NISMO has announced an unprecedented restoration program for the renowned Nissan Skyline GT-R. It will soon be possible to take a car down to bare metal, balance the chassis, and rebuild its mechanical and electrical components and come back with a completely fresh car. The goal, NISMO says, is to use the motorsports and tuning division’s expertise and resources to “[leave] Japanese cars including the Skyline GT-R, which has started to obtain new value globally, to future generations in better condition.”
The announcement is proof that Nissan is not taking its Heritage Program lightly. To demonstrate just how far they are going with the restoration, NISMO has already put one R32 GT-R through the ringer and documented the process. By the end, owners will have a car that is as good as — or better, if the optional NISMO-spec engine option is chosen — than new.
The first step is a full disassembly of the car. All parts, major and minor, are removed from the unibody. It’s a state of nakedness the car has not seen since the car began life at Nissan’s Musashimurayama plant 30 years ago.
Even with a car that hasn’t been raced hard, decades of road irregularities, exposure to the elements, and heat cycles will cause chassis flex and rust. All imperfections and deformities are measured against a baseline spec and repaired to ensure chassis rigidity. The car is even sprayed white to assist 3D measuring tools.
Next, if the owner chooses, the car can be taken down to bare metal and repainted. In this case, the entire unibody is dipped in an electrodeposition bath to protect the steel and ensure there is zero rust anywhere on the body.
The body is then mounted on a rig that measures torsional rigidity. NISMO calls this is the most important step for a vehicle worthy of the “NISMO restored car” label. The body is measured for the correct rigidity and flexibility as compared to production spec, and balance between right and left is checked as well. It’s not something your typical restoration shop will be able to do.
Once the body is balanced, the old, hardened sealant between panels is stripped out and new sealant applied. Melt sheets are laid onto the floorpan for sound deadening and panel vibration reduction (and to keep the dry ice industry going). The undercarriage is sprayed with a protective undercoat as well.
Now it’s ready for paint. The body is coated with primer and surfacer before going to the paint booth. At this point, owners can either go with the original color, or change the color of their car by choosing from a range of original factory hues. It’s really the only way to change a car’s color with zero trace of the original paint.
Engine-wise, the original RB26DETT is completely disassembled, blueprinted, and machined if necessary. Building engines is, of course, NISMO’s specialty and they say that the level of precision will be higher than that of a standard automobile. Owners can opt for a stock build or a NISMO tuned powerplant.
The engine is then bench tested. NISMO explains that performance analysis is conducted under high and low loads, between 2,400 and 6,000 rpm in 400-rpm increments and then under wide-open throttle. Other checks include those for turbo boost pressure, engine electrical controls, and cooling channels. Each engine’s output is recorded and the results stored at NISMO.
The entire drivetrain, including transmission, transfer case, propeller shaft, and differentials are torn down, inspected, and then either rebuilt, overhauled, or completely replaced with new parts.
The suspension gets new rubber bushings, as well as a complete evaluation and as-needed replacement of shocks and springs and control arms. If needed, the control arms are repainted. The brake master cylinder is pressure tested, brake lines are replaced if necessary, and the calipers rebuilt. All brackets are refinished, and fasteners exchanged for brand new ones.
Naturally, the steering, cooling, and air conditioning systems are inspected and overhauled as well.
The ECU, wiring harnesses, and audio system are thoroughly tested and repaired if necessary. It looks like the technicians even break out the soldering guns. Plastic connectors on the wiring loom can be replaced, too.
Moving onto the interior, owners have two options. Because flame retardant standards have changed in the 30 years since the R32 was built, original upholstery is no longer available to use. Customers can still get all-new fabric, in which case NISMO will use the same material used for the R35’s seats. However, if owners would rather keep the cabin original, NISMO will clean the upholstery, reuse it, and repair and paint the plastic trim.
Finally, after reassembly, the car is dynoed and taken for a test drive. This isn’t just a typical spin around the block, though. The evaluation takes place on a Nissan test course with a NISMO test driver behind the wheel. There are seven test courses in all, checking for things such as steering feel, turning, stability, body roll, damping, NVH, and more. In total, there are 12 performance and 9 comfort metrics. During the run, most of the body is even covered with protective sheeting to guard the fresh paint.
When the car is finally delivered to the owner, they are presented with a full report of all parts, including their part numbers, whether they were refurbished or replaced, and any inspection findings. Each car is warrantied for one year from date of delivery or 20,000 km. Last but not least, each car will have a special metal ID plate affixed to it denoting that it is an official NISMO restored car.
NISMO estimates that such a restoration would take six months to a year, depending on what needs to be done and which menu options the owner chooses. Of course, the million dollar question is how much all this will cost. Again, prices will vary depending on customer requests and the labor involved in repairs, but NISMO says a standard reference price is ¥45 million (approximately $433,000 USD). And, if NISMO sources a base car for you, as they are willing to do, the price will be even higher.
Even with GT-R prices on the rise, that’s an eye-watering amount for an R32. On the other hand, where else are you going to get a showroom fresh, factory approved GT-R built by the most qualified technicians in the world? It is an insane level of workmanship, and something only an OEM restoration program could accomplish.
This all began when Nissan announced its Heritage Parts Program in 2017. It soon expanded it to include the R33 and R34, but unlike programs offered by carmakers such as Mazda or Toyota, Nissan went above and beyond by offering engine blocks and brand new body panels, made possible by an entirely new technology. Now, understanding that it was all leading up to these kinds of full restorations helps explain Nissan’s devotion to the project. Offering a world-class factory restoration program elevates both car and brand, and Nissan is showing that it is committed to making the Skyline GT-R a true classic.
Images courtesy of NISMO.