The time has come to unveil Team Japspeed’s new build for the 2015 season – we’re proud to introduce you to our VH45 powered Nissan Z34 370Z!
With the competition drift scene advancing at an astounding rate it’s all too easy to fall into a trap of constantly playing catch up. Our trio of S15s and Subaru have been hugely competitive over the years (with the RBS15 winning this year’s BDC at the hands of Shane O’Sullivan) but we decided that the time was right to build a new flagship car for the 2015 season. The V8 S15 was retired towards the end of this season with Shane Lynch finishing off the year’s remaining events in our 2JZ Lexus while we put the wheels in motion for the car that he would be driving next year.
Rewind a few months and we picked up the perfect base for our new build: an extremely low mileage Z34 370Z in Gun Metallic.
Being a fairly well-quipped car from factory it came loaded with some pretty sweet luxuries…
…but of course these were all to be removed.
We did, however, make a point that we would retain the standard dash, gauge pods, centre console and shifter surround. This might be an out-and-out race car build but, with drift cars having originally been road cars modified for the track, we thought that retaining a sizeable portion of the original interior would be a nice touch in an otherwise stripped-out car.
Nothing was spared from the tear down, with the 370 quickly being reduced to a bare shell.
Shane popped in during the strip-down phase to test the potential seating position with one of our Corbeau kevlar bucket seats.
Obviously we took a few minutes to test fit our engine of choice (the forged VH45 removed from our V8 S15) along with the associated Quaife QBE69G sequential ‘box. Everything seemed to fit fine – in fact the shifter poked up through the OEM shifter hole perfectly, meaning we can retain the factory gearstick surround and thankfully negating the need to cut into the transmission tunnel.
With the engine position having been approved we set about making up a pair of engine mounts to hold everything in place.
Once we were satisfied that the shell was ready to go it was transported to be thermally cleaned, rinsed, derusted, coated and baked to remove moisture at the locally based Ribble Technology. With this completed it was time to get serious with one of the most critical aspects of any competition car build: the roll cage. Having had numerous brainstorming sessions with regards what form we wanted the cage to take, the car was taken down the road to Shaun Woods at SW Motorsports.
Shaun’s standard of work is second to none and it was no surprise to see a number of other BDC builds being caged up in his workshop ready for the season ahead.
The roll cage has been designed with space in mind to improve the comfort of the driver whilst in the cockpit in full race wear. To achieve this the roof was cut off in order to tuck the cage high up in the skin of the chassis. By doing this we have achieved an extra 50mm of head room for the driver allowing space for the helmet to move around while drifitng without colliding with the cage. Bumping your head on a roll cage (even with a helmet on) is never pleasant!
The roof will still be covered by a one piece skin but of course we’ll be able to remove this when the sun’s out.
One feature we were keen to incorporate was Nascar-style double door bars for maximum protection in the event of a side impact. With the original doors having been gutted the bars sit out as far as physically possible from the shell of the car, resting right up against the outer door skin.
We’ve installed sill bars running the length of the cockpit along the floor for added protection from impacts that might occur beneath the door bars so as to stop the sills folding in towards the driver. The entire roll cage has been secured to the chassis legs at four points on both sides of the car – this has been done to ensure maximum rigidity into the chassis.
Due to the high level of torque being transmitted into the chassis from the V8 we needed to stiffen the front strut tops to prevent them from distorting. To do this the cage has been fabricated with triangulated braces from the cage, through the bulkhead and tied to the front strut tops.
The boot floor and rear seat bench areas have also been braced extensively – this is one seriously rigid shell. The original boot floor was cut out and subsequently replaced with a flat floor for the rear mounted radiator setup. The radiator is one of our Japspeed Mk4 JZA80 Supra items and the mounting brackets were designed in-house.
To keep the weight distribution in order the fuel setup will be installed where the rear seat bench once sat, with plans in place for a firewall to be constructed to keep Shane safe.
Underneath the makeshift boot floor you can also see the original subframe that we have modified to accept our tried and tested Skyline GTR diff setup that we have used on all of our S15s in the past. The subframe will be secured by custom aluminium risers that we’ve designed in-house – more pictures of these later.
All this talk of roll cages and we almost forgot one key feature – air jacks! We’ve had these sat in our workshop for as long as we can remember, having never got round to installing them on any of our previous builds. With the opportunity to use them having presented itself we got them fitted up and ready to go, although the challenge of squeezing a suitable on-board supply of air still remains.
With the majority of shell preparation out of the way it was time to load it up and send it off to dip primered – more of that in our next build thread installment!