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HKS Nissan GTR - Kamikaze-R35

Godzilla rises from the ashes

Text By Tatsu Tsuchida, Photography by Daniel Olivares

I'm stating the obvious, right? I mean about the automotive food chain. In the higher echelon are those who drive Ferraris, Maseratis, and Lamborghinis. On the opposite side of the food chain is us, the not so elite; we drive Toyotas, Nissans, Hondas, Chevys, and Volkswagens. Yeah, that last one translated from German literally means plain folks car. Somewhere in the middle though is that pseudo luxury/sports car genre, which includes the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and more sporty names like Porsche or Lotus. But somewhere along the lines more common folk carmakers started having, let's say, bigger aspirations—think Corvette, Viper, Supra, 3000GT, and NSX. They're all made by badges that are thought to be more humble. But Nissan had to do the ultimate and build us common folk the ultimate sports car, dubbed Godzilla, the GTR.

The cars speak for themselves. Each does an x amount at a certain track, runs the slalom at x amount of miles, and pulls an x amount of g's on the skidpad. But the numbers don't speak about the types of people who drive them. A wide range of people drive GTR models. Some are snobs thinking that they've arrived at somewhere of affluence, while others have "compensation issues" and will try to beat every sports car more expensive than theirs. Then, there's a whole different set of Nissan GTR drivers who are supercool and humble, and while they realize that their car is something special, they don't have overly hyped notions of what their car isn't.

Such is the case of Susumu Aoki, owner of this track-driven Nssan GTR. At first, this car started out as his weekend warrior car, but soon he was spending so much time with the guys at HKS Technical Factory that HKS TF decided to make Susumu's R35 into their ultimate Fuji Speedway demo ride. I mean, who does that? Regardless of how esteemed HKS staffers are, I'd still have reservations about handing the keys of my beloved ride over. As far as I'm concerned Susumu is a saint amongst car collectors, a super laid-back cat.

But now that his R35 has set the Street Radial lap time record of 1:44.051 at Fuji Speedway, I'm sure Susumu laid down any reservations and started clanking cow bells and jumping up and down, or whatever happy people do to celebrate. In fact, it's been about a month since the event at Fuji, I'm pretty sure Susumu is on a rooftop above his Fukuoka home yelling in elation.

On a more serious note you might notice I said Fukuoka. Yeah, that Fukuoka. Much of Susumu's village, 200km away from HKS Technical Factory in Saitama, was wiped out in the March 2011 earthquake and ensuing tidal wave. HKS President Kikuchi, already impressed by Susumu's frequent patronage (from such a far distance), reached out several times to try to find him. When the two finally reconnected it was summer of 2011, but the interaction and frequent voice messages solidified the friendship. So this R35 is not only a triumph in it of itself, but in a way symbolizes a rebirth of Fukuoka, not to mention Kikuchi and Susumu's friendship.

The Nissan GTR is cool for one reason: They're not expensive. Now to you and I that might not be true, but consider that the price, being relative, is not so offensively expensive to the point where people are scared to tinker with them. Think about the idiots who tinker with a Ferrari and how uncool that turns out. Now compare that with a tricked-out GTR and see how much cooler that is.

This R35 was built for one sole reason: to showcase HKS Technical Factory's prolific arsenal of parts for the Nissan GTR and campaign at this year's HKS Premium Day. If showcasing parts were the only objective, then Tokyo Auto Salon would have sufficed. The banners at the event, the ticketing, the promotional literature, the T-shirts, they all say HKS. It would be a shame if the HKS home base Technical Factory would not outright win the event. At the very least they need to place well. To that end extensive use of the HKS Factory catalog was utilized.

We can put aesthetics last, because for all I care it can look like a toaster oven. As long as it goes fast, it'll make me happy. So what makes this GT-R class in the 1,000-plus horsepower category is obviously its engine, but you'd be surprised that internally it's near stock. The block itself wasn't much modified except for a minor hone, which didn't include block reinforcement. However, it was fitted by Nagoya Precision (Naprec), with a HKS 4.1L stroker kit. The VR motor then received a 0.8mm HKS head gasket, was head massaged by lead tech Shigeo Ogawa, and fitted with HKS cams and valvesprings. Next to be mounted was the HKS high flow intake manifold and the OE Nissan throttle body bored out by HKS. On the plenum are thirsty 575cc injectors, backed up by three HKS high-flow fuel pumps and surge tanks upstream.

On the exhaust side of things, an HKS 52mm turbo manifold feeds into GTII 7867, then spits fury into a 75mm turbo elbow, then onto a custom 100mm exhaust. The (you guessed it) HKS GTII 50mm wastegate is of a divorced variety, but spits into the aforementioned Y-pipe 75mm turbo elbow. Full polished aluminum piping, SQV blow-off valve, and GT1000-spec intercooler all force feed the engine necessary air to make 870 lb-ft of torque.

Engine management is a re-flash, with an F-Con iS for further on-the-fly fine-tuning. While HKS staff mechanic Ogawa installed from the flywheel back, an HKS clutch pack, gear kit, and Nismo LSD.

Often on a Nissan GTR, handling issues are easily introduced when upgrading. Meaning the AWD Attesa system will generally make you a better driver. One must be careful not to tinker with it and make it worse. But HKS mettle is shown via a Max 4 GT Sports Coilover kit with 18kg springs fore and 16kg aft. The front sway bar is by their sister shop in Western Japan, Kansai Service, while the rear sway bar is by Mines. Top Secret provided the front and camber arms. While not entirely for safety, the chassis is stiffened up by custom cage shop Saito.

Suspension doesn't matter if the wheels and tires don't match. Expect no less from HKS. A set of 20x11J Hyper Black Advan Racing GT and 285/35-20 Dunlop Sports Max GT600 reside on all four corners. Suspension also doesn't matter if you can't stop. Endless mono-block six-pot calipers and rotors the size of Honda Fit tires clamps down on a set of PFC racing pads.

Now this "toaster oven" looks the part too. Varis smoothed out the lines and enhanced the flow of air via their body kit. Varis bumpers, side skirts, front lip, fenders, hood, and diffuser were matched with a carbon HKS GT wing and Sunline carbon roof.

To finish off things, I guess I shouldn't be surprised Nobuteru Taniguchi-senshu seated in the R35 to its FSW street radial record time. A star driver that famous will take the attention away from the Recaro seats, but they have no problem shining on their own. A Willans harness keeps Taniguchi from making contact on the Nardi steering wheel with MCR paddle shifters. RSW gauges keep Taniguchi (and Susumu) aware of the engine vitals.

Ultimately, a Street Radial Fuji Speedway run of 1:44.051 was completed. It's a triumph of technology, a triumph of the human will, and, in a small way, a triumph for the Fukuoka earthquake victims. We won't soon forget this Nissan GTR.

By Tatsu Tsuchida
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