- Words: Ryan Lewis. Photos: MJ Digital.
If by some strange circumstance I was faced with the choice between a well sorted R34 GT-R and a brand new R35 GT-R, I would honestly take the R34 every time. Call me crazy if you want, or nostalgic maybe, but as far as I’m concerned the R34 GT-R is the last of the great Skylines. While I’m certain the ’35 is equally as exhilarating, I doubt it measures up to the satisfaction of a gearbox with a clutch pedal, the legendary RB26DETT and the far less hyperactive electronics of the R34. There’s also no reason why a well-tuned R34 can’t give a stock R35 a serious run for its money.
The name Steve Ka has cropped up a few times on THE-LOWDOWN.com this year. Back in February we caught up with him to talk about his GT-R build in the lead up to WTAC. Since then Steve’s white R34 V-Spec has been making waves at tracks across NSW. It’s also been under the knife for further modifications more times than we care to remember.
“Quarter-mile racing is what I grew up on,” says Steve. “I ran a 10-second pass with my first R33 GT-R back in the day. Straight line racing is completely different to circuit racing. Time attack is the present, and this is what I’m trying to learn at the moment.”
Project Hamburger, as Steve calls it, started post WTAC in 2010. Sadly that year it never ran as Steve cracked the RB26 block the day before competition started. F&E Autoworks made the suggestion to use Chris Abes for the rebuild. Chris has built engines for the BSM GT-R, Tilton Evolution and other Pro Class competitors at WTAC.
The focus was a reliable motor that could deliver consistently strong power on the track without going to a dry-sump setup. Sounds simple enough, but disaster struck. “Unfortunately the new motor wasn’t ‘screw-proof,’” Steve explains. A screw holding the throttle plate in place came loose and fell straight into cylinder six while the car was on the dyno. “An expensive error on my behalf as my trusty hands didn’t double check things when putting it back together.”
Six weeks out from WTAC this was a proper set-back. “We were up against minimal testing time on the track if we didn’t get another motor built quickly,” says Steve. “Matt from F&E put together a similar spec’d motor himself this time around, and so far so good!”
An unfortunate over-heating issue on the first day of competition at this year’s WTAC prevented Steve from running times representative of the car’s potential, but it’s fired Steve up with plenty of motivation. “The car will be subjected to more time on the track next year and suspension refinement should help us push deep into the 1.30s around Eastern Creek.”
So far Hamburger has managed 1.39s laps at EC and consistent 1.04s laps of Wakefield Park. Already impressive stuff, but Steve isn’t satisfied yet. “My aim is to put this GT-R on the map for time attack racing in Aus. To have a reliable package that can run the numbers is the challenge. If you have owned GT-Rs before you’ll know this is no easy task.”
It’s easy to respect Steve’s outlook and determination. He lists this R34 as his dream performance road car (if he were about to register it). “The R34 GT-R was the ultimate when I was growing up in my teens,” he says. “I started reading magazines like Performance Imports and I knew one day I would like to own one. It just took about seven goes at it before I could afford it!”
There’s no formula or recipe for a trustworthy RB. It takes a lot of trial and error to get it right with your chosen components. Certainly there are rules to follow, but every built RB has its unique set of characteristics. Steve’s current build makes 408kW @ 7,000rpm with 21psi pushed through it.
Experience is a big reason Steve has managed to get his GT-R performing so well. The specifications at the bottom of this article also tell the tale; it’s a who’s who list of high-end performance parts.
Inside there’s not much in the way of creature comforts, but who needs them? Bride Zeta III seats, Momo steering wheel, C’s short shifter and that’s about it. Everything else has been turfed for weight reduction.
A Racepak digital display mounted where the standard MFD once was links to Steve’s Haltech management and relays info on g-forces, fuel pressure, oil temp and pressure, water temps and GPS logging for lap times and speed.
Under the hood it’s pretty obvious that Steve isn’t here for a holiday. High-mount single turbo, braided lines, polished intake plenum and exposed coil packs are the visual cues indicating one monster RB setup.
This HKS T04Z needs no further introduction. Top quality and fiercely sized with a .81 rear housing. The manifold, wastegate and intake are all HKS units as well.
