Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week it’s Ben Linney’s 1995 Nissan Skyline Reinik GTR from way back in 2005…
Modified in Japan, worshipped in the UK. The spec list of Ben Linney’s R33 reads like a GTR enthusiast’s wet dream…
Fast Skyline GTRs are nothing new in the UK. Regular visitors to Santa Pod and TOTB fans alike will have witnessed the raucous R32GTRs of Ron Kiddell and Keith Cowie, the R33GTR of ‘Rocket’ Ronnie and the former drag R34GTR of Andy Barnes. Every one of these is a performance-focused monument to tuning. If you parked them up at the Transport Museum, there’d be a queue all the way to Scotland to see ’em – with the J-Tuner team at the front. But if you want an insight into how native Japanese enthusiasts modify their car, then you need to have a closer look at Ben Linney’s absolutely stunning R33GTR.
Ben is a complete JDM nutcase. If it’s from the Land of the Rising Sun he’s studied it, driven it or bought one. As a member of the GT-Culture family business, he spends his time importing and driving some of the fastest vehicles on UK roads. If you want proof that he knows his stuff,
GT-Culture brought both the Top Secret Drag R-II and Wise Sports S15 D1-GP car to the UK, not to mention the DC5 Honda Integras used by Team Halfords in the British Touring Car Championship. So when he turns to me during the shoot and claims he really wants to keep this one for himself, I understand just how special this car is.
During the usual J-Tuner road-test, my favourite part of the ‘job’ despite it being from the passenger seat, we stumble across a Porsche 996. In a rare moment of over-excitement, I encourage Ben to demonstrate the GTRs performance. Holy sheeeeeet!
The engine revs up with astounding urgency, and the smooth soundtrack is velvet-rolled thunder. Plant your foot and the intoxicating deep growl rises to a glorious high-pitch rasp. All RB26DETT engines sound great with just a de-cat and a pair of filters, but this one sounds very, very special. After giving Mr Porsche an education in real performance, Ben looks down at the 11,000rpm Nismo clocks and Defi gauges before bursting into laughter. “I didn’t even have the boost controller switched on!” he giggles. Flippin’ heck!
The reason for this earth-shaking performance lies in the tuning approach. Huge turbos provided huge power, but with the added expense of turbo lag. Sure, you can combat that with free-flowing pipework and clever compression ratio/camshaft mods, but you’ll never match the spool time of a smaller turbine. And when you’re mainly using the car on the road, engine response is vital. So a pair of HKS GT2530 turbos have been applied, with HKS manifolds and external wastegates for optimum response. Rated at around 350bhp each, they provide 1.35bar of boost by about 4,000rpm.
RS-R equal length downpipes are an important component in spooling up the turbos so quickly, but the real source of the power lies underneath the genuine 400R bodywork.
True Skyline enthusiasts will be aware that the 2.8ltr engine in the 400R was built by tuning house Reinik (engine code: RB-X GT2). When one of the world’s biggest car manufacturers asks you to extract more power from their engine for a limited-edition model (only 44 were ever sold), it must be the greatest endorsement of your skills. The previous owner of Ben’s GTR was obviously aware of this, and employed Reinik to build a fully blueprinted engine to produce big power with excellent engine response.
In keeping with the focus of the project (real performance for the road) the engine remains 2.6ltr. However, it is ‘optimised’ using N1 pistons, Nismo rods, a Nismo lightened and balanced crankshaft and a host of bolt-on goodies from Tomei, HKS and M’s Power. A pair of Tomei 260ltr/hr fuel pumps feed 600cc injectors from the same company. Their 260° cams are also fitted; again these are focused at producing mid-range punch. A host of engine preservation mods have been installed, including an N1 oil pump, triple-core ally rad, and a HKS oil cooler.
Power is fed through an ORC twin-plate clutch and matching lightweight flywheel, into a Nismo 6-speed gearbox. It may not be the stroked, single-turbo engine that generic mags get excited about, but the components are both effective and extremely high quality.
Take the headlights, for example. These are the exact same Bellof HID units you’d find on the monstrous JGTC racing cars. Likewise, while it may not be a track car, the previous owner decided that the OEM suspension wasn’t good enough, and that even the 400R-spec Bilsteins weren’t quite the thing for his ride. Instead, £2,000 of fully-adjustable Ohlins suspension is hidden behind similarly expensive 18in Nismo LM GT3 alloy wheels.
But the best, most truly jaw-dropping modification of all has to be the front brakes. How many modified cars have you seen anywhere with Ferrari F40 stoppers? That’s right, the front calipers are huge Brembo items matched to two-piece 355mm drilled and grooved discs, and boy, do they ever bite.
In spite of all the track-orientated tuning items that have gone on to this car, the interior remains loyal to the road-going focus for the project. Sure, there are a host of Defi gauges and a large shift light, but it’s still recognisably a road car. The Cusco roll cage is padded, doesn’t pass through the dash and the Recaro seats are easily comfortable enough for long journeys.
With the greatest of respect to the man in Japan who took on the job of piecing this work of art together, he was mad to sell it. And Ben should be congratulated for looking past the lairy-painted examples with wild body kits and recognising this car for exactly what it is; one of the best Nissan Skyline GTRs on the UK’s roads today.
TECH SPEC NISSAN SKYLINE REINIK R33GTR
Fully blueprinted RB26DETT 2.6ltr straight-six twin-turbo by Reinik (Japan), HKS F-Con V-Pro ECU, OEM ECU with Mines piggyback, GReddy Profec A boost controller, pair of HKS GT2530 turbos on HKS manifolds with external wastegates, 1mm oversize N1 pistons, N1 piston rings, Nismo connecting rods, Nismo lightened and balanced crankshaft, Tomei 260° camshafts and adjustable vernier pulleys, HKS Bronze valve guides, Tomei 600cc fuel injectors, Tomei fuel pressure regulator, pair of Tomei 260l/hr fuel pumps, M’s Power induction kits with cold air shroud, 5Zigen induction hard pipe kit, RS-R equal length down pipes, Fujitsubo
s/steel exhaust system, Blitz four-layer front mounted intercooler with hard pipes, three-core aluminium radiator, N1 oil pump, N1 water pump, HKS oil cooler, Nismo timing belt, air-flow meters removed, Reinik signature chrome-finished engine cover
Nismo 6-speed gearbox, ORC twin-plate clutch, ORC lightweight flywheel, unknown aftermarket LSD
Ohlins PCV fully-adjustable coilovers, Cusco front strut brace,
ARC anti-roll bars, Tein pillow ball tension rods, Nismo uprated engine mounts, Cusco seven-point roll cage with padding and
(F) Brembo Ferrari-F40 front calipers with two-piece 355mm drilled and grooved discs, (R) OEM
Wheels and Tyres
Nismo LM GT3 18x10J alloys with Toyo Proxes T1-R 275/35 R18
Genuine Nismo 400R aero parts: front bumper, side skirts, carbon fibre bonnet, adjustable N1 GTR carbon fibre rear wing, Nismo carbon fibre B-pillar trim, carbon fibre wing mirrors
Recaro SRIII seats, Nismo clocks (including 11,000rpm tachometer), Momo steering wheel, Nismo gear knob, four Defi BF gauges: oil temp, oil pressure, water temp, boost pressure. Defi Link II controller fitted in centre console, additional boost gauge on steering console, red shift light, Ultra Multi mode meter, GReddy turbo timer, CD audio system
Words Dan Goodyer Photography Matt Richardson