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Hay­den Thorn is no stranger to build­ing a high-per­for­mance Nis­san. With sev­eral builds up his sleeve, all with RB26s, work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at Nel­son’s main tun­ing com­pany, and an ad­dic­tion for se­ri­ous amounts of boost through mon­ster sin­gles, there is no doubt Hay­den could build some­thing ca­pa­ble of dec­i­mat­ing ev­ery­thing with min­i­mal ef­fort come race day. The RB26-pow­ered R34 Hay­den had at the time would be more than enough for most of the pop­u­la­tion — but not Hay­den. So be­gan the hunt for some­thing built to de­stroy.

When Hay­den set out to find some­thing wor­thy of build­ing, he didn’t ever ex­pect to dis­cover a ve­hi­cle with as much pedi­gree as the one he found. A good friend of Hay­den’s had re­cently pur­chased a white Nis­san Sky­line GT-R from a guy in Welling­ton, who had in turn orig­i­nally pur­chased it from Bling Bling Mo­tor Co in Christchurch com­plete with an OS Giken RB30. Un­for­tu­nately, the GT-R came stripped when Hay­den’s friend pur­chased it — stripped, that is, of any ev­i­dence that it used to be owned and abused by New Zealand GT-R drag-rac­ing leg­end Reece McGre­gor. Hay­den some­how man­aged to con­vince his friend that the GT-R should change own­ers im­me­di­ately, and he ended up as the new owner of this cer­ti­fied drag­ster. “Once I found out the bare chas­sis had al­ready been cer­ti­fied for an RB30 en­gine, had ad­justable coilovers, a half-cage, Mines dash, and had rac­ing his­tory, I knew it was worth ev­ery penny,” Hay­den told us.

With the GT-R now in the shed, it was time to start the new project. “I de­cided to pull the en­gine out of my R34, which was an RB26DETT with a Holset HX35, and in­stall it into the GT-R to get

it run­ning. I mod­i­fied the oil sys­tem, in­stalled a four-wheel drive sump, and fit­ted a new rac­ing clutch. It was now time to go rac­ing.” Hay­den ex­plained. There was no deny­ing the pedi­gree — Hay­den man­aged con­sis­tent low elevens straight out of the shed, which was very promis­ing. Un­for­tu­nately for Hay­den’s gear­boxes, they just couldn’t han­dle the con­stant abuse that was get­ting dished out to them down at Motueka’s very own drag­way as Hay­den ex­plains, “Three months of con­stant drag rac­ing, and I man­aged to chew through three gear­boxes. It was start­ing to get ex­tremely ex­pen­sive at this stage, so an up­grade was def­i­nitely needed.” Hay­den de­cided he’d bite the bul­let and im­port a GReddy Quaife six-speed H-pat­tern gear­box from Ja­pan, which in it­self was the price of five more GT-R gear­boxes. With the power now re­li­ably get­ting to the ground, it was only fair that the en­gine de­cided to have its turn to break. The RB26, with a bent crank was now also in need of an up­grade.

Given that the GT-R was al­ready cer­ti­fied for an RB30, it was no sur­prise that Hay­den pur­chased an en­gine out of an old Holden Com­modore VL with a blown head gas­ket to con­vert to a Franken­stein en­gine. A new RB26 head was pur­chased, which had ex­ten­sive port­ing (com­pleted in-house by Top Se­cret in Ja­pan and Trust 272 de­gree cams), per­fect for the amount of im­pend­ing boost. In­stead of run­ning the Holset HX52PRO which was orig­i­nally planned, Hay­den de­cided to keep ev­ery­thing Ja­panese and had a friend im­port an HKS T51R SPL turbo. “I’ve al­ways liked the look of the HKS T51R SPL turbo, they sound amaz­ing and they flow enough air for the power I was af­ter,” Hay­den ex­plains. The RB30 block was com­pletely re­built and strength­ened with STA Parts pis­tons, ARP rod bolts, ARP head studs, and a Cometic head gas­ket. Hay­den de­cided to leave the rods as fac­tory. Once the HKS T51R SPL was bolted to the HKS SPL man­i­fold, the fu­el­ing sys­tem sorted, and the Spit­fire-se­ries two-coil packs in­stalled, it was now time for a tune down at NDT De­vel­op­ments. “We de­cided to run the RB30 on a strict diet of E50 ethanol fuel which net­ted some very im­pres­sive gains. On 27psi of boost, the RB30 made 521kW (700hp) at the wheels, with plenty of room for more, how­ever we de­cided to leave it at that to guar­an­tee us re­li­a­bil­ity. I was now itch­ing to get it back to the drag strip,” Hay­den told us.

A cou­ple of drag days later and Hay­den was smash­ing tens out like they were noth­ing. The pack­age was prov­ing to be ex­tremely po­tent as ex­pected, but it wasn’t un­til a lo­cal V8 drag day, which Hay­den at­tended, that things started to get re­ally ex­cit­ing, he ex­plains. “I de­cided to take the GT-R to take on some V8s at a lo­cal low-key drag day and af­ter a string of very low 10-sec­ond passes, I man­aged to lay down a 9.97-sec­ond pass at 140mph. That was the end of my days rac­ing, as the bolt-in roll cage isn’t per­mit­ted to run that fast.” With an­other 5psi of boost and some more tim­ing which the RB30 can eas­ily han­dle, Hay­den pre­dicts the GT-R will be run­ning in the low nines. “I want to get the GT-R into the low nines, or even high eights would be nice. This won’t be hap­pen­ing un­til I have a full weld-in roll cage, more grip, and more boost. So, I’m ex­cited to get it back out when the next phase of the build is com­plete,” he en­thuses.

