MOST people build their wild cars using a normal passenger model as the base, upon which they reengineer it into a Ridiculously Fast Car. When you use a supercar as the base for your build, you end up with something far crazier, as Victoria’s Lance Warren has proven with his Nissan GT-Rs, MAD35 and SIN35.
These heavyweight, all-wheel-drive, twin-turbo V6 brutes are both in the seven-second bracket, and SIN35 is headed for sixes!
First published in Street Machine's Outlaws magazine, 2020. Photos: Ellen Dewar
“Back in the day you’d go to Japan for all the upgrade parts and now you just go to America because the R35 scene is so big,” Lance offers. “I went to Florida in February for the GT-R World Cup and at least 20 cars there had over 2000hp and two had 3000hp. There is a well-established aftermarket for a 2000hp R35 now. The street car has been a fantastic development platform for the race car”
“You’re starting with a supercar that is designed from the ground up to perform, so because you’re starting with such a good platform, the route to the point we’re at now is shorter and easier,” states Lance. “Nissan included a whole bunch of special engineering to allow the R35 to go fast – they have a $20,000 carbon driveshaft from the factory!
“R35s are easy to make power from and most cars don’t respond well to quadrupling horsepower, but we still run the standard driveshaft and stock chassis,” says Lance. “It’s amazing how many OEM parts are left on the car. In America they trial all these different drag suspension combos but they always go back to the OEM set-up.”
SIN35 is Lance’s third R35 GT-R, having bought one new in 2010 and built it up to make 800hp at the wheels. “I have learned to refine the tune in the MoTec myself and go through the data-logs,” he says. “We had an issue with SIN35 throwing alternator belts so we’ve moved to a 16-volt system and removed the alternator to cure that”
So far, Lance’s race car, SIN35, is the quickest R35 GT-R in Australia, with a PB of 7.73@172mph, while his “street car”, MAD35, is the fastest R35 in Australia and was the first get into the sevens here, with a PB of 7.95@185mph.
R35 GT-Rs use a dual-clutch transaxle instead of a conventional gearbox mounted to the engine, and these proved to be a weak link in the platform’s early days. Lance’s cars both use a ShepTrans Stage 6 2800hp transaxle featuring all-billet internals, with straight-cut gears, upgraded forks and input/output shafts, gear selectors, and mid-plates. Lance also had the rear diff upgraded with a GT1R billet side cover and brace, along with DSS Pro rear axles in custom hubs and DSS Pro front axles, with a Willall billet front diff housing. A Dodson Engineering baffle kit and drag sump kit keeps oil flowing in the system
“I bought SIN35 for the sole purpose of building the world’s fastest R35 GT-R,” says Lance. “The 7.73@172 wasn’t a full pass. We’ve had a lot of bad luck so far getting a full pass in SIN35 so my first goal is to run a full pass, then I want to be first in the sixes in Oz, and then go after the Americans for the world record!”
SIN35’s journey started with MAD35 developing from a stock new car into a 10-second, and then an eight-second monster.
The VR38DETT is fast building a legend for its tunability, on par with the iconic RB26DETT used in older Skyline GT-R models. “When I drove a stock R35 it was amazing as an all-round car, and they’re so upgradeable, even with a stock motor,” says Lance. “You can get 800hp at the wheels without breaking the engine open, and that’s enough for low 10s”
“I didn’t plan for MAD35 to go as fast as it does and I didn’t want to wreck a new car by putting a certified ’cage in it,” claims Lance. “I love gunmetal grey, it’s my favourite colour, and someone contacted me in 2015 about a repaired 2015 GT-R in Adelaide in Gunmetal, with 10,000km on it, and it was really cheap. It came out of Sydney as a stat write-off as it had been in a left-hand-front impact and the airbags had gone off, so it couldn’t be registered even though it drove perfectly. That made it the perfect platform for me to build SIN35.”
SIN35 runs the stock Bilstein struts front and rear, while the front brakes have been swapped to lightweight, T1 drag-spec carbon-ceramic items. The rear brakes are now AMS drag discs to shed unsprung weight and allow the 15x12in Belak billet drag wheels to fit on the rear. They’re wrapped in 15x10.5 M/T slicks with 17x11in Belaks and Hoosier 17-10.0 tyres used up front
After getting the repaired GT-R into his workshop, Lance stripped many of the luxuries out in preparation for a weld-in rollcage from Trackart in Melbourne. Interestingly, part of the build was funded by Lance selling off the like-new parts from the GT-R as he replaced them with aftermarket upgrades in order to shed 300kg from the R35’s mass.
The body now wears a Seibon T1 drag wing, dual Stroud ’chutes, Seibon carbon bonnet, doors and guards, and Lexan windows. Inside, Pro Street Development added carbon Tecnocraft seats, carbon door panels, a MOMO quick-release steering wheel, and a MoTec C127 dash.
“I’ve been building cars for 30-odd years and that has always included custom-fabricating parts, like turbo kits, intercoolers and all that,” offers Lance. “SIN35’s build was a bit of an experiment to see how far you can go building a car out of a catalogue, as you can buy the carbon body parts, the 2000hp engine and transmission, even the brakes and billet axles are all able to be purchased like that”
“R35s are 1800kg factory, but SIN35 is down to 1515kg now and you can’t get much lighter than that without drilling holes,” laughs the IT professional. “I was pushing it around the workshop myself yesterday and you can’t do that with a stock R35!”
