MASAO OTANI’S NIS­SAN 180SX AND SKY­LINE

Super Street - - Contents -

We all know RE Amemiya for build­ing in­cred­i­ble ro­tary-pow­ered Maz­das. Some of the most iconic RX-7S we’ve praised over the years were born in their house in Chiba, Ja­pan, not to men­tion they’ve made a name for them­selves in JGTC/SU­PER GT, time at­tack and D1 Grand Prix. Ev­ery year at Tokyo Auto Sa­lon, they also man­age to de­but a spe­cial demo ve­hi­cle and blow the minds of nearly ev­ery en­thu­si­ast that walks by their booth. What you prob­a­bly don’t know is that RE Amemiya is not a one-stop shop; they don’t do their own body and paint work… So, while the flashy, high-pow­ered show cars grab all the at­ten­tion at Ja­pan’s largest stage of af­ter­mar­ket per­for­mance, the magic be­hind the il­lus­tri­ous paint jobs and cus­tom body­work comes from an un­sung hero known as Masao Otani.

Otani-san (not to be con­fused with the base­ball player, Sho­hei Ohtani), is a mas­ter auto body tech at TM Car Body Shop. He’s touched nearly ev­ery ma­jor build that’s worn a RE Amemiya badge over the last sev­eral years; how­ever, af­ter meet­ing him, it was very shock­ing to find out he’s never owned a Mazda him­self. He’s dab­bled with a Honda CRX and even a Rover Mini, but his lat­est projects couldn’t have been any more fit­ting for this is­sue—a pair of col­or­co­or­di­nated Nis­sans.

Vis­ually, his R34 GT-T and S13 180SX share a dis­tinct white-with-black color scheme. Otani-san tells us they were built for slightly dif­fer­ent pur­poses. Start­ing with the Sky­line, it was pur­chased in ‘00 for drift­ing. Thus, the rear-wheel drive GT-T was cho­sen over the all-wheel drive GT-R. It re­mained lightly tuned for a short pe­riod of time un­til Godzilla’s RB26DETT was swapped in place of the orig­i­nal RB25DET NEO (which wasn’t much more than its 276hp stock rat­ing). Now with the beefier RB that's been up­graded with a TRUST turbo kit and cams, the re­sult is an im­pres­sive 600 hp at only 14 psi. Otani-san ex­plains the boost is set on the safe side, mean­ing there is plenty of room for more power if he wanted.

Fast-for­ward sev­eral years and Otanisan was given the op­por­tu­nity to nab a good con­di­tion 180SX his co-worker was sell­ing. The ad­di­tion of an­other sports car al­lowed him to be­gin chang­ing the setup of the Sky­line from drift to grip, more specif­i­cally to run at Tsukuba’s leg­endary TC2000 cir­cuit. This meant ex­tra sus­pen­sion and chas­sis up­grades but also al­lowed him to change the styling to match the Sky­line’s new pur­pose, which in­cluded Top Se­cret’s front bumper and Uras fend­ers. For ac­cents, there are plenty of car­bon-fiber pieces, in­clud­ing side spoil­ers, ca­nards, and dif­fusers—all hand­made by, you guessed it, Otani. Ad­di­tion­ally, a set of Gram Lights 57CRS com­plete the GT look—black faces on the driver-side and blue on the pas­sen­ger­side to trip folks out.

Now about that 180SX… Otani was also work­ing on it si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the Sky­line. It came with a 220hp SR20DET, and he wanted to keep it stock and re­li­able. It would be bet­ter suited for places like his nearby track Mo­bara Twin Cir­cuit, which mea­sures 0.7 miles long in con­trast to Tsukuba’s 1.271-mile length— more like a go-kart track or au­tocross than a true road course.

Leav­ing horse­power mod­est meant more time could be fo­cused on the ex­te­rior. Ev­ery­thing from the cus­tom bumper work to the hand­made dif­fuser, ca­nards, and side steps, plus fit­ment and mold­ing of the Ori­gin Labo fend­ers are ex­am­ples of his ex­pert crafts­man­ship. Lend­ing even more to the ag­gres­sive look is a ti­ta­nium ex­haust with a down­turned “dol­phin tail” tip, while wide Volk Rac­ing TE37VS with meaty Dun­lop tires com­plete the GT theme.

Be­tween the Sky­line and the 180, Otani-san ad­mits that he has a soft spot for the R34. Even out of all the other cars he’s owned, it’s his fa­vorite. The rear-wheel drive lay­out of the GT-T is just more ver­sa­tile, al­low­ing him to tackle both drift and time at­tack events. Prob­a­bly not what Isami Amemiya wants to hear from his body and paint guy as nei­ther pro­ject cars are Maz­das. But hey, there’s just some­thing about Nis­sans and there’s not much you can hate about these two beau­ties.

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