One of my favourite things about the V 4&Rotary South Island Champs is hunting out cars that I’ve never seen before; cars that just pop up on the side of the road, trailer-bound after several hours of road tripping to showcase their beauty, and most of the time, brawn. Only minutes after touching down in sunny Nelson, I was making my way to a local café to get my bearings, and some much-needed coffee — as beautiful as the flight down from Auckland is, it’s an early one. Camera gear, banners, and personal belongings in tow, my bright-yellow Hyundai Getz rental was loaded to the brim, and making its way towards Nelson's CBD. This time of year in Nelson, which was a day before the event, you need to keep your eyes peeled, as more often than not you’ll stumble upon something worth a closer look. For me, this car was Hadley Winder’s Nissan Skyline GT-R.
Spotted atop a dual-axle trailer, Hadley’s GT-R was absolutely slammed. But what hit me first was that this GT-R was not gunmetal grey, or any other factory Nissan colour of that era. A few phone calls were made, and within no time I had Hadley’s number. The call was made, and a time that day was arranged to immortalize this soon-to-be award-winning GT-R.
At around 3pm, Mikey Mayers and I met up with Hadley. He’d been under the car all day, trying his hardest to remedy a few camber issues, which were a result of the unsustainably low ride height, and appeared shattered. “Sorry guys, I’ve been flat out all day, and it just got off the dyno at 4am,” Hadley told us.
Mikey and I looked at each other; we felt a bit guilty for rushing Hadley to get the GT-R ready in such a short amount of time for a photo shoot — he hadn’t even checked into his hotel. A decision was made; we’d attend a couple of other photo shoots to give Hadley a couple of hours to check in, spruce up, and have a much-needed cold one.
Two hours later, a much more enthusiastic Hadley met us in a neat dead-end road, just behind the airport. As you see, shooting cars throughout Nelson on a weekday is near on impossible, so most of the time, you just have to work with what you’ve got. Much to our excitement, there was in fact a jet plane getting refuelled just behind where we were photographing.
What was instantly noticeable was how straight Hadley’s GT-R was, which has apparently been a month-long project involving him doing the panel work, and good friend and workmate Blake ‘Cany’ Harpur laying on the brown-with-gold paint.
The resulting finish is simply, well, beautiful. It really shows off just how wide the factory GT-R bodylines are, complemented by the Nismo front bumper, bonnet, and side skirts. What is most impressive about this build is that it was completed in only three weeks, and commenced only one week after purchasing it.
Under the bonnet, things are pretty factory. However, the engine from an R33 GT-R has been transplanted in, with the addition of A’PEXi pod filters, and an A’PEXi hard-piping kit. To unleash that RB burble, an A’PEXi Y pipe and A’PEXi three-inch stainless-steel exhaust system has been fitted. The RB26DETT has been backed by an R33 GT-R gearbox and heavy-duty clutch kit. In basically stock form, the GT-R put out 213kW (285hp) at the wheels, after being tuned by NDT.
Hadley also left the GT-R interior mostly untouched. You’ll find a pair of Bride Low Max bucket seats for their holding capabilities, a Cusco bolt-in roll cage, a Nismo gauge cluster, and a Blitz boost gauge.
The GT-R is impressively low. The Blitz coilovers have been wound down over the 18x10.5-inch Work Emotion D9Rs, with stretched 235/40R18 tyres. Although it’s unlikely that all of us would go that low, it was show time and the GT-R had to look the part.
What I really admired about Hadley, though, was his determination to build something different. This was his first show, and it’s safe to say that he’s totally hooked. Hadley’s flights are booked for New Zealand’s largest event of the year, the V 4&Rotary Nationals, over January 30–31, where he told us he wants to come up, scope out what’s being built, then come back next year with something never seen before. And, you know what? I believe him.