The Nissan GT-R SpecV is the ultimate expression of the Japanese sports car. With grip levels that give the laws of physics a sound kicking, acceleration fierce enough to detach your retinas and more toys than Christmas, it really is a triumph of technology.
The one downfall of the GT-R SpecV is its outrageous supercar price tag, as it's nearly twice the price of a base-specification Godzilla. But what do you get for your extra cash? Certainly no more power, that's for sure. Instead of the 500 horsepower we were all praying for, Nissan has gone for weight loss, less practicality and some nice rims, plus suspension and brake tweaks to justify your extra spend.
On track that translates to a few seconds here or there, but car importer and tuner Jurgen Vallons of the United Kingdom's JM-Imports has comprehensively blown Nissan out of the water with a better-looking, more powerful and ultimately more satisfying GT-R, and saved himself a large wedge of cash in the process.
It's Europe's fastest GT-R.
Let's break this down. This is a Japan-spec 2009 Nissan GT-R that Vallons imported to Britain. His car has custom-painted 20-inch rims. It has that sexually cool 5Zigen titanium exhaust system. It has an uprated H&R suspension that increases handling response to superhuman levels. It has AP Racing "J-Hook" front discs with ultra-grippy EBC YellowStuff pads. And it has a proven 650 hp and 700 pound-feet of torque.
Plus he's kept the interior just as in the regular GT-R so his family can enjoy the ride with him. The same can't be said of a SpecV, as it has carbon-fiber race seats up front and only a carbon-fiber panel where the rear seat used to be.
Vallons is also left with around $60K in his pocket to take the car to the next level of lunacy if he so chooses. So what if he doesn't have that SpecV badge? For the kind of money he's saving, he could have one hand-carved out of a diamond as big as your fist and throw the shavings in the bin.
Cracking the Code
The first issue was cracking the car's inscrutable electronics and mastering the "untunable" GT-R. Vallons recalls, "I was going to keep it stock, but tuning is in my blood and it wasn't long before I had the titanium 5Zigen exhaust ordered. After that I got the AccessPort from Cobb Tuning. Even some top Japanese tuners are buying AccessPort, so that says to me how good it is. Without it a GT-R is almost impossible to tune."
For those unfamiliar with this particular box of tricks, AccessPort is a favorite for e-tuners as it allows you to hack your car's ECU and reflash it in minutes, as well as install custom maps to unlock the bucketfuls of extra power Nissan has already engineered into the GT-R's twin-turbo V6. Vallons says, "With just the exhaust, a custom map and a few other little bits and bobs, I saw nearly 600 hp and around 16 psi of boost [up from 12 psi], so the power is all there — it just needs to be released.
"Adding the intercooler, GTC actuators and new custom intakes proved our biggest headache. We tried so many things but the car would always go into limp-home mode under load, so we had a few trips back to the dealer to reset the car back to a base mode. Mine's the only one in the U.K. [as of today] with 76mm hard-pipe intakes with a forged intercooler. We made the intakes ourselves with the help of GTC and they're going to prototype them and sell them. They're much freer-flowing to release the horsepower and they add a real throaty roar that sounds amazing, too."
Putting Down the Power
What is most impressive about this latest incarnation of Godzilla is the way the advanced electronics work with the all-wheel-drive chassis to harness every last drop of that power and transmit it to the road. Einstein couldn't have created this bad boy, even if he worked for Microsoft.
"I know people say the technology kills the driving experience, but I think it's one of the best things about the GT-R," Vallons tells us. "Mine will pull away from proven 800-hp Skylines and Supras on the drag strip as it puts the power down so cleanly." Backing up his claim are timing slips from Santa Pod, Europe's drag strip mecca of straight-line speed, that proudly record quarter-mile times in the mid-10-second range.
As the unearthly wail from the GTC actuators and 5Zigen exhaust flow builds in conjunction with the blur of flashing numbers on the digital dash (imagine Christina Aguilera at full wail), this GT-R pulls speed for which there are no appropriate adjectives. From a rolling pull in 3rd gear at around 40 mph, we're barrelling along at over 140 mph in less than 10 seconds and there are still more cogs in that gearbox to go. The suspension is doing a grand job of keeping everything stable, and it's like being punched in the back of the head by Mike Tyson, only he's wearing velvet gloves.
Vallons adds: "I've taken it to Germany, Holland, Denmark and I've been all over Scandinavia in it. It does everything. I've never known anything that is luxurious, practical, can take me and the family to the strip, pull a 10.5-second quarter and then take us home again. No slicks, no race gas, no nitrous — just as you see it there."
A Vision of 200 mph
Hacking well over a second off the stock GT-R's quarter-mile time is an impressive enough feat, but keeping it in full street trim at the same time beggars belief. Although in stock form the GT-R will pull 12-second quarters all day long (some tests have seen that drop as low as mid-11s), the level of technology and tuning to shave off the next second or so is massive.
With around $30,000 in extra hardware and labor already in his GT-R, Vallons is still debating whether to take his own Godzilla to the next level: "It's so comfortable that I'm not losing any of the interior just to make it lighter, so the only option now would be to uprate the transmission and change the stock turbos so I can run more boost. If I do that I'd want to see 800-900 hp, but that's some serious work and I don't think I could justify another $20,000 to the missus to gain another half-second.
"Besides, I've seen an indicated 197 mph on a downhill motorway in Denmark and I wasn't even at the limit. That was in a lower state of tune with just an exhaust and a few other bits as well! I backed off, as I couldn't see far enough into the distance and the four-lane highway was merging into three lanes, then into two. I didn't risk it. I think I could get 205 mph out of it, but the transmission is limited after that. But the car is capable of more. Cobb is working on raising the rpm limiter from 7,000 rpm to over 8,000 rpm, and then I don't see why you couldn't get 215 mph."
Who needs Nismo when you're prepared to be imaginative and have the balls to experiment with a $90,000 supercar? Of course the latest reports tell us Vallons has blown up his engine, but maybe this is just the excuse he needs to get that 215 mph he keeps talking about.
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