Street-Sleeper Beauty with Titan Spirit | Josh Harbour’s OEM+ Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R

Styles come and go. The phasic nature of any trend or fashion is what enables something new to flourish, because nothing can stand the test of time. Exceptions do exist, however, and its those anomalies that I want to highlight and share with those of you who come to find this site; this article in particular. My aim is to bring to people’s awareness of builds that might sometimes fly under the radar amongst all those IG-famous cars that are always popping up in your “Explore” feed.

The first of which I will open with: a street-spec R32 Skyline GT-R done so right, so subtly.

To me, the R32 is the greatest of the GT-R pack, and I honestly think its a car that has remained timeless since its original inception in 1989. Okay, maybe not so much as the FD RX-7 or S2000, but in a way that it made an impression on the automotive industry with its game-changing, futuristic technology; less so in the looks department perhaps. Yet, thats got to be the reason I am drawn to the R32 – it means business and there’s evidence of that in its demeanor.

If you remember the post I uploaded back in July on Instagram, I made a whimsical visit to the Fueled Society show up at Harewood this year, and came across this aforementioned anomaly. A wolf in black sheep’s clothing. Now, if it weren’t for me dissolving my prejudices about a show I’d never really heard much about, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet up with Josh and his GT-R. Its purely because I did something a bit of my comfort zone – attend a car show on my ones, that I had [wrongly] predicted wouldn’t deliver satisfaction.

Thankfully, I chose to ignore the ignorant voice, which is a virtue to be honest. Its usually the emotional part of us that screams the loudest when we try to think, and I reckon that causes us to become deluded in whether or not the thoughts we have are objective. (If I am coming across as too philosophical, its probably due to the books on G.I. Gurdjieff I have read recently, pardon me).

Long story short, I messaged the owner of the pristine, prize-winning Skyline, via Instagram asking whether he’d be up for being the first to be featured on the site as a “spotlight” article. Before I knew it, we arranged to meet up near Fewston, so I could get some photos of the car in the wild on a quality countryside pass.

Like-minded carboys have no problem making conversation. I had no idea who Josh was beforehand, and all he knew about me was that I took photos of cars. As soon as I pulled up, I saw his car and it was so clean, I felt so guilty asking Josh to bring it out to some gravelly car park beside a reservoir. Josh being a calm & collected type of guy didn’t seem too bothered though. Josh is also fanatical about Japan, so it was inevitable for us to both go off on a tangent about our trips to the holy land. I also found out that we rented the exact same DC5 Integra Type-R you may remember from my previous blogposts!

Josh did happen to have a white DC5 Integra Type-R of his own, in Champ White. I guess he felt like he had to part with it and make a move into new, unknown territory. And what better than a transition from an iconic FF coupe, to an undoubtedly emblematic Japanese AWD two-door saloon/sedan.

Once he found the Black Pearl example online in September of 2015, he knew from that moment there was no alternative, and I reckon you’d agree. After what probably felt like a long wait, Christmas must have definitely arrived early when his R32 showed up on UK shores 3 months after he committed to the buy.

There is without a doubt more to this Skyline than meets the eye. But I am not going to spew out a copy-and-pasted parts list, for the sake of word count and perhaps maybe losing your attention. A lot of work had already been done on the car during its life in Japan, including the trick HICAS lockout kit by Midori Seibi which is a textbook modification for GT-R owners who want a purer handling experience.

Noteworthy in the powertrain department: R34 GT-R twin-turbo setup, air filter and feed by Apexi, oil cooler, downpipe and sports cat-converter by HKS, triple-core radiator by Koyorad, along with supporting mods such as the twin-plate clutch and oil catch can by Nismo. Of course, the Nismo reppin’ continues onto the exterior in the forms of the N1 front bumper ducts, side skirts, bonnet lip, and those show-stopping LMGT4 wheels sized to perfection in 17x9J dimensions.

Before we knew it, the sun was setting, and my camera was producing some disgustingly noisy images. We seeked out a multistorey car park, luckily one random find on a Harrogate side street provided a well-illuminated location.

