FROM SHOW WINNER TO TARMAC RALLY SPECIALIST, THIS GT-R ISPURE RACE CRAFT CAMOUFLAGED IN STREET-CAR CLOTHING
Taking the rule book and tossing it out the window is something Nissan is very accustomed to doing, and when the R32 GT-R was unleashed in May of 1989, it was to send shock waves through the automotive world. Nissan had created a monster to out-Porsche, well … Porsche. At the time, the 959 was lapping the Nürburgring in 8min 45s, so when the R32 GT-R smashed that by 25 seconds, the world rightly sat up and took notice. But it was the performance a little closer to home in the Group A ranks — namely Mark Skaife’s thundering around Bathurst — that became firmly etched in Matt Frecklington’s mind. So, late last year, he set out to find his own Godzilla.
After checking out a load of GT-Rs with Faizal Ramzan, Matt came across this R32 through the GTR NZ club, and, after hearing the spiel from owner Ashnil Kumar, it was love. A plane ticket to Auckland was booked and the deal was done. “The R32 for me is a perfect blend of old-school purity and timeless lines, while still being a high-potential race car,” Matt tells NZPC. Originally built and campaigned by the Doobie Bros in 2011, the then-gold GT-R picked up paint awards at Auto Salon before contesting the week-long tarmac Targa NZ rally.
Later being on-sold to a South Island buyer, eventually it was located by Ashnil, who picked it up in race-worn condition. Originally run with a twin-turbo set-up capable of 11.7-second quarter-miles, Matt has since changed things up a bit, yet has retained the car’s rallying roots. While admiring the car from a distance, you could easily be forgiven for thinking this was a super-clean R32 streeter, but, once up close, the slightly raised ride height, Enduro intercom, Monit rally computer, and Sparco helmet net are a dead giveaway to the real pedigree.
With most R32 competition cars finding their home at the track, the twisty unforgiving tarmac of rally stages makes this GT-R a different kind of animal, and, lined up at the start of a special stage, it would be sure to raise a few eyebrows. But if appearance alone failed, the rapid rate at which it leaves the line would certainly make a statement. The quest for this pace saw ST Hi-tec entrusted to push the RB26 into the 500kW arena.
As you lift the bonnet, you are greeted by the trusty RB26 workhorse adorned with a Tomei-packed R34 head, while, internally, the RB runs ACL forged pistons, ACL race bearings, and ARP head studs. Although hidden from sight, an Avid dry-sump kit ensures that the bearings stay well lubricated in all the G-force aspects that tarmac rallying throws up. The body lines are quintessentially R32, with the only mod an N1 bumper, a fresh coat of factory black by Colling and Gray ensuring the classic OEM lines that the R32 left the factory with are kept intact. The outside might be a bit understated, but, inside the car, it’s a different story. This office is one that is pure business.
An extensive rally-specced roll cage criss-crosses its way through the cockpit, and a set of Momo fixed-back bucket seats laced up with Jamex fourpoint harnesses keeps occupants firmly planted. In front of Matt sits a SportLine wheel, Mine’s 320kph speedo, and, a Targa-must, a 195kph warning light. Loitering between the seats is a hydraulic handbrake for a bit of party in the back during those mid-stage tight corners.
With the visual cues of a street car and all the engineering of a full-blown race car, this has to be the ultimate street-legal GT-R, the kind of machine you see pulling out of some back-country road, bathed in brake dust, and with a smile a mile wide on the owner’s face. “The car genuinely goes from a knocking rowdy pig at low speed to a sophisticated supercar,” Matt explains. “Ashnil did an amazing job of building an amazing car, so I didn’t want to change it up much.”
Despite being such an amazing car to let loose on the streets, Matt admits that it doesn’t see as much street time as he would like: “To be honest, I ride my bike more than I drive the car, but the GT-R lives for sunny Sundays.” With a hot, sunny summer right around the corner, this is the perfect time to get out and about to enjoy the car, before a few plans in the pipeline to bump the power output north take effect. Until then, with long summer days ahead and the sun on the horizon, this will make the winding spirited drives over Paekakariki Hill Road even more enjoyable.
ENGINE: Nissan RB26DET, 2600cc, six-cylinder
BLOCK: ACL forged pistons, ACL race bearings, ACL piston rings, ARP head studs, Tomei oil restrictor, ACL gasket seat HEAD: Tomei cams, Tomei valve springs, Tomei valve guides, adjustable cam gears, steel head gasket
INTAKE: Factory plenum, K&N pod filter
EXHAUST: Trust front pipe, 3.5-inch exhaust
TURBO: Garrett GTW3884R, Sinco manifold
WASTEGATE: 50mm Turbosmart Ultra-Gate
BOV: GReddy Type R
FUEL: 1000cc injectors, custom swirl pot, braided lines throughout
IGNITION: Splitfire coils, race plugs
ECU: Link G4
COOLING: Tabata R radiator, twin oil coolers
EXTRA: Alloy dry-sump pan, Avid dry-sump tank
PAINT: Resprayed in factory black by Colling and Gray
ENHANCEMENTS: N1 front bumper, Lexan rear windows
SEATS: Momo, Jamex four-point harnesses
STEERING WHEEL: SportLine
INSTRUMENTATION: Mine’s 320kph speedo, Auto Meter Phantom boost gauge, Auto Gauge water-temp and volt meter
EXTRA: Extensive roll cage, custom door trims, Sparco helmet net, Enduro coms unit, Monit trip computer
WHEELS: 18×10-inch Work Emotion D9R
TYRES: 265/35R18 Nankang NS-2R
GEARBOX: Modified R33 GT-R five-speed
CLUTCH: Exedy six-puck
DIFF: (F) Nismo 1.5-way limited-slip, (R) Nismo two-way limited-slip
BRAKES: R33 GT-R Brembos, race pads, hydraulic handbrake
EXTRA: Whiteline rear sway bar