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Mine's Motor Sports Creator

Up Close With Japan's Elite Skyline GT-R Tuner

Text By , Photography by Henry Z. Dekuyper

Nestled within the city of Yokosuka, Japan, lies the most strategically important U.S. Naval installation in the western Pacific. Made up of the largest fleet the Navy has to offer, the limitless number of military personnel create power in numbers. But just 15 minutes from base camp resides the true powerhouses of the Yokosuka district and goes by the name of MINE'S, one of Japans most recognizable and respected automotive tuner shops since the mid '80s. Founded in 1985 by CEO and chief engineer Michizo Niikura, MINE'S gained notoriety in 1988 by being the first aftermarket tuner to sell and reprogram a factory ECU with successful results. The company name MINE'S was interestingly enough named after a word that doesn't exist in the dictionary. Mine with the letter "S" was envisioned by owner Niikura-san as a rather unique term that's hardly ever used. "I wanted to implement the word and its uniqueness to what we personify within our company. A unique, or otherwise rare tuning shop that stands out from our competitors."

While MINE'S has elevated its presence in the performance world by modifying and perfecting the art of ROM tuning, its first endeavors began by dabbling in the market of selling mufflers and suspension components. As time progressed MINE'S was recognized as the true pioneers attempting to crack the codes of factory ECUs to reprogram its mapping system-a feat that was unheard of at the time. Regarded as the "black box" in Japan, the factory ECU was mystifying to aftermarket tuners as many stuck with the hands-off approach and refused to tamper with its internals. Niikura-san was warned by friends and colleagues not to mess with the engines main computer or face the repercussions. Niikura-san, not the type of man who listened to reason, was determined to prove skeptics wrong as he worked his way into the unknown world of ECU tuning and developed a VX-ROM (CP Tuned) for the Skyline R31 in the summer of 1988. Equipped with the newly introduced VX-ROM, the MINE'S R31 demo car was put to the test as it blasted the Yatabe High Speed Circuit at a spellbinding speed of 244.9 km/h thus proving the validity of the MINE'S ROM tune. Two years later, MINE'S once again disproved many of the same skeptics who said a ROM tune couldn't be done by dishing out a top speed of 294.66 km/h in a lightly tuned BNR32 Skyline GT-R while recording an impressive 0-400m (quarter-mile) of 11.64 seconds.

It's been 20 years since Niikura-san took his first steps on modifying the factory ECU, and today, MINE'S has software upgrades for nearly hundreds of sports cars. "With technology evolving at a growing pace and automobiles using more complex computer systems than ever before, we at MINE'S are determined to continue our research and product development well into the future as the debut of the new Z and GT-R are just over the horizon. I truly believe that a good computer specialist has the ability to expand their tuning abilities not only with one specific platform like the Skyline GT-R but with all types of vehicles."

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