Car mods are in the blood of the Chan household, so the quality of this father-and-son-built tuned Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 was never in doubt.

Father and son time is an important part of growing up for a young boy. Not only does it forge a strong bond between the generations, but it’s also a way to pass down knowledge and skills for later in life. For many that might be having a kick-about down the park or holding the swear jar as Dad wrestles with a flat-packed Ikea wardrobe, but for others like Cody Chan and his dad, Leon, it was all about modifying Japanese cars.

‘I bought my first Japanese car back in 1998,’ remembers 44-year-old Leon with a smile. ‘It was an imported Mitsubishi FTO. I loved the quirky looks and the sound of the V6 engine. It was the car that got me hooked on Japanese cars and I’ve owned them ever since.’

Looking back over Leon’s admirable back-catalogue, you can see his passion for performance cars hailing from the Far East is considerable. Along with almost every generation of Lancer Evolution, the rest of Japan’s road-based royalty make an appearance too, such as a Mazda RX-7, various Nissan S-bodies, Toyota Chasers, a Rocket Bunny EG Honda Civic as well as a whole host of modified Nissan Skylines.

Leon & Cody Chen standing next to their tuned Nissan Skyline GT-R R33

In fact, so deep is Leon’s love for his four-wheeled Japanese joy toys that in 2004, he decided to break away from the family restaurant business and setup his own company supplying tuning and styling parts for Japanese cars.

‘The business grew out of my desire to tweak my own cars,’ laughs Leon. ‘I started looking at various suppliers to get the parts I wanted and soon my friends started asking me to source their parts too, so it just seemed like a natural progression to make it into a business.’ And so, EP Racing was born.

Being just four years old when his dad started the Loughborough-based business, many of Cody’s earliest memories revolve around tuned Japanese cars, be it either customers’ cars that had dropped by the shop to pick up parts, or through the numerous project cars and demo builds his dad built over the years to promote the business and the firm’s own range of styling parts.

‘Dad would attend various shows and meets throughout the year too, and would take me along with him,’ smiles now-20-year-old Cody. ‘Seeing these radical machines in action really cemented my love for them too, which in turn has led to my desire to pursue a career in automotive design when I leave university.’

The side profile of a tuned Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R.

So, combining their shared obsession for all things petrol-powered was almost an inevitability, and it was something the pair often discussed over the years, but didn’t become a reality until Cody was finally old enough to drive himself in December 2018.

‘I’d obviously helped Dad work on loads of cars in the past, but when I started taking driving lessons, we felt it was the right time to do a car together,’ Cody explains. ‘This time I wouldn’t just be handing him the spanners, but I’d be getting stuck in and having an equal say in the direction and style of the build.’

As a die-hard S-body fan at heart, with his all-time favorite car being a modified PS13, Cody was keen for the pair to source a 200SX as their combined muse, but it just wasn’t to be.

‘We looked at a few S-bodies, but all were in pretty poor condition so wouldn’t have made for a good base for a project,’ Leon explains. ‘That’s when we spotted an R34 Skyline GT-T pop up for sale.’

The rear quarter of a tuned R33 Skyline.

The car in question was a stock GT-T in good condition and with low mileage. It was offered for sale in Birmingham and the price seemed too good to be true.

‘Most GT-Ts were around £12-13k at the time,’ says Leon, ‘but this one was a few grand less so we decided to go and look at it. The car was nice, and the owner was looking for a quick sale, so we ended up getting it for a steal!’

With the base car sorted, it didn’t take long for the dynamic duo to use their extensive list of contacts to rustle up a whole smorgasbord of tasty tuning parts for the then stock silver 34.

‘We decided to go down a GT-R-style route at first, but with a Sunline Racing kit on top of that,’ Cody says. ‘We also sourced a set of Work DR9 wheels, TEIN coilovers, and a full HKS exhaust system and induction kit. Basically, it was all there and ready to begin the transformation.’

Or at least it would’ve been. But before the Chans could get their hands dirty, an old friend and long-time customer of Leon’s dropped by for a chat.

The iconic circular taillights of Nissan Skyline.

‘My friend Clive popped by and when saw the GT-T and all of the parts we had lined up for it, he just fell in love with it,’ laughs Leon. ‘He offered to buy it there and then. Unfortunately, I had to tell him that as this was a joint project for my son and I, that the car wasn’t for sale.’

