huge camber angle adopted by the rear wheels quickly shows that this car has the Japanese-spec independent rear suspension! Sixteen inch Enkie rims are fitted with 205/55 Yokohama M5s all 'round and offer good looks, but not so much traction.

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Another impressive item from Japan is the Bride racing seat which keeps Danny literally in the driver's seat at all times. The remainder of the interior is factory, with the exception of an aftermarket wheel, Blitz boost gauge, boost controller and the removal of the rear seat and trim.

If this Gazelle hasn't blasted past you on the blacktop, the spectacular glittering colours are sure to have burnt a big image on the retinas!

Contact: Japanese Motorsport +61 8 8260 6919

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