Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Rarest Production BNR34 in the World

One of the reasons for my very regular visits to both NPTC and Omori Factory, besides picking up parts, is that I just really like roaming around the workshop areas. Watching these artisans at work is always educative, fascinating and allows me to get up and close with cars that often carry some very nice touches. Skyline GT-Rs are not a rare sight in Japan, but the cool thing is that some of the customer cars are simply a bit more special than others. I have already published dedicated posts to the Nismo 400R and the Nismo Z tune, but last week I ran into what is, from a production standpoint, the rarest BNR34 in the world.

Like most of us, during my first visits to Omori Factory, I have literally glued myself to the glass walls that separate one of the most beautiful workshop areas in the world from the rest of the showroom. Pristine democars, Z tune prototype and all sort of Skyline goodness are sitting just mere meters away, yet inaccessible - so frustrating. Think of the annoying kid knocking on the walls of the dolphin tank at sea world: I’ve been that guy. Luckily - as we say in Italian - “tutto il mondo è paese”, which roughly translates to “the world is just a big town”: once you become a regular paying customer the invisible barriers are lifted and the guys will happily show you around (if you have an appointment).

Last week I stopped by the factory to discuss a few more options and, as I am always seeking new ideas and inspiration, I prefer doing so in the workshop area rather than at the consulting desk. As always there was no shortage of car goodness, including a street focused BNR34 CRS based on a V-spec model. But what caught my attention the most was this Pearl White car with R tune livery.

As I previously mentioned, Omori Factory offers maintenance service only to works cars, which means that all the vehicles in the workshop are either having some Nismo bits fitted or have had, at some point, some serious work done either to the engine or chassis. The car surely didn’t look like a knock off: besides the Nismo stripe livery being period correct, it looked very well travelled, with some evident yellowing on the rear FRP bumper, typical of the Pearl White finish. The color itself looked a bit unusual, but the intense lighting and shiny epoxy coated floor can sometimes play tricks on the eyes.

Besides the R tune front bumper it also had some early production LM GT4s which suggested that this was a very early works car. The bonnet is also a early production model, with no exposed carbon on the inside. It didn’t take me long before I asked if I could get close and this is when Ochiai-san said - “this is a car we are very familiar with: we owned it for many years”. He went on and explained how this was one of the first development mules for the R tune engine, Sports Resetting ECU and suspension packages. Remember the Best Motoring video where Keiichi Tsuchiya tested both the Z tune prototype and a white R tune R34 at Tsukuba? This is the car!

But the biggest surprise came when we opened the hood: despite being a V-spec II model the car was fitted with a zenki blue VIN plate, typical of Series 1 cars. That in itself makes this one of the very last BNR34 produced at Murayama plant, which was later sold and dismantled in March 2002. Nissan still owns BNR34-010107, which is the very last one produced at the site; sort of pre-production, but some of them were actually sold to customers. These cars were fitted with a number of different parts compared to the normal V-spec II, such as V-spec carbon diffuser (the carbon construction was later revised) and some interior trim bits. Those with sharp eyes will recognize the zenki fuse cover box on the left (with white lettering instead of yellow). Some of these cars were also fitted with the old Nissan logo badge, before it was updated in 2001. After the R tune packages were finalized Nismo went on and started testing the N1 engine on this car, including sending it to the Nürburgring for data collecting purposes. In its current form it runs a development spec hybrid R1 engine with Sports Resetting based on a N1 power plant. 

So, lots of cool anecdotes, but what earns this car the title of “rarest production BNR34 in the world”? Well, a closer look at the VIN plate will reveal that this is the only model ever finished in QT1 Pearl White, a very similar shade to the QX1 hue, maybe just a touch less pearlescent. As you can see the koujo (工場 - factory) code reads 5, for Murayama. What happened to this color and why is this the only unit ever produced in it? Unfortunately I do not have the answers, but my best guess is that Nissan just slightly revised the paint formula and renamed it once they moved the R34 production to Tochigi plant. 

The car was owned by Nismo for several years and even featured on the Sports Resetting brochure, before being sold to somebody “within the family”. It is regularly driven and maintained at Omori Factory where is still revered as the grandmother of Nismo works BNR34s. As always, a special thanks to the Omori Factory guys for the hospitality and I hope you enjoyed this little piece of R34 history.

Until next time.

3 comments:

  1. Excellent article i really enjoyed reading that, is it possible for you to confirm how many Rtune cars were ever produced by Nismo?

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    1. Thank you very much! Mmmh, I think I can try and ask. Will keep you posted!

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  2. Great read, always nice to hear some fresh stories from the GTR world :)

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