It’s not every day you get a text from your friend saying, “bad news…turbos went.” It’s a gut wrenching feeling. You feel terrible, as you know the work and costs involved are going to stack up quickly. And to top it all off, this particular friend is driving the car from Baltimore, Maryland to South Dakota.
When I asked how far from his destination he was he responded with “I’m outside Minneapolis”. Immediately my gears start turning. Minneapolis is what I consider my hometown. I love this city. I have the skyline tattooed on my forearm, for heaven’s sake. I love this city so much and you’re about to find out why.
I start texting friends, tagging people on Facebook, and posting in all the Midwest car groups in search of a last-minute tow. It’s a Sunday, but we have an ace up our sleeve: the car in question is the first federally legal Midnight Purple II R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R that was imported under the new Show and Display exemption. I repeat, the only one in America! It was no surprise when people were soon chomping at the bit to help. My inbox flooded with several offers to tow and help wrench and a plan was formulated.
In no time, the car was on a U-Haul trailer and headed towards Minneapolis. A good friend, AJ, offered his garage and tools as a landing pad and Adam at Modern Automotive Performance sourced two drop in replacement turbos to be over-nighted from California. That gave us only one night to get the blown ones pulled out and ready for the swap. Luckily, a local GT-R veteran came to the rescue armed with knowledge and a willingness to get the job done.
The next two days were filled with camaraderie, wrenching, and a fair amount of scuffed knuckles paired with swearing. We even had to use AJ’s vertical mill to adapt the oil flanges on the turbos to fit better. The nights grew late, but we soldiered on and after two days of work, the new turbos were finally installed.
When we went to start the Skyline GT-R for the first time, it fired right up, but it was immediately apparent that something wasn’t right. There is an exhaust leak somewhere, and it was a big one. So, we grab our flashlights and start inspecting. The culprit? The rear exhaust manifold to turbo gasket slipped upon install. There couldn’t be a worse gasket to access! After two more hours of swearing and tight handiwork, the gasket was sealed and we were ready for our a second turnover. The R34 growls to life and purred flawlessly. Naturally, we celebrate with BBQ and beer.
Unfortunately for us, it had been raining in Minneapolis for a week straight. We waited and waited for a dry moment that night so we could get the car on the road and seize some night shots. What could be more perfect than photos of the rarest Nissan Skyline in front of the Minneapolis skyline! When we had finished shooting, the owner of the R34 looks at me and says, “Your turn!” and tells me to take it for a rip. I was in heaven.
We had planned for another photoshoot the following day as well, but it was supposed to downpour once again. So I wanted to make sure we at least had a few dry shots, just in case. Here are the results from both shoots.
The legality of this R34 Nissan Skyline is probably going to raise a few eyebrows, so here are some preemptive answers:
- The car was imported under the Show and Display NHTSA exemption. This color and model year is specifically cited as allowed. Not every R34 is allowed, specifically the 1999 Midnight Purple II GT-R.
- The car was converted by JK Technologies to full OBDII in order to meet EPA regulations. Show and Display is only an NHTSA (crash testing) exemption.
- The conversion was incredibly costly and time consuming. This one will likely be for sale in the $250,000 range in the future. This is also due to the Fine Spec Motor installed by the Omari factory.
- This car is fully federally legal. Just because it has a title and insurance does not make it this way. There is a full bond release from the NHTSA allowing this car to be imported in spite of it’s own standards.
This week would not have been possible without AJ Santiago from Rocket Super Cars (@rocketsupercars), Samer (@Sam_z_gtr), TJ (@tjbeadle) or Adam from Modern Automotive Performance (@maperformance). Between TJ towing the car from Wisconsin, Samer dropping everything and scuffing his knuckles, AJ welcoming us to his tools and garage, and Adam sourcing the turbos, everything went as well as it could have.