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Skyline GTS-T 4 years later.

Illustration for article titled Skyline GTS-T 4 years later.

I’ve made multiple posts on this car, a couple when I was getting angry and dramatic. Now the car is working completely properly once again with turbo upgrade.


The Build

Metal Headgasket + ARP studs

660CC Injectors

Nismo Fuel Pump

Hypergear ATR43SS1.5 turbo (oem bolt on style)

Tomei Turbo Elbow

Kakimoto Exhuast

Blitz Intercooler

BC Racing BR coilovers

ACT Clutch upgrade

Custom made intake

Link G4 ECU with MAF delete setup.

Greddy Profec OLED

Various gauges

Innovate MTX-L

Nismo LMGT-2 Wheels (early 90s Nismo wheel)

The car is currently tuned for 14PSI which is extremely low for a build like this and making 250whp. I am looking for a local Las Vegas tuner to get a more aggressive tune. I should be getting mid to high 300s whp.


Past Problems

This is where I wanted to get the car to 3 years ago but I’ve been constantly delayed due to serious issues.

First off I got into a car accident which sidelined it for almost a year. All the accident damage was repaired.

After I got this repaired I was gradually getting together the above equipment. I was originally using a Power FC but no tuner wants to really touch those anymore it seems. So if you were ever thinking of building a car like this I would avoid one of those and just talk to the person who will tune your car and buy what they suggest.


Not long before I took the car to get tuned I had a serious overheating issue to the point where the car vapor locked. This was after getting the apr studs put in, the moronic mechanic cut the turbo water feed line which destroyed the OEM turbo and warped the head once the car overheated.

I took it to the person finally who was to do the full build on this car. This place had the car for a ridiculously long amount of time. He found out about the head being too warped to fix so I purchased a new head. They put the car together but they kept finding problems. First off the tuner couldn’t get the Power FC running properly, so they wanted to go with Link G4. The shop then built me an intake and installed all the parts including the turbo. They found the fan clutch I had purchased is shit (don’t buy ebay fan clutches buy oem) because it was on full 24/7 engagement. The tuner also did a super safe, to the point of annoyance, tune on the car as well. I also believe they didn’t tune the cam gears because the turbo should be coming on earlier with cam gear adjustment.


The problem here it these people are out of state. There is no experienced and good Import Japanese car shop in Las Vegas that does work on this level that I have found. I still am trying to find a tuner here as well. When I brought that car down there we had none here except a guy that drove up from LA once a month that is good but who I could never get ahold of.

The Drive Home, More Problems

When I went to retrieve the car I drove it from Phoenix to Las Vegas. The car started driving strangely when I was in town.


Here I found that the people didn’t screw on the passenger side bolts to the fan shroud so it was blocking the clutch fan from spinning and the fan shroud was destroyed.

Always give a car a full look through whenever you have others work on it. That is the primary lesson I learned from having this vehicle. I CONSTANTLY had shoddy shitty work done to the car even from reputable shops. It’s a major annoyance. However fortunately now every mechanical bit left I want to touch on this car is stuff i’m willing to wrench on my own.


I ordered a used OEM fan clutch from ebay and dumpstered the fan shroud. I decided then to drive the car hard as I could for a couple of days. Everything is fine and i’m not seeing any heating issues without the shroud.

One issue I have now though is I get ticking when the car is hot. I’m assuming this is the hydraulic lifters and I just need to do an oil change.


My Opinion on the Skyline GTS-T Overall

I think stock they are very good cars. They have about the same weight but more torque and power than a Scion FRS. They also handle very well. It was great at autocross events I was in.


Modded, even without the full power I want, the car’s engine (RB20DET) is kind of shit. It is laggy even with all aluminum wheel ball bearing turbo I purchased and power comes on late. This turbo is basically comparable to an 18G except capable of more power. Power comes on at at near 4700RPM. Fortunately the engine is capable of revving to 8000 safely. However the issue is the RB20 had small ports, which means at higher RPMs the power drops off significantly. The RB25 doesn’t have these issues so much.

IMO if you want one of these the first mod you should do is swap to RB25.

I think as a chassis this car is great. It can only fit up to 235 front and 255 rear tire but the size and weight of this car that is perfectly fine. The R33 GTS25-T can fit larger (255 square) but it’s also a good couple hundred pounds if not more heavier. Larger engines can swap in and someone makes a LS V8 kit for it. The transmission is known to be a weak point but is fine for the power levels i’m seeking.


Aftermarket and parts availability for this car ranges from excellent to poor. Since it doesn’t share suspension with the later R chassis cars or the GTR you can’t find like koni inserts to put into this. You need to buy expensive coilovers. Parts like sway bars are also harder to find for this car because before US legality it was considered kind of a bargain vehicle. However it seems parts like that are starting to show up. RB20DET parts are RAREish. Almost all aftermarket and OEM parts focus on RB25 or RB20. Trim bits are expensive and uncommon and certain parts like the fan clutch are as well. You have to buy things like that from Australia which means you are waiting a couple of weeks. Because of that this car is a shit daily driver.

The car is extremely nice to drive. The RB20 is probably the smoothest engine i’ve ever driven as well. The 4 wheel steering is funny because the turning radius is ridiculous on the car as a result of this. The transmission feel is excellent. The car is basic by today’s standards for interior but still has an automatic climate control system that works well in my car. The only issue is of course it uses R12 for the AC which is hard to find. People will claim it’s “illegal” it’s not. It’s only “illegal” for newly manufactured cars, some AC places still carry it and still will recharge it.


Overall i’d say these car good cars but in today’s JDM import market it’s an inferior choice. The JZX90 was made to compete with this (and the upcoming R33) and it’s just vastly superior in every way aside weight. The 1JZGTE is just a very good engine and comes with 280hp stock. My power goals would have been met on that car with a simple tune. If I were looking at JDM RWD mid size imports I would be looking at the JZX90 Mark II Tourer V. If I were looking at smaller cars I would get a FD RX7 Type R.

Where I Go From Here

I intended this to be a track day car and autocross car. I briefly considered dumping it for something else but have since changed my mind and will b e going further down that path with this build. I have just put too much time and money into this thing to move onto something else like the JZX90 or RX7 and aside massive 80s turbo lag this car is very excellent to drive.


I plan on keeping this until at least 2020 when I am planning on going for a R33 GTR and possible JZX100 Toyota Chaser or late model Silvia combo but that remains to be seen. Silvia would allow me to keep these fantastic wheels that I restored.

Next up is getting this car tuned to it’s full potential and hoping disaster doesn’t strike once again. If I decide to keep running this car i’m going to start doing suspension, camber arm, and aero upgrades. Long term goals would be a twin scroll manifold + appropriate turbo and RB25 swap for a zero lag 400hp build.


Some extra pics I took in my garage.

Gauge setup. Bottom two on left are not dimming when lights come on, working on that.
Gauge setup. Bottom two on left are not dimming when lights come on, working on that.
Dirty wheel because I was driving it hard today. Had these restored a couple of years ago. Nismo LMGT2
Dirty wheel because I was driving it hard today. Had these restored a couple of years ago. Nismo LMGT2
Rear shot showing the kind of exhaust I got. I hate those tube exhausts so I went for more a retro style.
Rear shot showing the kind of exhaust I got. I hate those tube exhausts so I went for more a retro style.

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