What grabbed my attention when I first spotted the car sitting on the grass up at Harewood were the front axles’ Alcon RC4 brakes sized at 355 x 28mm, which make a lasting impression and should give us an inkling about the tuning philosophy Josh demonstrates – balance. Big power can be unnecesscary. Big brakes aren’t exactly a hindrance, and it gives Josh the confidence when driving spiritedly. These stoppers weren’t carelessly thrown on either. In fact, they couldn’t have been, because at the time Alcon didn’t sell the mounting components for both the calipers and discs. The custom carriers and bells were CAD-drawn and CNC-machined by Josh himself. Now that to me is outright cool. Even though its a detail many would miss when walking by at a show, its a commendable action making something fit with a factory-like finish.

Before heading off back to my car in a parking area I was praying for not to be locked, I got a couple shots of the interior. Nismo accessories adorn the cabin with their floormats, and shifter & handbrake leather boots, which – if I remember correctly – Josh bought from the Omori Factory on one of his visits to the car’s birthplace.

Engine vitals are displayed on Defi triplet gauges, accompanied by that critical boost pressure digi-readout Josh fitted himself, all mounted in custom 3D-printed cubbies. A part I recognised immediately was the Nardi “Deep-Corn” suede steering wheel, only because I had the exact same (in a smaller diameter) for my MX-5.

Firing up the Pro Stock Racing Japan built, balanced and tuned RB26DETT, that happened to once sit in an R34 GT-R, we made our way back to the reservoir car park.

GT-Rs are machines that will always have presence, no matter what state of tune. This one speaks volumes, without being shouty at all, and I am grateful to both Josh for bringing it out that day, and also that whisper in the back of my mind telling me to keep driving to Fueled Society’s event. Otherwise, I’d never have this high performance legend grace a blogpost on the site…

Modified Live 2019 | Showstoppers

The idea of a dual-purpose automotive event makes complete sense to me. On-track action and off-track works-of-art (for the most part) go hand in hand, and where better to put on this kind of event than Cadwell Park during UK Time Attack’s season opener. Seeing cars in motion induces a different kind of feeling that is difficult to describe. When you encounter a car parked up, a machine of your dreams for example, if you’re like me you whip the phone out for some quick pics before someone spots you and looks at you awkwardly. Then, there are some moments when you are out and about, either on foot or driving, and you hear or catch a glimpse of ‘x’ car passing you by going the opposite direction. You just gawp, or if its moving slow enough you try video it and share it on social media because the internet is the world nowadays. I usually do the former if I see something special, ‘cos the cars I am into are fast, and that’s why I HAD to make it out to this year’s Modified Live when its a 2-for-1 deal as good as this.

The small-scale show is a mix-up, with car clubs of all types putting their pride and joy on display. This post is more of a gallery, so skim through and thanks for viewing.

Nissan’s S13 chassis was out in full force with a few here and there which was pleasant, since the S14 was more prevalent since they sold better to the UK market.

Who do you think wins this “Silvia face-off”? Both are well put together examples, but I am going to have to side with the deep-grey model sporting the polished and purple SSR Professor SP1 rollers. Could be the Japanese number plate that did it for me aswell if I am honest.

This Red Pearl Metallic R32 GTR didn’t have trouble standing out from the crowd, sometimes I need to do a double-take when I find one at an event especially if its near enough factory-spec. These cars are the ultimate sleeper coupe, and I remain loyal to this iteration of Nissan’s AWD supercar destroyer lineup.

Its rare you find one in this gorgeous colour, and then the owner went a step further and enhanced the looks with a set of Mag Blue Volk Racing TE37s.

Everyone’s favourite made an appearance: the Gran Turismo/Fast and Furious hero. Wherever you witnessed this machine for the first time, the Bayside Blue R34 GTR will be the icon for centuries. Not many words are needed for this one wearing the holy grail of multi-spoke split-rim wheels.

The rest of the Nissan selection. That dreamy Sileighty was amazing. Only in Japan during the 1990’s would Nissan be bonkers enough to merge two cars together, and damn me if you think I’m wrong but the result is perfection. This automotive synergy wasn’t even the manufacturer’s idea; Kid’s Heart (a tuning company who specialise in slidey cars e.g. Silvias, Chasers etc) put this style together since a lot of street runners found it cheaper to swap the pop-up headlight front end for the fixed headlight face found on PS13 models. The cars went on sale in official Nissan dealerships, with approximately 400 sold in the year 1998. The industry will probably never be the same…

Evos and Imprezas were plentiful at the show, here I some of the highlights I managed to catch whilst zipping about the field in the rain.

Mazda mania. Not as much as I would have liked but quality comes before quantity, and these few were pretty nice. The Rocket Bunny FD3S RX7 was well executed, sporting those Work L1 three-piece wheels, the first set I have ever seen on this chassis in person.

