Monday, December 3, 2018

Nismo Festival 2018

Maybe it’s because it falls just few weeks before the holiday season, or maybe there is something about those racing liveries that remind me of simpler days, when happiness was a few laps on Gran Turismo during the Christmas break, but Nismo Festival is still my favorite event of the year.

I thought long and hard about an original way to cover an event that I have featured already for two years straight, but I’ll leave that to the pros.

To me Nismo Festival is just a celebration of all the things that really got me into cars as a kid.

Those exaggerated silhouettes, those liveries that used to exist only in videogames.

The sound that these cars make is just incredible and no video will ever do it justice.

The event also embodies aspects of Japanese culture, like preserving things and looking after them. None of these cars are museum pieces, and while they surely demand respect, they all are capable of running like in the good old days.

I mean, what car maker would allow fans to ride shotgun in their third place finisher Le Mans racer?

Hard to pick a favorite, but the original Motul livery #22 car is surely one of them.

And while technology has obviously moved on, you can tell that the original JGTC spirit has been carried on and over the latest Super GT machines. I am not sure if there is a better maintained racing heritage collection in the world.

The rest of the event gives fans and owners an opportunity to source parts and gadgets that would otherwise be very hard to find.

The choice might not be as vast as R’s Meeting, but you will literally find everything, including whole cars for sale.

The offer is so vast that sometimes can even be controversial, like the privately owned Robson Leather democar showcases.

Would you swap the hand-stitched interior of one of the only 9 Silica Breath M-spec Nür in the world for carbon and alcantara? I’m not sure I would.

The Skyline/GT-R surely take the center stage of the event, but they are not the only cars. Maybe it’s because I'm getting older, but I liked this resto-modded Fairlady Z a lot.

One day I would love to own one of these, although I’m sure that the owner must have poured a serious amount of time and money to obtain such an end result.

And I’m sure that the same could be said for this crazy pair of time attack cars.

Having visited again just last weekend (and almost every weekend before for the past few months) I didn’t spend much time at the Omori Factory stand.

However, I thought I’d share a shot of the new titanium strut tower bar that I hinted about in my previous post.

Slightly lighter than the previous one and with a design that reminisces of the early 2000s model, it should go on sale soon, probably early next year. New menus for the R35 are surely in the works as well.

The other news, which most enthusiasts should be aware of by now, was the announcement of the Nismo Heritage Parts program for BCNR33 and BNR34, just one day ahead of the Festival. The lists of parts available is still limited, but expect it to expand like it did for the BNR32.

I also had the opportunity to make new friends and found a renewed respect for overseas owners, especially after hearing stories of owners on the brink of carrying whole dashboard panels on a plane in order to restore their car. 

I can only imagine the amount of time and dedication that would take to keep cars fresh and in shape, especially outside the main markets like Australia and UK. 

As always days like this go by fast: this year I (relatively) took it easy with the photos and just enjoyed the event as much as possible.

Thanks for stopping by and, if you haven’t already, I would surely recommend putting a visit to Nismo Festival on your checklist!

Until next time.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Nismo BNR34 S-tune Prototype

Recently I’ve been very lucky during my visits at Omori Factory: almost every time I managed to run into cars that are a bit more special than others. Few weeks ago I posted some shots of the hand-built Z-tune Proto and pointed out how it was fitted with a Connolly Leather interior which was exclusive to UK delivered cars. Turns out that back in the early 2000s Nismo requested five sets of that unique interior and fitted them on few demo cars and prototypes. During one of my last visits I ran into one of them.

Based on a V-spec model, this specific car used to be a S-tune prototype and then a democar owned by Nismo, before being rebuilt, retuned to a higher spec and sold to its current owner. The car was in for a service and shaken, all the way from the Chūgoku region; I was lucky to spot it just the day before it was shipped back. Besides the special interior, clad in all black leather, the car was fitted with a full aero package, R35 brakes, S-tune suspensions and a few other touches. Apologies for the black and white photos, but the car has been repainted in a special color and I felt obliged to honor the staff request to protect the owner’s privacy.

As always there was no scarcity of tasty cars in the workshop area and I had to indulge with a few teasers. The combination of Midnight Purple III and carbon fiber is surely hard to resist.

The complete Skyline GT-R was also undergoing the final preparations ahead of Nismo Festival. Watch for some new (titanium) bits to be released this weekend!

This time I ended up staying so late that the guys had already closed the main entrance and turned the lights off in the showroom.

Eventually I was escorted out of the building through a secondary exit which made it for a pretty exciting yet unexpected tour, but unfortunately no photos were allowed. I can’t thank the guys enough for their hospitality.

Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you enjoyed this short post. Looking forward to Nismo Festival at Fuji Speedway tomorrow!

