Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Omori Factory Tour Part 2 - The Ultimate Tuning Facility

As I announced on the BNR34 GT-R Facebook page this time I didn't just go to Omori Factory to take some photos (not that I haven't done it in the past), but actually had a meeting reserved with Takasu-san, the principal Tuning Advisor, and Ochiai-san, one of the Takumi (meister) who has spent his whole career working on customer cars and special projects at Nismo.

In order to properly discuss technical details we moved to the main tuning area, which customer can usually admire through glass windows from the showroom. Omori Factory doesn't provide routine maintenance services, but solely specializes in tuning, restoration and special projects like the demo-cars featured in the last issue of GT-R Magazine. To put things in perspective, some of the technicians who have worked on projects such as the Nismo 400R or the Z-tune still work here to this very day.

The facility is absolutely spotless and finding a mark on the floor (despite having cars moving around) is a feat close to impossible. In fact, you could argue that the floor itself is cleaner than most people's living room will ever be. Each station has plenty of space and dedicated shelves for each car parts, while technicians will only work on few projects at a time.

We all have seen in disbelief online footage of the assembly line from more rarefied names such as McLaren and Ferrari and, believe me, this facility is easily right there at a very close level. While you would take for granted such level of care for a 300,000$ exotic, it's quite impressive to see it reserved to Nissan cars that used to be priced around 50,000$ just over a decade ago!

Nismo has been criticized overtime for being "overpriced" and many people have turned to local tuners who supposedly boasted better quality and lower prices. While this is without a doubt very true if you are on the market for few minor changes and some cosmetic bits, getting up close and personal with their demo-cars will change your perception of Nismo capabilities forever.

The level of sheer quality, refinement and attention to detail that these models exude is something that I have never seen in any other GT-R - and trust me - I have seen plenty of. 

A scale model of the 2013 Super GT machine fielded in the GT500 class is also on display as a reminder that the true Nismo brand essence goes far beyond minor tuning parts and stickers, but is actually rooted in some of the most technically advanced GT series in the world.

Completely realized in full carbon fiber for wind-tunnel aerodynamics testing, the cost of this prototype alone surpasses 20,000,000¥.

Once my consultation session was over I spent some extra time wandering around the part shop, where the only limitation posed to the options available will be mostly dictated by your wallet.

Starting from the complete dry-carbon set of inlet piping, intercooler piping and airbox.

To the Z-tune aero kit, again, all realized in dry-carbon fiber for a cost of almost four times the normal parts. 

Definitely quite an interesting menu.

Even the newer and less sportier Nissan models like the March receive attention from Nismo, as this set of Öhlins shocks developed for the model testifies.

The shelves are literally filled with the whole Nismo product lineup, including oils, wheels and everything in between.

This includes also a trio of the most powerful (and expensive) engines developed by Omori Factory.

The track-focused R2 with the new R35 GT-R injectors.

The 2.8 liter stroked F-Sport R.

And the smoother S2, developed with street performance in mind.

Before leaving I could also spend some time with Ochiai-san who was doing some fine tuning on the Fairlady Z 380RS owned by Omori Factory, in light of an upcoming customer circuit driving lesson.

Ochiai-san is a big fan of this car and explained that, if you like drifting and oversteering, is probably a better track machine than the BNR34.

Speaking of which, I couldn't resist but admire this gorgeous Bayside Blue model parked beside the entrance: not my favorite color, but the light was just so "right" when I took this shot.

Experiences like today truly embody the best of what Japan car culture has to offer. Sure, owning a R34 GT-R is a lot of fun, but, to me, it's just half the experience: visiting places like Omori Factory or NPCT, meeting fellow enthusiasts at Tatsumi, blasting through Tokyo at night and building new relationships with people who share the same passion is what truly make it so special.

And the amazing sunset setting over Yokohama bay on my way back home surely reminded me how grateful I am to be able to enjoy these things.

Until next time

Friday, February 17, 2017

Omori Factory Tour Part 1 - Meet your Heroes

Omori Factory, just mentioning the name or posting a random photo is usually enough to call for hundreds of "likes" and "thumbs up" on social outlets. This should be no surprise: Nismo HQ is to GT-R fans what Maranello is to Ferrari tifosi (fan in Italian).

Nissan Motorsport International relocated to this brand new, state of the art facility back in 2013 to keep up with its plan to further expand the Nismo brand as well as international Motorsport activities. Its sleek design and the building sharp lines draw inspiration from the Japanese katana, while the red, black and grey main colors used for the finishing touches are faithful to Nismo tradition.

While many fans are familiar with the showroom and tuning facility, lots of people ignore that it's here that Nismo develops, builds and maintain the racing cars and prototypes fielded in Japanese series such as Super GT. On top of it, the complex also hosts a powerplant facility.

The parking usally hotst plenty of Nissan goodness: from GT-R to Fairlady Z from all generation, owners come and go with some of them just stopping by to look around, and others as actual customers.

The Nissan R390 GT1 prototype bolted vertically on the wall in front of the main entrance is another hint that you are about to step into a very special place. This is not a mock-up either, but one of the actual 3 racers that entered the Le Mans 24h in 1998, completed with Carlos Ghosn's - Nissan CEO - signature on the rear wing.

The sharp lines and design continue inside the showroom, with historic racers displayed on the left and road cars on the right.

Models are always on rotation and this time I was lucky enough to find the holy grail of BNR34 on display: the legendary Nismo Z-tune.

This is the car that we all have admired in the Best Motoring video review with Naoki Hattori at the wheel back in the days.

Finished in the signature KYO Silver shade it looks like a proper weapon, ready to attack the circuit.

For about 30 minutes I was actually the only visitor at the showroom and I took advantage of my time alone with the Z-tune to drink in all its shapes and details.

Starting from the dry-carbon rear spoiler flap.

To the R-tune hood (with a view).

As some of you may know, in order to fit independent transmission and rear differential cooler units, the Z-tune wasn't equipped with the BNR34 signature carbon rear under diffuser.

The interior, finished in the signature red Alcantara and black leather, looks all business.

With only 19 customer cars ever made this is without a doubt the ultimate BNR34 - I had to force myself to carry on with my visit!

I certainly couldn't complain with the racers selection on display either and, as you can imagine, it was the 2002 Xanavi GT-R in the corner that caught my attention.

This is the very last BNR34 racer to ever carry the glorious RB engine as Nismo switched to the V6 based VQ engine midseason, after the Malaysian round in Sepang (note the TM Touch sponsor).

Talk about transferring racing know-how to street models? The two photos below speak for themselves.

The Nissan R89C was also very impressive: this V8 turbocharged monster was fielded by Nismo in the 1989 JSPC series.

Tipping the scale at a mere 900kg and developing over 800ps its performance are hard to imagine even for today standards.

Every corner of the showroom is filled with memorabilia and trophies that remind how far back Nismo goes with racing and how deeply rooted is into the company DNA

Nismo went full out in designing the facility and carried on the motorsport theme even in the toilets, with camshafts adorned walls and brake rotors as mirror frames.

The drink vending machine is also quite a special one.

While this GT-R logo hides a secret...

...that you'll discover only by getting closer!

The showroom itself is definitely worth a visit, but there is a lot more awaiting, especially if you are a customer.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Until next time.