7/8/16 update.  Ben didn’t build his GT-R to be a ¼ mile drag machine, rather he wanted an untouchable daily driver.  In 15 months, Ben has put 22100 miles on his car!!!  Talk about reliability; we stand behind our builds!   We invited him to make the 130 mile drive down to Tucson for the ¼ mile drag event.  On Bens first full pass he ripped off a blazing 9 second quarter mile with the same Michelin pilot tires he drove there on!   Needless to say, we were all delighted to see such a great performance from our daily driven street car.

From Ben:

I'm posting my experience to help shed light on what I went thru as I battled with the gray zone between FBO and Full Build.  As I approached this journey, I was unable to find anything or anyone who really explained their process and decisions.  Possibly because everyone has different needs and means.

 

I hope this helps someone think about how to make the decision of:  1) Turbos 2) Turbos and Tranny, 3) Turbos tranny and engine.  Stuck in the land of FBO and wanting more...with more questions than answers or money, I struggled with my next round of modifications.  I wanted my car to be 100% reliable (up to 15000 miles a year which is unique to me and may not apply to you), needed to be built by an expert who knows everything there is to know about GT-R’s (this means a lot to me as I’m very picky and I like fast diagnosis), fast turnaround with proven fast access to the OEM Nissan parts bin if there are issues (face it, when taking 2000 parts off your car something is bound to go wrong), lots of aftermarket options and parts on the shelf (because I will surely change my mind on things along the way), and it needs to be at least as daily drive-able as it was in the Alpha 7 setup.  While all these are important, the last one means the most to me because I spend a lot of time behind the wheel and can't afford to have a broken down shop toy.  I didn’t want to create something with a rough idle, surging, overly noisy transmission, harsh shifting, a trailer queen or a shop parts car…the list goes on. 

 

I had a vision in my mind that the car needed to drive similar to how it did stock.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the more things you mess with…the more problems you can induce.  OEM engineering, while it doesn't give us all the power we want, is an incredible feat.   I originally started this process thinking I would do some simple turbo upgrades and let a new tune keep things in check so I didn't blow my car up.  But I quickly felt overwhelmed in how to make a decision on what to do.  The logical side said do nothing, enjoy the car.  The problem solver said, let's tackle this and figure it out!  I set up a meeting with Joe Bach from Bach Racing who did all my previous AMS modification and tuning work, to discuss options.  For those of you who don't know, Joe is a multi-year master GT-R Tech from Nissan who has stepped away to start his own business.  Joe knows every procedure, bolt and nuance of the GT-R and his experience in modifications came with a pile of awesome builds to back him up.  Given my previous experiences with him, his GT-R background, experience and business, gave me the confidence to attempt some bigger upgrades and trust he would help walk me through it. 

 

Joe and I sat down to have our first discussion, and I quickly found that there are so many options and variables when it comes to parts and builds that it just becomes overwhelming.  The best way for me to wrap my head around this was to list out what changes gave me what Power vs Risk variables.  We decided to keep product brand names and money out of the equation for now and instead we mapped out all the 3 key options: 1) turbos, 2) turbos and tranny upgrade, 3) turbos tranny and block upgrade.   We made heat maps so we could compare HP/TQ and risk with each one of these options. We put relative HP/TQ numbers beside each one and compared the gains from what I currently had for the 3 options.  Sure it’s a bit relative, but in the grand scheme it was easy to see how much delta there was with each option.   This was a fun and quick way to see what I would get from each option side by side.  This might be glaringly obvious to some, but I quickly narrowed down my decisions as I noticed how limited by the tranny and engine we are.  More importantly, it allowed me to look at the risk associated with each one and give it a rating of very risky, medium risk and low risk.

 

If I picked option 1 and went with just turbos, I was quickly out of power capability in both the engine and tranny.  This is very risky.  There was hardly any TQ headroom and only a little HP headroom before risk starting creeping up exponentially from my FBO…sure you can tune out some of the power…but there is still some level of risk to assume.   This approach allowed me to remove option 1.  So now I was really down to 2) turbos and tranny, or 3) turbos tranny and engine.

 

When looking at option 2, it gave me peace of mind by adding the tranny upgrade, but I would be forced to leave a huge amount of HP on the table by detuning.  And even if I kept the power down, there was still some level of risk assumed with the stock engine components.   While I wasn't ruling this option out, I had at least narrowed it down to option 2 or 3 which was a step in the right direction.  I could leave 150+Whp on the table, but I needed another differentiator to help me narrow it down further.  At this point, you have 3 things that you could add to your equation: labor, fluids and parts.  There really isn't much wiggle room in labor and fluids so we added those prices to option 2 and 3 and reevaluated the formulas.  This is where it became clear that I was not going to pay for labor twice on a build like this…one and done is how I needed to approach this.  For someone who can do the labor themselves, this probably wouldn't help you decided, but it did in my case.  I did not want to pay the labor to change turbos…then to come back later and pay labor again if the motor blew or when I couldn't handle leaving 150-200whp on the table when I decided to change the block.   It was this process that led me to select option 3, the full build of engine, turbos and Transmission.  At this point we added parts prices into the equation for option 3.  

