Sleeper. A moniker bestowed upon a car bearing significant modifications while maintaining an unassuming, factory-like guise. Often you would hear this term used for sedans, family shuttles, heck, at times even vans. But when you have a car with a reputation and pedigree that precedes it, can you still turn it into a ‘sleeper’ when people already know what to expect?
Perhaps not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep things subtle and ensure that your car can fly under the radar. Such is the case with Bruno Fantoni’s R32 Skyline GT-R, a car styled around keeping aesthetics simple while improving on every other facet that cemented the GT-R’s performance pedigree.
Thanks to our good friends at Team A Motorsports, we were able to draw this gem of a 32 out while we were touring around Osaka; not to mention meet the people behind it too! You may notice that we’ve decided to meet at Exe, an authorized Brabus service shop in Osaka. While this vehicle is quite a far cry from bearing a three-pointed star, the shop’s owner, Koji Suganami, is very fond of japanese domestics. That said, Suganami-san took it upon himself to take care of Bruno’s GT-R upon his acquisition of it. Cars really do break boundaries I suppose, and here’s a perfect example of how brand wars are quite overrated!
A glance from afar will pass this car off as a modestly-dropped, appropriately wheeled, well-kept icon of the 90’s. If you’re fortunate enough to get up close and spend time with it like we have however, a few key details would indicate something beastly is being kept beneath.
Take a closer look at those wheels for instance. Yes they’re TE37s, seeing as Bruno works for Rays Engineering, of course he’d be sporting one of their flagship sets. Light weight, no-frills, all function. But then you look closer and spot the blacked-out Brembo Calipers and think “Did the R32 ever come out with Brembos?”
They didn’t. That’s because those are actually brakes from a BCNR33 Skyline GT-R.
If this car just pulled up close to you coming from afar, you’d definitely want to know what magical muffler gives off that glorious noise from its straight six. You’ll find a titanium tipped muffler out back, and then you’ll look closer and find a laser etched marking of ‘Expreme Ti’ on its tip.
That’s right, a Tomei Expreme Ti Titanium catback exhaust finds itself snaking through the underside of this R. A quick tell-tale mark of a full titanium piece are the ‘lobster welds’ that form the bends of the exhaust. This is due to the fact that titanium can’t just be crush or mandrel bent like regular steel, instead having to be cut in off pieces and painstakingly welded until they form the necessary bends to make the exhaust.
Given this exotic material plus the difficulty of actually making the exhausts, these Titanium pieces come at a steep premium compared to their Stainless Steel counterparts. For that price though, you get a featherweight exhaust system that has a distinct sound to boot! With that taken into account, that’s another point to indicate this GT-R’s overall focus towards function.
A peek into the interior shows that some choice modifications have been carried out, with a Nardi Deep Corn wheel and a pair of Bride LowMax Vios 3s bearing prominence. A sharper eye would notice that the radio has been deleted as well (not to mention the speakers as well, as we’re told).
As simple everything is inside and out, you’re probably left to question; what really does make this car tick? Why is it that everything has been done to bring focus to nothing but the drive and the car’s outright performance? If the photo above is any indication, I suppose you already have a clue as to the true centerpiece of this car – That, and you probably know too much about GT-Rs.
Enter the RB26 Fine Spec Final Edition, a motor that is limited to about 200 units and serves pretty much as the ‘holy grail’ of OEM-Built RB26-es. Built with N1 components and NUR-spec balancing by Nismo, the Fine Spec was originally limited to 50 units in 2003 that sold within weeks of its announcement. This particular engine however is one of the re-released motors built after 2009 and is pretty much a brand new crate motor that pushes around 500hp with OEM reliability and useability.
Thing is though, a motor this exclusive and bespoke requires, aside from a bunch of disposable income, some serious connections and an official Nismo-certified tuning firm to order the engine itself. Aside from that, there’s a waiting time of roughly a year from payment to delivery to the buyer too, a rather long wait for something worth a hefty sum! Thanks to Suganami-san’s strings, the Fine Spec lump eventually found its way to Exe and into the GT-R’s bay.
Of course, the Fine Spec isn’t left alone with a bunch of lackluster parts. A good plethora of Nismo and Tomei items flank the motor to ensure it runs smoothly without a hitch. Once everything’s buttoned down in the bay, the Tomei ECU was sorted by Suganami-san himself to make the most out of the motor’s power and useability.
With the internet ablaze with wild widebodies and monstrous horsepower figures, it’s easy to overlook cars as sublime as this R32 from Osaka. But when you understand the fact that the devil is in the details, you begin to appreciate how a bunch of little bits and pieces cumulate into a car that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. If you can’t bring yourself to take time and look into those details however, watching this R’s tail lights as it leaves you in the distance ought to serve as a lasting reminder.
Oh but we can only dream that a Skyline GT-R as buttoned down and well-rounded as this would show up on our shores someday. Hopefully we’ll be able to cover something like this on Manila streets soon too!
We’d like to extend our thanks to Bruno, Suganami-san, and our friends at Team A Motorsports for arranging this feature during our short stay in Osaka. ありがとうございました！
Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R Gallery
Engine and Driveline:
RB26DETT Fine Spec Final Edition
Nismo engine mounts
Nismo metal exhaust gasket
Twin Garrett 2860-5 turbos
Tomei outlet pipes
Mine’s stainless front pipe
Tomei Titanium decay pipe
Tomei Expreme Ti catback
Nismo oil catch tank
Nismo fuel pump
Nismo 600cc injectors
Nismo fuel pressure regulator
Nismo air filter
Nismo air flow meters
Nismo GT intake gasket
Nismo intake plenum
HKS SQV IV blow-off
HKS Fine tune V belt (a/c, power steering, fan)
Trust aluminum pulley kit
Nismo oil filter
Nismo clutch big operating cylinder
Nismo clutch hose
OS Giken twin plate STR2C clutch and flywheel
Tomei HICAS lock
Brakes, tires, and suspension:
Tein Street Flex coilovers
Silk Road front adjustable upper arms
Nismo reinforced steering rack bushes
BCNR33 V-Spec Brembo rotors and calipers
Cusco brake master cylinder stopper
Project Mu HC+ brake pads
Nismo brake lines
Volk Racing TE37 18″
Rays Formula nut set
Advan Sport V103 285/30
Bride LowMax Vios3
Radio delete pocket
NRG quick release steering hub
Nardi Deep Corn 330mm
Nismo GT shift knob
HKS EVC VI boost controller
Rear wiper and Spoiler delete
Nismo gasoline filler cap