Sunday, September 23, 2018

R’s Meeting 2018 Part 2 - The Tuners

So, where do we start? Well, it has to be from the Global Auto stand, which was located just before everybody else. And with a 400R and Z-tune combo, they were surely flexing their limbs on everybody else.

No matter how many times you run into them, these are the two very best complete cars to ever leave Omori Factory and rightly so, deserve a little limelight.

The Z-tune was build 002 and looked absolutely immaculate.

The engine bay looked almost understated compared to most of the other tuned cars, but the carbon-fiber clad strut towers tell a different story: this is the apex predator of the GT-R world.

They also had a completely refreshed V-spec II in Bayside Blue that had been completed just in time for the event.

It had a massive spec list and looked like a very clean and solid build.

Right on their left Racing Service Takagi (a shop I never heard of before) had on display some very aggressive, track oriented machines.

Enkei and Michelin had both on display two very red BNR34, courtesy of MCR.

While Auto Gallery Yokohama had what seemed to be their street and track interpretations of the BNR34.

The latter, especially, had some serious bodywork and aero on.

Mine’s is another name that needs no introduction in the GT-R world.

Both their R35 and R35 democars looked neat and purpose-built as always.

Although I wonder if the R35 will ever reach the same legendary status as their “ultimate response machine”: those early 2000 Best Motoring videos were really something else.

Talk about rare finds at R’s Meeting: a completely stock car, and a rare M-spec finished in Silica Breath too.

With barely 6,000 km on the odometer this car was never rained upon and in absolute showroom condition.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Three H had on display a BCNR33 that was well far from looking stock.

It’s interesting to see how trends change: on one side the aftermarket and tuning scene for RB26 powered GT-R has slowly transitioned into a restoration or resto-modding focused business. 

Names like Garage Yoshida, for example, have become true speciality shops when it comes to restoring frames and can literally turn a wrecked car back to brand new.

On the other hand the quest to extract the biggest amount of power and response from the R35 doesn’t seem to stop.

The HKS democar especially looked like something out of a videogame; while I didn’t check the spec list I have no doubt that the power figure must be somewhere around 1,000ps.

Some tuners, on the other hand, still haven’t given up on developing new parts for the RB26, and Tomei surely leads the pack. This year they had on display their new cast exhaust manifolds.

The whole system was connected to a full titanium Ti  Sport exhaust.

Robson Leather had on display their democar, which is in fact customer owned. I featured this car before as, being one of the only 9 M-spec Nür ever produced in Silica Breath, this is indeed a rare machine. Personally I think the owner went a little bit overboard with the bling, with a mix of Nismo and Mine’s stickers, chromed emblems as well as the painted lip and exposed carbon bonnet: that’s a little too much.

Back to old school simplicity, as GT-R Magazine managed to put on display this Group A BNR32.

And Top Secret also had a vintage racer at their stand. I always found very cool how these cars would race with completely stock aero packages.

Talk shows and raffles events took place throughout the day, attracting a serious crowd of hardcore Japanese enthusiasts.

Eventually I had to stop by the Omori Factory booth, where the guys were having a busy day interacting with visitors.

Although there is a lot under development, this year no new parts were put on display.

Except for the CRS, which was fitted with an expensive set of Brembo carbon ceramic brakes off the R35 Spec V.

Worth around 4.5 million Yen, these are not offered for sale, but just fitted for fun and to spice things up a bit.

Nonetheless, the carbon weave visible on the rotors was really cool.

Lastly, just when I thought I’d leave the even with my wallet unscathed, I had to grab a pair of carbon fiber sunglasses from the Mine’s stand.

I tried to convince myself that I needed a new pair since my old, trusty Ray Ban have collected a few scratches over the years, but in all honesty this was a total fanboy move. Oh well, sometimes life goes that way.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Until next time.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

R’s Meeting 2018 Part 1 - The Owners

Exactly one year ago I found myself stuck in Dubai due to a missed connection courtesy of Emirates. To my (extreme) disappointment, this resulted in me spending that Sunday in a low budget hotel room instead of enjoying the largest GT-R meeting in the world. That day I promised myself that 2018 would be a completely different story and, as you can guess by the photo below, I am happy to report that I succeeded.

But let’s make a step back, as I spent the week leading to R’s Meeting 2018 in the beautiful Kerama Islands in southern Japan. Well, it turns out that I have a knack for booking my holidays super close to this event as, without realization, I had booked my flight back to Tokyo just one day before Sunday 9th.

But no surprises this time, as our Japan Airlines flight landed at Narita as scheduled, just in time for catching a good night of sleep and then hop on my rental the next day, destination Fuji International Speedway.

The week leading to the event Typhoon Jebi (the strongest typhoon to strike Japan since 1993) passed over Japan causing severe damage in certain areas, but also leaving an incredibly clear sky for the next few days. The view of Mount Fuji from the parking area was absolutely stunning.

