Words and Photos: Rene Vermeer
It’s crazy to think these days that the affordable Japanese performance machines we grew up with have skyrocketed into the collector’s realm. What were once affordable platforms able to be modified to take on the much more expensive European cars are now more expensive than their Euro counterparts. However, it’s what we know and love, and Ashnil Kumar has been building and modifying Nissans for as long as he has been into cars. His last T88-powered R33 GT-R was imported from Japan and made over 500kW at the wheels — a true street monster. This time, Ashnil had a goal in mind: to send a GT-R into the nine-second range down the quarter-mile — enter ‘KLAZLA’.
“It has always been a goal of mine to own a fully road-going, nine-second Skyline GT-R. After owning a few nice examples of R32 and R33 GT-Rs, I found this to be the perfect starting point with an unopened motor,” Ashnil explains.
“I purchased the R33 GT-R without telling the wife, the day before her birthday. I flew down to Christchurch and drove the car back to Auckland from Timaru. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make her birthday, so I was in the dog box for a while,” he laughs. Although unopened, the R33 GT-R, in the famous midnight purple hue, already had a few bolt-ons: a Holset HX40, Sinco manifold, 1000cc injectors, and the HKS Step 1 272-degree cams. As soon as it arrived back in Auckland, they managed a solid 300kW at the wheels on the Autech Ltd dyno, with the fuel pump dying soon after. “I got Sam to check over everything, we changed the fuel pump and made a few tweaks, resulting in 380kW at the wheels, and ran some low 11-second passes. We switched to E30 fuel and changed the AEM ECU to the Link G4+ plug-in, and the car was now making 430kW to the wheels,” Ashnil tells us.
With the newfound power, the R33 was smashing out consistent 11.0- to 11.1-second passes, which was enough to give him the win in the 2018/2019 Night Speed Drag Wars C1 class. “At the end of the season, I managed a new PB of 10.9 seconds and got told off by the Meremere Dragway staff. I knew I had one shot of doing a decent time on the stock bottom end,” Ashnil says.
Sam at Autech was keen to push the GT-R too, and assisted Ashnil in replacing the head bolts with some ARP2000-series head studs. The Holset was also taken off and replaced with a much larger Precision 6466 — KLAZLA was now stomping out 520kW at the wheels. After running a 10.5-second pass on this set-up, and getting told off once again, Ashnil decided to bite the bullet and get the GT-R ready for nines.
Knowing that the factory bottom end was near-on the limit, Ashnil and his brother Vik had been building a forged bottom end on the side, ready for this very moment. Forged CP pistons, Eagle rods, and a balanced crank were installed to handle the cylinder pressures soon to be inflicted on the new set-up. The head was a fairly simple affair too, with the only mods done being uprated valve springs by Kelford, retaining the already-suitable HKS Step 1 cams. “We ended up changing the 6466 turbo, as I was lucky enough to get a Precision 6870 turbo for my 30th birthday present from my wife,” Ashnil tells us excitedly.
With the new engine installed, and the HKS 100mm intercooler swapped out for a Plazmaman 100mm core to keep intake temps down, Sam and the Autech team stopped at 610kW at all four wheels, as this was more than enough to run a single-digit pass.
“At one of the test-and-tune days, on my first run, I sent the gearbox into a million pieces. With this being the third gearbox in the car I had broken, I sat down and did some research,” Ashnil says. After some solid research into what is working overseas, Ashnil decided on the Speedtek gear set out of Australia, alongside some billet selector forks and an OS Giken centre-plate. While the box was out getting upgraded, the clutch was also replaced with an Australian-made Xtreme racing twin-plate unit.
Finally, the set-up was back in the car all together, and after 2020’s string of Covid lockdowns, Ashnil was invited along to a private test-and-tune day with Iain Clegg and the team at ST Hi-tec. After testing out the new gear ratios and launch, Ashnil decided that it was time to turn it up onto high boost and managed a 10.6-second pass at 145mph (233kph), backed up by a 10.2-second run at 144mph (232kph). “I knew if I could get down to a 1.4-second 60-foot [18.2m], it would give me that single-digit number I have been after,” he says. “However, it was too late in the day for me to get another run in.”
It was to happen, though, and on a private test day hosted by Autech, Ashnil’s luck turned, with the first pass of the day being a 9.755-second pass at 149.70mph (240.91kph). Finally, that single-digit pass, and on an unprepped lane. “I decided not to push the car any further that day, as I had achieved what I had set out to. I drove the car to the track and back home,” he recalls.
Ashnil already has bigger plans now, though, and, unfortunately, that turbo that his wife got him for his 30th will be pulled off and replaced with one much larger again. How low will Ashnil go? I guess we’re going to find out!
This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 290