It’s been almost 10 years since we checked out every evolution of the almighty Godzilla, way back in our 2006 yearbook. So we took four on a trip south of Auckland to see how far the famed R-chassis has come in a decade — and we weren’t disappointed. Last time around our three featured street GT-Rs boasted a combined 1181kW at the wheels: this time the four have a combined 2656kW at the wheels
The R33 is said to be the ugly duckling of the three RB-generation Skylines, but most don’t realize just how refined it is when compared to the R32. Mark Koschak saw these properties back in ’97, and purchased his ’95 example on the spot
“It still has four seats, so it’s still technically a family car,” Mark told his wife in 1997, in an attempt to convince her their four-door Skyline GTS25T should be traded in on an R33 GT-R. Eighteen years later the passion hasn’t slowed down for Mark, with every day bringing new possibilities for his beloved midnight-purple R33.
Why the R33 over the R32? Skyline engineers had a very serious task on their hands when designing it. The R33 needed to be faster, turn in better, and deliver improved safety for its occupants over the R32, which already held a legendary status. After years of development, the R33 GT-R was 21 seconds faster around the Nürburgring than the R32, was 44-per-cent more rigid, had lighter steering, a better weight distribution, more torque, and more downforce. Admittedly it was heavier, by 100kg, and produced the same total power output with only a slight increase in torque. But that lap time proved serious refinement had improved overall performance, and understeer — which held the R32 back — was significantly reduced thanks to the advanced Electric Super HICAS computer-controlled, electronically-activated four-wheel-steering system.
This was an impressive factory car to build upon, and as Mark witnessed first-hand the potential of the R33 GT-R throughout the late ’90s, he knew his would receive similar treatment. What once was a ‘family car’ to cart his wife and children around in morphed into a wild Japanese parts–dominated build. “In 2002 I took part in a speed trial at Ohakea Airbase. Unfortunately a combination of too much boost and oil starvation under braking killed the number-six piston. A tragedy for most, but for me an opportunity,” Mark explained. To improve the RB26’s performance the engine was rebuilt and forged by Advanced Imports (which has since relocated to Australia) using the finest components to be produced in Japan.
Trust forged pistons, Trust forged rods, and a 1.5mm Trust metal head gasket take care of the internal strength, while a Trust oil pump, Trust oil cooler, Trust two-core radiator, N1 water pump, and Trust oil pan sump extension ensure that vital lubrication and cooling fluids remain as cool as possible. When it was time to build the GT-R’s factory-refined head, 264-degree intake and 272-degree exhaust Trust cams were installed with Trust valve springs and Trust cam gears to help spool the large-frame Garrett Mark planned. The Garrett TO4ZR sourced and installed by Dodson Motorsport sits atop a custom steel exhaust manifold, and exhaust gasses are vented through the 50mm TiAL wastegate.
To ensure engine-bay temperatures don’t skyrocket come track time, a T4 turbo blanket shields nearby components from the glowing-hot Garrett turbine housing. The downpipe is heat wrapped, and should temperatures head north, the air intake has been housed in a custom aluminium airbox to keep intake temps cool.
Originally the R33 ran on pump fuel, but in the hunt for more, Mark and the team at GDS Motorsport made the switch to E85. Opening the boot is like stepping into a laboratory, with canisters, pots and pumps taking dominance — all providing and cleaning the liquid catalyst that makes internal combustion. Once the fuel makes it into the RB26 via the six ID2000 injectors, it produces a staggering 500kW at the wheels, which with the factory capacity is mind-boggling for a ‘conservative’ tune.
Mark’s R33 doesn’t just have rocket-like propulsion, it produces its fair share of g-force when it hits the circuit — both under braking, and around New Zealand’s various bends. Tein adjustable coilovers and Tein caster arms provide the adjustment required to dial in this sort of power, and the coilovers are tuneable from inside the cabin on the fly, thanks to a very trick Tein EDFC set-up. An AP Racing braking kit consisting of 343mm front rotors with six-pot calipers, and 330mm rear rotors with four-pot calipers, prevents Mark’s GT-R from finding its way into the kitty litter.
To keep the RB26 in its power band and to provide the ultimate in reliability, Mark backed it up with a Holinger sequential six-speed gearbox and Tilton triple-plate clutch, which is still streetable, as he told us. “It’s actually not too bad on the street, but as there is no gear indicator, sometimes I forget what gear I’m in. But the GT-R produces enough torque to worry about that.”
