When you’re the owner of one of New Zealand’s best GT-R tuning shops, you’d better be sure your personal vehicle matches the business’s name. In the case of Ethan Lowe, he certainly has Hi-Power mode engaged
Ethan Lowe has been around the forever-evolving New Zealand tuning scene for years, gaining a considerable following for his big-power GT-R builds and fastidious attention to detail. He worked for other prominent tuning businesses before finding his very own Godzilla-sized niche in the market — deciding to go out on his own because the after-hours inline-six side jobs had become just too much! Thus the Hi-Power Performance brand was born, and, as they say, the rest was history.
Ethan told us, “I started Hi-Power at the end of 2016 as I wanted to work for myself and I had heaps of ideas about what I wanted to do. I never intended to specialize in GT-Rs but that’s just the way it went, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
Going back in time to much simpler days, Ethan’s main side piece was a maroon Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R, which, thanks to a heap of clever tricks, made oodles of grunt and was a regular track-day monster — upsetting numerous overpriced supercars. Until recently, the R32 lay dormant, engine out, at the back of the Hi-Power stables awaiting even more power, as Ethan focused his time on building street weaponry for his valued customers. One customer in particular, with a white R34 Skyline GT-R, enlisted Ethan and the team to build a streetable track car to enjoy.
“The R34 came to the workshop as a rolling shell,” Ethan explained. “The customer wanted a streetable track-orientated car and we were told to do what we needed to make that happen.”
With the emphasis of this build focused between the strut towers, Ethan set to work sourcing an N1 RB26 block to stuff full of the world’s best components. An HKS 2.8-litre stroker kit was sourced to provide the supple balance between mid-range punch and a high-revving symphony, with the Tomei Pro head catalogue conducting the show up top with 280 degrees of duration to allow a large window of air to flow through the carefully hand-ported head, via Tomei oversized valves.
On the cold side, a Plazmaman billet inlet plenum is fitted — replacing the capable OEM unit — with matching throttle body, all fitted with Plazmaman Plazmaclamps, which find their way to a Plazmaman Pro Series 600x300x100mm intercooler. Skilfully welded to the custom intercooler piping is a Turbosmart Gen-V Raceport blow-off valve, releasing 37psi of boost pressure when the trapdoor is slammed shut. Wanting a punchy, responsive, yet high-power–capable turbo, Ethan turned to the Precision range, finally opting for a Precision 6466 dual ball-bearing unit.
No Hi-Power GT-R build is complete without a heavily-uprated ignition and fuel system, to reliably provide enough go-go juice to start the fire. A Frenchy’s Performance Garage billet fuel pump cradle supports dual fuel pumps, which feed through a Turbosmart FPR1200 fuel-pressure regulator, before finally getting atomized by FIC 1650cc injectors.
On the fire-starter side of the party, a Platinum Racing Products R35 GT-R coil kit was fitted, with a PRP lower trigger kit and one of Ethan’s very own Hi-Power upper trigger kits.
As you’d probably expect with a build like this, the engine combination is controlled via Haltech’s best: the Elite 2500 ECU, which is displayed via the latest Haltech iC-7 dashboard — a recent addition.
With the engine buttoned up and the countless hours of fabrication complete, it was time for Brian Ingham of NDT Developments to make sense of the madness. Strapped to Brian’s hub dyno, the R34 produced a stout 650kW (872hp) at the wheels on 37psi using E85 — through the factory six-speed Getrag gearbox. What does this combination feel like? Ethan was kind enough to fly the car over to an undisclosed location in the heart of Mexico for a few cheeky pulls — we can assure you, it’s every bit as fast as you’d think, with our hearts, guts, and bones time-warping and sinking into the R34’s factory seats under wide-open throttle.
With the build complete, the owner enjoyed the vehicle for a good amount of time. However, the owner wanted the vehicle gone after getting his fill, and Ethan was the first person to whom he expressed that interest — seeing as Ethan had built it from the ground up himself.
“I had owned the R32 GT-R since September 2014, right up until last year when I made the tough call to let it go to purchase the R34,” Ethan said.
A tough call, we were told, after so many years together, but the R34 was also a dream car for Ethan.
“Initially, the R34 was meant to have a sequential gearbox and a larger turbo,” he revealed, “but the customer decided it was overkill. With 650kW that’s fair enough, but that’s exactly what I have under way for the GT-R at the moment: a much larger Precision turbo and an Albins sequential gearbox to crack the 1000 wheel horsepower mark, and realize his dream of owning a 1000hp streeter. The car’s fast now, sure, but it doesn’t scare me — and that’s what I am after.”
As soon as Ethan reaches this goal in the coming months, we will be the first to line up for a cheeky white-knuckled Mexi-pull.
Occupation: Owner of Hi-Power Performance
Build time: 1 year
Length of ownership: 1 month
2000 Nissan Skyline GT-R (BNR34)
ENGINE: Nissan RB28DET, 2800cc, six-cylinder
BLOCK: N1 block, HKS 2.8-litre stroker kit, ACL Bearings
HEAD: Tomei Pro-Cam 280-degree camshafts, Tomei valve guides, Tomei oversized valves, Tomei valve springs, hand ported
INTAKE: Plazmaman billet inlet plenum, custom intercooler piping, Plazmaman Plazmaclamps, Plazmaman Pro Series intercooler, K&N air filter
EXHAUST: Custom stainless steel four-inch turbo-back system, AdrenalinR mufflers
TURBO: Precision 6466, Hypertune exhaust manifold
WASTEGATE: Twin 45mm Turbosmart Hypergates
BOV: Turbosmart Gen-V Raceport BOV
FUEL: Frenchy’s Performance Garage dual in-tank set-up with billet top hat, Turbosmart Gen-V FPR1200, six FIC 1650cc injectors, Plazmaman fuel rail
IGNITION: PRP R35 coil kit, GReddy racing spark plugs
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500, PRP lower trigger, Hi-Power upper trigger, Haltech wideband, Full Race 4WD controller, Tein electronic damper controller
COOLING: ARC radiator, GReddy oil cooler
EXTRA: Custom catch can, custom power steering bottle, custom overflow bottle, custom fan shroud, carbon cooling panel, clutch booster delete
GEARBOX: Getrag six-speed manual
CLUTCH: OS Giken R3C
FLYWHEEL: OS Giken
DIFF: Nismo 1.5-way front and rear, 4.11-ratios
OTHER: The Driveshaft Shop carbon driveshaft
STRUTS: Tein Circuit Masters
BRAKES: (F) Brembo Ferrari F40 calipers, two-piece rotors, (R) Lotus Elise calipers
WHEELS: 18×9.5-inch Nismo LMGT4 Omori 2017 edition
TYRES: 275/35R18 Nitto NT-01
PAINT: Factory white
ENHANCEMENTS: Nismo Z-Tune front bumper, Nismo Z-Tune dry carbon bonnet, Nismo side-skirt extensions, Nismo rear end caps
STEERING WHEEL: Factory
INSTRUMENTATION: Nismo gauge cluster
POWER: 650kW (872hp)
TUNER: Brian from NDT Developments