Godzilla's wrath: Project GT-X

Posted in Cars, People

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.

Nissan hit difficulties heading into the 1990s, and hoped a link with Renault in 1999 would ensure it stayed in the big time. That link would prove important — but total race domination couldn’t hurt. Welcome to Project GT-X.

Though the ’80s wasn’t a good time for Nissan, it did produce iconic machines such as the Silvia S12, 300ZX Z31 and Skyline R31, which launched the RB series of engines and paved the way for future-generation turbo machines. But the R31 Skyline was never popular or successful, as it performed poorly and didn’t have any real racing success. Newly appointed chief engineer of the Skyline design project, Naganori Ito, knew that the next model would have to be the best yet, and from this Project GT-X was born, and the first R32 GT-R was released in 1989. It dominated the race scene worldwide and won the hearts of many, ultimately helping to revive Nissan. 

Although not the most responsive turbo, the GReddy T78-33D sure does make the numbers. The little brother to the T88, the T78 flows enough boost for the Mohammed’s RB26DETT to produce 536kW at the wheels on E85. If only words could describe the noise it makes coming on boost …

Truck driver Mohammed Azad had always wanted an R32 GT-R, and two years ago purchased this maroon 1991 example as a cruiser. The 1991 model was 50kg heavier than the ’89 GT-R thanks to the addition of side-intrusion beams and larger headlights, but this extra weight was never an issue for Mohammed. The tunability of the RB26DETT engine was too hard to pass up, and he handed the car over to NS Spec Motorsports to plan a serious build. The goal was a very streetable Skyline which would be able to dominate almost anything that stood in its way. 

In the end this GT-R didn’t become a catalogue for the likes of HKS or GReddy, instead it showcases products purchased from Australia or America. 
NS Spec sent an R33 engine down to Hytech Engines to have it rebuilt with Nitto I-beam rods, Nitto pistons, ARP main studs, ACl race bearings, and a Nitto oil pump. While Hytech had the engine, it ported and polished the head, and added titanium retainers, bronze valve guides, Supertech valve-stem seals, and a beefy Nitto head gasket for good measure. As the forged RB was to have copious amounts of boost thrown down its throat by a monstrous GReddy T78-33D turbo, a custom-ground set of Kelford 280-degree cams was installed. With its ported and polished head, forged bottom end, and custom aggresive cams, it also needed a fuel system to match. NS Spec decided to install enough kit to handle power north of its target, and used a dual-map set-up which can see the Nitto-spec RB26 run on E85 or 98-octane pump gas, whichever is available should Mohammed want to drive out of Auckland.

On only 18psi and pump fuel the T78-fed Skyline produced a very easy 410kW at the wheels, enough for most, yes, but the team was amped to see what some more boost and ethanol would net. With the map switched to the cooler-burning E85 setting with the Link G4+, NS Spec managed to get the RB humming along nicely with 536kW (719hp) at the wheels on 30.5psi of boost. 

As this is Mohammed’s cruiser, it hasn’t been stripped out like some GT-Rs around, and remains as factory as possible for the best comfort. The addition of the much-more-supportive R33 GT-R seat keeps occupants from flying around the cockpit, and the fuel system is completely hidden, to retain the full use of the boot

On an older tune of 435kW at the wheels, Mohammed managed a very rapid 11.2-second run down the quarter mile, but he’s yet to run with the new set-up, though he’s confident he’ll be kicked off the blacktop until he gets a roll cage. 
We all knew GT-R drivelines were tough, but he only had to upgrade the clutch to an OS Giken unit — that is seriously tough. How many stock drivelines do you know that are capable of handling this much power and torque? 

Mohammed told us he doesn’t get to drive the GT-R too much, as work is so busy at the moment, but he thoroughly enjoys it when he does get the chance. He says the cabin is comfy thanks to a pair of R33 GT-R seats, and the stereo keeps the occupants entertained — when they’re not holding on for dear life. 
Mohammed’s R32 just proves you don’t need a complicated set-up to go fast, have fun, and cruise with your mates, as his package is fairly straightforward — it’s big, but simple nonetheless. 

1991 Nissan Skyline GT-R (BNR32)


  • Model: R33 RB26DETT, 2600cc, six cylinder
  • Block: Nitto oil pump, Nitto I-beam rods, Nitto forged pistons, ARP main studs, ACL race bearings, machined, bored and balanced by Hytech Engines
  • Head: Ported and polished by Hytech Engines, custom NS Spec Motorsport–fettled Kelford Cams 280-degree cams, Kelford valve springs and titanium retainers, bronze valve guides, Supertech valve stem seals, Nitto head gasket, ARP head studs
  • Intake: Four-inch intake pipe, K&N air filter
  • Turbo: GReddy T78-33D, GReddy turbo manifold
  • Wastegate: GFB 50mm 
  • BOV: TiAL 50mm
  • Fuel: Custom NS Spec Motorsport 745kW/1000hp in-tank fuel pump, Aeromotive A1000 Teflon braided fuel lines, Aeromotive fuel filter, 1400cc injectors, Tomei Type L fuel-pressure regulator
  • Ignition: Splitfire coil packs
  • Exhaust: Three-inch system, AdrenalinR muffler
  • Cooling: Aluminium radiator, twin electric fans
  • ECU: Link G4+, Link G4 boost-control solenoid 
  • Other: Custom oil catch can with braided lines, modified coil-pack cover


  • Gearbox: Factory five-speed
  • Clutch: OS Giken twin-plate
  • Flywheel: Factory
  • Diff: Factory LSD


  • Struts: BC BR Series coilovers
  • Springs: BC
  • Brakes: (F) Factory four-pots (R) Factory twin-pots


  • Wheels: 18x9.5-inch Rota Grids
  • Tyres: 255/40R18 Faralong


  • Paint: Factory 
  • Enhancements: Fibreglass bonnet, N1 boot lip, tinted windows, HID headlight kit


  • Seats: R33 GT-R 
  • Steering wheel: Factory
  • Instrumentation: HKS boost gauge, Prosport exhaust-temp gauge, 260kph gauge cluster
  • Other: Nismo gear knob


  • Power: 536kW (719hp) at the wheels on 30.5psi of boost
  • 0-400m: 11.2 seconds at 132mph/212kph (old set-up — 435kW) 

Driver profile

  • Driver/owner: Mohammed Azad
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Auckland 
  • Build time: One year
  • Length of ownership: Two years 
  • Thanks: My wife and kids, John at NS Spec Motorsport, Imraz, Afzal, Popszla, Mangere City, Nitto, Hytech Engines, Kelford Cams, Motul NZ

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:

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.