Summary of this week’s magazine contents:
1) R35 GT-R Story
In Pursuit of GT-R-ness!
[Editorial note: because I found this article so interesting, I have gone ahead and translated – not summarized – most of it, hence the length.]
The GT-R Concept, shown at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, was developed under Product Chief Designer Hiroshi Hasegawa, responsible for Skylines such as the R34 and V36. He recalls that “then, we still did not know which platform would be used” and that “how the Skyline would be separately made” was still not decided. So the GT-R Concept was really only an advanced design study.
Things got serious in Autumn 2003. When Mizuno became responsible for the project, he expressed his concept and goals to Hasegawa and his designers. The goals including the target lap time at Nur as well as surpassing any Skyline GT-R up until now. “It should not simply be a fast, spartan sports car, it needs to be a car which looks good even if a woman is driving, and further needs to have a presence on par with the world’s supercars.”
Historically, GT-Rs were “evolution” models of the Skyline, with over fenders and blister fenders, and large spoilers to get the “GT-R-ness.” But with the new GT-R being a completely independent platform, such methods could not be used. So Hasegawa, in order to find a design for the new GT-R that would not be connected to the Skyline and would be sold worldwide, held an open to all Nissan-wide Global Design Contest.
[Caption below photo on left: The 80 design sketches in the studio. As there was not enough time during the weekdays, the examination meetings were held from Saturday mornings. Hasegawa is shown explaining in the photo]
[Captions for the design proposals, this page from top: Carlos Ghosn also checks out the designs: The 6 designs that were narrowed down from the 12 1/4 scale semi-final design proposals.
From left to right, top:
“M” proposal – the headlight shapes, and large folds in the doors express power. The placement of the taillamps is unique.
“D” proposal -from the Nissan Design Americas studio in San Diego. Has a “Muscle Car” image that Americans love.
“K” proposal – a proposal for an “elegant” GT-R. The front mask is similar to the V36 Skyline.
From left to right, bottom:
“U” proposal- from the London studio of Nissan Design Europe. The front and rear fenders are distinctive, and the cabin shape is unique.
“Y” proposal- the most aggressive design out of Nissan to date, yet amongst these 6, the most mellow.
“O” proposal – from Designer Ono. The front fenders and the vertical headlights were kept for the production car.
The 3 finalists were made into 1/1 scale models. (side picture, Carlos Ghosn checking each of these proposals himself)
From left to right:
“K” proposal – emphasizing elegance. The design for the front mask was incorporated into the final design.
“O” proposal – the design that became the base of the final design. The 2005 GT-R Proto was essentially this design.
“U” proposal – from NDE. The crease in the C pillar was used in the final design.]
80 proposals were submitted from the Nissan Design Center at HQ, Nissan Design America, London’s Nissan Design Europe, and from “Creative Box” in Harajuku, Tokyo. This was the first time such a collection of design proposals was attempted at Nissan. These 80 proposals were delivered to the large studio where clay models are usually made. Shiro Nakamura, Chief Designer and the design teams, after examination, first narrowed down the candidates to 40 designs.
After this, after further narrowing down to 12 designs, 1/4 scale clay models were then made. With most vehicles there are fewer designs that are made into 1/4 scale models, but with the GT-R lots of development time for aerodynamics would be needed, hence these 1/4 models were made at a very early stage. Further, the importance of the GT-R to Nissan can be understood when Carlos Ghosn was reviewing the 1/4 scale designs at this stage.
The 12 designs then became 6. Here these models were first placed into a wind tunnel, but it turned out each design already surpassed the established goals. Alongside the American muscle car inspired NDA design, and the NDE design with its unique cabin shape, the “O” proposal from Hironaka Ono remained in the running, despite Ono having contributed while continuing to perform his other duties. Ono’s design had the distinctive large front fenders. “I wanted to have to have a design found nowhere else, very Japanese, the image were lines that give a feeling of excitement like a Japanese samurai sword.” And this became the unique front fenders of the R35 GT-R.
The 6 designs became 3, including Ono’s, and 1/1 scale models were made. At the review meeting held outside in the sun, with Ghosn participating as a matter of course, Ono’s “O” proposal became the base upon which the better bits of the other 2 designs were incorporated. The design staff kept in mind, “From afar one can see that it’s a GT-R. However, it looks like nothing else in the world.”
When Carlos Ghosn looked at the 1/1 scale model of the final design, and saw how the tail end looked, he simply said, “I love it!”
