Summary of this week’s magazine contents:
1) R35 GT-R Story
September 2006- The Pre-Production Lot Test cars! First sighting of test cars with the R35 GT-R body!
Testing had finally begun to include aerodynamics, now that the GT-R test car bodies were also nearing completion. And making appearances at Nurburgring, the world started to pay attention.
Early 2006 – development of the R35 GT-R had finally entered the final stages – shifting from the “platform lot” test cars using the V35 coupe body, to the “pre-production lot” test cars wearing the R35 GT-R production-type body. In other words, compared to the platform lot which only used the R35 floor and suspension bits, the pre-production lots were essentially R35 GT-R spec cars – however while appearing close to the production car, these were all made by hand in a special factory.
One late change made immediately before these pre-production cars were made was, under the direction of test driver Toshio Suzuki, a revamp of the rear suspension (specifically, revised geometry). The instability that had been seen in the Unit Test cars thus disappeared, resulting in faster lap times. This kind of last minute changes had never been done before prior to the development of the GT-R, and this was a result of having the technicians on the ground used to the constant and daily improvements being made.
The pre-production lot was completed in September. Its first official run was on a rainy day at the Tochigi track, where despite being its first run it ran a slalom at 200km/h. October saw the fourth test session at Nurburgring. For comparison purposes they also brought along the platform lot cars. The result was, during braking tests the pre-production cars were able to break the 7’50sec barrier, seeing times in the 40s. This had not been seen in the platform lots which used the V35 coupe bodies – so it was obvious that the improved body was allowing for more stability – Suzuki commented “it is easier to drive the new body car than the old body at 7’50sec.” Meanwhile other minute changes were being made – the precision of the chassis as well as improvements to the seats, for example.
Carlos Ghosn finally rides the pre-production car at Sendai Hi-Lands in December. He had already ridden in an earlier test car in March, and had given high marks then. When he arrived, Ghosn shook hands will every member of the development team, from the technicians to the mechanics, thanking them for their efforts.
After his run in the car with Toshio Suzuki driving, Ghosn told the assembled team – “You are a fantastic team, accomplishing a mission people thought impossible.” This was almost 2 years to the date he had assigned Mizuno to the job.
2) Mechanism and Factory
A Takumi for Each Engine.
This month describes in detail the assembly of the VR38DETT engine by a Takumi (Master Craftsman) at the Nissan Yokohama Factory. As described in last week’s magazine, the VR38DETT is, excepting the turbos and exhaust manifolds, assembled in a clean room at the Factory which is kept at 23 degrees celsius and 1.2 bar in order to prevent any kind of dust or dirt from contaminating the engine.
Further, everything is recorded by computer – the name of the Takumi who built the engine, the number of the engine, the order in which the bolts were tightened, and the torque at which each bolt was tightened, for example. This is a way for the Takumi to guarantee the engine, and if anything should ever go wrong with an engine, the records will serve to identify the source. However, in the over 1000 days the R35 GT-R has been in production, there has never been an engine problem that has been traced back to a problem with assembly or the factory.
Upper left – the knock sensors are attached. Engine block on the engine stand – at the point the ladder frame is only provisionally attached to the block. Each of the left and right sides gest knock sensors attached. The tool being used is a 3 million yen (each) electric impact wrench.
Upper right photos – left photo – the ladder frame is removed. The blue item is a plastic tray that holds the bolts in place. Right photo – a liquid gasket is being applied to the ladder frame. This is done accurately and precisely by a robot.
Middle two photos – left photo – crankshaft, which had been sitting in a two door airlock reaching 23 degrees celsius, is attached to the engine block. The crankshaft number is recorded by computer. Right photo – heavy weight engine oil is used to lubricate the metal bearings for the crankshaft. Checks are made to verify no dirt or dust becomes present.
Bottom right two photos – left photo – the bolts for the ladder frame are not torqued on, but use a special half automated process that reads the angle of the tightened bolt. The order in which they are done is recorded by computer. Right side – a screen shot showing the order of the bolt tightening. If an error in the order of tightening is made, the machine will automatically refuse to tighten. Of course the construction history is automatically recorded by computer.
Bottom left single photo – discovering problems by touch! The assembled crankshaft is then turned by hand, to check on its friction. If the Takumi feels anything is out of place, then engine is torn apart and reassembled.
3) Racing Legend
Second race at Stadt Oschersleben
Despite Bad Weather – Meeting the Goal of Finishing the Race!
At the 2009 FIA GT opening race held at Silverstone, the GTR DNF with suspension troubles. Nissan chose not to field the GTR in the second race of the series which was held at Portugal’s Algarve Circuit – choosing instead to privately test the GTR there to iron out the suspension issues.
So racing resumed at the third race of the series, at Oschersleben. Saddled with a weight penalty of 40kg (a testament to how fast the car is, perhaps?), Michael Krumm was able to set a 10th place pole position during qualifying on the Saturday. On Sunday, before the race, co-driver Darren Turner turned in the 6th fastest time.
When the race started at 1145, it turned into a 2 hour endurance race. Krumm managed to avoid the accident which involved the first three cars in the first corner right after the race began, and fought his way up to 8th place. Once the rain started coming down, he pitted, rain tires were fitted, and then Darren Turner took the wheel.
Turner resumed the race in 15th place, but drove the GTR as fast as the leaders, despite the heavy rain conditions, getting back into 10th place. Unfortunately, on the 56th lap, he overran the 3rd corner, getting stuck in the gravel and losing 3minutes and 30 seconds. This dropped his position to 13th place, but luckily no damage to his car.
Pitting as scheduled after the 59th lap, and Krumm jumped into the driver’s seat. Driving faster than usual, he managed to finish the race in 9th place.
Next stage for the GT-R would be the Spa 24 hours.
4) How to Build
This week: Attaching the radiator piping and reserve tank
Quote from Mizuno-san: “The GT-R’s high performance engine puts out a lot of heat, and thus needs a superior and efficient cooling system. Ensuring the wind hits the radiator efficiently, a superior radiator, radiator cap pressure, etc. – these are all important.”
As you can see from the photos, the completed assembly (not including the radiator) attaches to the front of the engine block (which we completed in Week 6).
5) History of Nissan
This week: 1938 Datsun Type 17 Sedan
With Japan having entered the Pacific war, the advertisements for the Datsun 17 car were necessarily flowerly patriotic, as well pragmatic – making claims that the Datsun had good mileage and would save on fuel (which was needed for the war effort of course).
By April 1938 a total of over 20,000 Datsuns had been made, but from here on out commercial trucks would be made in ever increasing numbers versus passenger car Datsuns. The Datsun sedans at this time sold for 2400 yen.
Next Week’s Part – Assembly of the intercooler.