Converting to Left Hand Drive

by Fuggles
11 years ago
47499 Views

Many people have heard of Left Hand Drive Skylines but very few people know what is required in achieving this feat.  You might feel that the Skyline should have stayed as right hand drive,  however, many people that were interested in left hand drive conversions have been left out in the dark when they wanted to know how was this conversion has been made possible.  Hopefully the following will help point them in the right direction

This article is now made to help answer most of the important questions, along with photos to help you see what people in the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Sweden and elsewhere have made possible.

This article was written by a member of the GTROC based on his own esxperiences

When BBD (pseudonym) first purchased his Nissan Skyline R34 GTR V-spec from one of the dealers in town, he kept his car in a right had drive position for 2 months, to see how it drove before embarking on the conversion.  Having gathered up all the information needed to make the best conversion possible and asking other people who have personally worked on converting Skylines, and the problems they have faced; work could begin

Once BBD became keen on the idea the car was put into his workshop and the long and tedious operation began.  It can take months for custom parts to be built and for parts to arrive.  If, like BBD you’re very specific about what you want, don’t be surprised if you have to wait four months, or even longer.  Now the conversion has been completed successfully, the drivability is the same as when it was in right hand drive and the time, effort and money to make it a success has certainly paid dividends.

The Interior

The first converted Skylines (R32s and R33s) used a Nissan Bluebird dashboard, modified and cut with fiberglass – the R34 cannot be converted in this way due to the MFD and the dashboard size.  When Nissan brought out their new model Maxima it looked identical to the R34s dashboard, except it had a storage box instead of the MFD.  The size also had to be cut to make it shorter and modified with fiberglass.  The MFD Screen needed a new plastic shell.  To do this, make a mould and then a new plastic shell that faces the middle instead of to the right. This method is much better than using the original cut up dashboard for the R34.

Another way to sort out the Skyline dashboard – for R32s and R33s only – is to use the original dashboard, slice it up in the middle and switch the sides.  Using fiberglass again and leather to cover up the dashboard you will need to make good any joins and rough edges.

The Nissan Bluebird Dash option for R32s, and R33s suffered from really poor quality in the first converted Skylines. They rattled like hell in the interior and, as they needed to match up the dashboard to the color of the car, they were painted very poorly.

So, if you have an R32 or R33, use a Nissan Bluebird dash repaired with fiberglass and leather and repainted to match the car.  Or, if you have an R34, start with the Nissan Maxima dash and make a modified MFD housing for the centre

The Moving parts

This is where everything gets really tricky.

Quality is important, note you can convert these cars from US$5,000 to US$10,000, depending on how you want it, cheap welding here and there, or a real conversion.  The choice is yours but remember, it’s better to get it right first time than to go back and try again later,

Remove the steering shaft from right hand drive, closing up the hole for the Brake Booster, relocate the Brake Master Cylinder, relocate ABS unit and lines and relocate the power steering line.  For the brake booster you have two options, the Nissan Sunny – small and unreliable – or modify the existing one.  Whatever you do the brake lines will need to be custom-made.

The steering shaft has to be switched.  Here is the biggest difference between a good or a bad conversion, some people just cut the original and weld it to make it fit at the proper angel.  If you get the length you need any metal engineering workshop can make one for you that is properly aligned, as did BBD.  Manual on the other hand opted for a Nissan 300ZX column and rack, which had to be modified to fit, but worked very well all the same.

The A/C compressor hosing will need to be rerouted or changed.  Opinions are open as to which is easiest.  You may opt to leave the original unit and reroute it or change it for a Nissan Maxima one.  The AC actuators, however, will need to be custom-made.

Windscreen wipers can be left as they were original or could be changed with the donor parts coming from a Nissan Pathfinder (switches) and Nissan Maxima (arms).  Again, this is more a matter of taste/opinion rather than absolute need.  Single wiper conversions are an option but there are very few companies doing these right now so finding a supplier may be difficult.

Not many people tend to retain the original Skyline Brake booster.   To fit a modified original the firewall behind the engine has to be pushed back to make a little more space for the bigger Skyline booster Master cylinder, and an easier angel for the steering shaft.  For this reason, some people opt for the simpler Nissan Sunny one.  You also have to make sure there isn’t any air coming in from the engine to the cockpit; put some heat insulator to prevent any heat coming to your feet.