R’s Meeting: usually held in the first weekend of September and organized by the editors of GT-R Magazine is the largest GT-R dedicated event in the world. With thousands of cars and owners attending from all over Japan, dozens of tuners and speciality shops exhibiting the latest products and demo cars, as well as some light support from Nissan and Nismo, this is the event to visit if you are a GT-R fan.

You won’t find anything close to this anywhere in the world, and the amount of foreign attendees seems to be increasing each year.

The event is so vast and diverse that, as I was going through the photos, I quickly found myself in a dilemma: how to showcase so much diversity in a coherent way?

And so I thought that it would be cool to take you through a virtual tour from two different prospectives: the owners and the tuners. Personally, I found that walking through the parking areas to discover hidden unique cars is as enjoyable, if not more, as visiting the exhibition part itself. You can tell how each machine has its own story and play around looking for cues and hints of what the owner might have done to the car.

For example: who would have thought that Millenium Jade could suit the smooth lines of the BCNR33 so well?

At the risk of enraging the purists, I must say that it looks much better on this car than the one it was originally designed for.

This is probably the only event where you will find every single Skyline GT-R model in every color shade ever produced: definitely helpful if you are on the hunt for you car and still undecided about which color you should go for. 

Curious to know how White (QM1) and Pearl White (QX1) differ next to each other? The photo below should answer the question.

The right angle and the right light can make a world of difference.

After wandering around I eventually ran into a group of owners from Fukushima, who had been driving since 4AM to make it to the event on time.

The owner of the BNR34 on the left had his car repainted in BNR32 Gunmetal Gray (KH2) and, besides owning a Nissan dealership, also owns the car wrapping shop behind the pretty crazy transformation of the BNR32 on the left.

But, as always, the best surprises come from the most understated cars, as confirmed once the owner of the Gunmetal Gray BNR32 on the far right in the group photo allowed me to pop the hood: the only F-spec engine in the world with a dry-carbon cover, handbuilt at Omori Factory.

The parking areas at Fuji Speedway are everything but small, and I quickly got on a quest, looking for other interesting cars.

Like this Titanium (KAC) R35 GT-R; certainly a color you don’t see a lot of in the streets.

I even got on a mission to find a completely stock car, but quickly gave up.

I then moved back towards the main stand area, where owners who had signed up for the official photoshoot session were patiently awaiting their turn.

All photos are published in a commemorative “Owner’s File” edition of GT-R Magazine and, while the wait and preparatives for the shoot will likely take most of the morning, lots of owners find it well worth it.

Tired of seeing boring, garage-queen looking Nür-spec BNR34s?

Here’s an owner who’s certainly not afraid of modifying his car.

V-cam setup? Check. 2.8 liters upgrade? Check. Big single turbo? Double check.

Not to mention the titanium piping.

Overlooked for years, Active Red (AR2) has recently gained new popularity, with cars finished in this hue commanding a solid premium.

This specific model had some really tasty modifications, including a set of massive 380mm R35 brake rotors and calipers.

As well as being one of the 61 V-spec models sold on the Japanese market.

Just behind the photoshoot area the editors of GT-R Magazine had parked their own personal rides. Don’t let the pristine look fool you: these cars are daily driven and have a combined mileage of around one million kilometers!

The R35 had recently undergone some serious restoration after being hit on track by another car; it is now in brand new condition and fitted with the newly released Nismo aero package.

But my favorite of them all has to be the BCNR33: I ran into this car at Nismo Performance Center multiple times and it always looks gorgeous. I really think that this is one of the very best colors for this specific model.

Around lunch time I decided to head back track side.

Unlike Super GT races you are really free to roam around the pits, albeit you won’t be able to take your drone with you.

Personally I’m just happy to be close to the circuit: Fuji Speedway in a day like this is really something else.

Parade runs and photoshoots take place throughout the day, but the schedule also allows some slots to owners who are rather interested in carving the best lap time rather than the perfect photo.

This is definitely a different world from the shiny, showroom ready cars that populate the dealers websites: these cars are driven hard.

How refreshing to see a rare Silica Breath BNR34 driven in anger, blasting down the main straight.

And the same could be said for this rare pre-production V-spec.

A quick walk-around would reveal hints that the car had seen some serious upgrades courtesy of the Omori guys.

And a look under the bonnet would confirm just that: a compete R2 engine and carbon piping set, which the owner was clearly enjoying, driving in full time attack mode.

Other owners were also prepping their cars, emptying the trunks and masking headlights.

And some very special cars from Woking were lurking in the background, patiently waiting for the R’s Meeting track session to finish.

That’s it for this part one: these were the best and most interesting owners cars that I could find and, if you couldn’t attend, I hope you enjoyed this selection and virtual tour. Tune in next week for part two, dedicated to the best that tuner shops and dealers had to offer on display.

Thank you for stopping by today.

Until next time.