Although your first glance may lead you to believe that this BCNR33 is nothing more than a stock example, once you’ve been lined up next to it, you’ll know that your time’s up
For an unknown reason, people still harbour an unwarranted amount of animosity towards perhaps one of the most underrated GT-Rs of the model’s linage — it may be a result of its curvier body shape and heavier stature, but is that really a reason to hate a car that much? We think not, and surely no one is under the illusion that, even in stock form, an R33 GT-R would be slow. But those fool hardy enough to face off with this R33 will likely be shat on in the most glorious of fashions. Why? Because there’s an R34 N1 block-based HKS RB28DETT hiding inside this unassuming piece of tin — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Self-described RB fanatic Kris Rana picked up his Series 3 R33 GT-R just over 18 months ago. He puts the purchase down to fond childhood memories: “I got into cars because of a family friend. He owned an RB25DET when my brother and I were around eight or nine years old, and every time we went over to his to visit he would take us for a spirited drive. Ever since then I’ve been in love with Skylines and RB engines.”
Kris didn’t want to feel like he was sitting in a 660kW car when inside, so the interior is pretty much as OEM as they come, with all that power just one depression of the go-pedal away
Kris went on to own everything from Subarus, GTI-Rs, and Toyotas, to M-series BMWs and a raft of Skylines. But he was unsatisfied. “None of them seemed to cut the mustard, and I always wanted to get my hands on a GT-R.”
He stumbled across what he thought would make the perfect street weapon down in the windy city of Welly. It was already fitted with a N1 bottom-end housing, a HKS 2.8-litre Step 3 full counterweight billet crankshaft, along with the accompanying rods and pistons, and had a full service and build history, having been built by Jon Peplow at Spec Performance in Christchurch. The build history later revealed that it had been imported into New Zealand as a single-owner car and originally purchased by a technician at the Nismo Performance Center in Tokyo, Japan.
The head had had a session of CNC-porting at Kelford Cams to the company’s drag head specifications, and been fitted with Kelford’s 292-degree, 11.5mm lift drag cams. A combination of Kelford 1mm oversized race valves, springs, and titanium retainers was also chucked in for good measure. The aim was for it to be able to withstand serious amounts of boost — with the engine running on 32psi, that was a pretty wise call.
The bottom end was built to replicate that found in the legendary seven-second HKS R33 GT-R drag car, and comprises a R34 N1 block with HKS 2.8-litre Step 3 full counterweight billet crankshaft, rods, and pistons
Once it had made the trip back up to Auckland with Kris, he took it to Brendon at BNR Engineering — chosen for such a task due to the time and attention that he puts into doing things right the first time — for a full teardown check. Thankfully, everything was there as described — and when you’re talking about parts like these, that’s pretty damn important. The pair quickly set about making further tweaks to draw power out of the bulletproof bottom end.
With a handful of other high-end Japanese and Australian components fitted — too many to list here — the car was sent over to Grady and Dan at Hitech Motorsport for tuning. While they seldom work on street cars — they spent roughly a month dialling it in to the nth degree through the Link G4+ ECU.
The end result was a whopping 660kW on 32psi running E85, and 498kW running 98 octane through the flex-fuel sensor — it’s even set up for two-step launch control with anti-lag. Words can’t describe the aural symphony that it produces.
Kris told us that the only thing holding it back from pumping out even higher figures are the two GReddy TD06-20G turbos that have already undergone the Turbo Care treatment, having their housings machined to accept billet internals. “If you wanted to chase more power, all the supporting work is there to slap a big single on and really crank. But my intention has always been for it to be a weapon of a street car, and any more would be crazy — it’s already a bit loose for a street car, really,” says Kris.
It wasn’t just the engine that received a rework. The factory five-speed was rebuilt with strengthened internals and fitted with a Nismo Competition twin-plate clutch and lightened flywheel combo. Nismo 1.5-way limited-slip differentials (LSDs) can also be found at the front and rear of the drivetrain.
When it came to the interior styling, Kris was adamant that he would maintain as much of a stock look as possible. “The interior is completely standard, so you get into it and it feels like a stock car. It’s comfortable, air conditioned, and feels like what a stock car should.” He continues, “You can drive it out on the street and forget what you’re behind the wheel of, until you put your foot down, and then it feels like something else.”
