When you’re 30 Skylines deep you’d better have worked your way up to something pretty awe inspiring otherwise what’s the point, right? Nick Horwood has had them all, GTSs, GTS-Ts, and even a GT-R, so when he told NZ Performance Car that he had an R32 GTS sedan we should check out, we knew it was something pretty serious, as GTS Skylines are usually anything but.
Nick can trace his love of Skylines back to first getting his licence and the R32 chassis was cheap and readily available, so if one wasn’t good enough, it was simply sold and the next one was purchased. Unfortunately as time went on, R32s were getting increasingly hard to come by in decent condition, so when Nick found a completely factory mature-lady-owner GTS, he decided to jump on it.
Because the GTS had a fresh WOF and rego at the time of sale, Nick drove the quiet, reliable, and economical R32 around for six months, until the day the WOF and rego ran out, as he explains; “I only wanted to drive the R32 around in its current state because it had a WOF and rego, but as soon as that ran out, it was condemned to its rightful place; the shed.”
Little did the poor R32 know it was about to have its heart ripped out and replaced with something much more sinister, something which had been guarding the shed long before the R32 found its way there: an RB30DET.
The stock RB30DET had been sitting around for some time until Nick’s father, Shawn Horwood, recommended he have it built by Regal’s Automotive and Ned Kelly from Performance Autos. It was built and machined using some of the best gear in the industry including several vital components from R.I.P.S such as the larger capacity sump and aftermarket oil pickup. An N1 oil pump was chosen for extreme reliability, ACL bearings were used throughout and upgraded rings were used.
The pistons, crank, and rods are all standard, but will handle 447kW (600hp) at the wheels without any troubles once the wick is turned up. Although there are RB26 cam covers on this engine, it is in fact an RB25 head. The reason for this is Nick already had a rebuilt and flowed head sitting at home in the shed, so it just made sense to utilize it. The essential go fast bits such as the large, yet surprisingly responsive Garrett GT3582R turbo were sourced through Speedfactor in Tauranga and have been polished to add to the immaculate presence Nick’s engine bay portrays. If you’d seen the before shot of the engine bay like we have, you’d have a heart attack, it certainly has come a long way.
Once the run-in tune had been completed via the Link G4 wire-in ECU at Dyno Power on a measly 10psi, the Skyline was now ready to drive, however the body was still in poor condition, Nick explained: “The original paint on the GTS was far from appealing and I knew I wanted to repaint it, but I didn’t know what colour. I visited my Dad’s friend who owns an R34 GT-R in Bayside blue, one of the most famous R34 colours and it was at this point I knew what colour it had to be.” With Nick’s love of GT-Rs already having a huge influence on the style of the build, he decided that the GTS needed to be wide-bodied with R32 GT-R items. A pair of fibreglass GT-R guards were sourced locally, along with the front pair of widebody items.
Next, Nick found an R32 GT-R front bumper and it was only a week before the NZPC photo shoot did he find an R32 GT-R rear wing.
“With all of the guards sourced, I sent the Skyline down to Brett Forster in Mount Maunganui to have them moulded into the factory body and ready for paint. The Vertex sideskirts were molded into the guards, creating a very seamless appearance,” Nick explained.
Once the bodywork was completed, the Skyline was sent down to Gavin Pharo at GP Car Painting to have the Bayside blue hue laid on. According to Gavin, the three-layer pearl isn’t the easiest to work with, but the results are stunning. The body was then topped off with black corner indicators, repainted factory headlights, and a set of 18 by 9.5-inch DTM 099 Drift wheels with legally stretched Falken tyres all round.
Being an automotive upholsterer by trade, Nick was sure to have some pretty trick stuff going on in the cabin of the Skyline and we certainly weren’t let down. No factory interior component has been left untouched.
The carpet is new, all of the factory vents are in place, R32 GT-R front seats have been retrimmed and installed for added support, an R32 GT-R coupe rear seat has been widened to fit the wider sedan.Another little touch is the slick looking leather gauge pod to house three water-filled AutoMeter gauges. The cabin is now a very nice place to be, which is refreshing in an R32 nowadays.
With the Skyline lowered down on a set of BC BR series coilovers, the paint completed, the wheels sorted and the engine run in, it was time for a retune and certification. With the certifier not faulting the Skyline on anything, Nick had the Skyline strapped down to the dyno for a few more pounds of boost to be wound in. On the run-in tune, the RB30 made 250kW at the wheels on 10psi of boost, but with only 3psi more, it made a very solid 300kW, 50kW more than before which shows the turbo is now coming into its efficiency range. On 18psi, it is estimated the power should be around the 400kW mark.
“I’ve owned other modified Skylines in the past, some with RB25DET engines with upgrades, but nothing compares to the torque the RB30 produces. Even off-boost torque is really impressive,” Nick told us.
Some fine tuning of tyre sizes, ride height, and power levels are what’s left for the sedan, but this doesn’t mean Nick won’t be busy building a Skyline of some sort. Nick couldn’t help himself, purchasing another R32 drift project which he is currently building. If it’s anything near the build quality that this GTS is, it may also be gracing the pages of NZ Performance Car one day.
1991 Nissan Skyline GTS (R32)
- Model: Nissan RB30E, 3000cc, six cylinder
- Block: Fully rebuilt, ACL race bearings, big-end bearings and main bearings; R.I.P.S high capacity sump, MLS-R gaskets, N1 oil pump, R.I.P.S aftermarket oil pickup
- Head: RB25DET, aftermarket cam gears, valves cleaned and refaced, new valve stem seals
- Intake: 4-inch polished alloy intake off the turbo, Simota pod filter, custom intercooler piping, 80mm throttle body, front-facing plenum
- Turbo: Garrett GT3582R
- Wastegate: 60mm TiAL external
- BOV: 50mm TiAL
- Fuel: Deatschwerks 300 fuel pump, bigger fuel lines, Fuel Injector Clinic 850cc injectors, Tomei fuel pressure regulator
- Ignition: Bosch coils, custom leads
- Exhaust: Custom 3-inch mild-steel turbo back exhaust, Adrenalin R muffler
- Cooling: Oversized radiator, oil-cooler
- ECU: Link G4 Extreme
- Other: High/low boost switch; full engine bay de-loom, custom oil catch can, braided lines throughout, custom engine bay panels, custom radiator overflow bottle
- Struts: BC BR series coilovers
- Springs: BC Racing
- Other: TruHart rear camber arms, TruHart front castor arms, rear boot brace, aftermarket rear floor brace
- Brakes: (F) Skyline R33 four-pot calipers (R) Skyline R33 two-pot rears
- Seats: Fully reupholstered R32 GT-R front and rear seats, widened rear seats to suit four-door, new black carpet; reupholstered rear parcel tray, door cards and hood lining
- Steering wheel: Momo
- Instrumentation: AutoMeter boost, oil pressure and oil temp gauges
- Wheels: 18x9.5-inch DTM 099 Drift
- Tyres: (F) 225/40R18 Falken FK452 (R) 245/40R18 Falken FK452
- Gearbox: RB25DET
- Clutch: Ceramic button competition
- Diff: R32 GTS-T R200
- Other: Custom driveshaft
- Paint: Skyline GT-R R34 Bayside blue painted by Gavin Pharo at GP Car Painting
- Enhancements: GT-R front bumper, Vertex side skirts, GT-R front and rear guards, GT-R boot spoiler, GT-R grill, tinted windows, blacked out headlights
- Power: 300kW (402hp) at the wheels on 13psi of boost