Sunday, February 19, 2012

S13 Update: Dyno'ed at 411.71whp and 453.43 torque @ 1.45 bar!

Very pleased with the results.

411.71whp and 453.43 torque @ 1.45 bar.

Thanks largely to the Garrett GT2871R + Tomei Cam 270 Procams + JUN high intake manifold with a 80mm throttle body.

Love it! Just right for the street and the track! =)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

S13 Update: Nearly Track Ready

The S13 is nearing completion - and not a moment too soon. For this Saturday, I'll be attending a closed track day at the Sepang International Circuit :).

With the engine rebuild completed, I shifted my focus to the car's handling. The S13 was still running stock sway bars. After installing a full set of Hard Race suspension upgrades (pillow ball tension rods, lower rear arms, rear camber kit etc), along with Nismo bushings and solid sub frame collars, the old bars just wouldn't cut it. The rear felt very solid and the front somewhat weak. This might affect turn-in and promote understeer. As such, it needed stiffening and the stock bars were just too skinny. That's why I opted for a full set of front and back Cusco stabiliser bar kit. They arrived from Japan and here is the reason why they are going onto the car:

Cusco Stabiliser bar kit for front - (P)S13. 28mm diameter (Standard is 24mm). 131% stiffness comparison.

Cusco Stabiliser bar kit for rear - (P)S13. 18mm diameter (Standard is 16mm). 114% stiffness comparison.

Along with the Cusco bars, I ordered Nismo Braided Clutch Hoses for both the S13 and the R33 GT-R. Compared to the factory stock rubber hose, stainless steel mesh was adopted by Nismo for a much lower rate of expansion. The Teflon interior of the pipe provides a low pipe frictional coefficient and smooth flow volume characteristics, for more direct clutch operations. So in other words, there is no room for volumetric expansion. Not only will the Nismo braided clutch hose firm up pedal feel but it'll also make the clutch function precisely, by not allowing the hose to swell and lose pressure.

Now all that's left is to upgrade the car's suspensions. It's currently running JIC high lows and as some of you might know, you need fully adjustable suspension for the track. I'm looking at buying a used set of Aragostas but at the sametime, quite keen to see what RCS - Radical Chassis Solutions - can do for my ride. It's headed by Nanda Kumar, who has some 15 years of experience in rallying. According to a review by Tom of Zerotohundred, Nanda was trained by Lotus Engineering and has served as an engineer there for some years. So, he probably knows a thing or two about suspensions, and handling, of the Lotus kind.

More updates to come, so stay tuned :).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

R33 GT-R Update: R34 GT-R Steering Wheel Swap

Not many people know this but R34 GT-R steering wheels are plug & play when it comes to Series II / late model R33 GT-Rs. Airbang and all mind you, with no error lights showing.

Now theres nothing wrong with the stock R33 GT-R quad steering wheel. Its just that it doesn't have much character going for it. I mean, it only has an embossed 'Nissan' on the horn button, along with the corresponding moon corporate logo and outer red leather stiching. It was also present in the Silvia S14 and other Nissan models like the Skyline GTST (ENR33 / ER33). No offence to the owners of those cars but I wanted a steering wheel that had a tad bit more GT-R exclusivity. Nissan must have really liked the design by the way, because it was still in use in their first generation X-Trail! Ahh, you've served me well old girl...

I've always been a fan of the R34 GT-R steering wheel, mainly because of the tri-star sculpted design and the prominent 'GT-R' horn logo. It's also smaller by an inch or so in terms of diameter. No prizes for guessing where I managed to source a unit (thanks to my good buddy Eu-Jin at JDM Auto Link). Supposedly, these are quite rare and difficult to source.