We’re sure that with the her­itage this GT-R has, the ded­i­ca­tion Hay­den has to progress, and the ad­dic­tive na­ture of go­ing quicker — which got Reece McGre­gor into the sev­ens — we’ll see some ex­cit­ing stuff from Hay­den and his GT-R in the near fu­ture.


DRIV­E­LINE GEAR­BOX: GREX/Quaife six-speed

straight-cut dog box CLUTCH: Til­ton triple-plate FLY­WHEEL: Cus­tom

DIFF: Fac­tory


POWER: 521kW (700hp) at the wheels on 27psi of boost and E50 fuel

0-400M: 9.97@ 225kph (140mph)

EX­TE­RIOR 0PAINT: Fac­tory EN­HANCE­MENTS: N1 front bumper and side skirts, N1 head­lights, Bomex mir­rors

MODEL: Nis­san RB30E, 3000cc,

six cylin­der BLOCK: STA forged pis­tons, ARP rod bolts, ARP head studs, Cometic head gas­ket, GReddy oil pump, mod­i­fied crank, Tomei sump baf­fle, ex­ter­nal head drain, RB30 four-wheel drive

sump adap­tor HEAD: RB26DETT, ported, bronze valve guides, mod­i­fied com­bus­tion cham­ber, Trust 272 cams, HKS cam

gears IN­TAKE: GReddy in­take man­i­fold, Q45 throt­tle body, 4-inch in­take pipe,

Unifil­ter air fil­ter TURBO: HKS T51R SPL WASTE­GATE: HKS 60mm FUEL: 2x Bosch 044 fuel pumps, cus­tom surge tank, Sard fuel pres­sure

reg­u­la­tor, braided fuel lines, GT-R lift pump, HKS fuel rail, In­jec­tor Dy­nam­ics

ID1000cc in­jec­tors IG­NI­TION: Spit­fire se­ries two coils EX­HAUST: HKS SPL man­i­fold, cus­tom V-band 4-inch straight-through sys­tem COOL­ING: Al­loy ra­di­a­tor, HKS GT front

mounted in­ter­cooler ECU: Hal­tech Plat­inum Pro OTHER: 420 In­dus­tries catch tank, Cusco brake mas­ter cylin­der brace, braided waste­gate lines, car­bon air

dif­fuser, painted rocker cov­ers

Be­lieve it or not, the Mines gauge clus­ter was one of the rea­sons Hay­den orig­i­nally made the de­ci­sion to pur­chase this GT-R back when it was a bare shell


SEATS: Bride Zeta III driver seat, R33 GT-R pas­sen­ger seat STEER­ING WHEEL: Per­sonal IN­STRU­MEN­TA­TION: Mines 320kph speedo, GReddy boost

and wa­ter temp gauges OTHER: HKS 4WD con­troller and drag adap­tor, Cusco boltin roll cage, Sony head unit,

Pi­o­neer speak­ers


STRUTS: HKS Drag R ad­justable coilovers

SPRINGS: HKS OTHER: Midori front cam­ber arms, Tein cas­tor arms, Cusco rear cam­ber arms, Hi­cas delete kit, Cusco rear strut brace BRAKES: R33 GT-R Brembo calipers and ro­tors

How much fuel is needed in a car of this cal­i­bre? A lot. Try two Bosch 044 fuel pumps, a cus­tom surge tank, a Sard fuel pres­sure reg­u­la­tor, braided fuel lines, an HKS fuel rail, and six In­jec­tor Dy­nam­ics ID1000cc in­jec­tors

SUP­PORT WHEELS: 18x10.5-inch Varrstoen ES2 TYRES: 265/35R18 Toyo Proxes R1R


With the need for se­ri­ous trac­tion, Hay­den has opted for some se­ri­ous wiz­ardry seen in Ja­panese drag GT-Rs of the ’90s. Items such as the HKS elec­tronic torque split con­troller and the HKS drag adap­tor play a huge role in get­ting the power to the ground

There aren’t many tur­bos around that sound as spec­tac­u­lar as the HKS T51R and they have been the turbo of choice for over ten years for peo­ple want­ing to pro­duce over 500kW. Hay­den’s T51R SPL sits on top of a HKS SPL turbo man­i­fold and is con­trolled via the 60mm HKS ex­ter­nal waste­gate.To keep things in the fam­ily, an HKS GT in­ter­cooler has been uti­lized to cool the tur­bocharged air


AGE: 25 LO­CA­TION: Motueka OC­CU­PA­TION: Me­chanic BUILD TIME: Six months LENGTH OF OWN­ER­SHIP: Two years THANKS: Brian at NDT De­vel­op­ments and all of my friends who have been in­volved with the build

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