THE FINAL KONNEXION
300KW RB26DETT-POWERED LAUREL STREETER
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