Hope you liked what you saw, I try to get as much detailed shots as I can, but its difficult to stay fokused on one car long enough to soak it in, especially when there are enticing builds all over the show.

Next in store for this site is going to be something you do not want to miss…

Follow the Instagram @soulfokus if you aren’t already.

Japanese Dream: Another Trip to Tokyo, and Beyond

Here we go, again.

Back in 2016, after returning from Japan, it was in my heart that I knew I had to get back out there, so before I knew it, later that year, flights were booked for late June 2017, and a more structured itinerary was put down in preparation. It went something like this: Tokyo – Mt. Fuji – Hiroshima – Kyoto – Yokohama. All within a two-week timespan.

This post is a recollection of the memories, stored within the photos. Looking back at them, without sounding like I am blowing my own trumpet, my shooting skills also seemed to step up a marginal level.

I hope you enjoy, and maybe you too will take the leap to the farthest east.

Me and my sister landed in Narita International Airport around evening, and by the time we were out of the terminal and on the train to Suginami it was 9pm. The sunsets earlier than it does in the UK, so even in the summer the daylight passes sooner, unless you wake up and start your day very early.

I caught this MX-5 RF the morning after our arrival in the morning traffic on the main road a few minutes from the AirBnB. A Club / Launch edition in that Reflex Blue Mica on factory BBS wheels is a quality sight. This car will take a very long time to get old.
A classic VW Beetle sat outside the apartment building we stayed in whilst visiting the Tokyo area. Even this car’s owner installed a double DIN multimedia system on the dashboard, but this is not surprising as the majority of vehicles on the road have them built in from factory, most with broadcast television!
An enthusiast’s machine. Not my ‘cup of tea’, definitely slow, but atleast the paintjob livened up the concrete jungle scene.
One of the coolest things Toyota created. I would grab one in a heartbeat, and I am not even into SUVs or offrading.
The infamous Shibuya Crossing. We did not spend much time here, as we were only passing by to get to Shibuya station, nor did we partake in the scramble. I know, how boring of us… Whatever.
We set out to Odaiba, which is an artificial island in Tokyo’s Bay Area. It is mainly home to entertainment and shopping outlets, attracting many tourists thanks to its scenic nightlife and modern architecture. This photo was the back end of the Fuji TV building, which I had no idea of at time of taking the picture.
In my experience, the service I received all over Japan is impeccable. This was at a typical city restaurant in Shinjuku. You sit in a private booth, with a service ringer at hand if you need a waiter’s attention. Oh, and they cook the food right in front of you, which makes for a more engaging experience.
Now onto the exciting part of the journey…
You probably saw this coming if you read my last Japan blogpost. I revisited the guys at ‘Fun2Drive’, and this time it was time to get behind the wheel of the one and only ultimate supercar of the Japanese 90’s. First stop, Fuji Speedway.
The way the tours work, if you opt for the ‘Ultimate Hakone Drive’, is a steadily paced roll out on the touge leading to the area surrounding Mount Fuji, and then the afternoon is literally an all-out blast through the mountains and forests behind what was this time a definitely-modified, wailing-wastegate Subaru WRX STi, just like the one Bunta rips in.
Unfortunately, on this excursion, Mount Fuji was being a shy bugger, hidden behind the clouds.
I feel this car is so special, it deserves a full report. But for now I will keep it short and simple….
… this car is a driver’s dream. It was equipped with what I was told, a KeiOffice exhaust system that made a glorious naturally-aspirated V6 tune. I assume the suspension was standard, by looks and feel of the sensible ride height and shock absorption. This is the definition of sportscar, and I undersand why it was a supercar in its day. It shook up the likes of Ferrari and Porsche, nevermind the domestic rivals such as Nissan’s GTR, and Mazda’s RX-7. I am not ruling out the Toyota Supra, but that was a more GT vehicle, with a little more of a civilised character. Pushing this car to limits was an absolute joy, especially when you are behind an R35 GTR (that was driven by another member of the tour party) that struggled with all its weight in the tight and technical sections. I can and will never forget having the honor of taking the NSX for a ride.
Just about caught this snap of what I think is a Daihatsu disguides as a classic Mini? The owner kept/fitted a UK number plate behind the Japanese one, which I thought was funny.
There is not one bad angle on this machine
Just before lunch, two more joined the party.
Man, stock R32 GT-Rs look too good its bonkers. Simple body lines, subtly pronounced arch flares, those iconic 5-spoke wheels. I bet this was fun to drive…
We got about Hakone in a rented out Honda Fit (aka Jazz). Public transport is great in the major cities, but once you go off grid so to speak, it only makes sense to traverse the dreamy routes of the Japanese touge in a car. This new generation Fit/Jazz was a bit appalling though to be honest. The CVT gearbox was naff, as you would expect, droning through the ratios. But even the steering felt Audi-like, so numb. No complaints, as it was roomy and comfy enough, however.
The day after the NSX experience, before leaving for Hiroshima via shinkansen (bullet train), we decided to visit a local shrine in Hakone, almost as if we were ritualistically receiving blessings, but this was not the case.
Both, Buddhist and Shinto shrines and temples dotted about all over the country are peaceful and tranquil places to visit.
So, after trekking about the western regions of the country, we hitched a bullet train once again to Yokohama City, which borders Tokyo’s outer area. This time the rental car was a Mazda Demio (Mazda 2). In comparison to the Fit, this was the better performer. And, Japan get these in an All Wheel Drive variant?

That night was the 7th of July. That only meant one thing. Time to hit the expressway and join the rotary klan…

Again, this year, the plan in my mind did not materialise in the way I had pictured.

Using Google Maps, we navigated ourselves to Daikoku Parking area in the Demio. This route to this spot is a headache and not as straightforward as you might think, with the rest of Japan’s transportation systems being so streamlined. It wasn’t meant to be, I must have driven through the same toll gate twice, but couldn’t find a way in. Luckily, the police were shutting the parking area down at that time.

If I remember correctly, I think we were about to give up and just abort mission, but as I was about to make way to Yokohama, I spotted this guy with a backpack on foot who looked either lost or eager to get to where we wanted: 7’s day gathering. So, for some reason, I pull up, roll the window down, and ask him if he is a local in hope of getting some direction or assistance. Turned out he was from the States, and was in the same situation I was in last year. We told him we would give him a lift, as he had a good-enough idea of how to get to the secondary meetup location: Tokyo Bay Aqua-line…

On the last day, we took some time out to visit the Nissan Global HQ Gallery, which includes a floor completely open freely to visitors, where both new and old vehicles and technology are put on display. Not only that, but there was also a live RC-car race hosted by Tamiya.

So, there you have it. My second Japan journal entry, hopefully you saw some stuff you thought was cool and intriguing, some maybe even motivated you to get yourself out there to explore the epicentre of car culture.

More to come…

Cadwell Park TrackDay – The Orange Peeled Off

Last summer on a visit to Cadwell Park, I joined Luke who, at the time, owned a homebuilt kit car. Now, I have never been keen on kit cars, especially the Lotus 7/Caterham “style” variety. It must be something to do with my awkward feeling towards replicated designs. This topic is something I could write on and on about, so I am going to stay on course for this one.

This particular machine Luke built in his garage is an MNR Vortx, space-frame tube chassis, fibreglass lightweight body, driven by a 1.8 BPZE engine from a Mazda MX-5 NB/MK2. The basic concept is excellent though, as I experienced in the passenger seat that day at Cadwell Park, which nestles in Lincolnshire, UK.

This blog post won’t revolve around his car however, as I did not get the best of shots in retrospect, but other cars were out there blasting around the 2.18 mile course which is actually designed for motorcycle racing; picture narrow track width and grassy runoff areas.

Waiting game…
Okay, I am going to have to open with this beauty. The FD RX-7 you see in front of you is a full RE-Amemiya GT kitted spec. The highlight of the car was the colour and unfortunately my photos do not do its aesthetic quality any justice in my opinion.
It was well put together and style like this is rare to come by, definitely in the UK anyway. But it sure is a treat when you witness something as wild, but simultaneously disciplined in the way it stands. I chatted to the owner briefly, I can remember him having some teething issues with a new single-turbo setup, which is a shame but I manage to catch a glimpse of the rotary ripping out on the field.
I do wonder what the status/condition the car is in at the moment…
Good luck trying to find a trackday where an MX-5 isn’t present. I mean, how could you NOT want to drive one of the purest sports cars ever created, on a racetrack?!
Future historic legend; flipped the FF (front-engine front-wheeled-drive) game on it’s head.
There were two EP3 Civic Type-Rs out that day, both equipped with this hatch mounted GT wing. Part of me sees the appeal in it, part of me realises it kind of looks out of place…
Maybe here, with the trimmed rear bumper, the spoiler’s toned down wing-stands suit the chassis more so. Downforce times call for downforce measures I suppose.
Luke getting a feel for the track more than the car, as he had already made some familiarity with it at a previous shakedown which did not go quite as he planned. Good to see him stretching its legs with confidence, albeit the day cut short because of an electrical gremlin…
The highlight of the car’s performance was most definitely its ability to change direction almost immediately. The G-forces you experience are atmospheric, and made me wonder what on earth F1, or even entry-level Formula cars for that matter, feel like.
One off incident occurred that day, which luckily was not too serious, driver was intact and physically sound after bouncing his Ariel Atom off the tyres midway through the day.
Taking a wander in the paddock area where both drivers and cars take a breather, I took a closer look at some of the motors attending. This K20 swapped EK9 was very nice and cleanly done. What is most impressive though, is the fact that the driver had one prosthetic leg, so the car was kitted to enable the driver to operate the clutch by hand control! Incredible.
This ‘RWB’ styled Porsche was cool. I know very little about these German powerhouses, but I have always felt that they have been held with high regard and respect as sportscars, so there must be something to them…
It did/does look good out there though, and it sounded even better.
One-make duel. For French cars, these hot hatches are not all that bad.
This Starlet Glanza is a very uncommon sight, so it was a breath of fresh air seeing it being thrown about. The deep turquoise colour suits it perfectly.
Track check up; the safety/pace-car M235i BMW for the grounds made its rounds.

I hope to return to Cadwell Park in the near future. The entire place has a cool vibe about it. That wraps up this “throwback” post. Getting out there and shooting more track events is one of my aims this year, so, until next time…

DriftCup UK 2018

Never really grew up with much, if any at all, drift culture involved in my car life. My initial exposure to the artform was probably as cliche as it gets: Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift. My brother introduced me to Best Motoring as early as I can remember, Japanese guys sending cars sideways, in both factory and tuned forms. It’s almost as if it was in their DNA, without sounding cheesy.

Nowadays, especially because of the Internet, the passion for drifting, as both a sport and an automotive ‘scene’, has spread to all pockets around the world. Even managing to worm its way into Wigan, UK. This was my first time attending a dedicated drift competition event, which appeared to have more focus on the drivers and cars, instead of acting as an all-in-one festival type of event as can be seen with the more commercially popular shows. Less circus, more circuit…

Low Supra; such a graceful silhouette
Sileighty chassis S13 will always be my all time favourite from the Silvia selection. This Vertex kitted example caught my eye.
Very unusual sight. A Porsche 944 is definitely something I did not imagine encountering when I was picturing all the machines that would be competing before arriving at Three Sisters Race Circuit. No idea why the ‘PORSCHE’ decal is out of line on the door, but I’m feeling the mismatched wheels.
One of the more serious-looking entrants I spotted that day with the tailpipe looking like a bazooka.
Back to front. Hardcore boyz don’t need rear bumpers. And check out that front camber; nuts!
The format of the race was a basic lead-and-chase run. The classes of cars were separated so that similar power and tune cars were pitched against each other to keep things fair. Judging drifting is subjective but only to an extent, as clipping points and proximity act as measurable markers for high skill and precision, which win you points.
The drift section was short as only the first 3 corners of the track are used from the pit-exit, but this allowed for higher frequency in runs and gives chance, to those who need it, for seat time in a competitive environment.
I loved seeing the less powerful machines, particularly those in NA tune, being pushed to the absolute boundaries. This Corolla was cool-looking.
If I remember correctly, that S14 rocked a R35 powertrain, so it sang some beautiful songs as you can imagine.
Here comes trouble. This RB26DETT-powered non-GTR R34 Skyline was dominating every session, it just goes to show how capable the chassis is, even in FR layout. To be honest though, this was far from stock so my comment is near enough irrelevant with this machine.
Coming in hot. I liked this take on the E36 coupe BMW, makes me wonder what it would look like with those headlights in combination with a full front face… The front and rear quarters don’t really flow, but that adds to its quirky character.
ACCIDENTS DO HAPPEN – DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME (ON THE STREET…)
Very well styled. The S13 coupe Silvia does grow on me from time to time, this is a great looking model if done right