BAGGSY’S INCREDIBLE 1200BHP GT-R WAS BUILT TO BREAK THE INTERNET
With a 1200bhp V8 and wide arches, Baggsy builds the world’s wildest GT-R
Thundering V8 engine swap. Turbo the size of your head. 1200bhp with ease. No real reason for it to exist other than to shred rubber for the sheer bloody fun of it. This is what happens when pro drifter Stephen ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni lets his fevered imagination run wild.
It was built to star in a viral video and the result is one of the craziest GT-RS on the planet. This monster R35 is the star of ‘Battle Drift 2’, an adrenaline-fueled online video featuring Baggsy tearing it up against Japanese drift superstar Daigo Saito in his Lamborghini Murciélago, in a dockyard in Sheerness. It’s already caused a sensation since hitting the web a few weeks ago, and Baggsy got the crowds at Goodwood Festival of Speed cheering and whooping like lunatics, too, just a couple of weeks later. With so much hype, we had to find out more.
‘We had decided on the heart of the car before the rest,’ admits Baggsy. ‘We wanted a big V8 engine with a turbo the size of a house, putting out over 1000bhp. We bought the engine from Phil at Partsworld Performance in Birmingham, the official European distributor of Chevrolet Performance engines. These are a range of performance engines based on the LS platform, which have already been modified with all the right bits on.’
The thumping heart of this Frankenstein creation is an ‘LSX-454’. In short, a massive 7.4-litre V8 engine with a ton of
upgrades to help it kick out roughly 600bhp and 600lb ft of torque in naturally-aspirated form. The LSX-454 essentially provides traditional ‘big-block’ V8 capacity and power, without the size and weight drawbacks of the older engines. It’s physically the same size as the rest of the LS family, however, this one has the strongest ‘Bowtie’ block and a fully-forged bottom-end. So it’s ’ard as nails.
‘That’s what I love about the LS engines,’ explains Baggsy, ‘they can handle loads of abuse, especially this one, obviously. We go all out for 45 seconds or so during a competitive drift run, and I know this engine can take the abuse, even at 1200bhp with the throttle pinned.’
The engine was supplied as a ‘crate motor’, a popular American term for a pre-built engine that is ready to go. The phrase came about because new engines are typically transported in a crate. The beauty of a crate engine is you know it’s been put together by people who know the engine inside and out, particularly in the case of Chevrolet Performance. It also saves you time. Which was a huge bonus to Baggsy and his team.
‘We only had two months to put this car together,’ Baggsy admits. ‘At the end of February we drove a perfectly good, 17k mile, ’09 Nissan GT-R into the workshop. We had to have the finished car ready to go sideways on camera at the start of May.’ It was a huge task, especially as Baggsy only
‘WE ONLY HAD TWO MONTHS TO PULL THIS BUILD TOGETHER’
opened SB Motorsport in November last year andthe carbuilding side of the business currently relies on just two very passionate individuals. Baggsy pitches in when he has time but admits his talents really lie behind the wheel, rather than behind a welder.
He adds: ‘The car was really put together by my guys Corbin Darke and Ian Waddington. We built the whole car at SB Motorsport. There were only two parts of the build we didn’t do; acid-dipping the chassis and tuning the engine. After stripping the car down, we decided to have the chassis dipped in an acid tank to get rid of all the paint and seam-sealer. This way we got a truly blank canvas to work with andthe guys could get on with seam-welding it. You want the chassis to be as stiff as possible as it improves the handling.’
With time quickly running out, the guys immediately filled the empty carcass with a 10point rollcage made from T45 chromoly. This is an alloy steel that is much stronger than traditional mild steel, so you can use thinner pipes and save a load of weight compared to a conventional steel ’cage. It’s been beautifully cut and welded in place, with carbon-fibre detailing on the door bars. More importantly, it will keep Baggsy safe in an accident.
It’s worth pointing out at this point the little trick hiding behind the fuel filler cap. With a boot-mounted Radium fuel tank, there is no needfor the original filler neck. In its place the SB Motorsport crew have fitted the main air supply nozzle for a set of four air jacks. So the whole car can be raised up in an instant by simply attaching an air-line. This would be handy on any car, let alone a rubber-destroying drift car that requires frequent tyre changes.
Getting the V8 engine under the bonnet was obviously a big
‘TURBO’D V8 POWER IS MUCH COOLER THAN A TUNED-UP VR’
challenge. To our knowledge this particular Chevy engine has never been mounted in a Nissan GT-R before, making it the world’s first Lsx-powered GT-R. Thing is, there’s nothing wrong with the original VR38DETT engine, is there Baggsy? ‘To be honest, we didn’t have the time to muck around and get the VR engine to make all that horsepower, plus make it happy to be permanently rear-wheel-drive. It felt like a more straightforward plan for us to attempt the engine and gearbox swap that we felt would work. Plus, I personally think the turbo’d V8 power is much cooler than just a tuned-up VR engine.’
SB Motorsport modified the front subframe to make room for the LSX engine. They also fabricated their own solid engine mounts from Delrin, a special kind of plastic used in engineering, made by Dupont. You might think that going from a 3.8-litre V6 to a much larger 7.4-litre V8 engine would be tricky, but Baggsy points out the GT-R engine is quite tall to begin with. So the V8 actually sits lower in the engine bay, lowering the car’s overall
centre-of-gravity and improving its handling capability.
