BUILD: HEASMAN STEERING R35 GT-R

- Words: Ryan Lewis. Photos: MJ Digital.

If you lined up the crème de la crème of Japanese performance cars past and present, the R35 would come out on top in every test. It’s the most supreme example of Nissan’s engineering prowess, and the flag bearer for Japan at the elite end of supercar territory. It’s as close to perfection as we’ve seen from any Japanese automaker. So how do you improve on perfection? That’s the battle that Heasman Steering & Suspension have been fighting for the last three years. How do you take an R35 to even higher levels of performance?

Their working project is this menacing GT-R in our photos here. We spoke with Brad at Heasman Steering and Suspension to find out just what has gone into making this an even more potent track package for their customer.

“The owner bought the car from Nissan brand new in 2009, and never intended to go this far. He did a few simple things at first like exhaust, tune, discs and pads. Then he took it to Bathurst for the five-day Drive Bathurst event in 2009. The car went well and it was all downhill with mods from there.”

Heasman’s have extensive experience with race cars of all types, building and maintaining competitive cars from many codes of motorsport. They can handle anything from a basic track-focused wheel alignment all the way up to a complete race-ready overhaul of your suspension and steering setup for those who want the ultimate result.

“Back when we started, because the car was so new, there were no other GT-Rs to look at to see what others had tried or to see any problems people had experienced with products, etc. No-one had really modified theirs as much as this.”

“Initially it was a bit of a daunting task trying to get one of the best handling cars in the world to handle better, but we put the Bilsteins in it, bigger sway bars, adjustable arms, played with the wheel alignment, and it responded very well to the mods.”

It’s easy to skip over the details when Brad says they “put the Bilsteins in it”, but these are far from the regular shocks you would expect to see in an R35; they’re Bilsten MDS (Modular Damping System) coilover shocks. Made from aluminium they reduce weight and improve cooling, each corner features an independent rebound and compression adjustable shaft, which is why you’ll see two dials on the strut top below.

“We also added the front splitter, raised the rear wing up, modified the endplates on the wing and added the front canards. It made a good difference to the car at high speed. The owner was happy with how it felt, so now it’s just a matter of getting the setup right for each track we go to and making sure we keep Miles happy with how the car feels.”

Obviously Brad and the boys at Heasman Steering and Suspension are doing something right, because Miles has been clocking up records all over the place. “Last year it got the fastest ever time for a road-registered car around Bathurst. It did a 2:15:00 lap, and then drove all the way back to Sydney. It does a 1:13 around Sandown, which is the same as the rear end of the V8 Supercar field!”

Miles has also taken it on the new Sydney Motorsport Park ‘Long Circuit’ at Eastern Creek. It mustered an impressive 1:58, which will become more relevant as that full track is raced by more people over the next year. Brad says, “I have ridden as a passenger in it at Phillip Island and Sandown. It is like nothing else I have ever been in. The acceleration and grip is just a joke!”

Croydon Racing Development have been at the helm to push more power out of the GT-R. They’ve called upon some of Japan’s finest aftermarket tuners (and a few from Australia) to get the R35 to where it is. Key to the epic output they’ve achieved is the HKS GT800 turbo kit, named for it’s ability to produce 800hp from the VR38. The motor was torn down and upgraded with the necessary forged HKS internals. The included 95.5mm pistons are OEM replacements so they can be installed in the cylinders without modification to the plasma coated walls.

COBB software takes care of the tune, and an Aussie-made MoTeC digital dash looks after data logging. More Australian-made mods can be found in the engine bay with a high volume oil sump from Willall Racing in South Australia. The custom roll cage was also made and installed here in the land downunder.

You can’t achieve the lap times of this GT-R without signifcant weight reduction. Carbon doors from Top Racing HK helped with that, as did the Top Secret carbon bonnet and custom HRE wheels. Wrapping those incredible wheels are Michelin slicks.

Despite stripping a good chunk of weight out of the car, a hefty brake setup had to be fitted to get the car pulling up properly. AP Racing ‘J Hook’ rotors and Carbotek XP 16 pads are about as good as it gets. Also fitted is a Willall Racing water spray brake cooling system.

“At the moment it’s running 470awkW. If we go any higher with boost the gearbox starts slipping. Right now we’re waiting on a HKS gearbox upgrade so we can turn the power up all the way! That’s really all the plans for the future. The owner doesn’t want to do any more to it, just keep it running and try to get a lot of track time in it next year.”

SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE:
- HKS GT800 turbo kit
- HKS pistons, rods, cams
- COBB tuning software
- HKS spark plugs
- Willall Racing high volume oil sump
- HKS intercooler
- HKS blow off valve
- HKS transmission cooler
- ID 2000cc injectors
- GReddy XL titanium exhaust
- Top Secret oil catch can

DRIVELINE:
- Willall Racing transmission fluid

SUSPENSION & BRAKES:
- Bilstein MDS custom adjustable coilover shocks
- Eibach springs
- Dodson adjustable camber arms
- Forged Performance sway bars
- AP Racing J Hook rotors
- Carbotek XP16 brake pads
- Willall Racing brake spray kit
- Braided brake lines

WHEELS & TYRES:
- HRE custom wheels
- Michelin racing slicks (F: 28/71/18, R: 31/71/18)

BODYWORK:
- Top Secret carbon bonnet
- Top Racing HK carbon doors
- Aeromotions rear wing
- Power House Amuse front splitter

INTERIOR:
- Killer Customs roll cage
- Recaro seats
- Sabelt harnesses
- MoTeC data logging digital dash

PERFORMANCE:
- 470awkW (630awhp)

4 Responses to “BUILD: HEASMAN STEERING R35 GT-R”

  1. William says:

    WOW! Epic build, awesome photos, awesome article.