It was a pretty straight forward affair in removing the stock steering wheel. I knew that the airbags in the two steering wheels were of the same model, but there was no harm in checking. To do this, the side latches were opened up and the airbag housing unscrewed. Fortunately, the sockets all matched up, so we were good to go. Do note that this modification is only possible in Series II / late model R33 GT-R's, that feature driver and passenger side airbags. If you have an older BCNR33, then you're unfortunately out of luck. This is confirmed for Series I R33 GT-Rs. Oh and did you know that airbags have a shelf life? The one in my stock R33 GT-R steering wheel has clearly gone pass it's expiry date (circa 1997!), while I'm hoping the R34 GT-R's airbag is still good for a couple more years. Food for thought, gentle people.

Now all that was left to do was to line up the R34 GT-R steering wheel and bolt it in. I have to say that due to the tri-star design, the steering wheel feels much smaller and more chuckable. I just love it because it's a straight fit (no adaptation needed), looks like it belongs there in the first place, is much smaller than the unit that it replaces and really spruces up my R33's interior. Aki, you should really do this mod, mate ;).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

S13 Update: Engine Upgrades

My Silvia S13 Coupe rebuild project is coming along quite nicely. In fact, after the engine respray, the car has slowly been upgraded with better external parts (note the pictures above and below).

The first to arrive was a brand new Garrett GT2871R turbo, good for 460hp. The reason why I picked this particular unit instead of a larger one like the GT30, was because the GT2871R represents Garrett’s largest turbo available in the T28 series frame size. Based on the popular “Disco Potato”, the GT2871R includes a 71mm compressor wheel coupled with the NS111 quick-spool turbine wheel. The magic of the GT series turbochargers resides in the turbine and rotating assembly, which rides on dual ball-bearings. 

The end result is a pretty responsive turbocharger, which can also flow large amounts of airflow resulting in decent midrange and top-end power. Ideal for track and gymkhana work. Do note however that I will eventually get a GT3071R but only after I get a hang of the S13 on the track.

Which leads me to the next upgrade - a set of four Power Enterprise 800cc Top Feed Injectors. In light of my intention to upgrade to a GT3071R in the near future, I have opted for these large cc injectors as a future proof measure. And why Power Enterprise (PE)? Well it's partly because I've used their injectors in past with my R33 GT-R rebuild and from what I've heard, Sard DENSO makes them.

Next up, we have a fresh-out-of-the-oven TurboSmart Comp-Gate40 external wastegate. It's Turbosmart's new 40mm external wastegate (measuring only 99 mm in height) is designed to fit into tight engine bays with it's new smaller actuator housing.

The Comp-Gate40 has all of the good features you would expect from a quality wastegate: cast stainless body, anodized hat and base, stainless heat shield to protect the diaphragm, a ultra high lift diaphragm, cast stainless body clamps, stainless weld flanges etc. TurboSmart is heavily involved with rotary engines in Australia and turbo rotaries can produce exhaust gas temperatures approaching 1900 degrees F. Now how's that for product testing? Anyway, here are some other features that are worth knowing about.

Locking Ring
The Comp-Gate40 does not use allen screws around the perimeter of the spring hat. It uses a trick "locking ring”. The benefits of the locking ring are no more stripped allen screws, no more stripped hat bases, much easier spring changes, spring changes in less than a minute and an overall reduced height wastegate which allows greater flexibility of wastegate placement.

Reduced Package Size with no Sacrifice in Gas Flow
The Comp-Gate40 is only 99mm (3.89”) tall, but still has .582” of valve lift. It also only measures 74mm (2.91") at its largest diameter making the Comp-Gate40 probably the smallest wastegate on the market.

Unique Rotating Cap
The spring hat can be indexed in 12 different positions allowing for greater installation flexibility. The rotation can also be done in less than a minute by only loosening the locking ring. This really does make things go quicker during the setup of a new custom installation.

All in all, the Comp-Gate40 should work perfectly right out of the box. Be sure to apply some light grease on the locking ring threads if you're installing one.

I think I might be using a couple of Comp-Gate40 wastegates on my other ride, the R33 GT-R, maybe with a Full-Race twin scroll exhaust manifold and a BorgWarner EFR turbo but that's all in the future...

