Finally getting around to an R35 – I’ve been meaning to build the current GT-R for a while now, but kept getting sidelined by Skylines. Ironically, this isn’t a kit for myself – the president of my university’s car club drives a black 2013 R35, and he just so happened to have a lot of parts on his car that were conveniently available on the model car aftermarket, like Voltex aero and genuine Advan GT’s. Just for fun, I asked if he wanted his car built, since I so rarely get the chance to build a car off a reference with so many parts off the shelf – and surprisingly he was down, so I suppose this is a commission build.
This is what I’m working towards (no, I’m not building a companion Porsche too). There’s no crazy Liberty Walk widebody with intricate graphics that I’ll have to hunt down on the model car black market – just some very utilitarian aero on a black R35. It’s a 2013 Black Edition, which I’m pretty sure means the same thing F-Sport means over at Lexus, if not less – some nicer wheels and body/interior changes so minor you’d be forgiven for not noticing them at first glance.
The full mod list seems to go:
- Voltex Type 5 Wing
- Advan GT (Mag Blue, 20 inch)
- Volex Custom Canards
- Do Luck Japan Splitter w/ Racing Ends
- Seibon Vented Carbon Hood
- Aerocatch hood pins
- Difflow Rear Diffuser
- AP Racing J-Hook rotors
- Endless MX72 Brake pads
- HKS Titanium Catless Midpipe
- Greddy full titanium catback
- JDM clear sidemarkers
Since it’s not a kit for myself, I decided to pull out all the stops – the customer is covering the costs anyway, so I didn’t have to be stingy the way I usually am with my own cars. I can get at least reasonably close for most of those parts listed above – EightyOne makes most of the Voltex parts and a hood similar to the Seibon hood.
Unfortunately, the challenge ironically actually came with choosing the base model kit to use for the car.
See, here’s the issue: Tamiya’s most readily available R35 kit is of the original 2009 model, when the GT-R first launched. It has since gotten some minor body/internal upgrades – most notably, my client’s car is a 2013, meaning it has a distinctly different front bumper from the older 2009 models. Okay, no problem right? When Tamiya doesn’t cut it, this is when we usually turn to Aoshima – everyone’s jumped in the R35 game after all – it’s Japan’s automotive pride and joy.
Speedbump: my client obviously drives a North American spec GT-R, which means it’s left (correct) hand drive. The 2009 Tamiya kit with the wrong bumper comes with a left hand drive dash. The 2014 Aoshima GT-R Pure Edition (the cheapest and most readily available R35 kit from Aoshima available to us in the states – and I still had to order it from Japan) only comes as a JDM right (wrong) hand drive. Aoshima did at one point release a North American-spec R35 2014 model, but apparently it’s long out of print and even if you could find it on eBay, the rarity tax is real.
So, the solution? Buy both kits, steal the LHD dash from the Tamiya kit, and use it in the 2014 Aoshima kit. Twice the cost for two kits just to build one LHD facelifted R35? Yes. But there’s enough of the Tamiya GT-R left that it won’t go to waste – after all, after I build this customer car I also plan to build an R35 for myself, so it’s not as though the leftover Tamiya kit is just wasted.
The facelifted bumper from the Aoshima kit (that matches the one on my client’s car) versus the original from the Tamiya kit on the bottom.
I’m also very okay with building the Aoshima kit instead since you get an actual full engine, rather than just the top half molded into the bay the way Tamiya does it. Granted, Tamiya’s molding is very sharp and even sharper than Aoshima’s in some areas of the body, but painting that motor while it’s half-molded in would be a royal PITA, and it feels like such a cheap cop-out of more parts.
Ironically, Tamiya does the opposite by including the front fender vent garnishes as separate pieces, making for ease of painting. Aoshima just molds the detail into the fenders, meaning it’ll need to be added in by hand.
Tamiya’s body also feels sturdier and is molded in a very cool primer gray, versus Aoshima’s thin-feeling white plastic.
