Nismo R34GT-R Z-Tune
Ever since the Nissan Skyline GT-R was created in 1989 with the R32, the car gained an immediate following in Japan. Unfortunately, not many Americans knew about it in the early years because it was never officially marketed in the U.S.; but it didn't take long for import enthusiasts here to catch wind of the Skyline's awesome performance.
When the car was in its second generation (R33), the 2+2 GT had reached cult status. The most recent rendition of the Skyline GT-R (R34) was discontinued two years ago, signaling the end of an era (a new one will begin with the 2007 GT-R, which will be marketed in the U.S.). Nismo, the motorsports division of Nissan, is paying homage to this legend by creating a super-special version — of which only 20 will be built — called the R34GT-R Z-Tune.
The story we were told was that Nismo employees scoured Japan for used Skyline GT-Rs with less than 30,000 km on the odometer. Once they found 20, they went to work and built the ultimate GT-R.
First they took apart the engine. The displacement of the RB26DETT has been bored out to 2771 cc. Going by the name Z2, the 2.8-liter inline-6 features, among other things, racing camshafts with variable valve timing and lift, a custom crankshaft and connecting rods, new pistons and a bigger turbocharger. Breathing has been improved via a custom stainless-steel inlet pipe and cat-back exhaust. The changes result in 495 bhp at 6800 rpm and 398 lb.-ft. of torque at 5200. The power is transferred to all four wheels through the stock 6-speed manual gearbox.
Handling has been improved with Sachs shock absorbers at all four corners, and the brakes updated with Brembos.
Every component works in harmony. The power comes on ferociously, pressing your entire torso into the bucket seat. Each upshift is met with a loud wastegate pop, and an extra surge forward. The sensation is that of a race car, pure and simple. Its claimed acceleration figures are eye-opening: According to Nismo, the car ran the quarter mile in 10.1 seconds; its zero-to-60-mph time is around 3.0 flat. That's faster than the Ferrari Enzo.
When it comes time to negotiate a bend, the R34GT-R gets the job done with super-crisp turn-in and razor-sharp steering. Sticky Bridgestone Potenzas wrapped around Nismo's GT500 forged alloy wheels provide excellent grip through all corners, although the rear end can get a bit loose if you get on the throttle too abruptly in mid-turn. Nismo says it pulls 1.0g around a skidpad.
The Nismo R34GT-R Z-Tune is a special car, and Nismo priced it as such, with a sticker of about $170,000. A lot of money, yes, but it delivers thrills beyond belief. — Sam Mitani