Last but not least, the final piece to the rebuild puzzle is a spankin' new Haltech Platinum Sport 1000/2000.

Personally, I think the Haltech Platinum Sport 1000 is packed with more features than any ECU in it's class. It's capable of controlling sequential injection on 2 and 4 cylinder with semi sequential 6 and 8 cylinder applications. With 8 channels capable of controlling injection and ignition duties, the Haltech unit is able to support most modern engines with multi-coil ignition systems, as well as conventional distributor ignition systems.

Here are some of the Platinum Sport 1000's features:
  • Soft cut rev limiter
  • Closed loop boost control
  • Stepper motor and BAC/IAC closed loop idle control
  • User-definable mapping points
  • Anti-lag launch control with rotational idle
  • Wideband closed loop 02 Control
  • 8 additional user-definable inputs
  • 4 additional user-definable outputs
  • Tuning via TPS with Manifold Correction
  • Numerous Correction Maps
  • Onboard Data logging
  • Windows Software
Well, thats all for now. The engine and car are actually ready and have been subjected to mandatory on-the-road tuning, but that will be covered in a future entry. Cheers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

R33 GT-R Update: Nismo Under-Floor Reinforcing Bars Set + Nismo Rear Member Brace

My brand spanking new Nismo Front Under-Floor Reinforcing Bar

Been busy with work, so I've actually done a lot to the GT-R since last my update, as you can see from the above picture.

Installed: One of the Nismo Centre Under-Floor Reinforcing Bars

The last aspect of the car that I wanted to improve on was it's stability. That's where Nismo comes in to save the day (yet again) - don't you just love these guys? Through countless hours of testing and improvements at the track, in events such Le Mans and other races where the R33 GT-R competed for top honours, Nismo was able to develop their Under-Floor Reinforcing Bar set.

The set consists of three pieces, a front underbrace and a pair of centre underbraces. These reinforcing parts, made out of strong high-carbon steel, help to increase the vehicle’s rigidity against twisting and bending. Installation will also provide a more linear sense of stability. And the best part - these bars are above the minimum ground height clearance point, so there is little chance of scraping or under-body road rash. So in a nutshell, they strengthen the under-floor section of the car to provide greater stability. They looked so shiny and pretty, that I felt bad installing them underneath the GT-R! You can always count on Nismo to make products of the highest quality and finish.

I've already installed Nismo's rear member brace sometime back, so this completes my GT-R's handling setup.
What's really cool about the rear member brace is that Nismo developed it exclusively for the Z-Tune R34 GT-R but fortunately, they decided to make it available for all R33 and R34 GT-R owners through the Nismo link upgrade.

One section of the Nismo Rear Member Braces installed
Here's what Nismo has to say about their Rear Member Brace:  
Attached to the rear suspension link of the rear suspension member, the brace improves rigidity, and controls changes to alignment due to deflection of the suspension member. By bringing out the true potential of the suspension, it improves cornering and traction performance. And by installing the brace, changes to the car are more directly transmitted to the driver, so settings are more immediately understood.

I have to say that there has a marked improvement in the car's ride and handling characteristics. Far more pliable but not uncomfortable at all. In fact, my R33 GT-R now soaks up road imperfections without creaking and there is definitely less flex when riding over bumps. Even on highway runs, at speeds approaching 200 km/h and above, the strengthened chassis glides over any dips or raised features that are on the road. 

As for the Nismo front underbrace, the GT-R already has good rigidity to begin with but now you can actually sense the body better through steering feel, which is more direct and precise. This makes it easier to predict how the car will react in high speed situations, like when taking a long sweeping bend in the road. These upgrades make you fully aware of how far the car can be pushed, when tackling such obstacles. Traction has improved as well, with the rear section being able to put down power more effectively, when the gas pedal is pressed.