Undeterred, Clive put in a counter offer, and this time it was one that Leon and Cody simply couldn’t refuse. Now, we’re not talking about severed horse heads or anything sinister, he just offered up his tuned R33 GT-R as a swap instead.

‘We mulled over the idea for about a week before we finally agreed on it,’ remembers Cody. ‘At the end of the day, whether it’s an R33 or a R34, a GT-R always trumps a GT-T, so we decided to go for it.’ Add into the deal that the GT-R was already tuned to over 500bhp by none other than Japanese tuning legend Smokey Nagata from Top Secret, and you can start to see why Leon and Cody’s resolve crumbled so quickly.

The R33 had been in Clive’s possession for the nine years but had been out of action and stored away in a barn for the last five or six years, so was understandably in the need of a little TLC before any further modifications could begin.

The interior of EP Racing's R33 Skyline.

‘The first port of call was to give the car a service with a full complement of fluids and lubricants, new belts and a fresh set of EBC discs and pads as the old ones has understandably corroded quite badly through lack of use,’ says Leon. ‘The next step was to remove the speedometer conversion chip – that converts the clocks from KPH to MPH – as it was wildly inaccurate and was also playing tricks with the HICAS system.’

As well as the speedo chip, Leon also removed the dated aftermarket audio system, which, as well as shedding around 15-kilos from the car’s weight, uncovered a host of dodgy wiring to sort out too!

‘The car’s interior tech wasn’t the only part that was looking a little dated,’ Cody reveals. ‘As the whole car had not been updated since it was first built back in Japan in the early 2000s. That meant a lot of the tacky bolt-on body styling parts needed binning and the front bumper was in need of repair.’

But once the car was stripped back to its original lines and any damage properly rectified, Leon and Cody could finally begin to put their own stamp on the Skyline, starting with the bodywork.

Carbon body panels are one of the car's core visual features.

‘We wanted a unique look for the car, so decided we would mix and match different parts from different kits to achieve the look we wanted,’ Leon points out. ‘And obviously, we had a bit of a carbon fetish to fulfil too!’

This began with the Auto Select-style carbon-fibre front lip being grafted onto the repaired front bumper giving a deeper and more aggressive look to the front end. Complementing this lip were a set of canards, bumper and brake ducts and a front grille also made from the black weave, plus a genuine Top Secret carbon-fibre bonnet that Leon had stashed away from a previous build.

‘Things were shaping up nicely with the front end, but I wanted to do something a little different with the front wings,’ Leon says. ‘I really liked the R34 Z-Tune style, but they weren’t available for the R33, so I decided to make my own versions which I then sent off to my carbon manufacturer to be re-made in carbon-fibre.’ Perks of the trade right there!

Continuing the carbon theme down the flanks is a set of carbon air diverters which attach to carbon side skirt extensions, carbon door handles, a carbon fuel filler flap and even carbon wind deflectors!

The result of all this black weave against the stark white paintwork is a truly eye-popping contrast that looks highly modified, yet tastefully restrained at the same time.

The choice of rear wing was a point of contention.

‘One thing that wasn’t so restrained was the spoiler we initially put on the car,’ chuckles Cody. ‘It was a huge high-level Voltex item and I never liked it, but Dad did, so we went with it. Then we attended the Japfest show, where we did a poll to see what people thought of it. Needless to say, shortly after the show we removed the Voltex wing and went for the much more stylish carbon blade in the factory mounts instead.’

But sweet body-styling is only the half the battle when it comes to getting a car to look right, as the choice of wheels and their fitment is just as crucial, and the Chan’s have nailed this to a tee.

‘We bought a set of 10.5in x 18in Work Durandal DD5.2 wheels with sticky Yokohoma Advan AD08R tyres,’ says Leon. ‘The mirror-polished deep dishes really suit the Skyline well, especially after the body was dropped by a set of fully adjustable TEIN Flex Z coilovers.’

The Chan's are happy with their lesser-seen choice of wheel rim.

Squeezing such girthy rims under the arches of this tuned Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 was no mean feat though, and required a set of Hardrace camber arms to be fitted to both the front and rear to allow a more aggressive amount of camber to dialled in. Paired with the camber arms are Cusco front and rear anti-roll bars that combine to give the Skyline truly insane grip levels when cornering hard.

