Why fitting new ones ?

My car is fitted with OEM shock absorbers. I didn’t realise it until I saw the picture but the car takes some roll and it seats quite high :

OEM_suspension

So I decided to replace the standard shock absorber and to go for new coilovers with adjustable height and adjustable damping. Severals brands are available : Tein, HKS, Ohlins, Nitron, etc etc and many other cheaper alternatives. Nitron is really expensive for my use. I read many feedback about Tein being harsh. HKS and Ohlins coiliovers have very good reviews but I was concerned they are designed for Japan roads and our roads may not be as good as the japanese ones. I though coilovers developed for our roads would be a better choice.

After hours of reading about the various brands I went for MeisterR coilovers. Their GT1 model was designed to challenge Ohlins DFV (Dual Flow Valve). I haven’t try the Olhins so I cannot comment. But the GT1 has also a dual flow valve system and they have been designed on UK roads.

meister_r_logo

Settings and installation

I received the coilovers quickly after ordering them – the guys from MeisterR were available to answer my questions and very helpfull. I will save you some trouble : if you order coilover don’t forget to order a set of Damper Adjustment Extension Cable : it will save you some pain for a small cost when it came to adjust the rear damping. Worth it.

The coilovers :

MeisterR GT1 for BNR34

On the picture below with both OEM and GT1 you will notice the GT1 is shorter than OEM and the spring has a different design.

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I didn’t want the car seats too low. A little lower but not too much. I couldn’t find any existing settings to start with. You basically set the ground clearance by adjusting distance E.

meister-gt1-settings

After tests and trials I finally choose the following settings : front = 5.9cm, rear = 23cm. For the record this is the max height you can use on the front. It will lower the car by 3cm which is fine for my taste. However if you expect to keep the standard height stay away from the GT1.

Quick word about setting ride height and how to measure it : ride height distance must be take between the bottom fender and center of wheel with the car on a flat ground. This way tire size and wheel size don’t come in play. With standard shocks on front distance is 38.5cm and rear is 37.8cm. With the new coilovers distances are 35.5cm and 34.7cm. You will notice the distance is bigger at the front than at the rear : this is by design the front guard being bigger than the rear guard. When you install new coilover you want to keep this difference between front and rear.

Fitting the new coilover is easy. You need to jack stand the front axle to proceed the front and to jack stand the rear axle to proceed the rear coilovers. On the rear you will need to remove the back seat but that’s an easy job. When you fit the coilover don’t tighten the locking collar (B on the above picture) but leave some play for adjustment. Put all the bolts without tightenting them. Then, if you turn the body coilover it will allow you to adjust the height depending on the way you turn. That’s the C (or D) on the schema above.

But all this is explained in the MeisterR operational manual.

Something not explain in the manual : on the front you can notice the bracket has a longer side :

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The longer side must be at the opposite of the bolt in contrary to the picture. The shorter side must face the nut.

Regarding the rear coilover you need to remove the back seats and the parcel shelf. And obviously if you want to be able to adjust damping without removing the parcel each time you will need the damper adjustabment cable. Here is a picture showing where to drill holes for the adjustment cables.

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Parcel_shelf_extension_adjuster

Road test

The coilovers offer 32 levels of adjustment. Level 0 is the hardest setting. To beging with I started with 17 clicks on front and 20 clicks on rear. Compared to the standard shocks they feel better. They’re not softer but firmer and definitely more confortable. That’s what you would expect from coilovers newer than 20 years. It’s really similar to modern cars.

It’s too early to talk about reliability but on the road they really outperform the standard ones and they provide a better feeling. I almost forgot : once you have them installed you should bring the car to have geometry adjusted properly. I’ll talk about this later …

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Some times ago I decided to upgrade brakes. I wanted something with more efficiency that wouldn’t cost a fortune however but with track capabilities.
There are a lot of brands available brakes : AP Racing, Alcon, brembo, …. all very efficient and expensive. On the cheaper side you have D2 and their clones. You can also put early Nissan GTR brake. They’re great, devastating efficient. But …. they won’t fit under standard wheel and I wanted to keep standard wheels.

And in the middle of expensive and cheap you have Stoptech.

stoptech-meta-logo

Stoptech provides brake kits for a lot of applications. R34 is one of them. Each caliper is designed specifically for each car. Caliper templates are available so you can test fit them on your actual wheels before order.

