When GT-R tuner Litchfield set out to create the ultimate demo car for its fleet, with no holds barred and no expense spared, you can expect the result to be something rather special. As we’ve come to expect from the Gloucestershire concern over the last few years, the realization turns out to be even more mouth-watering than the initial idea …
UK GT-R tuner Litchfield has become synonymous with some of the most hardcore GT-R conversions to have ever emerged from the UK. Better yet, the company’s continued expansion into the exotic world of supercar tuning means that they're better placed than ever to extract bonkers power figures from these already potent cars. The desire to push Nissan's Ferrari-baiter to the very limit has resulted in this, Iain Litchfield's very own car, and, just maybe, the ultimate road-going GT-R!
“We've developed various tuning packages for the R35 GT-R over the almost ten years it's been available,” Iain explains. “We’ve built a few very well-known examples for ourselves during that time. But recently, I decided I wanted to build the ‘ultimate’ road package. Something tasteful and understated, but with the kind of power that was still useful and usable, but not too silly. An everyday GT, if you will.”
Based around Litchfield's already highly successful GT-R LM900 package, the process began with a series of in-depth modifications that would eventually see the big Nissan's V6 craned out and given a thorough rebuild, all to ensure that Iain's R35 would be something very special indeed. That said, we doubt even Iain fully appreciated just how extreme the car would eventually become when he first set about sourcing a suitable base for his pet project.
Finding a suitable car didn't take all that long, and in even less time, the car in question was being disassembled in the firm's amazingly well-appointed workshop. Regularly servicing, repairing, and tuning cars from some of the world's most exotic automotive concerns means that Litchfield's HQ is equipped with some truly stunning tools and specialized machinery, and, of course, the talented staff to man it all. All of these factors would be utilized to full effect in the creation of Iain's dream R35.
“It didn't take all that long for us to take the engine out, we had to bring it up to GT-R LM900 specification after all,” muses Iain. “The package involves a complete strip down of the 3.8-litre V6, we then rebuild it with bespoke internals of our own design.”
Indeed, calling the GT-R LM900 setup a ‘modification package’ is to do it a total disservice, as it's far more comprehensive than that label implies. A battery of forged Capricorn pistons and Arrow Precision con-rods can now be found nestled within the block, while ‘up top’ you'll find Litchfield's own intake manifold, a key performance part and one which enables the firm to make full advantage of the GT-R's power potential. Again, Litchfield's wealth of experience in this respect left them in an enviable position, with a dedicated and well-proven Litchfield manifold kit already available, just itching to be bolted into place.
“The GT-R's OEM forced induction setup is actually very adaptable, but there was just no way it would've been able to cope with the kind of power figures I was aiming for,” Iain continues.
This explains why this car now runs the aforementioned LM manifold kit, plus a pair of Borg Warner turbos with custom compressor wheels, the product of a protracted research and development phase designed to make the whole assembly as useable as possible.
“With the engine and turbos pulling hard from 2000rpm, and a red line set just below 8000rpm, the power band is as massive as it is tractable. The turbos spool instantly and respond to throttle inputs quite unlike any GT-R I have driven.”
Factor in the suitably beefed-up fuel systems (the thirsty V6 is now fed by a duo of pumps originally intended for the Bugatti Veyron), the cooling setup with its huge Litchfield intercooler, and custom-tuned ECU, and it shouldn't be too surprising to learn that Iain's GT-R is now earth-movingly powerful.
“We've steadily built it up and carefully mapped the whole setup, so it's now making a comfortable 708kW and 949Nm, with the EcuTek suite's inbuilt [functionalities, such as] launch control and custom gearbox shift patterns, working to make it that bit more useable and fun to drive.”
The ECU-based wizardry plays a large role in keeping this Nissan in check, but so too does its rebuilt transmission. The OEM four-wheel drive system remains in place (naturally), but the front now sports one of Litchfield's specially developed Quaife torque biasing differentials, while the gearbox benefits from their in-house Stage 4 rebuild and a full complement of heavy-duty internals from Dodson Motorsport, including an overdrive sixth gear for more pleasant cruising characteristics.