 

Despite it being at the upper end of the budget due to being the most invasive, Joe and I listed out several parts options.  At the end of the day, I pay for labor once, I get as much peace of mind as possible, and I don’t really leave any power on the table that is within my budget.  That last part is important…read it again.   I do not have a budget to do a full build and to also do alpha 16 turbos with a monster tranny….  I had to pick my pieces wisely for quality and cost, but this was the last piece of our equation.  Others may take another approach, but this was the best way for me to cut down on the myriad of options that I started with.  When I first started this process, I was more interested in what parts I would put on and when I ended the process parts and brand names were the last thing I considered.  I feel this approach fit my end game the best.  

To summarize, we tackled this by talking about risk as it relates to the increased HP/TQ from what I currently had, then talking about cost of labor and fluids (pretty fixed), then talking about the parts/brand options.  For me, it was all about peace of mind, there were several other conversations that happened, like moving off 100 octane to flex fuel and trying to find a sweet spot on daily driver turbo size.  There were also engine block options as well.   In usual fashion my imagination exceeded my budget but Joe had a ton of options all in varying costs.  From SBD to AMS…and everything in between I had a lot of options to pick from.  And thanks to this forum and lot of reading, I was able to sift through and find the nuggets that helped me pick my parts.  In the end we put together a very nice package and I tried to highlight the big items below.  

For the power items of the build (some previously there), we decided on the following:

  • Catless AMS Downpipes

  • Catless TSM dual resonated mid-pipe

  • AAM street axle back with titanium tips

  • Cobb 3” intakes

  • Boost Logic 3” IC Pipe kit with Tial BOV’s

  • AAM Race FMIC

  • ID 1700 injectors

  • AMS Omega fuel system with dual brushless pumps

  • AAM Fuel Rails

  • Aeromotive Fuel Pressure regulator 

  • Got Boost Full Flex fuel kit tuned for e-85-91 octane with Fuel Safety switch.  (Heat relocation modification)

  • Got Boost Speed density kit

  • AMS 4 bar sensor, tuned by Tim Bailey and Jason McCartney on Cobb

  • AMS 3.8 Race block build with JE raised compression pistons and Manley extreme I-Beam rods and pins

  • Jacks Drag 800 transmission

  • GT30R ball bearing CHRA turbos and inlets

  • EGR block off plates

  • OEM plugs, tighter gap

  • Advan GT 20x10/12, triple powder coated rose gold from SP Engineering wrapped in MPSS 285/335

  • Swift Spec R Springs

  • Megan camber arms rear, whiteline camber bolts front

  • Rexpeed Carbon Skirts

  • Rexpeed Carbon front lip

  • Difflow rear diffuser

  • Autotecknic Carbon Paddle shifters

  • Seibon Carbon hood with aerocatch latches

  • Knight Racer front splitter support braces

  • Clear front corners

  • JUN front air vent with custom crash beam

  • Active Custom Auto one-off Red metallic carbon fiber engine dress kit

The build started smoothly, first replacing the transmission and then testing to make sure everything worked well before moving onto the engine. Then onto removing the engine.  When I saw what was involved, I felt like the kid in Christmas Vacation when Chevy Chase handed him a tangled up ball of Christmas lights and said “untangle this”.  What an incredible mess of parts and harnesses. Swapping over all the goodies onto the AMS block went without issue (I have a new respect for the Nissan engineers and their head torqueing procedures).  Back into the car, it was fun to watch them set the car down on the engine and line it all up.  After reconnecting everything, the water pump blew a seal and failed…so the engine came out again.  There are options to do this in the car, but Joe wanted it all done flawlessly so he opted to pull the motor.   Joe had a new one overnight-ed, but there is no recovery from the time sink of doing the engine twice.  After getting that fixed and re-installed, it was time to start testing.   On the maiden voyage the seal in the transmission for the 2,4,6 clutch basket gave out.  Total fluke, and without hesitation a new trans section was overnight-ed by Jacks.  Another time set-back, but I couldn't be happier with how these two (Jack and Joe) have handled things to get it corrected so quickly.   I was shocked to see a coffin size box get overnight-ed from Jacks to Arizona without a single hesitation.  It sure makes me glad that we have such great vendors who participate and care about the community here.

 

When I brought the car back to double check bolts and get the first oil change done, I asked Joe if he had a resonated mid pipe to cut down on the noise a bit (I might like power, but I guess I'm getting old).  Within 5 minutes he walks back from his storage unit with a HKS resonated MP in hand and says lets swap this out you can tell me if you like it better.   10 minutes later I’m driving it down the road with a smile on my face.  It sure is nice to have service and options so readily available.  A huge thanks to everyone who brought the car to life in a way that meets all my needs.  We are now onto the final set of tunes, up to about 32 psi so far, and Tim Bailey has been a trooper getting everything dialed in.  There are still a couple revisions left, but the car idles, drives and responds like stock…until you step on it.  I will be the first to tell you that I have no regrets, zero.  The car performs in every aspect the way I imagined.  Sure there were some hiccups and bumps, but like I said it pays to have a solid plan, a solid builder and if you expect some drama it's a fun ride.

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Ben's 1000+whp Daily Driver

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