Until next time.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

NPTC, Vintage Racers and Nismo Festival Tickets

This was a busy week with visits to both NPTC and Omori Factory.

First things first: I had to go and pay for a few parts that Yamazaki-san gave me, but forgot to include in the original invoice. So I quickly headed towards Setagaya and was pleasantly surprised when I found out that a new Starbucks had open just opened between NPTC and the station. This is a nice addition as Sakura Shinmachi definitely needed a wider selection of coffee shops.

Anyways, I quickly stopped by as Sugimoto-san was carrying out the final touches on this very nice BNR34 V-spec II with a S2 engine. Bit of a nostalgic moment as I realized that my car used to be finished in Sparkling Silver too. 

I paid for the parts and checked on the status of one missing interior panel (the MFD front cover) which apparently won’t be available until end of January! Oh well, the car won’t be either, so I got time.

The visit at Omori was a lot longer and, while I didn’t take as many photos as I’ll be back again next week, I thought I’d share a couple of shots I took during my last visit.

The selection of classic BNR32 racers was simply phenomenal.

This also reminded me that Nismo Festival is literally three weeks away and a huge thank you goes to the guys at Omori for gifting me two tickets! 

Not many info this week, but I hope you enjoyed the shots. I am working on a couple of special posts that hopefully will make up for it. I wrapped up the weekend by visiting my absolute favorite ramen shop...where I usually do not eat ramen!

Their chahan (Japanese fried rice) and gyoza are ridiculously good and the restaurant follows the golden rule of all ramen shops: the dirtier, the better.

Until next time.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Rare JDM Hunting at Omori Factory

Over the past few months I visited Omori Factory almost on a weekly basis and was lucky to run into quite a few cool cars. Some of these, like Z-tune #15 or the 1 of 1 QT1 Pearl White V-spec II had their own dedicated post, but they aren’t the only ones.

One of my favorites has to be the Z-tune Proto: in my personal opinion this is the BNR34 with the richest history around. Not to be confused with P-001 this is the development mule used to test all the components of the final car and, at one point, was fitted with the 600ps Z1 Concept Engine and a 8 pot brakes setup. The body construction of this specific model is like no other GT-R.

Based on a pre-production V-spec II model, it was also fitted with a roll-cage for circuit duties as well as an unique version of the Connolly leather interior bespoke for the UK-only models (minus the Bride carbon-kevlar bucket seats). Test runs at the Nürburgring and a small documentary of this car were also featured on an old Nismo DVD that I was lucky to find on Yahoo! Auctions.

The parking area alone is also a great place for car spotting.

A couple of weeks back I encountered one of the few Fairlady Z33 S-tune complete car.

This package that was offered many years ago and included a mildly tuned S2 engine, revised aero, Brembo F50 brakes, S-tune suspensions, semi-bucket seats and a Nismo steering wheel.

On the other hand the Nürburgring lap time of the Nismo truck is still undisclosed...

Lastly, the Stagea 260RS Autech edition is a tru emblem of old school JDM. Hard to imagine today’s Nissan fitting the R35 engine into a production model station wagon, but that exactly what they did back in the late 90’s. 

They transplanted the same RB26 engine found on the BCNR33 into the Stagea as well as the ATTESA E-TS all wheel drive unit.

One of these cars recently received the 1,000th Nismo engine (an upgrade form S1 to S2) and the owner of this particular model surely must love his car as it was in absolutely spotless condition and featured R35 brakes and a set LM GT4s.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Until next time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Life After Crashing

And just like that it’s already November and while it seems that it will take several months before my car will be ready at least I’ve kept myself busy with the latest GT-R Magazine issue. This one actually explores a really interesting topic: repairing and salvaging cars after accidents.

Crashed cars carry an universal stigma on the second hand market, but Japanese culture truly embraces the ideals of preserving and taking care of prized possessions, even if sometimes it means going against (financial) logic. Months ago the editor’s very own Dark Metal Grey MY07 R35 GT-R was involved in a major accident during a track day that pretty much left the car as complete write-off. 

The issue covers the repair process of the car as well as other RB26 GT-Rs and the philosophy behind not letting die something that, while almost damaged beyond repair, still has so much meaning for its owner. The amount of work (and cost) behind the final result is incredible and it was fully documented with fantastic photos as always. This is the same car that went through a complete overhaul at Omori Factory in 2014 (first R35 ever, the process was documented in a special double DVD) and has now covered over 200,000km. It was on display at R’s Meeting and looked better than new. 

Hard to believe that 2018 is almost over, but finally temperatures have dropped a bit and I have been enjoying capturing autumn’s colors in Tokyo while playing with my iPhone filters.

Tokyo has truly some of the best architecture you’ll find anywhere in the world.

And, as always, makes it for a great playground for car spotting - catch of the week: a super rare Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition in a very bright orange.

Until next time.