  2. Steven says:

    Very nice feature. Any videos of this thing at the track? If Heasman get to see this everyday, I want their job!

  3. Jamos says:

    This car is sick! Props to Heasmans, hear good things of them.

  4. Tony says:

    After taking vehicles to Heasmanss now for 52 years for generally Bilsteins etc and their expertise…I have not had the money to spend on these radical upgrades however I have spent weeks if not months at their workshops.As a teenager time it was to have dual action conversions of knee action shocks in vehicles I’d properly “hotted-up” Buick straight 8′s Pontiacs, the full works…then after over 100 Yank cars I went European in 1966 and never looked back though I love some of the Buicks still….

    The Japs have seriously taken over high performance with Italian and French machines and German suffering mergers and high prices. The iconic Porsche is no longer the top car nor is Ferrari,both need a significant driver to keep safe at speed. The SAAB of which

    I have the most desirables of the 9000′s has come to an ignominious end though hopefully Sweden will keep being the parts manufacturers with China (groan) using the vehicle for electric systems.The 9000 2.3 Carlsson was a rare car with only 122 manufactured and only 25 inported to Australia. That and the aero are significantly fast cars with good looks and good handling and intrinsic shell safety still 17-22 years later.As usual mine go to Heasmans whhter shocks and springs are good or bad….I rely on them implicitely. The driver is of course the added factor…driving is a trade to learn and however skilled you are, the car relies on you as you rely on it…

    Now to the Nissan.All mods cost cash and mods with no previous references means time and trackwork, maths and corroboration with say, Bilstein. Their Bilstein specialist travels to Germany for training updates. To be able to determine nuances in handling upgrades requires great skill.To improve the world’s best suspension designed by possibley the geatest Japanese road car specialist of the last 20 years who are in the market against fast cars in a wealthy nation where respect is exhibited in the car one drives really takes some science. This is not making a holden beat a Porshe, this is the worlds to car being made to beat any other one of the same model.

    In all the time I have known the owner of this business, since he was an apprentice, since the death of AJ he has worked in the pit…checking very car, driving every car, suspension tuning every car, dictating the final decisons.How many owners of a major business spend their days in the pit whilsy staff handle the cleaner work…?

    I admire Doug as one of the best successful true business men in this country as well as absolutely competent and with an amazing resiliance and personality…and he deserves any and every accolade.This pklace would be a mile ahead if even 20% of the company executives had his management skill determination and methodical goal setting… inherent, learned and devised.

    I drive from Qld to Sydney to have my cars done….I stop nowhere else for suspension work. Recently however I paid 150 to have two experts remove a frozen rear shock. One did nothing competent and wouldn’t grind the collar (no tools…$75 for trying then off to the rego place…$75 to cut it off and put on my new shock.Ouch!!…with one end of the shock already unbolted!! They didn’t notice at Rego check that the upper control arm bolts were so loose all the shims had fallen out…puzzling me about inconsistent steering in corners with new tyres and a full rego check …Heasman picked it up straight away.

    The QA stops with Doug…no delegating even though Peter has spent his working life there as has Paul, he Bilstein scientist and both are more competent than pretty well anyone and could take Doug’s place were he sick or away…. Brad…well we don’t want to praise him too much or he’ll take it easy floating on a cloud of ‘is there more’?LOL!! but he’ll end up a champion if he absorbs everything because no one could be in a better team to move forward, no one could have been born into such a well made busines structure and financial solidarity between the two aspects of Heasmans….supply and professional fitting…and of course science as with this Nissan.Like all Heaman’s employees Brad has access to top cars and to own top cars within his permitted outlay and modify them. It’s a life at Heasman’s, not just a job.They work long hours and they know everything they do will be thoroughly checked by the Boss and that everything he has said to do, has been done.

    By the time I was 24 I’d owned 125 running cars…I am now in my 60′s…call that 225…I rely utterly on one place only..Heasman’s

    I admit envy over those dial up shocks….Mmmmmm gimme some …gimme some!!

    I should add that bolt-on suspension mods whilst definitely a plus and in Heasman’s case you are buying applied science as your car is independantly checked measured and assessed but the untlimate in chassis tuning involves a next level of professional skills and experience, a library of knowledge in the professional head and reference to pereevious works and to a world wide racing/road expert as is Bilstein.

    If you are serious…Heasmans gets as serious as you want and can afford when you want to go to the limit or to somem where along that track.However far you want to go with your car or truck Heamans have had massive experience designing and fitting mod’s for Police, Ambulances over many decades and tested inumerable cars for manufacturers pre-market.

    The fact that people still work there who have spent their entire working lives as increasingly specialists Doug, Paul, Peter, Little Al and now Brad is the next generation as did the workers, now passed on,when AJ was alive tells you if you have the professional experience in management I have had or anything like it that this is the peak of Suspension Speciality and Science and a top employer to boot.For me there is no other place…I tried a couple of the big-shot suspension mod factories decades ago…never again. Voila!

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