Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Maintenance Service at Nissan Prince Motorsport

Having recently reached 2,000 km since I took ownership of my R34 I decided it was time for a first check-up to properly asses the shape of the car and plan some maintenance. I also thought it would be good to start developing a close relationship with a reliable workshop, but unfortunately Nismo Omori Factory doesn't perform routine maintenance services, plus it's located in Yokohama, and Prostock Racing, where I bought the car, is also too far away (Saitama). My car has always been serviced at a Nissan dealership so, after researching on the closest options available, I ended up booking an appointment at Nissan Prince Motorsport, which is also the same place where my friend Aki as had his R33 serviced for years. While from the outside this may look like every other Nissan service center, its Nismo Performance Center is quite a special one: not only the mechanics and staff of the shop are GT-R owners and true passionate themselves, but also used to field RB26 powered GT-Rs in the Super Taikyu series! The combination of expertise, history, passion, information and access to OEM data and parts make it the best place possible to keep your car factory fresh: it really doesn't get any better than this.
Welcome...
Once arrived I was greeted by Yamazaki-san, the main Tuning Advisor, who made sure to gather as many information as possible about the car before start planning the workflow. As a first visit I explained that I was keen to just have a very thorough check done on all the critical parts of the car: chassis, suspension, brakes, electronics, engine and transmission. Most importantly I also wanted to have the under-frame of the car checked by expert eyes to look for rust or any other serious issue. 
Main entrance
As I arrived around early in the morning Yamazaki-san notified me that it would have taken a couple of hours to go through everything. Waiting 2  hours in a Nissan workshop surrounded by cars? Not a problem!
I could spend all day here
After helping myself with some free drinks I started taking a look around the shop and, in case its credentials weren't enough, the display setup inside the main office confirmed that I was indeed at the right place. Starting with this collection of race trophies, photos and miniature models from the various motorsport activities back in the 90's and early 2000's.
Credentials
Super Taikyu days
More trophies (I want one of these models!)
To a display of sample parts that failed during circuit driving, like this blown up R34 piston coming from a N1 engine.
Ouch!
Or this set of burnt Z33 380RS brakes.
Circuit driving can be expensive
A good reminder to always respect your car and service it properly!
Horror display

They also had new parts on display as well, like this set of expensive Brembo F50 brakes.
Brembo F50
Or the even more expensive R35 brakes and 380mm rotor set advertised on the R34 Clubman Race Spec.
Pricetag: 1,000,000 Yen
One of the things that surprised me the most was the incredible number of cars coming to and leaving the shop. I expected to see a few cars serviced at a very slow pace, but I couldn't have been more wrong: while several Skyline and GT-R were already being serviced, at least 10 more Nissan sports car from every generation kept coming and leaving during my visit.

A blue MY17 R35 ready for collection on the right.
I really like the revised look on the MY17 R35
A white zenki BNR34 that had a brand new set of Nismo LM GT4 wheels fitted.
Very clean look
A dark silver R34 Skyline GTt.
Rare to see these in good shape
Glorious Nissan 90's styling
A zenki BNR34 standard next to a Fairlady Z34 roadster.
Maintenance is key
Or this dark grey metallic BCNR33, unfortunately almost fully undercover.
Japanese craftmanship in action
So, what about my car? Once the whole check-up was completed, Yamazaki-san introduced me to Yamada-san, the mechanic who performed the inspection, for a complete walk through: I must confess that I was a bit nervous as you'll never know, after all it's a 14 years old car.
Time for a check-up
First of all, the good news: the car is in excellent shape. The engine is absolutely fine, so are suspension and brakes (no need to change pads); the clutch is halfway through its life and presented no immediate reason to be changed. Yamada-san recommended to change the timing belt and water pump since the engine has now over 70,000km, and observed that my Nismo muffler old design is not optimal anymore, and the engine could benefit from a new one. My biggest concern was, as for any Skyline owner, rust and I couldn't be more relieved to hear and observe myself that the car is completely rust free, not a single spot! Not only the previous owner garaged the car and avoided driving it in the rain, but also cared to spray the under-frame with anti-rust foam. One hour check-up and all Yamada-san could find was a timing belt and water pump that needed replacing: awesome!

Once finished Yamazaki-san provided me with full history of the inspection and result of each test. I also took time to order several parts to refresh the car, but more on this in different post.
Clean bill of health - yes!
Seeing these mechanics at work was extremely satisfying: the care and craftsmanship they put into their craft truly ensemble the Japanese idea of kodawari. To top it all, I also have peace of mind that my car is in great shape. I am still in the planning phase of the tuning/refreshing project I have in mind, so I can't disclose much details, but I'm pretty sure that, once finished, it will be the freshest, newest R34 on the planet.
New parts, lots of them
Healthy and ready to go
Stay tuned!

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