On the other side of the RB’s head it’s more of Japan’s finest with HKS intercooler piping, GReddy ‘cooler core, HKS fuel rail and Splitfire ignition system.
The intake plenum and billet throttle body are highly desirable Endless units. Here you can see a section of custom lobster-back welding for the cold side intercooler piping.
Haltech management looks after everything including boost level. The main control unit in the cabin is a Haltech Platinum Pro 2000.
Steve’s fuel setup retains the factory tank which feeds twin surge tanks. A duo of SARD pumps feed the SARD fuel pressure regulator.
A Trust Ti muffler poking out the back links to a de-cat test pipe and HKS dump. The lack of rear diffuser might seem surprising but so far Steve has managed fine with downforce, probably due to the SARD GT spoiler and Auto Select front canards. Bodyform Aero also equipped the GT-R with Z-Tune style bonnet, guards and lower aprons.
Suspension tweaks which Steve mentioned earlier are almost limitless. Ikeya Formula arms make up the entirety of the GT-R’s suspension. Cusco swaybars and roll cage don’t hurt either. The drivetrain and braking setups are all up to the task with components from OS Giken, Greddy, Project Mu and Jim Berry.
“My car is a true representation of who I am and what I love,” say Steve. “It’s been tricky with the time constraints and deadlines to try and get the car out to compete at events, but it’s so rewarding when I’m able to take it out for a blast with my mates. That’s when I realise why I have devoted the last decade to these blasted things!” Motorsport is always better in company, and Steve has done well with his chosen partners in crime; his mates and his GT-R.
2000 Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R V-Spec
- RB26DETT six-cylinder turbo
- Extended sump
- Tomei oil pump
- N1 water pump
- GReddy aluminium radiator
- Nismo conrods
- 86.5mm CP pistons
- 8.7:1 compression
- HKS Step 1 camshafts (264 lift 10.2 duration)
- Tomei Type C springs and retainers
- Ferrera oversized valves
- HKS T04Z turbo (.81 rear housing)
- HKS GT II wastegate
- HKS manifold
- HKS intake
- GReddy frount-mount intercooler
- HKS piping
- Endless billet throttle body
- Endless single throttle intake plenum
- Twin SARD surge tanks
- Two SARD fuel pumps
- SARD -8 RD fuel pressure regulator
- Twin 10mm aluminium lines with MSCN billet filters
- Splitfire ignition system
- Haltech Platinum Pro 2000 engine management
- HKS dump pipe
- De-cat test pipe
- Trust Ti titanium cat-back exhaust
- Getrag six-speed gearbox
- Jim Berry Race Clutch single plate
- Jim Berry Race Clutch billet lightened flywheel
- R33 GT-R driveshafts
- R33 GT-R OS Giken Super Lock LSD
- Ohlins/Nismo R-Tune coilovers
- Cusco 24mm front swaybar
- Cusco 30mm rear swaybar
- Cusco Safety 21 six-point rollcage
- Ikeya Formula front upper link
- Ikeya Formula roll center adjusters
- Ikeya Formula tie rod ends
- Ikeya Formula rear camber adjuster upper arm
- Ikeya Formula traction adjuster rod
- Ikeya Formula adjuster rear lower arm
- Trust/GReddy six-piston front calipers
- Trust/GReddy 355mm front rotors
- Brembo DBA slotted rear rotors
- Braided lines
- Project Mu HT16 pads
WHEELS & TYRES:
- Volk Racing CE28N 18in
- 295 Hankook Z221 tyres/285 Hankook RS3
- Dzeus front bar fasteners
- Bodyform Aero Z-Tune bonnet
- Bodyform Aero Z-Tune side skirts
- Bodyform Aero Z-Tune rear apron
- Bodyform Aero Z-Tune front guards
- SARD GT dry carbon spoiler
- Auto Select front canards
- Spies Hecker QM1 paintwork
- Bride Racing Zeta III fibreglass seats
- Momo deep cone 330mm steering wheel
- C’s short shifter kit
- Racepak digital dash
- 408kW @ 7,000rpm / 21psi