Sweeping in as an all-pervading, super-destructive force, Nissan’s Godzilla has been troubling the Tokyo skyline for years. And now Jan Schekman’s levelled up to the next realm of scary GT-Rs: ladies and gentlemen, tremble at the might of Carbonzilla…
Godzilla is a terrifying entity, there’s no denying that. Since the character’s inception in 1954 in Ishiro Honda’s original film, the King of Monsters has passed into pop culture as a Japanese horror-beast that serves as a metaphor for nuclear weaponry; an indiscriminate, all-consuming force of decimation and unstoppable ruthlessness. Is it any wonder that Nissan’s own monster, the GT-R, is so deeply intertwined with this folkloric Japanese terror?
It was the R32 Skyline GT-R that first enjoyed the Godzilla nickname, and it’s continued with impressive persistence right through to today’s R35. We all know the factoids and titbits that make the R35 so special – the nitrogen-filled tyres on knurled rims, the PlayStation-like interface, the plasma-coated cylinder bores and the hermetically sealed lab where the engines are hand-built by supernerds – and it’s hard to believe it’s been with us as a showroom model for almost a decade.
It’s a giant-killer, an establishment-upsetter, a stealth missile, an absurd amount of horsepower and cunning technology for what is, relatively speaking, a bargain price. The GT-R was specifically designed to annoy Porsche 911 owners. And with such a delicious smorgasbord of rich, succulent technology, it’s pretty much the perfect everyday supercar. A gruff and jagged Godzilla, built to obliterate all in its path in a hellstorm of swishing hydrocarbons. Impossible to improve upon, right?
Well, no, of course not. You’ve seen enough modified Nissan GT-Rs to know that anything goes. One of the popular motoring memes of the launch was how Nissan were keen to assert that their racy new coupé was effectively untuneable, so confident were they in the precision and focus of their endeavours that they couldn’t conceive of a way to improve upon the results of their countless hours of R&D.
But saying that the car was untuneable was really just carelessly throwing down the gauntlet – something that the aftermarket at large were happy to pick up, wave joyfully about, and wrap around their four-figure power outputs as they enthusiastically set about proving that there’s no such thing as an untuneable car. As it’s turned out, the R35 GT-R has become one of those cars that you’re incredibly unlikely to ever see a factory-standard version of. People just love playing with them, and they’re incredibly receptive to tuning.
Smashing its way through the door at this point, without bothering to even try the handle, is Carbonzilla: a GT-R belonging to a chap by the name of Jan Schekman, aka ‘the Driving Dutchman’, which – as the name suggests – features carbon-fibre pretty heavily.
“I’d been using my 2009 GT-R as a daily driver for about a year and a half,” he says, “And I decided the time was right to fulfil my dream of building a car with ultimate street presence.” Yup, he’s certainly achieved that. Instead of following the herd and opting for a set of fashion-forward wide-ass flares from the likes of Rocket Bunny or Liberty Walk, Jan’s hunted down a super-obscure full carbon-fibre widebody kit. Pretty aggressive, huh? From a distance, it kinda looks like a stock GT-R body, but when you get closer you realise it’s a mighty seven inches wider. It’s nuts.
So, here’s a fun experiment for you. Take a bunch of carbon atoms and bond them together into crystals that are more or less arranged in a line. Repeat this a few thousand times, then bundle all the strands together into a sort of tiny untwisted rope. Okay, now lay a load of these little ropes into a thermoset resin – epoxy, say, or polyester – bake for 40 minutes at 200 degrees (or something, consult your mum’s dog-eared Delia Smith cookbook) and voila: you’ve just made some carbon-fibre.
Well, carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer, to be precise. Although if you’re getting matey with your new creation then simply ‘carbon’ will do the trick as a nickname. Now you’ve got something with a very high tensile strength, low weight, high stiffness, high temperature tolerance, low thermal expansion, and high chemical resistance – all the properties you may desire for making housings for oily machinery without adding too much mass.
And this is the science behind Carbonzilla. That vast widebody does much to shear weight from the bulky GT-R silhouette, while also retaining impressive strength and rigidity. And this thought process logically extends to the colossal wheels too – the 20-inch VAD rollers have lightweight bronzed centres with genuine carbon- fibre rims, further reducing unsprung mass. A custom air-cup lift system over the HKS coilovers helps protect that shiny carbon nose from speedhumps (and cats-eyes, probably). But the whole ethos of this car is to build upon Nissan’s formidable base and make something lighter, faster, lower, sleeker.
The bonnet, the mirrors, the towering swan-neck wing, even the rear seats are all lovingly crafted from shiny, gramme-saving carbon-fibre. Okay, the super-complex GT-R may not exactly be a Lotus – it’s jam-packed with technology and non-essential accessories – but that’s the approach Jan’s taken with it. Strip out the bulk, beef up that power-to-weight ratio. The fact that he’s also made it look sensational (and more than a little scary) is merely an incidental bonus.
Untuneable eh? What cobblers. This mighty modded GT-R may just eat Tokyo.
TECH SPEC: NISSAN GT-R
+7in carbon-fibre widebody kit; custom carbon-fibre bonnet; APR carbon-fibre GT mirrors; Difflow Monster diffuser; Voltex Type 7 swan-neck wing; 2015-spec headlights and taillights; JDM side markers; 3-4 stage paint – black tint with bronze pearl.
VR38DETT 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6; 6-speed manual sequential DCT; HKS intakes; HKS exhaust system; upgraded fuel pump and injectors to run E85.
12x20in (front) and 13x20in (rear) VAD CR- EVO wheels in carbon-fibre and Liquid Bronze; 345-section Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres; HKS coilovers with custom air-cup lift system.
Pared-back GT-R; carbon-fibre rear seats.
Lee at VAD Design
Words Daniel Bevis Photos ’hafast/ Photography