Build Your Own R35 GTR, Week 3

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DIY GTR Build, Vol 3.

Summary of this week’s magazine contents:

1) R35 GT-R Story

October 23, 2003. At the 37th Tokyo Motor Show, Carlos Ghosn declares that “the new GT-R will be revealed on this stage in 2007.” This week, this section explains how Mr. Ghosn was able to make that statement.

While it’s true that at the 2001 Show, the GT-R Concept was revealed, this was simply an “advanced design protoype,” and nothing had been developed mechanically. The reason why the car was shown then was to demonstrate the “Rebirth of the Nissan Brand” with the GT-R to be the flagship model that would showcase the technology of the new Nissan.

When Mr. Ghosn made his statement at the 2003 Show, Mizuno-san had yet to be involved in the development of the new GT-R. Mizuno-san tells the story:

“In the summer of 2002, I was approached to develop the new GT-R. But I refused because Nissan wanted to, as in the past, develop a supercar based on a tuned sedan. However, in November 2003, while visiting the Nurburgring to test European cars that would serve as competition, the relevant company director called me and told me, ‘You’re in charge of the GT-R.” I was upset and when I returned to Japan on December 16, went straight to Nissan HQ, and while I was explaining why the GT-R could not be developed as it had been before in the past, Mr. Ghosn walked into the room, shook my hands, and said – ‘You are completely in charge of the GT-R. Do what you want. From today you are Mr. GT-R.’ Because Mr. Ghosn understood the GT-R could not be based on a sedan, and what it would taket to make a global flagship car, I accepted.”

So when Mr. Ghosn gave the 4 year deadline, Mizuno-san was faced with a difficult task. “There was no one at Nissan then who could build a 300km/h super car. To have them suddenly taken on Porsche and Ferrari was impossible.” So developing the GT-R first began by developing the people, this took 18 months while actually developing the car took 2 and a half years. For example there was no test driver then who could drive Nurburgring in 7 minutes 40 or 50 seconds. No one who could test reliability and endurance. So everyone had to be retrained from zero, and even the test drivers training had to be redone.”

Mizuno-san continues, “I already knew what the GT-R had to be – all I had to do was output it. Two weeks after I was given the order I had the basic structure, and in mid January 2004, I was able to give the vehicle blueprints and costs to Mr. Ghosn.

So began Mizuno-san’s short but long 4 years.

Note: See the modified G35 Coupe in the center photo on page 6. Caption reads “The first test car, called the SSV400. While developed by the previous Chief Vehicle Engineer, with a 3.6L twin turbo installed, it continued to test until the “unit test car” was ready.

2) Mechanism and Factory

The twin turbo V-6 used in the R35, at first glance looks similar to what was used in the Z or the Skyline, but the VR38DETT is a brand new design just for the GT-R. The reason the V design was used was because it works best for the Premium Midship Package concept – as you know a V6 engine is shorter longitudinally as well as in height, than a straight 6 engine. Hence its use makes it easier to create a car with a “front midship” layout and a lower center of gravity.

Because the GT-R is born to win races, it was clear from the 90s during the R34 GT-Rs that it was difficult to win races with the heavier, longer, and taller straight 6 engines. Mizuno-san himself was involved in Group C racing, and saw what V6 engines could do.

The highlight of the VR38DETT is the wide high torque range between 3200-5200rpm. Stepping on the gas in this wide torque range allows for great acceleration. “On the track it’s not total power but mid range torque and responsiveness that make for the best times” as Mizuno-san states. The VR38DETT gives great performance but also meets U-LEV emissions standards, and gas mileage of 8.2km/l. “Group C cars, during pace car laps, got better gas mileage than most production cars – 1000hp engines at 18km/l. So if a race car can do that, why can’t a production car?”

3) Racing Legend

Testing of the R35 GT-R race car really began at Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit from January 12-18 2008. Toyota was also there testing their Lexus SC, and Honda with their NSX, both 2 machines each. Nissan fielded their number 22 and 23 cars, while Nismo had their one car as well.

All four of the scheduled Nissan drivers were there too, along with some young and up and coming Nissan works drivers.

However, while the GT-R looked good in the corners and the NSX on the straights, the competition were testing in secretive conditions. So whatever performance the cars brought in, were described as “rumors on rumors” – for example “the NSX was slow only because it was carrying extra weight” and “the GT-R is purposely keeping their times slow.” Such is Super GT testing…

4) How to Build

This week: The Right Rear Brake Disk

Quote from Mizuno-san: “The GT-R requires a superb braking system. Although the 2007 model debuted with 380mm rotors front and rear, to improve performance from 2011 these have increased in size to 390mm in the front.”

Building the model part is easy, and the kit this week includes a tool (a 2mm philips screwdriver) to ensure easy assembly.

Technical note about the Nissan GT-R Brake System (page 14)

With the enormous acceleration capacity of the GT-R, a powerful brake system was needed to safely enjoy that incredible performance. The GT-R’s brake system was developed in conjunction with the Italian brake specialty maker BREMBO Spa, who also provide brakes to many F1 teams. These brakes can bring a GT-R from 100 km to zero in less than 30 meters.

5) History of Nissan

This week: The Datsun Type 15 Phaeton

In 1936, there were a total of 6163 Type 15s produced – 2526 passenger and 3601 for freight use. Japan was experiencing economic growth hence the more popular freight models. Compared to the Type 14, the engine was moved 25mm forwards, lower steering shaft and improved driving position. Compression ratio was raised from 5.2 to 5.4, resulting in a 1 horsepower bump to 16hp. Gas mileage was advertised as 18.5km/liter, and the use of friction type shock absorbers resulted in an improved ride.

Prices at the time were 1900 yen for the sedan, 1800 for the phaeton, 1750 for the roadster, and 1900 for the coupe.

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Next Week’s Part – the Right Rear Suspension – with the suspension links, spring, shock absorbers and the stabilizer bar being true to the real thing.

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