Home Japanese values The smart way to build an R34 GT-R

The smart way to build an R34 GT-R

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Imagine, it’s 2005 and the factory warranty for your BNR34 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-spec II Nür has just run out. What are you doing?

I dare say that V-spec II Nür owners right now would be split in two. Those who would feel liberated at the loss of the warranty and start modifying as they pleased, and those who would either have a little more restraint or a crystal ball to see into the future.

The latter would have, foreseeing the future value of the model, locked up their GT-Rs in a safe deposit box of 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 unlucky enough to not own a Nür – or even a “regular” R34 GT-R – you better get yourself a paper bag or bucket now.

Back in 1999, you could buy a new V-spec GT-R 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 offered at 102,000 USD.

It gets a little more nauseating when you look at 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 cost well over US$400,000.

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Now that I have indeed filled my paper bag, a cup of tea, a Digestive Biscuit and a little hindsight are in order.

These cars were, and still are in some ways, Mr. Emperor Penguin. They deserve to be up there with Ferraris and Porsches, although the most expensive Porsche of the same vintage that I could find on Goo Net (a Freisinger 993 GT2) was just over US$300,000. It’s apples and oranges, but a sobering perspective nonetheless.

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When the R34 GT-R was new, it was considered a complex, technologically advanced machine straight out of the minds of crazed Japanese boffins. But today, despite its all-wheel-drive system, all-wheel steering and twin-turbo setup, it feels much simpler and analog. It looks more like it’s just a car. It is no longer considered an advanced extraterrestrial life form from the planet of the rising sun.

Still, the model commands some of the highest used car prices on the planet. That’s why most sane people don’t really modify R34 GT-Rs anymore. And that brings us to the point of this story.

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If you want to build the ultimate custom R34 GT-R like Koichiro Yamashita’s, you have to start with an ER34 Skyline 25GT Turbo Coupe. Even better if you can already find one at Bayside Blue.

Koichiro-san completely redesigned the grandfather 25GT Turbo using the stock GT-R front and rear bumpers, front and rear fenders (the latter being OEM panels welded onto the stock body) as well as all other GT-R-spec trim.

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If someone did all the great things Koichiro-san did here for a real GT-R, they could probably say goodbye to this vacation home.

If you ask me, this is the best option.

I don’t think the GT-R was ever meant to be a collector’s car. It was never meant to sit in a porch, or even worse, 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 by Nissan executives.

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Not only was the R34 GT-R meant to be driven, it was meant to be driven hard. The transmission in stock form was designed to withstand well over double what the stock engine could muster, meaning it was always designed to be tuned up to 11.

Koichiro-san’s 25GT has grown to 11, and more. Pushing over 700PS to the wheels of a fully built RB26 with a single turbo slung over the side, this car can be driven like the GT-R was meant to be, not pampered and protected like an endangered animal at the edge of extinction.

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The freedom to modify as he pleases also allowed Koichiro-san to choose a setup that perfectly suited his riding style.

He believes FR (front engine, rear wheel drive) is the purest form of motoring, especially on the racetrack. While the GT-R can deliver monster grip in all weather conditions thanks to its all-wheel drive, the 25GT Turbo’s FR setup requires a little more engagement to keep things under control. Koichiro-san has swapped almost everything else out of a GT-R, but sticking with rear-wheel drive makes it a bit happier and less heavy.

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The fully custom suede interior is another modification that today’s GT-R owners might think twice before running their garage investment. That’s a bit of a shame, because, let’s face it, PC gaming multifunction display aside, the interior of a stock GT-R is pretty drab. Like most similar Japanese cars from this period, you’re paying for performance, not luxury finishes.

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Speaking of performance, this is one area where Koichiro has elevated the humble 25GT Turbo to god-level standards of a tuned GT-R. While it can’t run the N1 block used in the Nür this car is badged with (Koichiro-san admits without remorse as it’s purely a fashion accessory), it is an all-powerful bored RB26 to 2.7L and built from the ground up.

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I’ll drop the full spec list at the bottom of the page, but some of the cool features include the OEM GT-R35 fender ducts grafted just behind the front wheel arches. There are also the massive Brembo brakes from a late-model R35 GT-R, which sit behind custom-painted 19-inch Nismo LMGT4 wheels.

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Sitting at 7-Eleven, the car idled like a raving elephant thanks to the 272-degree HKS cams. I think this Skyline would rather be on the race track than posing for pictures around town.

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The price of Koichiro-san’s 25GT Turbo might not be as obscene as a true GT-R V-spec II Nür, but I say it has as much, if not more, of the same spirit.

It drives regularly on the track (where the GT-R broke records at the Nürburgring). That’s ridiculous amounts of horsepower for a streetcar. Above all, it fulfills its destiny as a driver’s car, customized for its intended use and well used.

It also gave Koichiro-san the experience of building his ultimate GT-R, and that’s priceless.

Toby Thyer
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GT-R related stories on Speedhunters

Nissan Skyline 25GT Turbo (ER34) by Koichiro Yamashita

Engine: Nissan ‘RB27DET’, Tomei oversized forged pistons, JUN I-beam connecting rods, stock RB26 crankshaft, TR cylinder head treatment, HKS 272 degree camshafts, GCG-Garrett GTX3582R GenII single turbocharger, A’PEXi exhaust manifold, Walbro 525lp/h fuel pump, Trust GREX oil cooler, SARD BCNR33 aluminum radiator, Nismo engine mounts

Suspensions & Brakes: Blitz Damper ZZ-R coilovers, Ikeya Formula front upper arms, Ikeya Formula rear upper arms, aftermarket heavy duty tie rods, aftermarket tension rod, Brembo R35 GT-R (late) brakes front and rear

Wheels & Tires: Custom painted 19-inch Nismo LMGT4 rims, 275/30R19 tires, Nismo long nipples

Outside: Nismo Z-tune front bumper, Nismo Z-tune front fenders with custom added R35 ducts, Nismo R-tune hood, Nismo dry carbon fender flap, Nismo rear fender arches, Nismo rear spoiler under spoiler , Ganador blue wet carbon mirrors, Duratec carbon fender shrouds, unique carbon flap cover, Nissan BNR34 OEM rear bumper, Nissan BNR34 OEM rear fender, Nissan BNR34 OEM new rear fenders, running boards original Nissan side panels, Nissan R35 GT-R emblems, Nismo front emblem