NZ Performance Car - - Contents -

If we were to ask our read­ers to name the per­fect sta­ple sedan — one that is a born plat­form for a drift build, or even just an in­ex­pen­sive cruiser — what an­swer would you ex­pect? It’s the Ce­firos, the Chasers, the Sky­lines and the Lau­rels that all fit the brief. An­dre Fin­ney knew this well as a few years he and fi­anceé Kelly pur­chased her a project C33, which they mod­i­fied — and tur­bocharged — as a cruiser. How­ever, that car be­came Kelly’s, and af­ter it fea­tured in our Daily Driver col­umn ( NZPC Is­sue 216), and An­dre craved his own to mod­ify. The hunt for the per­fect sta­ple sedan be­gan.

Car sell­ers can of­fer both won­ders and hor­rors in terms of such cars, but An­dre was lucky enough to source the per­fect ex­am­ple on Trade Me: a mid­night pur­ple C33 Lau­rel that ab­so­lutely fit his brief. The RB26DETT-pow­ered C33 Lau­rel had been built in Ja­pan then ex­ported and was the right pur­chase, as An­dré ex­plains. “I bought the car as it was a solid start­ing base. I wanted to make one of the clean­est street Lau­rels in New Zealand.”

As An­dre is pas­sion­ate about Ja­panese car cul­ture and the strin­gent stan­dards ap­plied to mod­i­fi­ca­tion, he wanted it to re­main fairly un­changed, but one thing was cer­tain — it needed some flair, and it definitely re­quired a Kiwi-look­ing stance.

While Kelly’s Lau­rel packed an RB25DET, An­dre’s re­cent pur­chase housed a gnarly RB26 — and they’re worlds apart An­dré told us. “The two mo­tors are com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Even on pa­per, they’re meant to com­pare to the RB25DET Neo en­gine, but the boost re­sponse and over­all power is com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Nis­san definitely un­der­rated th­ese en­gines with their gen­tle­man’s agree­ment hand­shake.”

The ben­e­fit of pur­chas­ing a re­cently im­ported Ja­panese ve­hi­cle is the list of high qual­ity bolt-ons that usu­ally come with the pack­age. Al­though the RB26 was in­ter­nally stock, it came with 264-de­gree HKS cams, a ported and pol­ished head, HKS hard pip­ing kit, HKS air fil­ters, and a GReddy Type R blow-off valve. An­dre soon re­al­ized the RB26 was in des­per­ate need of a tune to suit the fuel here in New Zealand, so it was handed over to Soichi Tate at ST Hitec so he could have a play with the A’PEXi Power FC. It was crys­tal clear the tur­bos weren’t fac­tory as the RB26 kept scream­ing for more, and Soichi gave it what it needed — much more. End­ing at 18psi, the Lau­rel was now wor­thy of a 300kW club

“I bought the car as it was a solid start­ing base. I wanted to make one of the clean­est street Lau­rels in New Zealand.”

sticker af­ter pro­duc­ing a solid 303kW at the wheels. While it isn’t quite clear what tur­bos the Lau­rel runs, they ap­pear to be one-off high-flow units — and they sure did make the num­bers.

To back up the 300kW RB26, the Lau­rel has an RB25DET gear­box in­stalled — renowned for be­ing rock solid — an Exedy heavy-duty clutch kit, light­ened fly­wheel, and a Nismo two-way LSD. Street and track ride height is ad­justable thanks to a set of Tein coilovers, with cam­ber, toe, and caster arms to cor­rect the align­ment. “The first set of wheels I put on the Lau­rel were Rays Vic­trix Plea­sures, mea­sur­ing 18x10-inch and 18x11-inch,” An­dré ex­plains. Opt­ing for a more track­o­ri­en­tated ap­pear­ance, An­dré set out to find a more vis­ually com­pat­i­ble wheel, fi­nally de­cid­ing on the Lenso PDF.

“Orig­i­nally I or­dered a full set of 18x11-inch Len­sos direct to Mag and Turbo, North Shore. I dummy-fit­ted the front wheels only to find they were an inch or two out­side of the guards. We were think­ing of run­ning over­fend­ers, but I de­cided I wanted to stay with a metal body, so we thought about cut­ting and flar­ing the fac­tory guards.” An­dré soon de­cided the Lau­rel wasn’t worth dis­sect­ing just to fit the 18x11s up front. A quick drive down to the Hamil­ton branch, and the 11-inch fronts were swapped with 9.5s (+15). To fit the 18x11s down the back, the rear toe arms and cam­ber arms were ad­justed, fol­lowed by some metal work cour­tesy of the good old Kiwi an­gle grinder. In­cred­i­bly, even with the 11-inch wide wheel and 245/40R18 Dun­lop SP Sports, there’s ab­so­lutely no rub — im­pres­sive for fac­tory-width guards.

Now com­plete, the staunch-look­ing Konnexion-kit­ted Lau­rel is used as a daily but also has an ex­cit­ing so­cial life out at the track or cruis­ing with mates on the week­end. The RB pack­age has proven to be ex­tremely po­tent and re­li­able over the two years An­dré has owned it, and he’s con­tem­plat­ing what’s next for the Lau­rel.

Since he is a big sup­porter of large, high-mounted twin tur­bos, he tells us that more un­fea­si­bly men­tal mod­i­fi­ca­tions are on the cards. What­ever he does, though, it’ll surely be true to the per­fect sta­ple sedan he has lov­ingly main­tained and mod­i­fied.


SUP­PORT STRUTS: Tein Su­per Street ad­justable coilovers SPRINGS: Tein BRAKES: (F) R32 four-pot calipers (R) R32 two-pot calipers OTHER: Ad­justable cam­ber, toe, and caster arms

EX­TE­RIOR PAINT: Cus­tom GT-R mid­night pur­ple EN­HANCE­MENTS: Gen­uine Fi­nal Konnexion body kit, car­bon side-split­ters OTHER: Ja­panese rain­bow bulbs, Ja­panese clear in­di­ca­tors

IN­TE­RIOR SEATS: Bride Cuga STEER­ING WHEEL: Nardi clas­sic IN­STRU­MEN­TA­TION: A’PEXi boost, oil tem­per­a­ture, oil pres­sure, and wa­ter tem­per­a­ture gauges OTHER: N/A To keep with the all- Ja­panese theme, An­dré sourced a couple of Bride Cu­gas to re­place the fac­tory couch- like Lau­rel seats. Once An­dré low­ers him­self into the Bride seat, the A’PEXi me­chan­i­cal boost gauge keeps him in­formed, and the 330mm Nardi Clas­sic steer­ing wheel keeps him in to­tal con­trol, whether it be on the track or the touge

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