TUN­ING JA­PAN

AARON CHECKS OUT AN R35 WITH SU­PER GT WIN­NING DNA

NZ Performance Car - - Contents -

AARON TAKES SOME ONE-ON-ONE TIME AT THE NIS­SAN DNA MU­SEUM WITH THE 2008 SU­PER GT–WIN­NING R35 GT-R. WE BET YOU’VE NEVER SEEN A WILDER GT-R IN YOUR LIFE

Fill­ing the big — scratch that — enor­mous shoes of fa­mous fore­fa­thers would be enough to scare any new kid on the block. But as soon as the 2008 R35 Su­per GT weapon, built to con­test the nine-round cham­pi­onship, was un­veiled at the Tokyo Auto Sa­lon, it was ev­i­dent that the new kid on the block was not only go­ing to con­tinue on the legacy but also re­write it while do­ing so.

Seven years have now passed, and the GT500 ma­chine has long since been re­tired to the Nis­san DNA Mu­seum on the out­skirts of Tokyo. The com­pound is leg­endary and off lim­its to the pub­lic, so when I was of­fered the en­tire com­pound all to my­self for two hours, how could I say no? It was built to house the leg­ends and be avail­able as an in­spi­ra­tional tool for the Nis­san de­sign en­gi­neers when they were in need of some vi­sion. Af­ter show­cas­ing the com­pound pre­vi­ously in NZPC, I de­cided that, on this par­tic­u­lar visit, I would get up close and per­sonal with a cou­ple of my favourite cars, the first of those be­ing the No. 23 Xanavi Nismo R35 GT-R.

Ped­alled around the cir­cuits by Satoshi Mo­toyama and Benoît Tréluyer, No. 23 was the num­ber-one car of the two-car team. The Su­per GT cars are well known for their wild aero and ag­gres­sive ap­pear­ance, but if you think a stock R35 looks an­gry, then wait un­til you see this one in the flesh.

When Nis­san changed from the 350Z plat­form to the R35, the com­pany wanted to en­sure that weight was kept to a min­i­mum, cen­tre of grav­ity was as low as pos­si­ble, and the VK45 en­gine was bet­ter than it had ever been. In 2008, Nis­san opted for the 4.5-litre V8 mated to a six-speed se­quen­tial gear­box, as the pro­duc­tion GT-R’s 3.8-litre V6 was still too green for the up­per ech­e­lons of mo­tor­sport and the torque out­put wasn’t up to GT500 stan­dards. The end re­sult

was an 1100kg GT-R pro­duc­ing 365kW (489bhp) with an idle of 3500rpm. Peak torque came at 6800rpm and peak horse­power at 8200rpm, thanks to en­gine tuner Im­pul. This trans­lated to an 80-per-cent win ra­tio, which can re­ally only be de­scribed with one word — dom­i­nance.

The big­gest sur­prise that the car had to of­fer was how in­tri­cate and tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced ev­ery­thing was. Look­ing at it dur­ing my visit, I con­tin­u­ally had to re­mind my­self that this was cut­ting edge seven years ago. And though a lot of it is now con­sid­ered old by Ja­panese stan­dards, it was still ut­terly mind-blow­ing. In­side the cock­pit, the driver sits in a co­coon of car­bon fi­bre, ev­ery ad­justable set­ting of the car a mere arm’s reach away. It was ob­vi­ous that ev­ery inch of the car had been de­signed in the tra­di­tional Ja­panese way, so find­ing faults would be al­most im­pos­si­ble. As the bon­net pins were clicked out and the top came off, the 500-plus­brake-horse­power beat­ing heart of the car looked oddly small. With such an ag­gres­sive aero kit and big 18x13-inch Volk wheels wrapped in Bridge­stone rubber, it was no won­der. Nes­tled in the side were the dou­ble wish­bone sus­pen­sion and Öh­lins shocks, and the car­bon-fi­bre air­box that feeds the en­gine with as much cold air as it pos­si­bly can was perched on top.

Even to­day, Nis­san hasn’t let too much in­for­ma­tion about this car go pub­lic. “We like to keep our se­crets of suc­cess close to our heart, and that goes for our past suc­cess[es] as well,” my guide smiled. In Ja­panese mo­tor­sport cir­cles, you can’t go much more top-shelf than Su­per GT, so I don’t blame them for keep­ing tight-lipped. ‘Godzilla’ has a larg­erthan-life rep­u­ta­tion, and stand­ing in front of the 2008 cham­pi­onship-win­ning car was a slightly hum­bling mo­ment, to say the least.

NZPC would like to ex­tend a huge thank-you to Nis­san and Azusa Mo­mose for the kind hos­pi­tal­ity; we look for­ward to re­turn­ing again soon.

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