When Nissan introduced the latest R35 version of its GTR Skyline models, the marketing push behind the car put a heavy emphasis on Nurburgring times and the amazing techno-wizardry that led to the new GTRs phenomenal on-track performance.
Despite setting the expectation bar high, the cars didn’t disappoint their new owners on the track – but as their comfort levels with the GTR grew, some of the GTR’s new owners started to realize something that Lotus buyers had known for years: on a racetrack, mass is the enemy.
Mass affects the way a car stops, turns, and accelerates. Less mass is good. Less mass means a driver can get more grip in the corners, more stopping power from the brakes, and – with a superior power/weight ratio – more miles per hour in the straights. More mass, however, is bad. More mass means the tires get overworked, the brakes fade early, and – with more pounds to motivate – fewer miles per hour in the straights. Even fuel economy suffers!
At a portly 3800 lbs., even the most die-hard Skyline fans admit that the R35 GTR has a lot of mass to carry around a track – which motivated one New England GTR owner to contact Ohio-based tuning firm Switzer Performance, and see what Tym Switzer and his crew could do to help Godzilla zig.
“The client had some pretty clear goals with this car.” explains Tym, “This GTR couldn’t be trackday special that would deafen you out on public roads. The client was looking for a car that he and his wife could drive out 2 or 3 hours to the track in reasonable comfort, fill it up with pump gas, set killer times lap after lap after lap, and drive to a nice dinner afterwards without issue. Basically, it’s a race car with climate and cruise controls, and that’s kind of a lot to ask!”
The Switzer crew set to work on the Super Silver 2010 GTR, starting with the company’s proven P800 kit, which replaces the car’s intercoolers, intakes, and turbochargers with Switzer components that bump the GTR-engine to 800 hp and almost 700 lb-ft of torque … but didn’t stop there. “Adding 300 more horsepower the car obviously helped its power-to-weight,” Tym adds, “but more importantly none of the components in our P800 package and our new cooling package, which this car also has, are any heavier than stock. When we built the kit originally we didn’t want to make the car any heavier than it already was, and with this car in particular we wanted to reduce the weight as much as we could, without sacrificing the ‘GT’ aspect of the GTR.”
To that end, Switzer fitted featherweight carbon rotors from AP, which cut a significant amount of unsprung weight (the enemy of handling) and rotating mass (the enemy of acceleration) from each corner of the GTR, while improving fade resistance. Application-specific pads, high-temperature brake fluid (AP), and stainless steel braided brake lines round out the brake package with improved pedal feel and increase stopping power.
Weight was also cut with the addition of a lightweight (ceramic-coated) titanium exhaust system, dry-carbon decklid, and lightweight sports seats from Bride. “We chose these seats because of their adjustability. You can be comfortable, still get to the back seat, and it’s not an extreme one-piece seat that’s not comfortable on the highway. They fit the project goal perfectly.”
Up on the scales, this weekend warrior weighed in at a much-improved 3600 lbs, which is enough to make a significant impact on handling, braking, and straight-line speed.
Further enhancing handling is a fully-adjustable JRZ suspension system, complemented by stiffer adjustable swaybars, an underbody diffuser, and an active-aero wing from Aeromotions, which supplements braking and cornering by constantly varying the wing’s angle of attack.
“This car is really an amazing collaborative effort,” offers Tym. “Everyone involved really came through on this build, and the data we got from JRZ and the brake guys at Stillen who import the AP rotors helped us tie it all together into a coherent package that is at home on the track and in town, too. All we need to do now is get it on the track with the client behind the wheel, and dial it in to his driving style – that’s what’s really important here, that we get it right for him and deliver the ‘track animal’ he ordered. Once he’s comfortable in the car, we’ve got a list of GTR ‘track records’ that we’d like to beat. I think this is the car to do it.”
Switzer’s P800 and upgraded cooling packages are available through Switzer dealers. Contact Switzer Performance for more information.