I ordered front and rear kit. Front kit is the 4 pots with 355x35mm rotor. On the rear two options were available at the time : 2 pots and 4 pots. I went for 4 pots with a 355x32mm rotor. You may think « rear brake power is going to be to strong ». That’s without knowking pistons size are different between front and rear so a nice balance is achieved. Front kit part number is 83.645.4C00.xx (xx depends on the color). Rear pkit part number is 83.645.0047.xx but I think this is no longer available. Only the 2 pistons kit is available now (I saved their Stoptech 2010 catalog). Both front and rear calipers use a very common pad shape (ST40) so you have a large choices for the compound.

Kit delivered. It looks really great. But you can say it’s great when you fit it and when you have it tested. Everything is included except brake fluid : bolt, braided lines, calipers, rotors, brackets, thread locker.

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Fitting is not difficult. Patience and attention to details is the key.

You will have to cut a part of the current brake dust boot. Some choose to drop it. I choose to keep it but it must be cut so the bigger rotor can be installed.

As you can see new rotors are much bigger and thicker than standard rotor. They will achieve better heat dissipation.

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Front bracket fitted.

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Rear installation : the brake dust boot must be trimmed to installed the rear bracket :

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Wheel test fitment; it’s a tight fit but it’s been designed to fit under standard wheels. Once fitted you must change brake fluid and pay special attention to brake bed in. Following carrefully instructions is a key to have rotors and pads working at their max. After driving them for hundreds kilometeres and two track days I can say I’m very happy with the kit.

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The R34 GT-R is a great car and every details were optimized by Nissan including the battery : it’s small and lightweight : only 6.5kg ! Overall dimensions are (LxWxH) 186x126x168mm.

FT-LA19LT weight

The downsize is the battery life : small. And at some point you will be looking for a replacement battery. Then you will discover quickly that your battery is unique to your car : yes, that battery was made specifically for the R34 GT-R and it’s only available in Japan.

You need to know that the space for a new battery is limited and the battery has japanese terminals (JIS). I worked it out  for hours and you are basically down with two options beside ordering an OEM battery :

  • change the wire connectors to standard connectors and you can fit a battery like the Bosch S4 001(207x175x175) : it’s a little bigger than the original battery but will fit easily and it’s more powerfull and it will last longer. Beware that to change wire connectors special tools will be required …. it’s not advised to cut wires because they’re short
  • get a battery with JIS terminals. Unfortunately the standard height of japenese batteries is little too big for the wires : 22cm versus 16cm for the original battery. You will struggle to tighten and to stretch the positive wire on the battery.  I have never seen such a battery fitted either by myself or on google. The Bosch S4 018 is that kind of battery. It will last longer BUT it isn’t more powerfull …

JIS to SAE terminals

I said there were two options. That was until I discover some terminal adapters from JIS terminals to standard terminals ! These adapters allow you to keep the actual JIS terminals and a battery with standard terminals can be plugged in.

Strangely Nissan anticipated a larger battery could be fitted : holes for a larger battery are already done ! You will need to make a battery retainer as the original one is too small (must be 18cm between holes). So far that’s the best solution I found out regarding ease of maintenance, performance and cost.

The Bosch S4 001 weights 10kg. That’s an extra 4kg but they worth it !

To remove the battery you need to remove the black metal plate and the rear strut brace. Easy job but a lot for a single battery change.

The original and the Bosch batteries :

SLA-A19LT vs. Bosch S4001

The Bosch S4001 fits easily but you will need to trim the rear bottom of it because of the strut brace :

 

The Bosch S4 001 installed with the terminal adapters. Needless to say the car starts easier than with the original battery !

S4 001 installed in BNR34

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If you want to replace the OEM radio/CD player you will need a harness adapter. I used the CT20NS03 adapter from Nissan harness to standard ISO harness (available on ebay here for cheap). You can then plug any radio/player in your Nissan.
Nissan - ISO harness for skyline

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New wheels tested on the car as a second set for track days. Wheels are Enkei RPF1 18×9.5″ ET15 in bronze. This is a limited edition not to be mixed up with the standard gold color ! I ordered the wheels on Oakos and they’ve been more than helpful with me !

Enkei-RPF1-bronze

The good news is they also clear the Stoptech front brakes that I’d like to fit on the car. I tested with the template found on stoptech website : enough room for a futur brake upgrade. More on this soon.

enkei-RPF1-stoptech-template