Sunday, June 10, 2018

Tad’s Nismo S1 BCNR33 Driving Impression

The great thing about the internet is that it knows no boundaries (well, unless you live in China or North Korea) and really brings people together. Most of the readers of this blog live in US, Australia or Europe, but I was surprised to see that quite a few are also located in Japan, like fellow GT-R owner Tad. Besides owning a Skyline GT-R, Tad also happens to often visit one of my favorite coffee places during weekends.

We met already a couple of times last year over coffee and then again at Nismo Festival in December, but a few weeks back we actually just ran into each other by chance. Turns out that Tad was about to pay his first visit to NPTC just the day after and so we started talking. It didn’t take long before I asked him to show me his car again.

Tad has owned his 1995 BCNR33 V-spec for over two years and, like many owners, has enjoyed both driving and maintaining his car. We started chatting about chassis and frame maintenance, especially rust prevention and treatment. I quickly got around his car for a quick check and was surprised by its cleanliness - definitely OCD approved! But it’s perhaps under the hood where Tad’s car hides its most special feature: a Nismo S1 engine.

Eventually, I had to pop the question: “can I take it for a spin?” - to which  Tad agreed, despite the fact we just met a handful of times. I jumped in and started the car, which resulted in some pretty serious noise courtesy of the Tomei Expreme Ti titanium exhaust. Let’s just say that we didn’t leave the underground parking are unnoticed. 

As we were in the area we took advantage of the new elevated part of Harumi Bridge that connects directly to the Wangan and the loop around Tokyo bay. This was the second BCNR33 that I’ve driven after Aki’s Mine’s tuned car and Tad was keen to know how they compare. I am very realistic about my driving skills and experience, which is why I wouldn’t take this review too seriously. But, at the same time, because of my lack of technical knowledge, I feel a bit like a kid:
I just say what I feel without overthinking and analyzing much. Simple is best.

Let’s start with the engine: with around 400ps it surely doesn’t lack power, although, below 4,000rpm, you won’t really notice much difference compared to a standard RB26. Power delivery is very smooth and the S1 lives up to its name: the power is there, but it feels like a very strong and progressive push on your back, rather than the racecar-like kick provided by the Mine’s engine. Still, 400 is a number close to ideal in a real-world kind of situation and provides plenty of fun once the turbos start working; I can’t imagine needing any more than this on normal roads. If I have to point something out, response did feel a bit sluggish at times and I wonder if it’s because of the very small airbox snorkel that Tad custom built. The previous owner upgraded the radiator with a beefy GReddy unit, which sits just a bit too high to allow fitting the OEM snorkel, so Tad had to get creative, although the end result looks a bit more like an air restrictor than a higher capacity channeling unit. I’m sure this is an area that will be addressed soon.

With its mix of high speed bends, straights and changes in elevation the loop around the C9 is an ideal stretch of tarmac to feel the car's handling. Again, I’m far from being a dynamic specialist, but the HKS Hypermax IV coilovers felt great and adapted extremely well to the smoothness of the Wangan. Steering feeling was also very good and I really liked the Personal wheel, although it felt a bit numb at times. Tad equipped his car with a set of Spoon Rigid Collars and some Nismo extra bracing and body rigidity options, but looks like he’s still far from being finished.

Eventually we stopped at Tatsumi parking area for a quick break. Actually, I did ride as a passenger in the car few months prior and, back then, we were in great company as a Porsche GT3 RS and Ferrari F40 LM pulled over shortly after we did.

This time we weren’t as lucky, but Tatsumi always make for a great spot for car talk. A big thanks to Tad for letting me drive his prized possession and I look forward to the future upgrades.

Until next time.


  1. Wow, his car looks sick. Also, another great blog post coming from you. A question though, is his engine different from, say, an S1 in a BNR34? Does Nismo change components in their engine packages depending on which generation of GTR they're going to install it to?

    1. Thanks for stopping by and, yes, the car is as fun to drive as it looks.

      All engine packages are standardized, more or less. Obviously ECU tuning will be adjusted to each car generation, but basically they are the same.

  2. I believe that Nismo standardizes the engine packages, at least if you read the Omori Factory descriptions this seems to be the case...

    I'm surprised that the radiator is upgraded. From what I've seen coolant temps tend to be less of a concern than oil temperatures. My best guess is that the closed deck block design reduces thermal transfer to the coolant so the oil ends up doing much of the cooling, especially with the oil-cooled pistons. I'm sure ARC has a factory-fit radiator so that should be an easy fix.