Tuesday, April 30, 2019

2020 GT-R Nismo

It’s been a while and a few busy weeks since my last post, but hopefully I’ll be able to share soon what I’ve been up to. In the meantime I thought I’d share a few shots of the new 2020 GT-R Nismo that I took at Nissan Crossing on the very day of its launch in New York.

The car is an absolute piece of kit and a showcase of how skillful Nissan has become in the carbon composite department. The aero upgrades start with the new vented carbon fenders: derived from GT3 racing they are designed to eliminate some of the aerodynamic lift, but look a bit too add-on-ish in their design. Personally I prefer the N-attack package ones.

The carbon treatment has been carried on to  the bonnet, too. In line with modern standards, the construction of the NACA duct is absolutely perfect and while it obviously holds no comparison, it makes the old carbon bonnet of the R34 V-spec II even more impressive for its era.

In what is possibly a first for Nissan, the car also sports a carbon roof. I am no engineer, but I’m not sure what the performance gains will be on a car that is so tall and heavy by design.

Besides the new turbos (buried in the engine bay) that allegedly provide 30% more response, the biggest performance upgrade has to be the massive Brembo carbon-ceramic setup (410mm up front and 390mm at the rear).

They will surely come handy on track, but the bright yellow color of the calipers (apparently chosen for its heat resistance) doesn’t really match the overall look of the car in my eyes.

You might have already guessed it by the tone of the post, but I have to confess that this is the first “new” GT-R model that leaves me a bit dubious: as impressive as it is also shows how badly Nissan needs to retire a car that has done everything it could for the brand and the fans, and then some.

In my opinion a model can be face-lifted so many times before it starts to detract from the original ethos and the R35 has really started to see one too many variations. Between pre and post MY17 face-lift, I lost count of the number of limited edition released for the R35, so much so that I’m not anymore sure what the really special ones are. And this is something that should never happen.

To further add to this point, this is probably not even the last iteration of the model as Nissan will surely release one final edition before ending its production sometimes after 2020.

The 50th Anniversary model was on display on the first floor and while the Wangan Blue color is a nice nostalgic move and a nod to the original Bayside Blue (not the same color code though), everything else is a bit of a disaster.

The quality of the stripe is simply poor, the huge font decal on the back is horrible and the overall design is something that looks carried straight from a Hot Wheels model car. The GT-R is undoubtedly Nissan’s most iconic car and to think that this was the best product they could realize to commemorate a once in a century milestone like its 50th anniversary is a bit sad. What a missed opportunity.

If you are a GT-R fan you probably are also a Nissan fan, and being attached to a brand often means forgiving it a few missteps, but also being a harsh critic as you want to see it doing well. Nissan is going through its toughest time since the bankruptcy woes of the lates 90’s and I look forward to seeing the brand returning to its former splendor soon.

Until next time.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Patience & Sakura

One thing I learned about car restoration and tuning projects is that patience is the name of the game: they will inevitably take longer than expected. A couple weeks delay has turned in almost a month and now my GT-R should be ready before Golden Week. It’s really 95% finished and awaiting just a few final touches, but the good news are that it turned even better than I originally imagined.

No car means more killing time around and sakura season has helped with that as I spent a couple of afternoons enjoying one of the most famous Japanese traditions.

Today I headed to Odaiba for some car spotting at Motorsport Japan.

Nothing too different from the previous editions, but great weather, cool cars and coffee always make it for a good morning.

It was cool to see one of the most iconic Italian rally heroes receiving much love from Japanese enthusiast. It does make me wonder what would have taken in the 80’s to import one of these from Italy, but Japan is renowned for being home of some very passionate collectors.

The event is divided in two parts: a sort of concourse d’elegance for vintage JDM metal and rally cars replicas and some promotional booths and small events to promote sports cars and motorsport to the general public. Nothin earth shattering, but it was cool to see the old JGTC Fairlady Z on display.

I have a soft spot for this racecar and I think it looks as good as the BNR34 that it replaced in 2004.

I love the vintage Nismo stickers and Super Coppermix mascotte!

And, of course, if cars are not enough you can always count on Japan being Japan and nonchalantly place a real-life sized Gundam next to a shopping mall.

Bonus points: I scored a very old 1:43 scale model of the old Nissan Prince BNR34 that competed in Super Taikyu N1 back in 1999 for a mere ¥2,000! Some of the staff that now works at Nismo Performance Centre in Setagaya, like Yamada-san, used to work as race mechanics of this very team and honed their skills on track before start taking care of road going customer cars.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Until next time.