Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summer Update and Obon Festivities

If you are a regular follower of my blog recently you may have noticed a slight change in terms of contents, with an increase of "everyday" type of posts. I have spent much of the past year sharing a large chunk of my knowledge about the BNR34 and, while I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response, I started to feel that the blog was losing a bit of its essence. It's great to receive positive feedback, but, at the same time, continuously sourcing new and unreleased material about the same car can become a bit stressful. I also disliked the idea of driving to certain locations or events just to produce a post; I always thought about the opposite: documenting events as they where happening in real life.

After all, I always wanted to keep this blog as real as possible: in between a personal diary about my BNR34 ownership, but also as a channel to export bits and pieces of everyday, non staged life in Japan and its automotive culture from a genuine owner prospective, rather than a journalist.

No worries, I'm not planning to flood this blog with food pics, but I'll mix up the contents a bit more moving forward. Personally, owning a BNR34 is just half of the fun; owning it in Japan is what makes it so special to me, and I want to share a bit more of this.

The past two weeks have been fairly quiet as everything slowed down for the mid summer obon festivities (Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors). This tradition is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and I took the opportunity to enjoy the local matsuri.

It's a massive event that every neighborhood come out to celebrate. I got carried away and followed the crowd along Sumida river, ending up in Asakusa.

Koto Ward is fascinating: it's a slightly older area of Tokyo, definitely a bit dirtier, but oozes a great late 90's vibe.

I also ran into what appeared to be (to my untrained eyes at least) a genuine FD3S Spirit R.

Ginza is always a great place for car spotting and, while usually dominated by luxury sedans or European supercars, this vintage Z totally stole the scene.

On my way back home I also stopped by a new Nissan dealer in Chuo-ku.

It's a rather large facility, a bit closer to my place and obviously comes with a maintenance area, but nothing like Nismo Performance Center, so I don't think I'll service my GT-R here.

Towards the end of the day I spotted a fellow BNR34 owner, which reminded me that R's Meeting 2017 is less than two weeks away. I'm off to Europe next week, but I'll be back just in time - see you there!

Until next time.

Friday, August 11, 2017

MY17 R35 GT-R - Visit to Nissan HQ

The R35 GT-R is increasingly growing on me: it's incredibly value for money and, despite now being a 10 years old car, still manages to look right if you choose the right color and wheels combo. The 2017 version is the first proper facelift of the model and some says a needed one, as Nissan plans to sell the R35 until at least 2020.

I visited Nissan HQ to take a closer look and I must admit that the changes do work. The car now looks sharper and more aggressive and I really don't mind the new Ultimate Shining Orange color.

The redesigned interior is obviously where Nissan did most of the work and it shows: the MY17 GT-R looks way cleaner, especially the center console area.

The Track edition engineered by Nismo is my favorite version of the model.

It sports a few signature touches, like the dry carbon rear spoiler, sportier seats and Nismo wheels. Nissan and Nismo are actually getting quite good with carbon fiber work on road cars.

It's always good to see Nissan paying homage to its heritage, like this pair of Group C prototypes on display testifies.

Porsche has recently announced its withdrawal from the LMP1 category in the WEC series, thus basically signing off the death of the Prototype category. Nissan attempt to a comeback to LeMans in 2015 was nothing short of disastrous - a real shame considering the brand history.

I have a feeling that it will be a very long time before we'll see again on track anything remotely close to these monsters.

Some of my all time favorite JGTC racers were also on display.

The 1999 championship winning Pennzoil GT-R has arguably the most recognizable livery, thanks to Gran Turismo.

This was by far my favorite car in the game and I must have clocked thousands of laps with it back in the days - love it.

The bodywork of these machines became more and more exaggerated and complex over the years, but back in the days the Group A BNR32 were racing pretty much in their stock aero form.

The Fairlady Z revealed to be a worthy successor of the BNR34 on track.

It won the title in its debut year in 2004 and the road going version of the car revealed to be a successful model for Nissan.

I am a big fan of how Nissan celebrates its heritage and achievements; walking through the hallways was quite inspiring.

I really like the concept of celebrating old models and promoting new ones, all under the same roof: it does give a powerful feeling to think about how many people have worked over the years towards the same craft of producing great cars.

Nissan HQ is an impressive facility, definitely worth a visit of you are in Yokohama.

Until next time.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

GT-R Magazine - 136

There's something nostalgic about magazines that reminds of my childhood, when I used to read about videogames: the wait for the new issues to come out, the photography - nothing beats the pleasure of reading a well produced magazine with some good coffee on the side.

GT-R Magazine is a bi-monthly publication and, not only is remarkably well made, but the editors are actually GT-R owners themselves and usually manage to find interesting topics to cover in every issue. This month the main theme is the latest tuning trends of the second generation GT-Rs (BNR32, BCNR33, BNR34): these models are now 20 years old and tuners have modified their approach in enhancing performances over the years.

This issue features a test comparison between demo cars from major tuners all over Japan: Midori Sebi Center (BNR32), Nismo Omori Factory (BCNR33), HKS Technical Factory (BNR34), ATTAKD Autech (BCNR33) and Auto Gallery Yokohama (BNR34). Pro drivers Takayuki Kinoshita and Seiji Ara put the cars through their paces and share their impressions.

Restoration is a big theme these days and lots of owners, especially BNR32 ones, prefer to invest in refresh plans to bring back their cars to factory condition, rather that increase power.

As I mentioned, the editors are GT-R owners themselves (from BNR32 to R35), and one of them owns a white BNR34 Nür spec with 291,000km on the odometer!

The magazine also features a classics section and this time the spotlight was on a pair of pristine Hakosuka and Kenmeri in pretty rare colors.

GT-R Magazine is also the main organizer of R's Meeting. Held at Fuji Speedway it's without a doubt the largest GT-R event in the world, with participants and exhibitors gathering from all over Japan: a must visit for every true enthusiast.

This year's edition is just one month away - see you there!

Until next time.