Captions and text for the interior proposals, in white boxes at bottom:
Text: While the exterior is aggressive, the interior of the R35 is said to be somewhat orthodox. While various designs were submitted, the selected design was one that supported the high abilities of a supercar. Of these 5 designs, only the “S” and “I” proposals made it to the 1/1 scale mock up stage, with the “S” design being the one chosen in the end.
From left to right:
“S” proposal – distinctive is the driver’s seat, with driver enveloping cocoon-like functionality.
“I” proposal – the meter panel, with horizontal keynotes in the instrument display, were kept.
A design that did not make it. Notable is the vertical navigation screen.
Gently sloping vertical center console design. Appropriately merging with the passenger seat.
The eye is drawn to the bent center console. Proposal that emphasized operability.
2) Mechanism and Factory
Use of plasma coating, liner less cylinders
The 2011 model’s VR38DETT engine has finally exceeded 500ps, and has a torque rating of 62.5kgf-m. To obtain these numbers, the engin itself, including the cylinder block, had to have the proper strength. The fact that VR38DETT which debuted in 2007 with 480ps, and maximum torque of 60.0kgf-m, with only minor changes, is able to handle the increase in power, is testament to the sufficient strength of the engine design.
Bore and stroke are 95.5mmx88.4mm, for volume of 3799cc.
Actually, Nissan in the past HAS produced an engine with similar specs – the Z33 (Z car) special limited edition NISMO Type380RS carried a naturally aspirated VQ35HR overbored to 3.8liters, producing 350ps – this engine also served as the basis for the Super Taikyu race cars. So when the GT-R was introduced, there were rumors that the VR38DETT was based on the 380RS’s engine.
But the VR38DETT is a completely different engine. Most importantly, it is the first engine in Japan that has liner-less cylinders. Normally aluminum engines have cast iron liners, but the GT-R uses a 0.2mm plasma coating instead, the benefits being a weight savings of 3kg for the 6 cylinders, and more importantly, better engine cooling capacity. Without the need for cast iron liners, the water cooling channels can be placed closer to the cylinder bores and additionally, the lack of the liners allows for better heat distribution. This means the engine can run hotter, closer to the ideal air fuel ratio – which in turn means higher performance as well as environmental efficiencies.
On the other hand, the block needs to be strengthened for maximum power and torque. The VR38DETT uses a closed deck construction on the head side of the cylinder block, and on the lower side of the block, a ladder frame construction. Increasing the support rigidity of the crankshaft, and at the same time improving the rigidity of the cylinder block itself. With a construction that gives high rigidity, the engine shows not just high performance, but also smoothness and quietness. This is all part of Mizuno-san’s “Pursuit of Efficiencies” – eliminating what is not needed, and pursing to eliminate to the extreme what is normally present.
3) Racing Legend
Debut Year Champions!- The GTR, on the road to obtaining the Series Title
The chart on the right side of the page 11 shows the results for the season. A 1-2 finish both at the first race (Suzuka) and second (Okayama), with both first places going to the number 23 XANAVI Nismo car. The GTRs lost out to the SC430 at Fuji, and to the NSX at Sugo, but managed a 1-2 at Sepang (Kondo racing #24 car).
However, from the 6th to the 9th race, despite the weight handicap the GT-Rs returned to form, with the #23 car, with 3 wins, being crowned the 2008 series champion.
4) How to Build
This week: Beginning to build the engine
Quote from Mizuno-san: “At debut, the GT-R had 480ps, for 2009 285 ps, and now for 2011, 530ps. This engine produces more power than any other mass produced engine Nissan has made.”
There are 4 pieces comprising the engine block, and then an “engine room bay” which will serve as the base for the engine and related parts assembly. Additional parts will be added in Volume (week) 9.
5) History of Nissan
This week: Datsun Type 16 Sedan
In the 5 years following the introduction of the Datsun, with production, sales, and afterservice, the Datsun became the ubiquitous small car. The headline for the Type 16’s catalog boasted, “We Nissan Motor Corporation with confidence introduce the new Datsun as the ideal car you can take anywhere in the world without apology.”
And that was not surprising, given how the Type 16 had improved parts throughout. Better engine, interior fixings, even the hood mascot and emblem – each car came with a 6 month or 8000 km warranty. Pre-war, Datsun produced the most cars in 1937, with 8353, of which most were Type 16s. Of which, 4775 were trucks, and 2621 sedans.