Electrics

You first need to rewire or extend your indicators, high beams (up and down movement on R34), brake lights, windshield wipers, ignition, hazard lights, and to make them all go through the original fuse box.  We would recommend getting someone who knows how to do this, the cleaner the job the easier you life becomes later on with electric problems or a blown fuse

For R32s there are no problems with airbags.  For later R33s and R34s don’t worry about the passenger side.  In the UAE there are no converted Skyline with a working passenger airbag.  The Air bag unit is in the steering wheel so converting the steering across automatically covers this.  If you are in doubt you could always leave it out anyway and replace the wheel with an aftermarket one.

If you’re worried about how to open the windows, either the new unit from a Nissan 350Z (LHD) can be used or an aftermarket installation will suffice.

You now have all the interior, mechanical parts and electrics covered lets start the engine.

R32s and R33s will start and drive easily. The R34 However WILL NOT due to the imobllizer. The engine just wont crank up and it will not start, don’t blame your average electrician for it though.

You have to modify the wiring harness for the ECU, cut out the imobllizer wires and have extend he original wiring harness and leave out the imobllizer and most importantly USE A STOCK R33 ECU. The reason, R34 ECU has an Imobllizer built in, the R33 does not.  Any modifications you want to do on ECUs can be through of as a later project.

To get the R34 running well requires some more work.  BBD spent hours tuning his R34 GTR to perfect stock running condition (before making any modifications to the engine) as he wanted a solid base stock tuned R34.  To get the R34 working properly you need to start from zero and build up.  BBD went out and bought an Apexi 34 PFC and an Apexi 33 PFC.  As mentioned above, the Apexi PFC 34 did not start the R34, but had all the proper running data needed.  The Apexi GTR33 PFC started the car but didn’t give any proper performance.  Copy and Paste all the data from the R34 PFC into the R33 PFC, now you have a “stock ECU” for your 34, from here you can start doing more modifications.

Some people with R34s go for a Motec or Haltech to start their car, not only that this process is more expensive, but it takes a lot longer as well to start the car and you loose AWD and Hicas in the process.  BBD finished up his car ECU in about 6 hours taking my time writing down each digit 20×20 graph on paper then plugging all the graphs back into the 33PFC threw the hand controller. This is a tedious task at times but the results are well worth it.

The Problems of living with a LHD GTR

Here are some of the problems with living with a left hand drive Skyline.

  • You cannot buy a ready exhaust Manifold for a BIG Twin Setup top mount, because the rear turbo is not going to fit with the brake booster.

Most people here have a big single setup but still have a little problem with the down pipe of the turbo. People who have managed to fit a Big Twin set up used the exhaust manifold made by GREDDY, because it’s the only one that sits a little more forward than the other makes. These people have had MAJOR problems with HEAT.  Having the exhaust turbine so close to the master cylinder and vacume booster will make you loose all braking power.  NO brakes = VERY dangerous.

  • People who have decided to go the cheaper way in the conversion eg, welding the steering shaft, are having BIG problems with steering response, free play and unsafe to use.
  • People who have used a Haltech or a Motec ECU on an R33 and an R34, lose AWD permanently.  However, with the help from some people at www.gtr.co.uk I believe we can manage to solve this problem in the near future.

A trouble free conversion down to the last detail where it is safe to drive the car and not feel that the steering is going to come loose, complete with AWD and Hicas.

1 Comment

  • Falah says:

    I have a left hand drive r33. R33 gtst and the s14 silvia have the same steering rack. While the A31 cefiro or altima have the same to the r32 gtst. I dont know which one will go in a skyline r34 gtr because i dont have access to nissans part database. I got info from nissan database about the interchangeability of those racks they have the same part numbers. Nissan makes the same parts for many cars in their lines surely some car will have the same rack. Exhause manifold has to be custome made and should fit with the turbos far away from the brake booster. You can use a brake booster relocating kit if you like. After someone has made a perfect manifold for you any good local shop send it to some professional tuning workshop in Japan or somehwere where they make a high flow exhaust manifold that will last longer.

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