Wait what, An R32 sedan that isn’t built for drift­ing ?

NZ Performance Car - - Contens -


When you’re 30 Sky­lines deep you’d bet­ter have worked your way up to some­thing pretty awe inspiring oth­er­wise what’s the point, right? Nick Hor­wood has had them all, GTSs, GTS-Ts, and even a GT-R, so when he told NZPC that he had an R32 GTS sedan we should check out, we knew it was some­thing pretty se­ri­ous, as GTS Sky­lines are usu­ally any­thing but.

Nick can trace his love of Sky­lines back to first get­ting his li­cence and the R32 chas­sis was cheap and read­ily avail­able, so if one wasn’t good enough, it was sim­ply sold and the next one was pur­chased. Un­for­tu­nately as time went on, R32s were get­ting in­creas­ingly hard to come by in de­cent con­di­tion, so when Nick found a com­pletely fac­tory ma­ture-lady-owner GTS, he de­cided to jump on it. Be­cause the GTS had a fresh WOF and rego at the time of sale, Nick drove the quiet, re­li­able, and eco­nom­i­cal R32 around for six months, un­til the day the WOF and rego ran out, as he ex­plains; “I only wanted to drive the R32 around in its cur­rent state be­cause it had a WOF and rego, but as soon as that ran out, it was con­demned to its right­ful place; the shed.” Lit­tle did the poor R32 know it was about to have its heart ripped out and re­placed with some­thing much more sin­is­ter, some­thing which had been guard­ing the shed long be­fore the R32 found its way there: an RB30DET.

The stock RB30DET had been sit­ting around for some time un­til Nick’s fa­ther, Shawn Hor­wood, rec­om­mended he have it built by Re­gal’s Au­to­mo­tive and Ned Kelly from Per­for­mance Au­tos. It was built and ma­chined us­ing some of the best gear in the in­dus­try in­clud­ing sev­eral vi­tal com­po­nents from R.I.P.S such as the larger ca­pac­ity sump and af­ter­mar­ket oil pickup. An N1 oil pump was cho­sen for ex­treme re­li­a­bil­ity, ACL bear­ings were used through­out and up­graded rings were used. The pis­tons, crank, and rods are all stan­dard, but will han­dle 447kW (600hp) at the wheels with­out any trou­bles once the wick is turned up. Although there are RB26 cam cov­ers on this en­gine, it is in fact an RB25 head. The rea­son for this is Nick al­ready had a re­built and flowed head sit­ting at

home in the shed, so it just made sense to uti­lize it. The es­sen­tial go fast bits such as the large, yet sur­pris­ingly re­spon­sive Gar­rett GT3582R turbo were sourced through Speedfac­tor in Tau­ranga and have been pol­ished to add to the im­mac­u­late pres­ence Nick’s en­gine bay por­trays. If you’d seen the be­fore shot of the en­gine bay like we have, you’d have a heart attack, it cer­tainly has come a long way.

Once the run-in tune had been com­pleted via the Link G4 wire-in ECU at Dyno Power on a measly 10psi, the Sky­line was now ready to drive, how­ever the body was still in poor con­di­tion, Nick ex­plained: “The orig­i­nal paint on the GTS was far from ap­peal­ing and I knew I wanted to re­paint it, but I didn’t know what colour. I vis­ited my Dad’s friend who owns an R34 GT-R in Bay­side blue, one of the most fa­mous R34 colours and it was at this point I knew what colour it had to be.” With Nick’s love of GT-Rs al­ready hav­ing a huge in­flu­ence on the style of the build, he de­cided that the GTS needed to be wide-bod­ied with R32 GT-R items. A pair of fi­bre­glass GT-R guards were sourced lo­cally, along with the front pair of wide­body items. Next, Nick found an R32 GT-R front bumper and it was only a week be­fore the NZPC photo shoot did he find an R32 GT-R rear wing. “With all of the guards sourced, I sent the Sky­line down to Brett Forster in Mount Maun­ganui to have them moulded into the fac­tory body and ready for paint. The Ver­tex sideskirts were molded into the guards, cre­at­ing a very seam­less ap­pear­ance,” Nick ex­plained. Once the body­work was com­pleted, the Sky­line was sent down to Gavin Pharo at GP Car Paint­ing to have the Bay­side blue hue laid on. Ac­cord­ing to Gavin, the three-layer pearl isn’t the eas­i­est to work with, but the re­sults are stunning. The body was then topped off with black cor­ner in­di­ca­tors, re­painted fac­tory head­lights, and a set of 18 by 9.5-inch DTM 099 Drift wheels with legally stretched Falken tyres all round.

Be­ing an au­to­mo­tive up­hol­sterer by trade, Nick was sure to have some pretty trick stuff go­ing on in the cabin of the Sky­line and we cer­tainly weren’t let down. No fac­tory in­te­rior com­po­nent has been left un­touched.

The car­pet is new, all of the fac­tory vents are in place, R32 GT-R front seats have been re­trimmed and in­stalled for added sup­port, an R32 GT-R coupe rear seat has been widened to fit the wider sedan.An­other lit­tle touch is the slick look­ing leather gauge pod to house three wa­ter-filled Au­toMe­ter gauges. The cabin is now a very nice place to be, which is re­fresh­ing in an R32 nowa­days.

With the Sky­line low­ered down on a set of BC BR se­ries coilovers, the paint com­pleted, the wheels sorted and the en­gine run in, it was time for a re­tune and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. With the cer­ti­fier not fault­ing the Sky­line on any­thing, Nick had the Sky­line strapped down to the dyno for a few more pounds of boost to be wound in. On the run-in tune, the RB30 made 250kW at the wheels on 10psi of boost, but with only 3psi more, it made a very solid 300kW, 50kW more than be­fore which shows the turbo is now com­ing into its ef­fi­ciency range. On 18psi, it is es­ti­mated the power should be around the 400kW mark. “I’ve owned other mod­i­fied Sky­lines in the past, some with RB25DET en­gines with up­grades, but noth­ing com­pares to the torque the RB30 pro­duces. Even off-boost torque is re­ally im­pres­sive,” Nick told us. Some fine tun­ing of tyre sizes, ride height, and power lev­els are what’s left for the sedan, but this doesn’t mean Nick won’t be busy build­ing a Sky­line of some sort. Nick couldn’t help him­self, pur­chas­ing an­other R32 drift project which he is cur­rently build­ing. If it’s any­thing near the build qual­ity that this GTS is, it may also be grac­ing the pages of NZPC one day.

If you look closely, you’ll no­tice the hand -rolled and -fab­ri­cated wheel well tubs in the en­gine bay that have been made to com­pletely smooth things over. This, the co­pi­ous amounts of pol­ish­ing and the loom tuck all make for one of the ti­di­est R32 en­gine bays we’ve seen for a long time.

The wide­body front guards have been smoothed into the Ver­tex sideskirts and are now a one-piece item. We were sur­prised at just how strong the wide guards felt all round, es­pe­cially the rears. It turns out, Nick had them filled with ex­pand­ing foam to aid in the rigid­ity. The Bay­side blue paint re­ally suits the scenery the R32 is so com­monly sur­rounded by.

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