A committed GT-R enthusiast, Mark owns an R32 GT-R which will be built by GDS Motorsport as a 745kW time-attack machine. He also owns an R34 GT-R — which is completely factory — and an Autech Stagea, a station wagon produced from factory with an RB26 engine. “I have an N1 block ready and waiting to be filled with a stroker kit and the next best thing in turbo technology, dual boost. Come on Garrett, I’m waiting!”
Mark told us his GT-R will be his coffin, and there’s no doubt it’ll forever be under development. After 18 years, why would you stop?
1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec (BCNR33)
- Model: RB26DETT, 2600cc, six cylinder
- Block: Trust forged pistons, Trust forged rods, ARP head bolts, 1.5mm Trust metal head gasket, Trust oil pump, Trust oil-pan extension, ATI crank super damper
- Head: Trust cams (264 degrees intake, 272 degrees exhaust), Trust valve springs, Trust adjustable cam gears, Trust pulley set, Trust clear cam-gear cover,
- Intake: Trust intake piping kit, Trust Airinx filter, GReddy intake manifold, custom alloy airbox
- Turbo: Garrett TO4ZR, T4 turbo blanket, custom steel turbo manifold
- Wastegate: 50mm TiAL
- BOV: Trust Type R
- Fuel: In-tank Bosch low-pressure high-volume fuel pump, custom aluminium surge tank, twin Bosch 969 fuel pumps, twin fuel filters, Sard fuel-pressure regulator, GReddy fuel rail, Injector Dynamics ID1000s, 200 series fuel line with Speedflow fittings
- Ignition: Denso coil packs, MSD spark-plug leads, Autronic chopper plate
- Exhaust: Custom four-inch stainless-steel exhaust, exhaust wrap
- Cooling: N1 water pump, Nismo thermostat, Trust oil cooler, Trust RSPL drag intercooler, Trust two-core radiator, Electric thermo-fan
- ECU: MoTeC M800 with advanced function, single lambda, logging 1M; MoTeC M888 expander unit, MoTeC nine-position boost switch, MoTeC nine-position torque-split switch, three-bar map sensor, MoTeC boost controller, NTK lambda sensor, MoTeC fuel-pressure sensor
- Other: Powder-coated intake manifold, coil cover, and cam covers, custom oil catch can with K&N breather, chromed fuse-box cover, HPI engine damper, GReddy billet oil cap, heat shielding, custom stainless windscreen and rear-screen washer bottle, painted engine bay, carbon-fibre radiator deflector, custom radiator overflow alloy tank, Trust turbo timer, custom engine loom
- Gearbox: Holinger six-speed sequential, Holinger ignition-cut gear knob
- Clutch: Tilton triple-plate
- Flywheel: Factory
- Diff: (F) Quaife ATB helical LSD
- Other: Carbon-fibre driveshaft
- Struts: Tein adjustable Type Flex coilovers, Tein EDFC
- Springs: Tein
- Brakes: (F) 343mm AP Racing slotted rotors, AP Racing six-pot calipers (R) 330mm AP Racing slotted rotors, AP Racing four-pot calipers
- Other: Chrome GT-R strut brace, Tein caster arms
- Wheels: 18x10-inch three-piece Work Amkread
- Tyres: 275/35R18 Toyo Proxes T1R
- Other: Work wheel nuts
- Paints: Factory midnight purple
- Enhancements: Trust body kit, GRacer under panel, gold-plated GT-R badging, Ganador carbon-fibre mirrors, carbon-fibre rear wing, Nismo side and front indicators, Nismo fuel-cap cover, carbon-fibre Top Secret bonnet, Nismo front guards, LED tail lights
- Other: Facelift R33 Xenon headlights
- Seats: Retrimmed in leather with GT-R stitched into headrest, Nismo seat-belt pads
- Steering wheel: R34 GT-R
- Instrumentation: Custom Trust centre three-gauge DIN set housing water temperature, oil temperature, and oil pressure, Trust boost gauge, Trust exhaust-temperature gauge, Nismo instrument cluster
- Other: Short-shift gear lever, Nismo B-pillar strips, shift light, Do-Luck G Box digital sensor, custom leather gear and brake boots
- ICE: Alpine CDA 9855 head unit
- Power: 500kW at the wheels on E85
- Driver/owner: Mark Koschak
- Age: 55
- Location: Auckland
- Build time: 18 years
- Length of ownership: 18 years
- Thanks: My wife Karen for her tolerance in the early years, Lee Sutton and Pete Hopkins at Advanced Imports, Robin van Velden and nowadays Glenn Suckling at GDS Automotive
This article was originally published in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 226. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: