Choosing where to photograph a $211,000 supercar is a challenge in itself, staging a race between that car and a twin engine airplane with just 48 hours’ notice is surely going to be Mission Impossible’!
Standing at a client function with Farmer Auto Village Nissan’s new vehicle manager Roger Matthews, we were discussing potential photo shoot locations for the 2017 Nissan GT-R when we were overheard by a couple of builders, Build Style Developments managing directors Rueben Anderson and Jason Ponder. Rueben, a Nissan Skyline fan for many years and the proud owner of a 1995 R33 Nissan GT-R, and Jason, a former commercial pilot-turned-chippie, couldn’t wait to get in on the action.
Brainstorm over a beer
“What if Rueben drove the new GT-R and raced against me in a twin engine Piper Aztec down the runway at Tauranga Airport?” suggested Jason. Already two Heinekens in and we all thought it was a bloody fantastic idea – although I couldn’t help thinking these boys were pulling my leg. “We have less than 48 hours to set this up Jason; do you reckon you boys can really pull this off?” I asked. “If you can get Rueben behind the wheel of that GT-R,” said Jason. “We will make it happen.” Wow, the things a guy will do for a mate! True to his word, after a few phone calls and text messages to the right people, less than 48-hours later, we were standing on the tarmac at Tauranga Airport with a photographer, a videographer, three fireman, an air traffic controller, pilot Jason and Rueben – who had even pulled his two boys Rhyder and Chase out of school for his big race.
What is all the fuss about?
Like any car manufacturer, Nissan offers a diverse range of models for a wide range of customers, applications and budgets – but where the Japanese brand differs is in its flagship model. While many other brands cap-off their line-up of sensible and practical vehicles with something that has a little more aptitude than the rest, Nissan decided to cut straight to a stratospheric rocket ship when it launched its GT-R hyper coupe. “The 3.8L V6 turbocharged engines are all hand-assembled and there are only five qualified engineers in the world with enough skill and expertise to produce these precision built power plants,” says Roger. With a whopping 9.5 hours spent assembling each engine and only 2000 built in the world annually, we certainly did feel pretty special about test driving this one. Unofficially known as Godzilla, the current GT-R picked up from the R34 Skyline GT-R in 2007 when Nissan dropped the Skyline moniker and the GT-R became the mental V6 turbocharged four-wheel drive monster that’s attracted a cult following for the last nine years. But Nissan has now treated it to a significant update. With more power, refinement and a touch of Nismo magic, the GT-R is now outpacing supercars twice its price! The official statistics are 419kW and 632Nm of torque producing a top speed of 315km/h.
What did this week’s Bay Driver think?
Having been an avid follower of the GTR history from a very young age, Rueben says he felt privileged to have the opportunity to be behind the wheel of such a machine. “The car has a modern sleek look with lines that cut through the air, still holding onto the original GTR backlights to remind us where the Godzilla legend began. “While driving the car it had all the comfort of a luxurious Lexus, while holding the power that could seduce a big block v8. Running through the computer technology of this car, Rueben says it seems there is not much that this car cannot do. “With computer adjustable suspension, launch control and adjustable power settings, good luck seeing one of these in your rear view mirror. “Having only tested this car on public roads I feel like I haven’t even come close to feeling the potential of what this car is capable of.”
Who won the big race?
While we would love to leave you thinking the Nissan GT-R and its driver Rueben whipped the pants off his business partner Jason in the 500hp twin engine Piper, the truth is we will never know. The heavily regulated airspace at Tauranga Airport meant our grandiose plan had to be scaled back at the last minute to a simple flyover and Rueben didn’t even get to open up Godzilla on the runway like he had dreamed all of the night before. He was, however, treated to a personally-escorted test drive around the streets of Tauranga by Roger – and we still got, what I believe, are the best Bay Driver photographs taken since this publication started. A fitting backdrop for such a rare and aspirational car. It’s been nearly 10 years since the R35 GT-R arrived and while that isn’t a particularly long lifecycle for a sports car, it’s a long time in the world of high performance car technology. And that was obvious in every aspect of this phenomenal machine.
• 3.8 litre Turbo charged V6 producing 419KW/637Nm
• 20 inch, 15 spoke forged alloys
• 8 inch touchscreen multifunction display
• Nissan Connect Sat Nav and entertainment system
• Prestige leather seating and interior in four colour options
• Recaro seats
Price: There’s three models available – the GTR Premium at $205,000, the Luxury model at $211,000 and the Track at $240,000. There is also a Nismo version at $320,000-ish. Dealer: Farmer Auto Village Nissan, 116 Hewletts Rd, Mount Maunganui. Ph: 07 578 6017.