Saturday, October 17, 2020

BCNR33 Karasu

The GT-R fan base (at least online) is a bit of a strange one: a grainy screenshot of yet another Bayside Blue R34 going to auction will attract more attention than a Playboy magazine centerfold, but most people are seemingly not very interested in digging deeper into the history of the model and look for the really special cars.


I have always preferred models with a history and unique features over standard cars that have little to offer besides a low digit odometer, which is why - during my visit at Prince & Skyline Museum - I spent a good 15 minutes walking around this rather unique BCNR33.

Nicknamed Karasu (crow) by Nissan drivers, this stealth model was a development mule used to test and validate some of the body and aero features later found on our beloved BNR34. The car was tested between 1996 and 1997 at Nissan testing grounds in Tochigi and Hokkaido.

Besides the obvious matte black paint it was fitted with 6 major modifications, starting with a dry-carbon diffuser installed at the front. Pretty rough in construction and with a couple of visible love marks, but the concept is there and you can clearly see how the center opening design was carried onto the one later found in the BNR34 production model.

Secondly, the wheels were upgraded to 18” and shod with 245/40ZR18 Bridgestone rubber. Very interesting to see how Nissan had already finalized the design of the rim a good 3 years before the launch of the car.

Moving towards the rear some serious structural modification were carried in order to improve the rigidity of the frame, with welding marks clearly visible on both the C-pillar and the rear quarter panel of the car.

The description in the plaque next to the car didn’t give many details about this, so I guess either a reinforcement plate was welded in, or some sort of hardening foam was injected between the panels. Either way, it was very cool to see.

The most visually striking addition has to be the upgraded rear wing. Not very elegant, but apparently with equivalent height and angle values as found on the BNR34. 

Interestingly though, looks like the two-piece design with the adjustable flap was later introduced (or perhaps tested on a different mule), so I guess Nissan just wanted to test downforce values of a higher wing?

And finally, a very roughly cut dry-carbon diffuser with a set of fins was fitted at the rear; a feature that became standard on the R34 V-spec model, but that was actually offered by Nismo as an option for the R33.

Seeing the R33 Karasu up and close was alone worth the trip to Nagano. Besides being one of the very few development cars still around today it’s thanks to this very model that some of the key features of the R34 were developed.

And the random rivets, curb damage and welding marks are all part of the story.

Until next time. 

1 comment:

  1. This test mule is much more reminiscent of my experiences with prototype hardware. Usually roughly handled, not very pretty, but you can see that there is something there.

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