Overall, my Skyline now feels really stable when I'm carving up windy roads and doing high-speed runs on the highway. I've fallen in love with my GT-R yet again (this happens every time a new upgrade is bolted on!) and it gives me the confidence to carry out more difficult maneuvers, like attacking a sharp corner or carrying speed into a curved bend. Thank you Nismo!

To learn more or if you want to order these parts for your own car, head on over to

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Worth Watching: Skylines and Skyscrapers

Miguel, a good friend of mine who runs Neweraparts (thats his lovely RX-7 by the way), recommended this video to me. It was shot 2 years ago by several enthusiasts. They set out to explore the automotive scene in Japan and craft a story on how used JDM cars end up in other parts of the world. Some as far away as the United Kingdom.

So sit back and enjoy. You might learn a thing or two. I sure did! ;).

Skylines and Skyscrapers from Joe Lister on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The birth of a 520-hp Nissan Juke-R

Nissan's (and Renault's) Brazilian CEO, Carlos Ghosn, is always to looking to push the boundaries of automotive engineering. It would seem that he shares this trait with his engineers. 

What can be more innovative and exciting than trying to meld a Nissan Juke and a Nissan GT-R together? This what the Juke-R is all about: the ultimate compact crossover that's packing a 520-hp engine. Shoehorning a VR38DETT and the CBA35's drivetrain into this mini SUV is no mean feat!

Head on over to the Nissan JUKE Official Facebook page to find out more on this amazing project:

Monday, October 3, 2011

R33 GT-R Update: Nismo Performance Damper Set

I first read about this particular Nismo product on a fellow BCNR33 owner's blog. Thanks Aki and our cars are awesome!

My brand spanking new Nismo Performance Damper Set has finally arrived from Japan!
After looking into the matter further, I've discovered the following: the technology was originally developed by Yamaha and through collaboration with Japanese carmakers like Nissan, Subaru and Toyota, the technology was slowly disseminated among their respective models. The rally tuning arm of Subaru for example, Subaru Tecnica International - or better known as STi, produce these dampers for their cars - like the WRX STI Spec C Type RA-R.

Try to decipher this STi diagram that explains the benefits of the performance damper - if you dare!

Anyway, here's the official marketing spiel from Nismo:

Even if the car body is reinforced and made more rigid, road surface input through the tires and load shifts during cornering make the entire body act like a spring, causing the occurrence of micro vibrations. The performance damper acts to control the transmission of micro vibrations to the body. During circuit driving, micro vibrations from the car body are transmitted through the steering system to the driver, resulting too often in unnecessary steering corrections. With the performance damper installed, however these micro vibrations are eliminated and excessive steering wheel handling is no longer needed, resulting in more stable handling. Also, in normal driving, the micro vibrations are eliminated, as well providing a much more enjoyable and comfortable ride.

So how does it all actually work? Well heres how. The following pictures will illustrate that a car's front strut towers is not too disimilar from a tuning fork. Now when you strike the fork, you tend to get a nice ring out of it. So imagine if you will, pieces of tubular steel welded up like a giant tuning fork. When you hit it with a hammer, the fork will emit a really loud ring, right? The next step in the demonstration is where the top of the fork is boxed off, like as if it were a strut tower brace that was installed between your car's strut towers. The next time you hit it with a hammer, it should resonate with a low dull tone i.e. a dong like sound. The final step is to have a damper installed between the forks. At the moment a hammer hits the metal piece, it should not emit any noise at all. People have described it like hitting a pillow with a hammer. Isn't that just amazing? The Japanese have done it again! Innovate!

For the short period of time that these have been on my GT-R, I've definitely felt a difference. The Skyline is more compliant over bumps and various imperfections that are on Malaysian roads. In a straight line, noise and vibrations are slightly reduced, but its when taking turns that you really feel the full benefit of these dampers. There's very little disruption nor unwated steering wheel movement when taking sharp bends and corners.

