Giving a Nissan Skyline GT-R a 'quick' winter refresh... by replacing every nut and bolt | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine
Wednesday 4th October
Top Gear Garage

Giving a Nissan Skyline GT-R a 'quick' winter refresh... by replacing every nut and bolt

When finished, it'll basically be a pristine zero-mile car. Must. Not. Fit. Big. Turbo....

Published: 06 Feb 2023

Internationally renowned photographer Mark has been working with TG for many, many years. When not taking photos he’s buying inappropriate cars. Here he shares his addiction with the world...

The art of downplaying a situation is critical for denying its actual severity. This could be as simple as the ‘little’ bit of kerbing which has transformed your wheel into something from The Flintstones, or it could be the crippling hangover after telling your loved one you’d only had a few drinks.

Advertisement - Page continues below

There’s an entire chapter dedicated to this in the Skyline GT-R handbook, starting with fuel consumption before rapidly increasing to full engine issues. Chapter 3.2 reads “In the event of oil starvation, instruct other enthusiasts that it is likely just a sticky valve and shouldn’t cost much to fix”. Chapter 3.3 continues “For engine rebuild number two, suggest simply that the noise is because the timing needs sorting”.

Annoyingly this handbook doesn’t include what to say during engine rebuilds number three and four. But, after five years of GT-R ownership, it’s a skill I’ve managed to perfect in order to keep relatively sane. There is one area that no amount of downplaying can cover up though... its ‘quick’ winter refresh.

Nor should it be downplayed either, because the work that Steve Richardson and his team at SR Autobodies is doing goes far beyond simply incredible, and much closer to full-on insanity. He’s not just taking bits off and giving them a quick clean; he’s undoing 25 years of abuse and questionable modifications before ensuring it’ll last for another 25 more.

Look at the underside so far. Looks jazzy, doesn’t it? But look a little closer and now count how many different textures, colours and materials are used. Each one masked or predetermined before fitting. The easy option here is to gloss black everything – it’s forgiving and to the untrained eye looks ‘new’.

Advertisement - Page continues below

But it also disguises horrors and can be done with most parts in situ. That’s not how Steve works. Every colour and material used here has been obsessively chosen to tie in with other components on the car, including the bronze TE37 wheels and grey Brembo brakes. It’s not trying to be OEM, it’s far better than that.

Every nut and bolt – hundreds and hundreds of them – has been either cleaned and zinc plated or replaced with a new item... and then zinc plated so it doesn’t stand out. Every single suspension arm, the subframes, roll bars and even the driveshafts and hubs have been removed, cleaned, vapour blasted and either hand painted, or powder coated. It takes Steve several hours to clean, blast and coat every component individually. There’s also six more boxes’ worth of parts for him to get through.

And this isn’t even including all of the additional work that’s been undertaken including stripping (and rewiring) the entire loom to iron out years of dodgy audio, earthing issues and general degradation. Keep in mind Nissan’s manufacturing process in 1999 wasn’t exactly revolutionary. Strip down a stock GT-R and the issues you’ll find will leave you terrified long before you throw road use at it for decades.

Every update that Steve sends through boggles my mind. At this point, I have absolutely no idea on the hours that have gone into it, other than a lot. And when it’s finished it’ll essentially be a zero-mile car, with an entirely new engine, new paintwork, and fully rebuilt shell. Terrifying when its value is closer to a Ferrari 488 than an old Nissan now.

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

The sensible thing would be to garage it and wave it under the nose of some investor. That’s what I’ve told myself and others who’ve asked. So why am I now looking for a much bigger turbo to bolt onto the new engine? Thankfully, the Nissan handbook has that covered. Chapter 3.4 says “Inform people you will drive it lightly because of its value. Then run it at 1,000bhp and devalue it greatly by blowing up another engine". 

More from Top Gear

See more on Nissan

Promoted Content

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5