Summary of this week’s magazine contents:
1) GT-R Story
The GT-R Concept show car, displayed at the 35th Tokyo Motor Show, was an indication that development and sale in the near future of the next GT-R, as Carlos Ghosn had proclaimed. And yet, little was known of the hardware underneath.
Even so, there were hints from bulging hood design and wide radiator grill that it would have a large turbo or V8 engine and 4WD. And actually, the silhouette of the show car is closer to the R35 than one would expect, and suggests that the development of the car was much further along than might have been expected. For example, the wide body and narrow cabin; the aggressive front fenders; the slim but long headlights; 6 pot front and 4 pot rear brakes; and the 20 inch tires (although the show car carried 275/35ZR20s front and 315/30ZR20s rear, vs the 255/40ZRF20 and 285/35ZRF20 on the production car).
On the other hand, the interior was not visible on the show car at the Tokyo Motor Show, so what we know of the interior comes from these publicity shots released by Nissan. The interior here is much more futuristic than the production R35, and a completely different design. The center console with the free space below it; the stacked digital instrumentation; bucket seats with thin fabric and 4 point seat belts; and of course the frame that connects the rear seats to the roof – which it may be supposed was to provide even greater structural integrity but also to act as a roll bar in case of a mishap. However, similar to the R35 is the bulge between the rear seats, needed to house the transaxle type transmission; was that being considered at the concept car stage?
The steering wheel on the concept is more similar to the Z33 that was on sale at the time. Amazingly, for some reason the designers were already suggesting paddle shifters, as indicated by the right (+) and left (-) [same as the R35] black paddles mounted behind the wheel, the lack of a shift lever, and the two pedals on the show car. Best guess at the time was the use of Nissan’s newest transmission, the “toroidal” CVT that was used then in the Y34 Cedric/Gloria and Skyline 350GT-8. That guess was wrong, but nevertheless it is interesting how so many of the concepts in the show car thus, in some form, made it into the R35 GT-R.
2) Mechanism and Factory
Ideal Weight Distribution on 4 wheels due to the Symmetrical Layout.
Until now, the GT-Rs had always sought to provide the best performance possible, on pre-existing platforms. But meeting such goals with various compromises proved always to be difficult. However the R35 GT-R was released from such limitations, and developed on the new-from-the-ground-up “Premium Midship Package.”
As mentioned last week, this Package allowed for the car to have the best grip possible by providing for the optimal weight distribution on the drivetrain and the 4 wheels. When the chassis layout is viewed from above, one can see how it is symmetrical. And further, that the weight is centered between the left and right driveshafts, both front and rear.
On the other hand, viewing the car from the side, one can see Mizuno-san’s obsession with keeping the center of gravity low. In particular the center line of the rear mounted transmission is actually below the driveshafts and the center of the wheels. By doing so, weight transfer due to inertia during cornering is minimized. Mizuno states “if the rear tires lock upon braking, or the tails slides during cornering – that would be because the weight on the 4 wheels is not stable.” Hence the Premium Midship Package is what Mizuno came up with – by controlling weight transfer during movement and thus causing the 4 wheels to continue to grip and giving the GT-R stability during high speed braking and cornering.
This demonstrates also that the 20 inch wheels on the GT-R are not to simply provide for large brakes. Large radius, wide tires, guarantee solid contact with the ground both sideways and laterally – which of course provides grip for acceleration and deceleration, but also are needed to keep the weight center of the transmission below the center of the wheels. Finally, the dimensions of the car – 1590mm front track, 1600mm rear track, and a 2780 mm wheel base – were all designed to ensure that large shifts in weight to the 4 wheels were kept to a minimum.
3) Racing Legend
Finally Unveiled, the GT500 Spec R35 GT-R.
The 2008 Super GT (GT500 class) R35 GT-R was unveiled to the public at the 2008 Tokyo Auto Salon in January. It actually is a Nissan “tradition” to introduce GT-R race cars at TAS. While some GT-Rs, like the R33, were able to shine as the “champion machine” in its debut year (becoming the established “top machine” by mid season), there were cases where other GT-Rs struggled to win their debut races. Of course it did not need to be said that the R35 was expected to win its debut race, and become the season champion in its debut year.
The car’s coloring was the “Brushstroke” theme that had been used since 2003, easily recognizable as the Nismo theme. Looking more closely, the base colors of red and silver had now changed to red (Nissan’s “image color”) and black (signifying the high performance the GT-R had) – because, as Nissan Associate Chief Designer Matsuo explained, “viewed from the front, the red makes an impression, and the black is what our rivals see when they get passed.”
Drivers selected for the Number 23 (“ni-san”) car were Satoshi Motoyama (a Nismo “works” driver since the early 2000s) and surprise, French driver Benoit Treluyer, who had been making his mark in Super GT (with Team Impul), Formula Nippon (2006 series champion, 2007 second place). The other Nismo car was driven by Michael Krumm and young Masataka Yanagida. The lineups for the satellite teams were Ronnie Quintarelli and Naoki Yokomizo (Hasemi); Tsugio Matsuda and Sebastien Philippe (Impul); and João Paulo de Oliveira and Seiji Ara (Kondo).
The most interesting aspect of the car’s specs (as seen in the chart) is perhaps the full separate monocoque body made of carbon fiber. In addition to the front engine, rear transmission and differential layout, the car chassis used inboard type double wishbone suspension type suspension arms that moved the springs/dampers by way of pushrods – the typical Super GT package.
4) How to Build
This week: The Right Rear Wheel and Tire.
This week is easy – just the right rear run flat Dunlop, and the forged lightweight 10 spoke Rays built wheel.
Mizuno-san is pictured saying, “At Nurburgring each wheel received up to 5 tons of force, necessitating the use of run flat tires and high strength wheels. For 2011, the wheel was redesigned and made even lighter, allowing the suspension response to improve.”
In this week’s How to Build, there is a one page addition (see below) describing how the standard tire (Dunlops standard on the 2011 – and capable of speeds over 300km) lies between a racing tire and a high performance street tire. Also the use of nitrogen gas instead of air. As for the Rays built wheel, it is painted in a 5 coat process, with “Hyper Blue Black Chrome Coat” being the standard color.
5) History of Nissan
This week: The Datsun Type 14 Roadster (1935)
The 1934 Type 14 came with a 750cc engine (reduced to 722cc for 1935), and was the first car mass produced on the assembly line at Nissan’s Yokohama factory. The heart shaped grill of the car was Ford-inspired, and a rabbit was used as the hood ornament. It cost 1750 yen (at the time) and was heavily advertised by water color prints in newspapers as well gorgeous catalogs that were sent by Nissan upon the mailing in of a voucher found in women’s magazines. Production was revived after the war by use of a pressed body, and then in 1955 a new Datsun (Type 110) helped the motorization of Japan.
Next Week: More R35 GT-R Story, and we assemble the right rear brake system. To be realistic, the Brembo calipers are die cast, with brake hose attached. Surface of the brake rotor is etched metal, with the base ABS plastic.