The rear damper installed! It bolts on directly behind the stock GT-R rear strut brace! :)
I'm not a professional driver, but I do feel that the GT-R is now more connected to the road with the performance dampers installed. Feedback from the car is greatly improved and you know whats going on beneath those tyres. I actually thought it would be the opposite, that the dampers would absorb shock thoughout the chassis and it would result in a numb steering feel - but that is definitely not the case here!

The front damper installed! A bit more effort is required, clearly!
A great product from Nismo and Yamaha. These should be installed on all GT-Rs.

I'll end my post with a Yamaha press brief, which goes into detail on their technology and how it was first developed:

It is widely known that chassis performance is an important factor that functions along with suspension performance to determine the handling stability and the comfort of the ride in an automobile. For this reason, the various auto makers have invested great efforts in optimizing chassis rigidity as an important component of chassis performance. Amidst these efforts, a new project was undertaken at Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. to develop a "performance damper" the aim of which was to greatly improve chassis performance in a way that went beyond mere optimization of chassis rigidity by adding appropriate amounts of cushioning effect at certain points.

After the basic concept of the performance damper was proven valid in actual road tests in the autumn of 2000, development efforts to put it in applicable form and improve its performance were carried out at a rapid pace. It then made its appearance as a world's-first technology on the Toyota Crown Athlete VX (2001 limited edition of 300 units). Finally, in April of this year it appeared for the first time in the world on a full-scale production model, the sports grade version of the Toyota Corolla to be shipped to the domestic Japanese, European and North American markets.

The performance damper has a simple structure and is easily mounted on a chassis, and not only does it improve handling stability and ride comfort, it also reduces vibration noise. What's more, these effects are so marked that any driver can feel the difference in normal driving, not just in extreme driving at the hands of trained test drivers. Many domestic and foreign car makers have evaluated the performance damper very highly and expectations are high that it will become a common structural element of cars from now on.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Whiteline Performance Suspension

Since I'm a big supporter of Aussie made automotive products, I've decided to write a couple of short reviews on a few of them for the benefit of the Malaysian motoring public. Besides Whiteline, theres Haltech for your electronic engine management needs, Disc Brakes Australia (DBA) for rotors and Turbosmart for wastegates. The Aussies make pretty decent stuff and I'm using all those brands in my cars.

As some of you might have noticed, I am currently using Whiteline Performance Suspension bushes and sway bars on my GT-R.

I actually started using Whiteline on my cars since my student / working days in Melbourne, Australia. Great people to deal with over the phone and easy pick up at your friendly neighbourhood Pedders Suspension shop (they have a tie up with Whiteline). Pedders is a chain of suspension tuning shops which can be found in many Australian towns and major cities.

Anyway for everyone's knowledge, Whiteline suspension suspension products are actually manufactured in South Korea but design and testing is done at their facility in Somersby, New South Wales (near Sydney). Whiteline recently had their swaybars TÜV SÜD certified, so that they could be sold in the EU. They are pretty much up there in terms of quality seeing as European standards are quite stringent when it comes to automotive parts.

As with most automotive parts, a company's product is as good as how well it does in motorsport events. Whiteline parts are used in major events such as the recent World Time Attack Challenge (WTAC) that was held in Australia. A Whiteline equipped R35 GT-R took the number one spot in the Open Class category and several cars in the Pro Class (like Mercury Motorsports' R35) used Whiteline swaybars. Whiteline parts have also found their way into the rallying scene. WORKS Motorsport's Mitsubishi RalliArt SST participates regularly in Rally America, The Oregon Trail. Whiteline has been supporting the WORKS car with adjustable sway bars, alignment products, polyurethane bushings and aluminium bushings.

I'll leave with you some pictures of Whiteline's NSW facility. If you're looking to improve the handling of your car or wanting to refresh tired suspension parts, check Whiteline out as they cater to a wide range of makes and models, from Subarus to Volkswagens. 

Heres one of their sway bar stress testing machines:

Sway Bar Blanks being fashioned on site for testing purposes:

This is their stockpile of swaybars at Whiteline warehouse / HQ in NSW: