Long time, no updates…

It’s been quite a while since I made an update here.
The fact is that everyday things and work has kept me more than busy for the last couple of months.
And the trip to Japan took a lot of energy away from me.
I going to make a more interesting update in a couple of weeks with an actual status update of the build.

But for now I just want to sum up the trip to Japan with the finally published articles in the magazine that helped me with press accreditation to NISMO Festival.
(The articles are written by my self and by my travel companions)
All articles are written in Swedish and I doubt that Google Translate will do a good job of translating them to English, but I will provide the links to the translated articles anyway.

Article #1: My trip to Japan and the hunt for some GT500 wheels:
Google Translated -> Link
Swedish, original article -> Link
Picture gallery -> Link

Article #2: NISMO Festival 2009:
Google Translated -> Link
Swedish, original article -> Link
Picture gallery -> Link

Article #3: Nissan Global Headquarters Gallery:
Google Translated -> Link
Swedish, original article -> Link
Picture gallery -> Link

Article #4: Toyota Mega Web:
Google Translated -> Link
Swedish, original articl -> Link
Picture gallery -> Link

Hope you enjoy the articles/pictures and stay tuned for a more status update focused blog entry in the next couple of weeks.

Some state of shock

I’m still in some state of shock, haven’t been able to comprehend everything that happened last couple of days. ..

On Saturday we went to Fuji Speedway to check the out the venue and to locate the NISMO Garage Sale tent. It took us a while to find Fuji Speedway since all the signs (except the first one) was in Japanese, but after driving around in circles for a while we eventually found it. Fuji Speedway lies beautifully on the base of Mt. Fuji and thereby surely has one of the world’s best surroundings when it comes to race tracks. The arena of Fuji Speedway is very large and as it was my first visit there with only Swedish tracks as reference I was amazed by the high standard, the amazing surroundings and the monstrosity of the Fuji Speedway arena. I quickly located the Garage Sale tent which was located exactly where my research told me it would be, which made me more confident in the game plan I made.

Went up at 4 am on Sunday morning to get to Fuji Speedway before they opened the gates at 5 AM. Got there about 4:45 AM and there was already a huge line to get in!? Fortunately, with the media access sorted, we got pass the lines. Dropped the car at our designated parking lot and ran to the Garage Sale tent just to see another big line to the tent. There was at least 50-60 people in front of me when I enter the line; Considering this was more than two hours before the Garage Sale was scheduled to open and that the gates shouldn’t even be open yet puzzled me. How the did they get there before me? The people at the very front was prepared with sleeping bags and chairs and many where holding places for other people joining in much later. They must have open the gates way earlier than 5 AM, but the information we got was that the gates would open exactly 5 AM. (And with Japanese being very accurate and strict, we didn’t expect anything else.)

So, there I stood getting more and more anxious until they opened the Garage Sale at 7 AM (two hours before the actual event started). As soon as they took down the sides of the tent I was presented with an extremely disappointing view; There was only 9 (!) wheels for sale! I waited for 15 minutes or so to get in the Garage Sale tent and immediately addressed the issue by involving every NISMO staff I could find that spoke some English. Unfortunately for me this was all the wheels they had for sale, and by the time I got in 3 wheels were already sold. Left were 2 bashed up wheels (beyond rescuing), 3 wheels in 17″ and only 1 in the right dimensions (18×13″) and in a decent condition. Not to mention that the price had gone up from 5 000 – 10 000 YEN per wheel last year to  20 000 YEN, even for the totally bashed up ones.

To give you some perspective; These wheels can not be bought any where else or in any other way than at the Garage Sale @ NISMO Festival. (Well… if you sign up a new team for SuperGT and purchase a Nissan GT-R GT500 race car from NISMO you can then buy some spare/extra wheels, but that is basically the only other option you have if you want to purchase these wheels.)

Now, imagine my disappointment…

Month of research, lots of hours and money invested in this trip. Got everything right, had a very good game plan but fell short on the finish line on a variable that I couldn’t influence; The nr. of wheels up for sale.

Well, I didn’t just lay down and die (though it took me a while to get back on my feet), I was at the NISMO Festival, surely there must be some people from NISMO or RAYS (manufacture of the wheels, subcontracted by NISMO) here that could help me? I got a good contact with NISMO personal from the media desk that did all they could to help me (they where very impressed with my build project). Unfortunately it finally ended up with an official response that they couldn’t get me any center lock race wheels, no matter what I was willing to pay. A similar scenario took place with the people from RAYS (who also had a couple of complete sets of NISMO race wheels in their tent that I weren’t aloud to purchase…)

It took me a while to get my head around to write this update due to the huge disappointment I felt and the fact that I was in some state of shock after the NISMO Festival.

So what will I do now?

Not much to do about the wheels. It’s not urgent to get some wheels for the build progress. I got lured by the temptation of having some genuine NISMO race wheels on this build and to get them really cheap. I did all I could, went half way around the world with a very researched game plan but was knocked down by reality. The build will continue and I’ll continue my focus on the body. Bo Zolland of Vizualtech is done with his work and the 3D-model will now be converted to CAD with the process continuing from there. The wheels will have to wait, maybe another opportunity arises further down the road?

The trip to Japan isn’t over yet, I’m now in Tokyo and plan to visit both Nissan’s Showroom in Ginza as well as the NISMO Omori Factory (where I plan to investigate wheel purchasing again) for some more healthy “Nissan-injections”. ;)

I’ll make a post-trip update on the entire trip with more stories from the NISMO Festival (which, except for the disappointment with the wheels, was amazing!) and give you an update on the build progress.

Land of the Rising Sun

I’ve now spent my first “night” (jet-lag, woke up 3 am local time) in the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan.

Arrived here yesterday a couple of hours late due to the illegal walk out by ground personal from Finair that pretty much shut down the luggage handling at Helsinki Airport (and caused delays and canceled flights). To avoid loosing my baggage I decided to only bring the absolutely necessary and not check in any baggage at all. It took a lot of detailed packing to be able to fit all cameras, PC, and the necessary clothes in a very small suitcase.

With no sleep for at least 20+ hours it was both fun and a bit scary to get in the rental car and drive for 3+ hours on the “wrong” side of the road from Tokyo Narita Airport to Gotenba. It surprised me how fast you could adapt to driving a car with the steering wheel on the “wrong” side and driving on the “wrong” side of the road, even though I was very tired. Had some fun moments with the GPS that only presented information in Japanesee, driving trough Tokyo in the middle of rush hour, but eventually made it to Gotenba.

Gotenba lies pretty close to Mt. Fuji which made for a beautiful scenery driving in yesterday.

Tomorrow is the big day; NISMO Festival 2009 @ Fuji Speedway. Where I’ll be trying to get my hands on some genuine NISMO race wheels for this build! I’ll post an update tomorrow to inform you all on the progress with the wheels and some more info on the NISMO Festival, stay tuned! :)

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Revised plans

As stated on the homepage: “Until the build is done, all specifications are subject to change.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted an update on the current status of the build, but there are various good reasons for that. I’ve made some progress in the garage with the body sculpting, but all that progress is now irrelevant. I’ll explain why later on in this update.

For the last couple of months this project has received a lot of attention throughout the Internet and it’s both great fun and a bit scary to see both national and international attention. You see, I’m doing this build for my self, but somehow I still feel some pressure with the high expectations that go hand-in-hand with the attention.
And with the spread of this website I’ve been contacted with a lot of questions, tips and ideas from people all over the world. Some of the tips and ideas has been extremely interesting and I decided to pursue them further, more on this later.

I’ve also seen and received a lot of doubt, disbelief and skepticism on my personal skills and the project it self. Most of them are very valid (whereas a small portion just seem to be based on jealousy?) and I therefor would like to clarify somethings:

  • I haven’t done any major car build before, this is my first major build of a car from scratch.
  • I’ve only done some modifications, upgrades and services on my and others cars in the past.
  • I don’t possess the necessary knowledge nor do I have the resources my self to complete a build like this all by my self.
  • I do however possess passion, enthusiasm (+ some IQ) and the will to complete my dream build.
  • And to clarify the time frame for this build; There is none. I have hopes on 2012, but that may be very unrealistic. The major obstacle for a short time frame is the economy part. The budget for this build is based on my private income, basically whatever I can spare from my salary after taxes/rent/food and all other necessary living-costs are made.

So to sum up, I’ve have no particular skills or knowledge valid to a build like this and the budget will take a lot of hard work and a lot of time to create.
I’m doing this project to pursue a dream of mine and to learn. To learn a lot more of the topics and subjects that really interest me when it comes to cars.

Revised plans

Okay, enough of the testimonial stuff, on to the revised plans; What’s going on?

The body is still in high priority, but I’m also trying hard to plan as much far ahead as I can with all the other elements of the build.

1. Body sculpting

I’ve pretty much canceled the manual body sculpting (body plug), at least if all revised plans become reality.
Why? Well, I’ve received a lot of tips of Scandinavian based companies that do molds and/or plugs with CNC-machines (based on 3D CAD-models), ready for carbon fiber or any other composite material casting. This was actually an idea I had from the begging, to continue with the 3D-model and letting a company create the body molds or plugs directly from that model. However I discarded the idea before looking into the different options, I simply thought that the costs would be enormous.
The cost is substantial, but not nearly as bad as I thought. All things considered it’s actually is quite affordable.
So yes, I’ve probably spent a lot more “learning money” by cutting a car down in pieces and not even using it as a plug for the final body. But I’m still learning, hence the term “learning money”.
The cut down body is probably for sale if anybody is interested in doing a similar build, of course for very reasonable price. ;)

2. CAD and molds

Step two in my revised planes is to get the 3D-model converted to CAD and adjusting/fine tuning the 3D CAD-model in preparation for the full scale mold making with CNC-machines. The companies that to this type of work mostly do plugs and molds for the boat industry, and they therefor have really large NC-machines for this purpose.
They make the plugs/molds out of a base of wood and plywood to give it some rigidity and basic structure, then glue a large block of Styrofoam from which the first machining is done with an offset of about -8mm. Then they apply a special paste that hardens and do the final machining, often with an accuracy of 0.3mm.

3. CFD and/or scale model wind tunnel testing

So with the CAD-model done, I’ve got plans to either produce a scale model for some wind tunnel testing at a Swedish University and/or doing some CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) on the CAD-model it self.
I’ve got some interesting contacts with a couple of companies doing CFD work and I’ll go with either CFD and/or scale model wind tunnel testing depending on the costs.
I’m going to continue these dialogs with both domestic and international companies when I get further down the road with the CAD-modeling. To see which way I’ll go, or if I can afford to do both.
To goal here is to try to get data and make necessary adjusting to the CAD-model for the aerodynamics of the car. Both for downforce and drag as well as for cooling.
This will be done before the plugs/molds are made (so before step 2 is complete) so that the final CAD-model and the finished carbon fiber body will have more then just guessed aerodynamics and airflow.

4. Carbon fiber body

I’ve been in contact with a lot of different companies that do composite work with carbon fiber. And I will probably go with the choice of having negative molds created from the CAD-model instead of the procedure of machining a plug → creating molds → casting the body. If I go with the choice of creating negative molds ready for casting I’ll save some time and more importantly money.

5. New wheels and the Nismo Festival 2009

My initial plans was to buy a set of BBS race-3-split-center-lock wheels which is very expensive. But I was set on those wheels and I would have raised the necessary funds to be able to buy them.
But I got a tip on a way to get a hold of some genuine Nismo (Rays) race monoblock center lock wheels, which is virtually impossible to get unless you purchase a GT300/GT500 SuperGT car from Nismo.
The tip I got was that there is a garage sale at the annual Nismo Festival held @ Fuji Speedway in Gotenba/Mt. Fuji, Japan.
At this garage sale Nismo sell the current and past years race gears that no longer hold 100% quality. Like a lot of wheels! And they sell these parts quite cheep. So with this tip I got excited and did a lot (I mean a lot…) of research on the Nismo Festival it self (since I never before heard about it) and the garage sale @ Nismo Festival 2009. My conclusion was that if I managed to get a hold on a set of wheels, I would get the trip to Japan, the experience, the visit to Nismo Festival, refurbishing of the wheels and still “save money” compared to purchasing a set of BBS wheels.

To make a long story a bit shorter; I managed to hook up with a Swedish magazine (actually two) to write an article about my visit to the Nismo Festival and my experience on trying to get a hold on some wheels for my build. In return for writing the article I will receive enough proof to be able apply for press accreditation to the event. (Which isn’t any guaranty to receive press accreditation, just backup information that I’m a valid freelance journalist for this occasion).
Flights and hotels are booked and the shipping of the wheels from Tokyo to Stockholm is more or less taken care of, the shipping from Fuji Speedway to the port in Tokyo isn’t done yet – but I’ll find a way!
So if everything works as planned, I’ll be going to Japan on the 3rd of December for a 3 nights stay in Gotenba/Fuji Speedway to visit the Nismo Festival and a couple of more nights in Tokyo on vacation.
Hopefully I’ll get a hold on the wheels I’ve set my eyes on and this build will have some vary rare genuine Nismo (Rays) race wheels. And I’ll write an article of the whole Nismo Festival experience. :)
However, I’m going to the festival with the understanding that I could come home empty handed. That the only thing I’ll bring home is a nice experience and some memories from a trip to Japan. But of course my goal is to get a set wheels with me home and believe me when I say I’ve done a lot of work trying to make this goal a reality!

If you haven’t hear about the Nismo Festival before, I recommend you to read the articles on GTRblog.com on last years event.

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So to sum up the revised plans:
The 3D model is now in the hands of Bo Zolland @ Vizualtech again for some adjusting and fine tuning before converting it to CAD. Then the CAD-model will be prepared for CFD and for the making of molds. And finally the body will be casted in carbon fiber from the CNC-made molds.

I’ve been in contact with a lot of different companies for assistance with the CAD-modeling, CFD, mold-making and the carbon fiber casting. I’ve spent countless hours in e-mail conversations, on the phone and in both physical and web-based meetings with the different companies. Some small, some big and some I can’t even mention due to NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreements). Both national and international companies.
It’s fair to say that it has been very time consuming, so much in fact that it has starting to affect my work. And that’s no good, thats the source for the budget to this project. ;)
(Not to mention all the time spent researching everything regarding the Nismo Festival visit.)
If you have a tip on the subjects mentioned, or contact information for companies doing the work I need help with, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Any help is greatly appreciated!

So that’s it for this “update”. No pictures to show, no “real” progress. But believe me, I’m working hard to make this project happen, to make my dream come true.
To all of you following this build and sending me feedback of all sorts: Thank you! To be able to receive any type of feedback is the main reason for creating this website and the build/project-threads on different communities. So please, keep sending me feedback. :)

Engine plans and engine partner: JapTuning

After a bit of research on the Nissan’s VVL system and reading about the Mazworx Drag S15 with a SR20VE head conversion I was very intrigued.

For those who don’t know the VVL system it’s a variable valve lift and timing system, much like Honda’s VTEC system. The full name of Nissan’s system is “Nissan Ecology Oriented Variable Valve Lift and Timing” or just NEO VLL. The main difference from the VTEC system is that NEO VVL engages the change of intake and exhaust cams independently. You can read all about the different VVL-engines here. And you’ll find a description of how the VVL system works in the first post here.

What are the advantages compared to a SR20DET head then? Reliability, more airflow (larger ports) and the possibility for some really high rpm’s.

I started a discussion with JapTuning (Swedish tuner, specialized in Japanese cars) about the VE head conversion and it ended up with JapTuning being the main engine partner for this build. JapTuning will be responsible for a complete longblock build of the engine while some of the custom jobs of the sump/flywheel/manifolds/etc will be done elsewhere.

So the plan now is to do a head conversion, putting a SR20VE head on a SR20DET block. (And an engine management system that can control the solenoids for the VVL engagement, which all of the “high-end” engine management systems are capable of.) With new sleeves, 90.0mm pistons, new valvetrain, dry sump and much more, the engine will then be a JapTuning built “SR22VET”.

It will be fun to try something new and hopefully this will be a good engine setup for the Nissan GT500 in the end. And it still is a SR20 engine which is important to me – a flirt with the cars origin. :)

Ps. Check out this YouTube video of the Mazworx Drag S15, revving up to 11 000 rpm! Ds.

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Components layout

To better understand how the Nissan GT500 will be built when it comes to its components, I did a couple of simple drawings to illustrate how the airflow (air intakes/outlets), oil system, fuel system, electrical system and exhaust will be built.

These are just simple drawings, not a final design. But an illustration of the major positioning and layout of some core components of the car. I’ll try my best to explain the different layouts in the text next to the pictures, if you don’t understand – don’t worry! It will be much more understandable when the build progresses. ;)

The main goal is to place all components as low as possible, all while trying to fit as much as possible between the front and the rear wheels of the car to get a low and car-centered CGH. This also gives me a more free design space for the chassis and suspension, without the engine or anything else getting in the way of the suspension design.

Exhaust layout

Exhaust layout

Due to the engine placement and planned aerodynamics, there isn’t much options for the exhaust system.

The turbo will be placed in front of the engine instead of beside it, to give some legroom for the driver as well as taking away some of the heat from the drivers feet. The exhaust manifold will probably not be the most well designed manifold, but there will always be compromises when everything about this car needs to fight over small areas of free space.

The exhaust system will then be routed past the engine on the passenger side and go all the way back between the seats before connection to the catalytic converter will be made. All the time keeping the exhaust as low as possible (as close to the belly pan/undercarriage as possible).

After the catalytic converter the exhaust will divide in to a “Y-pipe” and routed through two separated silencers behind each seat (still behind the rear firewall/bulk head).

Finally the exhaust will exit in “flat” outlets in each side skirt, just in front of the rear wheels.

Electrical layout

Electrical layout

The main goal of the electrical system is to keep it as compact as possible. Few components, short cable distances and keep everything easy accessible is the key values that I’ll try to achieve.

The battery will be placed behind the passenger seat (behind the firewall/bulk head). The engine ECU and the fuse box will be positioned between the seats against the rear firewall/bulk head.

A large single harness will go from the ECU/fuse box to the switch panel (which will hold all switches for fans, pumps, etc.) mounted between the seats. From the switch panel the harness will go on to the main engine plug/outlet and the dash.

When the main engine plug is disconnected all electrical cables going to and from the engine will be disconnected and the engine can then be unmounted from the car without the hassle of disconnecting each and every cable.

The dash will be able to display everything that I need to observe during driving. No other gauges will be used.

Some small harnesses will run to the front and rear of the car providing power to the lights and various sensors throughout the car.

Airflow layout

Airflow layout

This drawing is intended to illustrate the purpose of the air intakes and outlets, but it isn’t easy to describe with simple drawings exactly how the airflow is planned. This illustration does not cover the planned aerodynamics and ground effects, just the air going in and out of the car. The chassis will determine the final routing of the air intakes and outlets, but this illustration gives you an idea of how the final solution will be like.

The dark yellow/orange colored fields is for the brake cooling. the two huge holes in the front will lead cold air to the center of the front brake discs and the intakes in the rear wheel arches will do the same for the rear brake discs. The hot air will hopefully then evacuate through the rear of the arches, same principle for both the front and the rear of the car.

The green colored fields are the air intake for the water- & intercooler. The big intake in the middle of the front will lead air into a duct, through the coolers and then divide into two separate outlets, each leading the hot air out in the back of the front wheel arches.

And finally the probably most interesting airflow through the car, the light red field. The intake between each front headlight will lead air through a duct and via a large electric fan pushing air through the engine compartment, past the exhaust, gearbox and differential where another electrical fan will help lead the air out in the huge box placed on top of the rear diffuser. Hopefully that made some sense… ;)

The purpose of this airflow (the red field) is to try to keep the main heat away from the inside of the car and keeping the engine, gearbox, exhaust and differential at a decent temperature. Together with some basic insulation around the exhaust and engine compartment I hope that this solution will do the job of keeping thinks cool, but most likely this will be an area that needs modification after the car has been test-driven under hard conditions.

(And yes, the big box on top of the diffuser has nothing to do with the ground effects, it’s just the outlet for the main airflow through the car.)

Oil & fuel layout

Oil & fuel layout

The oil & fuel system will be quite basic.

An oil tank for the dry sump pump will be placed behind the drivers seat (behind the firewall/bulk head). One of the caps in the left rear window of the car will be the oil fill. Since the rear firewall will cover the tank entirely, accessing it won’t that easy. So an oil change will be done by detaching the  drive belt to the dry sump pump, detaching some oil hoses and using a screwdriver to turn the pump around. Thereby emptying the engine and thank from oil and refilling oil trough the cap in the rear window. There will also be a small catch tank mounted for the crankcase ventilation.

The fuel tank will be placed after the differential, still as low as possible without disturbing the rear diffuser. Which fuel pump(s) and if I should use separate catch tank or a built in one is still undecided.

The fuel- and oil-lines will go separate containers (basically metal tubes protecting the lines from the exhaust heat)  through the the engine compartment, keeping the lines as short as possible.

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And that is basically the main components of the Nissan GT500 (other than the chassis, body, wheels, brakes, etc.). No power steering, no ESP, but hopefully a car with good control, awesome grip and power ;)

(But wait a second… where is the air filter and the engine oil cooler? Well, their position and airflow will be determined after the chassis has been built.)

When more drawings of other layouts are added, you’ll be able to see them in their own gallery here.

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Sculpting the body – stage 1

Since the body is to be made in carbon fiber the first thing to tackle is to sculpt the new shapes. When the sculpting is done a mold of the entire body is to be made and finally a carbon fiber casting inside the mold, but first things first.

To make the sculpting easier I made a wooden floor that was leveled and bolted to the garage concrete floor. Before the body was stripped of all unnecessary metal and bolted to the wooden floor I welded in some basic support structure so that it wouldn’t collapse. The body was then cut down in height by cutting of the bottom, giving the body an approximately height of 990mm. The body was then placed in the correct height and position on the wooden floor and securely bolted in place.

(You’ll have to excuse the perspective in the pictures, but due to the claustrophobic area (22 square meters) that is my garage I simply can’t take photos in any good angle without tearing down a wall… ;) )

Body under sculpting

Here you see the wooden floor that is bolted to the garage floor. The body is stripped of unnecessary metal, cut to height and bolted to the wooden floor. You’ll also see the drivers seat temporary mounted, the wooden floor also acts as a measure-table to see that everything fits as planned.

Rear arches in the first stage of sculpting

Now the doors are cut to the right height and new side skirts are built out of plywood.A support structure for the rear wheel arches are built and spot welded to the body to ensure that the body is exactly 2000mm wide and that the arches are kept at the same distance from the body. I started out with some polyurethane foam to give the structure some rigidity. This will be done in sections and by constantly creating new support structure to ensure that the arches doesn’t move out of position.

If you look to the left of the picture you could also see the engine placement.

Rear arches in the first stage of sculpting

Now the foam has been sculpted in to a basic shape of the arch.

Next step is to relocate the support structure for the rear wheel arches and mount the side windows. Then the doors need to be aligned properly and I’ll continue working from the rear to the front sculpting the new shapes of the body.

See the rest of the pictures in the gallery.

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