Kenny Tran and the folks at Jotech Motorsports in Dallas were the first to develop twin-turbo kits for the VQ engine powering the 350Z, so they were more than prepared when Nissan released the GT-R in 2009. Jotech cars were running 10-second quarter miles by 2010, much quicker than the 11.6 seconds we recorded in our first test of Godzilla, though we do not test acceleration on adhesive-treated drag strips.
In the intervening years, Tran and his team continue to refine R35 GT-Rs—and they’ve only gotten better at doing so. Alongside the shop’s six available stages of power tuning, Tran recently bought back a GT-R he had built for a friend and customer he calls DK. (No, not the DK my dad always chooses in Mario Kart.) DK wanted a car that showcased the best of modern GT-R tuning tech but mandated that it maintain street drivability because he had no interest in running it on the dragstrip. That meant the GT-R’s creature comforts like air conditioning, power steering, Bluetooth, and a full interior with heated seats had to be retained. With these stock parts, DK’s car isn’t some power-to-weight-watchers miracle; Tran says it weighs 3,950 pounds fully fueled. That’s close to stock.
Not close to stock is its astonishing 2,200-hp maximum output. But Tran doesn’t think you should be impressed. “Anybody with the right parts and the right tuning can make loads of power under wide-open throttle,” he says. The team at Jotech went to extensive lengths to make this car drivable on the street. They did so by softening the dual-clutch transmission to slip in first and second gear to ease pulling away from a stop, installing two sets of fuel injectors for startup and high-boost scenarios, and even fitting a suspension lift system so DK could get the monster up his driveway. He would actually pick up his kids from school in the thing.
Of course, there’s no denying that the power output is a huge engineering accomplishment. The R35’s stock transmission and connecting rods are the first parts to go when you start adding power, but those bits need swapping out just to push past the 750-hp mark. To achieve the levels of power on DK’s car, the Jotech team installed a 4.3-liter fully built engine in place of the stock car’s 3.8-liter unit, swapped in bigger turbochargers, completely revamped the fuel system, and beefed up the transmission with stronger gears. Despite DK’s disinterest in taking this car to the track, under Tran’s ownership it was only a matter of time before he launched it down a dragstrip. After an encouraging series of runs on street tires, Tran mounted drag radials and recently brought the car to RaceWars in Ennis, Texas. The result? A quarter-mile run in 7.971 seconds at 175 mph.
Looking forward, Tran understands how hard it will be to improve upon the R35 GT-R. “The original designer already had in mind that the aftermarket was going to mod this car, and they really made everything very strong, very sturdy, and very tunable,” he says. As far as the R36, he’s hoping for more displacement and bigger turbos out of the box. “If you’re not above 700 [horsepower], you’re not even in the ballpark.” On the subject of hybridization, Tran says it’s definitely possible to tune a hybrid, as long as the motors are limited to the front axle; modern NSX-style hybrids with electric motors integrated into the drivetrain have a much lower power ceiling due to transmission restrictions. That said, Tran and the team at Jotech Motorsports aren’t planning to slow down anytime soon.
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