There was always more to this build than brute force and power figures high enough to give a Sherpa vertigo though, and even the swiftest of glances at the GT-R's bodywork should be enough to confirm that all is not as Nissan intended. Lashings of subtly applied carbon fibre adorn its bodywork, with the roof, doors, front wings, boot lid, and front lip all having been constructed from the featherweight material. The whole car was then treated to a complete respray in 2014 [in] Regal Red, a colour that helps it stand out from the shades of grey, black, and white that continue to dominate the UK’s R35 scene.
The drastic decrease in weight that all that carbon has brought to the build — not to mention the new differential, Litchfield’s own Bilstein Dampronic suspension and one-off Alcon Super Kit peeking out from both front wheels — means that this GT-R handles in a manner quite unlike any other.
Power is fed to the ground via monstrously wide Michelin Cup 2 tyres, the fronts boasting an impressive 285 width, up from the factory 255s. If the front tyres are startling, the rears defy belief — the largest [I’ve] ever seen on a road car! Massive 345 section tyres are tasked with laying down the bulk of the 949Nm of torque that is available from under 3000rpm, yet they do it in a surprisingly sophisticated manner, with ‘tramlining’ notable only by its absence.
The massive Michelins are stretched over some equally impressive HRE alloy wheels. Unique, beautifully manufactured, and exquisitely finished, the HREs display as much attention to detail as the rest of the car, the drums coated in a red metallic that reflects the mirror finish of the Alcon calipers. Even the spokes require a second glance, as what looks like a gloss-black face is actually the deepest of metallic burgundy.
There's no doubt that Iain's tweaks have turned Godzilla into an incredibly well-rounded road car, with the extra soundproofing added having served to render it an even more capable cruiser, while also dampening the ferocious explosiveness that's only ever a throttle movement away. The car is now a far more grown-up proposition, and one that really can use every one of its 708kW in all conditions.
Inside, the rear seats have made way for a full weld-in GT3 roll cage and custom Alcantara trim. The mix of motorsport and luxury means that just sitting in this GT-R is an event in itself, appropriate enough when you consider it has the potential to obliterate almost anything you care to mention.
It should perhaps go without saying that I'm far from alone in appreciating this GT-R's myriad talents, Iain himself is something of a fan.
“I'd had the car finished for a matter of weeks, in fact I was still running it in and getting used to having that much power,” explains Iain. “Then at the Autosport Show in January, where we had the car on display, someone came up to me, said they loved the GT-R and made me an offer on it I simply couldn't turn down.”
A huge amount of work for not much return then? Not quite, as not only has the project more than acted as a showcase for Litchfield's work, it's enabled Iain to build his ultimate road-going GT-R — even if he did only have his name on the logbook for all of five minutes. That said, we’re fairly certain it won't be his last incarnation of this performance classic.
2014 Nissan GT-R (R35)
- Model: VR38DETT, 3800cc, six-cylinder
- Block: Capricorn pistons, Arrow precision connecting rods
- Intake: LM race intercooler, LM intake system, LM intake manifold
- Turbo: Custom turbo manifolds, Twin BorgWarner EFR turbos with custom wheels
- Fuel: LM fuel rails, twin Veryon fuel pumps,
- Exhaust: 102mm LM exhaust system, three silencers
- ECU: OEM flashed with Ecutek software
- Gearbox: Dodson Motorsport upgraded gearset with overdrive 6th gear
- Clutch: Dodson Motorsport Superstock
- Diff: LM front
- Struts: Bilstein Damptronic suspension
- Springs: Custom Eibach springs
- Brakes: Alcon Super Kit, 400mm discs, CNC calipers
- Other: LM GT3 weld-in roll cage, custom sway bar
- Wheels: 20-inch HRE lightweight
- Tyres: (F) 285/35R20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 (R) 345/30R20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2
- Paint: Regal red respray
- Enhancements: LM carbon-fibre front lip, roof, doors, front wings, and boot lid
- Seats: Factory
- Steering wheel: Factory
- Instrumentation: Factory
- Power: 708kW at the wheels