BAT­TLE BEAST

BAGGSY’S IN­CRED­I­BLE 1200BHP GT-R WAS BUILT TO BREAK THE IN­TER­NET

Japanese Performance - - WHAT’S IN - WORDS: DAN GOODYER PICS: DAVE COX

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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