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.