‘The final piece of the puzzle was what lies under the bonnet,’ Cody says, lifting the featherweight vented bonnet to reveal the gleaming RB26 beneath. ‘The engine had a whole host of trick upgrade parts such as uprated Garrett twin turbos breathing through an HKS Racing Suction induction kit, an HKS turbo elbow, down pipe and Hi Power cat-back exhaust system and an HKS intercooler and hard-pipe kit, all controlled by a F-Con V Pro ECU tuned by Smokey Nagata from Top Secret.’

Unfortunately, for all the go-faster goodies, the cosmetic state of the engine and the bay itself were well past their best, so Leon booked the car into Skyline restoration specialists SR Autobodies to have the corroded strut tops replaced and a full underseal carried out.

The engine bay is spotless.

‘Once the bay was back in shape, we focused on putting some elbow grease into cleaning up the engine and making it look presentable again,’ Leon says. ‘It’s currently running around 580bhp, which is plenty for now, especially considering Cody has only fairly recently passed his driving test!’

It sure is! There can’t be many 18-year-olds that own a 580bhp tuned Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 as their first car, but then this is just the tip of the iceberg for Cody and Leon, as the pair are already planning their next project, and this time Cody is getting the car of his dreams.

‘We’ve got a Sil80 as the next build,’ smiles Cody. ‘We’re thinking of going fully race spec but with show quality. It’s going to be awesome!’

And so, what started as a way for father and son to get in some quality bonding time, seems to have already evolved into a full-on production line of show worthy projects. They’ve obviously both got car customisation in their DNA, and if this tuned Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 is anything to go by, we can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Words & Photography by Dan Sherwood.

Tech Spec: Tuned Nissan Skyline GT-R R33


2.6-litre, 6-cyl, 24v RB26DETT with uprated Garrett twin turbos, HKS turbo elbow, HKS down pipe, HKS intercooler and hard-pipe kit, MAF delete, HKS oil cooler, uprated radiator with D1 Spec radiator cap, Splitfire coil packs, Summit Racing strut brace, HKS Hi Power cat-back exhaust, HKS Racing Suction induction kit, HKS Top Secret-tuned F-Con V Pro ECU, Blitz boost controller, turbo timer, engine and cam covers painted metallic blue




AWD, standard 5-speed manual gearbox, Carbonetic triple plate clutch and lightweight flywheel


TEIN Flex Z coilover suspension, Hardrace front camber arms, Hardrace rear camber arms, Cusco front and rear anti-roll bars


Standard Brembo front and rear calipers with EBC uprated discs and pads

Wheels & tires:

10.5in x 18in Work Durandal DD5.2 deep dish wheels 265/35/18 Yokohoma Advan AD08R tyres


EPR AS-style carbon-fibre front lip, EPR carbon-fibre canards, EPR carbon-fibre bumper indicator ducts, EPR N1-style front bumper vents, EPR carbon-fibre front grille, Top Secret carbon bonnet, EPR V2 carbon-fibre bonnet lip, EPR custom made Z Tune-style dry carbon-fibre front arches, EPR carbon-fibre cooling panel, EPR 400R-style side skirts with carbon-fibre add ons, carbon-fibre front arch diverter caps, 400R rear bumper modified with R34 GT-R carbon-fibre diffuser, EPR Top Secret-style diffuser with carbon-fibre Voltex add on, EPR carbon-fibre wind deflectors, EPR carbon-fibre B-pillar trim, EPR AS-style carbon-fibre spoiler blade, strut tops repaired, painted and undersealed by SR AutoBodies


Corbeau reclining bucket seats retrimmed in leather, standard rear seats retrimmed in leather, Momo Mod 08 suede steering wheel, D1 Spec slimline quick release HKB boss kit, D1 Spec V3 boost gauge, D1 Spec exhaust temperature gauge, Nismo gear knob, Pioneer head unit, Westcoast Customs front and rear speakers


Steve at SR AutoBodies for the strut top repair and underseal, Joe at Auto Finesse refinishing for the paintwork, Tom Kirby for the mechanical works when needed, Karolin for putting up with our disappearance from work to work on the car