“There’s something about the big chunky look of the R33 that just made it look tough,” says Kris, “and I was fortunate to find the last of the Series 3 R33 GT-Rs … which was the best of the lot, in my opinion”
That same ethos was carried out to the exterior styling, with nothing more than a GReddy GRacer front lip and set of 18×10-inch BBS LMs wearing Nexen semi-slick rubber added to the factory bodywork. Kris commissioned a fresh lick of jet black courtesy of Jiten at Advanced Autobody and Spray. While the BCNR33 remains fairly uncommon in any colour here, you see even fewer in black, according to Kris. And while it appears to sit on factory shocks, hidden behind those BBSs is a set of HKS Hipermax drag coilovers just waiting for the two-step launch to hit them.
The proof really is in the pudding with this one. Those who dare to go up against it would only make that fatal mistake once, and when it comes to daily-driving duties, the GT-R takes it all in its stride. Kris has clocked up 6000km in the last two months alone. If we owned it, we probably wouldn’t want to get out of the seat at night either. Why R33s still cop so much shit within the Skyline family is beyond Kris — and us, for that matter. If there was ever one shining example of exactly why they hold their own, this is it.
Occupation: Project manager
Build time: 1.5 years
Length of ownership: 1.5 years
Thanks: Brendon Thomas at BNR Engineering, Grady Homewood and Dan Kane at Hitech Motorsport, Jon Peplow at Spec Performance, Robbie Ward at R.I.P.S, Mum and Dad, Iain Clegg and Stewart Mearns at ST Hi-tec, Link Engine Management, Mag and Turbo Manukau, and Ron Rana at Generation 2 Motorsport
1997 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R33)
ENGINE: HKS RB28DETT, 2800cc, six-cylinder
BLOCK: Nissan R34 N1 RB26DETT; HKS 2.8-litre Step 3 full counterweight billet crankshaft, rods, and pistons; Tomei oversized oil pump; Tomei eight-litre baffled sump; Accusump oil accumulator
HEAD: Kelford Cams CNC-ported RB26DETT, Kelford Cams 292-degree 11.5mm lift drag cams, 1mm oversized race valves and springs, titanium retainers, bronze guides
INTAKE: GReddy intake manifold, factory individual throttle bodies, Trust Airinx filters, custom intake piping, GReddy twin-entry drag intercooler
EXHAUST: BNR Engineering three-inch mild steel exhaust, BNR Engineering three-inch downpipes, A’PEXi N1 twin mufflers, Adrenalin R resonators
TURBO: Twin GReddy TD06-20G, Turbo Care machined housings and billet internals, GReddy twin-turbo, top-mount exhaust manifold
WASTEGATE: Turbosmart Pro-Gate 60mm
BOV: TiAL Q 50mm
FUEL: Bosch 2200cc injectors, Sard fuel-pressure regulator, Aeroflow dual-entry fuel rail, Speedflow E85 lines and filter, Sard surge tank, Nismo lift pump, twin DW300 E85 feed pumps, custom fuel coolers
IGNITION: HKS twin-spark, Splitfire coils, Denso Iridium Power spark plugs
ECU: Link G4+
COOLING: GReddy triple-flow radiator, Setrab oil cooler, SPAL electric fans and custom shroud, N1 water pump, Nismo thermostat, Sard cooling-system bleeder tank
EXTRA: GReddy GREX oil-filter relocation kit, Link ethanol-content sensor, Link CAN Lambda modules, Link fuel and oil-pressure sensors, Link boost controller, HKS ETS controller, Midori G Sensor, Tomei coil cover, Tomei forged piston oil-filler cap, Nismo oil catch-can, ARC cooling panel, Advance HE alternator, Ross Performance full trigger kit, Ross Performance power steering idler kit, HKS accessory belts, Power Enterprise cam belt
GEARBOX: R33 GT-R five-speed, strengthened gear set and input shaft
CLUTCH: Nismo Competition twin-plate clutch
FLYWHEEL: Nismo Competition lightened flywheel
DIFF: Nismo 1.5-way front and rear limited-slip
STRUTS: HKS Hipermax drag coilovers
BRAKES: (F) Brembo ‘Ferrari F40’ calipers, RH9 370mm rotors, Brembo pads; (R) Brembo calipers, Brembo rotors and pads
EXTRA: Nismo front and rear sway bars, Autoselect front strut brace, polyurethane bushes, R.I.P.S solid engine mounts
WHEELS: 18×10-inch BBS LM
TYRES: 275/35R18 Nexen N’Fera SUR4 semi-slick
PAINT: Jet black by Jiten at Advanced Autobody and Spray
ENHANCEMENTS: Series 3 N1 GT-R ducts, GReddy GRacer front lip, OEM Series 3 Xenon lights
FUEL TYPE: E85
TUNER: Hitech Motorsport