Throwing the rulebook out the window

Taking the rulebook and tossing it out the window is something Nissan is very accustomed to, and when the R32 GTR was unleashed in May of 1989 it was to send ripples through the automotive world.  Nissan had created a monster to ‘out-Porsche’, well…Porsche.  At the time, the 959 was lapping the Nurburgring in 8’45”, so when the R32 GTR smashed that by 25 seconds the world sat up and took notice.  Nissan is no stranger to the heat of competition, with the R32 finding its feet in the fire of Group A racing.  Rallying however is something that Nissan has not found success in for a long time, although this R32 could fit a certain niche quite perfectly.

Originally built in 2011, this ’92 R32 was run in the week-long tarmac Targa NZ rally with a twin turbo setup and doing 11.7-second quarter mile times.  Matt Frecklington who owned the car when I shot it changed it up a bit but retained the 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 computers 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 make this GTR a different kind of animal, and lined up at the start of a special stage it would be sure to raise a few eyebrows.  After the car ran 11 second quarters, there was a need for some more speed and the engine was entrusted to ST Hi-tec to push it into the 500kW arena and this is when Matt picked up the car.

As you lift the bonnet you are greeted by the trusty RB26 adorned with a R34 head, while internally the RB runs ACL forged pistons and rings, ACL race bearings, and ARP head struts.  Tomei cams, value springs, valve guides and adjustable cam gears are thrown into the mix.  For the intake a large K&N filter, Greddy catch can, and a dry sump with an avait pump setup was chosen along with an alloy tank topped off with braided lines.

The dry sump was added to the mix, so the engine would always stay lubricated in all gforce aspects of which tarmac rallying throws up plenty.  To pump up the power to 500kW, ST Hi-tec installed a GTW3884R and Sinco manifold, Turbosmart 50mm ultra gate, and Greddy type R BOV.  With such a thirst for power, feeding the beast comes courtesy of 1000cc injectors and a Bosch fuel pump, running through a swirl pot.

With such a thirst for power, feeding the beast comes courtesy of 1000cc injectors and a Bosch fuel pump, running through a swirl pot.  The fuel pump and intake setup installed into the car was done courtesy of the late Arnie Nguyen who was a trendsetter in the New Zealand tuning scene.  All this is good for 680 horsepower at the wheels, or 852 at the crank on 98 pump gas. This makes it all the more impressive when you think that a modern WRC machine only yields 380 horsepower at the wheels.

With plenty of power being created up front, transferring this through to the wheels happens via a Nismo 2 way back, and 1-5 front differential.  Suspension is an all-Nismo affair with Whiteline rear swaybar, and Nissan front swaybar to keep the car stable as it hammers through the twisty tarmac of rural New Zealand.  Stopping power is thanks to R33 Brembo brakes and race pads, with the shoes being Work Emotion D9R 18×10.5p wrapped in Nankang ns2r 265/35 rubber.

The bodylines are quintessentially R32, with the exterior being left relatively untouched, yet a respray in black from Colling & Grey with a N1 front bumper ensures the classic OEM lines that the R32 left the factory with are kept.  Slapped on the front and back is a custom plate adorned with ‘DOPERS’, ‘cyclists are renowned dopers, and also my old Evo was a dope RS so it is a multipurpose plate’ Matt stated.

The outside might be a bit understated, but inside the car is a different story, this office is one that is pure business.  A full MNZ licensed rollcage snakes through the cockpit, and a set of momo fixed-back bucketseats laced up with Jamex 4-point harnesses keeps the occupants firmly planted.  In front of Matt sits a Sportline wheel, Mines 320kph speedo and a Nismo gearknob is within reach to crunch through the gears.  Loitering between the seats is a hydraulic handbrake for a bit of ‘party in the back’ for those mid-stage tight corners.  Bound to the rollcage is an Enduro intercom, and Sparco helmet net, while the doors have custom trim to keep the tidy theme that flows through the cabin.

With the visual cues of a show car, and all the engineering of a full-blown race car this has to be the ultimate street-legal GTR.  ‘The car genuinely goes from a knocking rowdy pig at low speed to a sophisticated supercar’ Matt explains, ‘but 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, the GTR lives for sunny Sundays’.

I guess many would say that this is the ultimate street-driven GTR, big power, looks to match, and a true motorsport pedigree in both name and build.  This car not only goes like stink in a straight line but in the twisty stuff it sticks to the road like sh*t to a blanket.  Just like when Nissan debuted this beast, this GTR will be remembered for all the rules broken and when that rulebook went flying out the co-drivers window.

The article appeared in New Zealand Performance Car edition 254.  For this and more automotive goodness in print head over and buy your copy at

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