Lance looked to the home of fast R35s, America, for inspiration for his record-busting combo. But while Yanks built the motor and ’box, SIN35’s billet block is actually an Aussie designed and machined piece from Crest CNC. It runs Crest’s billet girdle and a billet Bryant Racing crank pushing capacity from 3.8 litres up to 4.3, while Carrillo aluminium rods and Mahle pistons round out the rotating assembly and a Peterson dry sump keeps oil flowing. Custom CNC-ported ETS heads with Kelford E-series cams each wear a Precision GEN2 7675 turbocharger, which feed boost into the billet AMS throttlebodies mounted on the AMS billet plenum.
The plenum is plumbed with 12 Injector Dynamics 2200cc injectors that hose methanol in from an Aeromotive mechanical pump, ignited by an M&W CDI and controlled by a MoTec M150 ECU. The big-inch VR38 made 2400hp at the hubs on 45psi, but Lance wants to run up to 70psi at the track.
The Nissan dual-clutch transaxle has been beefed up with a ShepTrans Stage 6 2800hp transaxle from America, featuring all-billet internals and plenty of reengineering to allow 2500hp to get to the tar.
“The biggest issue with this platform is the transmission, and the transmissions in my cars are around $50,000 each,” Lance says. “Once you get to around 800hp at the wheels, you need to do serious drivetrain mods.”
The only thing that is original in SIN35 and MAD35’s transaxles are the cases. “Everything is upgraded and it’s all made from billet steel,” says Lance. “So much development has gone into these ’boxes over the past five years, as well as the clutches. The R35 stock transaxle has 12 clutches, but my cars have 24.”
As Lance chases ETS’s R35 world record of 6.54@224mph, he has big plans to log track time and chase his goals of a six-second pass in SIN35, starting at Sydney Dragway in late November.
“I’ve done a deal to purchase Heathcote Raceway in Victoria and ultimately I’d like to move my workshop there so we can test any time we want,” Lance says. “It is going to be a huge challenge to beat some of these guys from America because they have years of experience and development behind them, but I’m confident we’ll get there.”
ONE seven-second R35 would probably be enough for most but Lance has two in his shed, having taken MAD35 from a brand-new stocker into a 1600hp missile in a few short years.
“There was a path I took as I learned the R35 platform,” offers Lance. “When I bought MAD35 I did the first 2000km in a weekend to get the first service out of the way and have never taken it back to Nissan since that first service.
“We did cold air intakes, custom tunes, upgraded exhaust and the like to get up to around 550hp at the wheels. That lasted about a month, ’til I went E85 and did the fuel pump and injectors to get me up to about 700hp. Then I got billet turbo cores and a custom tune to get 850hp, and then I started breaking drivetrain parts. It went from running 11s to do a 10.0 and it broke first gear, so I realised I was on a slippery slope and that is when I decided to build SIN35.
“I had a gearbox built for MAD35 and had the axles done, and then I built a motor for it as I knew that would be next – it makes 1600hp at the wheels. I’d been trying to run a nine but every time I’d go out, I’d break something, and then I went 8.4 pedalling it the whole way down! I never actually ran a nine!”
It has since gone a quickest of 7.95@185mph at Sydney Dragway during the 2019 GT-R Festival, and Lance is keen to keep refining the VR38-powered combo.
“I changed subframes for lightweight K-frames, added carbon brakes and carbon seats, probably saved 100kg,” says Lance. “I just changed the turbos to G-series Garrett G35-1050 – they spin up a lot faster and they’re rated at 1050hp each, whereas the old ones were rated at 850hp each.”
2015 NISSAN R35 GT-R
Paint: Gunmetal Grey
Brand: Crest billet VR38 V6
Induction: AMS 12-injector billet, AMS billet throttlebodies, ETS Race intercooler
ECU: MoTec M150
Turbos: Precision GEN2 7675
Heads: ETS custom CNC-ported
Camshaft: Kelford E-spec
Conrods: Carrillo aluminium
Crank: Bryant Racing billet
Oil system: Peterson dry sump
Fuel system: Injector Dynamics 2200cc injectors (x12), Aeromotive mechanical pump
Cooling: PWR radiator
Exhaust: Custom dump pipes
Ignition: M&W Ignitions 500mj CDI, 11mm leads
Gearbox: ShepTrans Stage 6 R35 dual-clutch transaxle
Clutch: Dodson Promax 24-plate
Diff: Wavetrac LSD (r), DSS front and rear billet axles, billet diff housing
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Suspension: Stock Bilstein (f & r)
Brakes: T1 drag-spec (f & r)
Master cylinder: Stock
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Belak Industries; 17x11 (f), 15x12 (r)
Rubber: Hoosier 17-10.0 (f), Mickey Thompson 15x10.5 W (r)
Special thanks need to go out to Leigh from Pro Street Development for his fabrication mastery, and my friends Rory and Adam for their hands-on assistance during various stages of the build over the past three years