Sunday, August 14, 2022

Cruising The Fukuoka City Coast In A Carbon GT-R

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Kazushige Sakamoto has built a few wide-body, full dry carbon fibre Skyline GT-Rs in his time, each unique to the next. From body kit configuration, engine choice and tuning, all the way to drivetrain layout and running gear, everything has been carefully selected and assembled.

The BNR32 GT-R I’m about to share with you is absolutely incredible. And the crazy thing is, this isn’t even the best car in the Garage Active fleet.

Back in 2020, Mark showed us Sakamoto-san’s red dry carbon GT-R with its naturally aspirated RB30 and rear-wheel drive configuration. And during my recent visit to Garage Active, I gave you a quick peek at his blue dry carbon GT-R with its 2.7L RB26 engine and HKS GTIII-5R turbocharger. That car has run a 9.99-second quarter mile at Fuji Speedway in full street trim, air suspension and all.


Those are just a couple of many carbon BNR32s that Garage Active have built. There are three more generations of GT-R for us to explore yet too, but let’s save those for another time…


I’m pretty terrible when it comes to details. My cousin on the other hand can bang on for hours about a fine wine or whiskey and how each bottle or barrel differs from the next. He’s able to explain the vintage, the notes and which cheese is best paired with each bottle. I’m happy just drinking a few of his head-sized glasses and enjoying the buzz. So it’s no surprise that I thought this particular GT-R was the one we saw at SEMA last year.

Yes, I naively thought there was only one full carbon Garage Active BNR32, and that it had safely made its voyage back to Japan. However, the 2021 SEMA Show car is still in the States.


To be fair though, from the outside the two GT-Rs do look pretty similar, except for the rear spoiler choice. The devil, however, is in the detail.


Like so many builds, it’s the engine and drivetrain that pushes the two cars into completely different directions. Garage Active seems to have a configuration for every imaginable driving scenario. Do you want something refined and super-responsive as a daily driver? Do you want the same daily usability with occasional track duties? Or maybe you just want an all out pop-your-eyeballs-out-of-their-sockets mega-zilla to tear up the drag strip?


Just like pairing a fine wine with Friday night’s beef bourguignon, Sakamoto-san will select each component to complement your driving desires.


Of course, none of this comes easily and you can expect massive hemorrhaging from the seams of your pockets. How much? Well, if you fancy cruising around in a full dry carbon GT-R, you can expect to pay upwards of US$75,000 for the base car and transformation. That’s not including any mechanical work mind you, and only if you buy the car in Japan. The dry carbon kit alone starts at US$30,500.


Throw in a fully rebuilt engine with an OS Giken OS-88 sequential transmission (not fitted to this particular car) and you’re fast approaching secondhand Porsche 997.1 GT3 values here in Japan.


While an R32 GT-R and 997 GT3 are apples and oranges in basically every possible way, it gives you an idea of the build quality you get from a Garage Active car. It also reminds us of the outrageous market prices GT-Rs are fetching.


In the same way that a Singer 911 is like a brand new, modernised 964, these Garage Active GT-Rs are completely reimagined from the inside out. And if you thought the carbon fibre was cool, it’s just as good under the hood.


This is a fully overhauled RB26 with full HKS internals and an HKS GTIII-SS twin-turbo setup for fast street response. The stock configuration, dated as it is, has optimal tuning management care of an HKS F-CON V Pro3.4 ECU. I love the black crinkle paint and the aluminIum tower bar.


Cruising around the coastal roads east of Fukuoka City, the car has a definite sleeper vibe. But once we hit the open roads and the sunset started to reflect in the black carbon weave, it came alive. Its presence is pretty menacing, even without a rear wing.


Of course, the duck tail probably has just as much, if not more aerodynamic effect as a stock GT-R spoiler, but who’s really taking downforce measurements on the street? Maybe this particular build is meant for someone a bit more grown up than me.


As the sun went down, the sky lit up and the danced off the carbon weave, and I promptly forgot to take any shots of the interior. I can tell you this though, it is lavish. A full re-trimmed leather interior, Garage Active emblems embroidered into the stock seats, brand new carpets and various Garage Active original parts throughout.


Now, it’s not quite Singer and it’s not quite GT3 either, but then, interior fuss is not really why people buy a GT-R. People want a GT-R for that engine, paired with that all-wheel drive system, those boxed arches and because, it will always and forever be ‘Godzilla’.


I get the feeling that other Japanese GT-R specialists have their sights set on big-power street and track machines, and while the same can be said for Garage Active, there is definitely a more grown up, sophisticated tuning option available here. Sakamoto-san presents an icon, distilled into a menacing essence of its image. It may not be the full full dry carbon car I was expecting, but this car still blew my expectations away.

On our return to Garage Active HQ, Sakamoto-san agreed to fire up some of his slightly more intense builds. But that’s a story for another time…

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_

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