Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week it’s Alex Khateeb’s Nissan R33 from back in 2013…
Can any car really be too fast for the road? Professional racing instructor, Alex Khateeb, may have found the holy grail of all things stupid, an 850bhp taxed and tested Nissan R33 drag car!
“I reckon that’s just cost me about £20!” laughs Alex Khateeb, a professional racing instructor based in Bristol. It’s no exaggeration, either. As we pull up in his garage, a dark patch of carbon and unburnt fuel gathers on the workshop floor just seconds later. This isn’t your typical fast Skyline – this is an uncompromised monster designed to cover a quarter of a mile in the fastest time possible.
I’ve known Alex for many years now. As an ex-Formula 3 winner, tuning specialist and all-around nice guy, I’ve always entrusted him when any of my own Jap motors required work. Alex is the type of man who doesn’t do ‘low boost’. If he builds an engine to make a certain horsepower, he wants it to make that horsepower ALL the time.
You only have to look at his personal car collection to see this – a 700bhp R35 GT-R, a 600bhp RX-7 drift car and a 550bhp Time Attack S15, to name just a few. Whether it’s a big-power road car or a 600bhp V8-powered A1 GP race car, Alex lives for speed. So when he branded his latest R33 as ‘fairly insane’ I knew instantly it’d be something special. Don’t be fooled by the subtle exterior, this R33 GT-R has been pushed beyond the point of drivable. But that hasn’t stopped Alex sticking an MoT and tax on it… just for fun.
As Alex turns the ignition an array of noises kick into life which could mean two things; is it about to unleash hell, or blow up into pieces? Two Bosch 044 pumps fill the cabin with the smell of V Power, fuelling the 2.7-litre motor with enough juice to crank it over. A few seconds later and the RB26 erupts with a grumble, barely able to idle thanks to the HKS Step 2 camshafts which shift the power band right upto the good side of 9000rpm.
With my harnesses tightened up, Alex prepares to hit the road. The HKS triple plate clutch rattles around while he tries to engage the Quaife 6-speed dog ’box, a task which takes ironman strength and zero mechanical sympathy. A clunk signals we’re in gear and the R33 jolts forward. The dog ’box whines and the locking differential prevents any slip what so ever. It’s not what you’d call a thrill ride, just yet.
“The gearbox is designed for gear changes without using the clutch, but unless you’re at the right speed and RPM it just doesn’t want to do it,” Alex explains. “I’ve driven countless race cars over the years that go nowhere near the road and this R33 is more difficult than 90 percent of them. It’s genuinely hilarious how bad it is.”
But all that effort, questionable noises and unburnt V-Power is tolerated for one reason – power. That 2.7-litre conversion may not sound like a huge increase, but GT-R tuners know this is one of the best configurations for building a high-revving engine – essential with such a big, laggy turbo such as the 1000bhp-rated HKS T62BB.
With the temperatures nicely warmed up, Alex plants his foot down in second gear. From 2000rpm through to 5000rpm absolutely nothing happens. The engine continues to rev and just when your brain’s telling you ‘it’s time to shift up’, the T62BB wakes up and shakes the whole car!
You know it’s coming, but nothing can prepare you for the surge of power that comes next. 50-70mph is gone in under a second. Alex bangs the car into third and we’re now well past 100mph in yet another second. As we hit 9500rpm, the Nismo speedo is showing 200km/h (120mph) and we’ve run out of ‘private test’ road… all in just a few seconds. Jebus!
“On boost it’s a serious struggle to keep it straight,” adds Alex. “You’re putting in half a turn on the steering wheel but the speed keeps rising. It goes against everything in your brain on how to drive a car fast. But it’s the only way to fully understand why it’s been modified to this extreme. After all, the road isn’t where it belongs!”
I’ve been in some fast cars before, but nothing quite as insane as this GT-R. Granted, it may not be the most powerful GT-R ever built (c’mon, 850bhp is hardly shy) but it’s the way this monster delivers the power and the process involved in unleashing it which is truly mind blowing. It doesn’t want to be driven slowly. If you don’t take control of it, you will crash. Simple as that. And with the gearing set for over 200mph, it’ll be a big accident at that.
But this insane, almost undrivable car has a quality that only someone like Alex can appreciate. “People look at you and think, my man why on earth are you trying to drive that?” Alex laughs. “It’s noisy, smelly, antisocial and downright dangerous. No sane person would consider it a fun driving experience, but to me that makes it ten times more exciting than any supercar could ever achieve.” And for that we salute you mister Khateeb – the tuning scene would be a much poorer place without people like you!
TECH SPEC NISSAN SKYLINE R33 GT-R
Fully forged 2.7 bottom end (75.3x87mm) including crank, pistons and rods, HKS 272 degrees step-2 cams and valve springs, ported and polished head, GReddy inlet manifold, HKS fuel rail, HKS fuel pressure regulator, HKS Denso 1000cc injectors, HKS cam pulleys, Full NOS 75bhp injection system , GReddy 100mm inlet pipe kit, Blitz 5in 4-layer intercooler, remote oil filter and oil cooler, GReddy Type R BOV, 2 x Bosch 044 pump, custom swirl pot, Tomei
lift pump, HKS T62bb turbo, SARD drag manifold, SARD drag Type J 66mm wastegate (screamer pipe out of sideskirt), HKS large bore downpipe 100mm, HKS inlet trumpet, HKS pipework including oil, water and intercooler
Grex/Quaife 6-speed dog ’box, flywheel guard for drag launching, HKS triple plate clutch, 2-way rear differential
Bee-R front lip splitter, Bee-R bonnet, Bee-R side skirts, Bee-R rear bumper,
Rota Grid Drift 9.5x17in wheels, Toyo R888 275/40×17, Full R34 GT-R 4-pot Brembos front and rear, Apexi height adjustable coilovers
Recaro SR seats on Bride rails, Nismo 320kmh dials, HKS turbo timer, HKS EVC 6 boost controller, HKS F-con Navigator, HKS F-con pro gold 3.2 with launch control/anti-lag button by steering wheel, AEM air/fuel ratio gauge, HKS fuel pressure gauge, HKS boost gauge, HKS oil temp gauge, HKS oil pressure gauge, HKS water temp gauge, 4WD controller (can have 4WD lock for full launch or 2WD or stock g-sensor control), NOS complete progressive system 75bhp jets, 4-point harnesses,
Words and photos Mark Riccioni