Midway through last season, NZ Performance Car drifter Darren Kelly announced that he had a new weapon in the shed. He had gone from an R32  to an R34, and he now planned on building an R35. Was this man crazy? At the time it lit the internet up with a flame war as intense as those found only inside the heart of Mordor itself. With a championship chase in full swing at the time, and an R34 to keep running, it's only now that the R35 project is gaining momentum — no, actually it's damn near full steam ahead. 

Picked up as a crashed and stripped shell from Dodson Motorsport, it has taken awhile to source all the pieces to make the R35 a roller — something that was priority number one for Darren. Although, as he would find out, sourcing R35 is nothing at all like any of his previous R chassis. 

“Its taken months to find all the basic parts that the shell was missing. I really needed to get it rolling before fabrication could begin. But buying parts, like a steering rack, has proved insanely hard. I have had to source plenty of parts overseas as there just aren't that many wrecks in New Zealand yet.”

Thankfully the car came with the necessary replacement panels to repair the crash damage. These just so happened to be a complete FPR body that Darren could cut into panels. This included the dented roof skin — although a great opportunity to lower the 35's centre of gravity — swapping to the fibreglass version.  

But there is no denying the R35's a big heavy supercar. Even when you completely strip it, the shell itself needs more than a few low-fat snack bars. To further reduce weight: a set of vented carbon front guards ...

And FRP rear quarters. These will be receiving some serious attention to suit the wheel-and-tyre package that Darren is planning to run. More on that at a later date ...

The rear suspension included adjustable arms from Dodsons, along with OZ racing coilovers. Darren believes the rear geometry should offer up plenty of grip. 

One of the key factors to getting the R35 sideways, and keeping it there, is the TDP billet uprights. This is the first set in the world and offer plenty of adjustment in almost every factor from camber to roll centre. Sounds good.

“We really didn't know what we were going to do until we were approached by TDP who took on the task of making an insane front steering set-up for us. It's mind blowing how they have achieved the steering geometry, and the amount of lock with the wheel staying flat all the way through, so I'm really looking forward to getting behind the wheel and testing it out for the first time," an excited Darren commented. 

Function aside, they are damn good-looking chunks of alloy if you ask me.

With the car now a roller, it's currently at DKM Fabrication to complete things like the FIA-spec roll cage, seat mounts, and steering column. In factory trim the R35 runs a false floor over all the cavity you see here. Basically with it stripped, it means a seven-foot man could fit in the cabin if they needed to — lucky Darren is only around six foot. 

That flame war I spoke of earlier related to exactly what will be sitting between the strut tops. 

As you can see, this post is still not going to answer that question. With the engine about to be mounted at DKM, we will be letting all those warriors know in the not-too-distant future. What we can tell you is that it will be over 500kW, it will be backed by a decent cog swapper, and the rear end will be quick-change. This is, after all, a very serious championship.

Check back in a week's time to see the fabrication work in full swing. 

Marcus Gibson

Marcus Gibson has spent his life getting a little grease under his fingernails growing up with a fascination for all things loud, fast, and low. Growing up during the boom of the import scene, the last ten years have seen him work for a few publications, as well as running his own website before taking up a role at NZ Performance Car in 2011. Marcus is as at home with a keyboard or camera in-hand as he is getting dirty in his workshop or at the track, championing that Kiwi DIY attitude.