The sump also needed to be modified to clear the subframe and steering rack. The bottom line is that this isn’t a heavy, old-school V8 swap. It’s modern technology, modern materials and the engine size and shape actually suits the GT-R. As does the thundering exhaust note!
When it came to tuning the engine, Baggsy called in a guy he had met at SEMA a few years back; Chris Jeanneret. As the head of Chris Jeanneret Racing, he has been involved in some incredible car builds and has also driven in Formula Drift, behind the wheel of a turbocharged Honda S2000. Chris flew over to help out, bringing with him a custom camshaft to match the LSX engine to the big turbo SB Motorsport wanted to run.
‘We turned to Garrett for the turbo,’ explains Baggsy, ‘we told them the power and response we wanted and they’ve absolutely delivered.’ Garrett supplied a GTX4718R for the task, a large-frame turbo with the latest 11-blade billet aluminium compressor wheel. It’s designed like a fastresponse turbo, just supersized. Baggsy says they’re getting full boost by 3000rpm with an almighty shove in the back that doesn’t let go until the 7600rpm redline, and with enough torque to spin the earth underneath it.
The engine was wired in with a loom made in-house by SB Motorsport using Rywire components. This is connected to an AEM Infinity Ecuand a trick digital display. Baggsy admits that because this is a drift car, half of the AEM’S clever tricks aren’t used. However, its excellent knock protection certainly is, which is where
Chris makes another appearance. The car was mapped by Abbey Motorsport, Baggsy’s long-time tuning partner, and Chris using his LS knowledge to really dial in the tune. The turbo isn’t even trying hard, so as crazy as it sounds, the 1200bhp tune is a fairly conservative one.
When it came to choosing a gearbox, Baggsy turned once more to Quaife. Their boxes have appeared in his previous
cars and for good reason; they work. The six-speed sequential ’box is connected to the engine by a Competition Clutch flywheel and clutch combo. While the rear-end features the same Winters quick-release
LSD setup as his V6 turboengined PS13 Silvia that we featured in this very magazine only a few months back. The team used parts supplied by Sikky in the United States to make it all work.
Of course, any high-end drift car needs plenty of steering angle and fully adjustable suspension. SB Motorsport have fitted and aligned a full set of Voodoo Thirteen components, along with an OBP Motorsport power-steering cooler, to cope with the sudden surge of heat and stress provided by drifting a powerful car on sticky tyres. In fact, Baggsy reveals just how important the suspension is on a modern competition drift car.
‘It’s the next big thing,’ he admits, ‘or, more accurately, I should probably say that good suspension is what all the top teams are working on. There was a time when everyone wanted more power, now cars have plenty. Then everyone wanted grip, now we have supremely sticky tyres like these Westlake Sport RSS I have on the GT-R. The next step is everyone focusing on proper, fully-functioning motorsport suspension. Not just getting your car lower and making it look better, but fine-tuning that balance of compression and rebound to keep the car working at its peak.’
Baggsy feels he’s on the money here with his new ST Suspensions setup. He explains: ‘It’s hand-built in Germany with high-end components, alongside products from its sister company, KW. When you go to an endurance race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, for example, at least 75% of the field is on KW suspension. There’s a reason for that.’
The ST suspension helped Baggsy with his baptism of fire. The build was literally finished just in time to shoot the video with Daigo Saito. This meant the first time Baggsy drove the car was in the video, with a Japanese drifting superstar in a Lamborghini chasing him down!
‘That was pretty exciting,’ he admits with the understated tone of a truly nutty (and talented) drifter. ‘To be honest with you, I was surprised it drove so well straight away. Usually there are small issues to sort, setup tweaks to make. I have to say that Corbin and Ian
‘IT SOUNDS CRAZY, BUT THE 1200BHP TUNE IS A FAIRLY CONSERVATIVE ONE’
have done an incredible job on this car. We expected the project to be under scrutiny because of the engine swap, so the guys have put all their effort into every step of the build. I’m so happy with the finished car and driving alongside Daigo, pushing ourselves faster and faster was an unforgettable experience.’
It’s clear this is a fullyfunctioning piece of motorsport hardware. However, let’s not overlook just how cool this thing looks. The combination of
Liberty Walk wide arches, 20in Rotiform wheels and that familiar black and green Monster colourscheme is certainly eyecatching. It was permanently surrounded at Goodwood by petrolheads who had never seen anything so outrageous.
The engine bay is a sight to behold, too, with the massive turbocharger bulging out of the front of the bay. The whole thing is just incredible. Baggsy admits he’s pleased with how it’s turned out: ‘It’s everything I’m into – I like Rotiforms, Liberty Walk bodykits, Nissans, sequential gearboxes, etc. To put it all together on a GT-R like this is just something I’m really proud of, and I’m grateful to everyone who made it possible.’
It’s impressive to think how far Baggsy has come. From learning to drift in a street car with a welded diff, to drifting competitively in Japan and even appearing regularly on TV. If that kind of success means he can build more cars like this, we hope he goes on to even bigger and better things. The question is, what the heck can he build to top this?
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