The parts count in the Aoshima kit surprisingly isn’t very high, despite the imposing box size. I suspect already that it comes down to a not-a-very complicated suspension/undercarriage assembly, given that the GT-R is notorious for hiding a lot of its complex work underneath broad underbody panels.
Molding detail on certain parts like the engine components and rotors are very well done.
Tamiya LHD dash versus Aoshima RHD. I’m kind of just hoping that this will be an easy swap and things in the tub will just line up – I don’t actually know how much work it’s going to take yet, but I’ve done this once before on my 350z, and that came out alright, so how hard could this be?
First order of business before I even attempt fitting the dashes is to cut down and re-wall the driver’s footwell in the Aoshima tub. Apparently the passenger is designed to get way less legroom.
I was worried for a bit when I was refitting the driver footwell because I was afraid doing so would mean I’d have fitment issues with the driveshaft and transmission, which should be right under that area. Turns out, Aoshima gives you a full motor, bay, and tub, but no driveline components or transmission at all. I mean, I’m not really complaining since it would’ve been wasted detail that wouldn’t have been visible on the final kit anyways, but when they went so far as to include a full engine I sort of expected the transmission with it.
Aoshima won’t give us mounting holes in the body for the side view mirrors or even holes in the truck to help us mount the stock wing, but they’ll gleefully punch holes in the front bumper for you to stick the mandatory license plates on. Welcome to Japan: drive without mirrors if you need to, but God forbid you forget your front plate.
Interestingly enough, there are still a lot of leftover parts in this kit from the original 2009 GT-R release, like the pre-facelift front grille. I guess it used to be a separate piece from the bumper, which would’ve made painting it a lot easier.
Let’s talk resin. All the aftermarket parts for this kit I got from EightyOne, whom I’ve bought resin parts from before. A Voltex Type 2 Wing, Voltex universal canards (small and medium), and a KR GT2 hood. All these parts are approximates for what’s on my client’s car – he has a Voltex Type 5 wing and a similarly-designed Seibon hood, but nothing is exact.
Interestingly enough, he mentioned that the Seibon hood is actually an amalgamation of two other hood designs, one of which was actually the KR GT2, which explains why the front vents look identical. I was originally just going to use the hood as-is and live with the small variances, but then decided to take it a step further to improve accuracy.
This hood was actually originally designed by EightyOne for the Tamiya GT-R, so I’m not super surprised it doesn’t just plop onto the Aoshima kit with perfect fitment.
Thankfully I learned a while ago that resin is fairly receptive to heating and bending. A little heat gun work allowed me to massage the hood to fit the bay.
EightyOne has a parts package on their site that includes a canards set (one large and one small) that also includes a set of Craft Square Racing Mirrors. Obviously I wouldn’t need the mirrors for this build, but I was hoping I could get away with these canards.
Dry fitting with tape only yielded half-promising results. The large canard actually works really well and fits the car, but the small one is way too small – meaning I had to order another set from EightyOne to get a total of four large canards.
The Seibon hood on the actual car has the two rear-most intakes moved forward a bit and bulged up, and lacks the middle vents and the corner slit vents. I decided I couldn’t really do much about the rear intakes, but I could fill in the vents that weren’t supposed to be there.
Unfortunately, filling in such large gaps with just Tamiya white putty (my usual go-to putty that I’ve been using for years now) is a bit of a test of patience. All one-piece putties will shrink as they dry, simply as a result of their chemical makeup – they dry by off-gassing and oxidizing, after all. I lived with this for many years since I’d usually use the putty just to fill in small stuff, so the shrinkage wasn’t as severe, but it would still always happen even after multiple putty passes. For something as large as these hood vents, the usual just wasn’t going to cut it – I’d be very upset if I spent days constantly re-puttying the vents just for them to continue shrinking months down the line (it’s happened). So, what kind of filler doesn’t shrink? The cheap two-part kind used on real cars – good ‘ol Bondo.
The working time with this stuff is a lot shorter than the usual putty; I only have a few minutes to mix the filler and hardener and slather it on the pieces before it starts to become immovable.
The upside is that I get to sand and shape it a lot faster, though it began to give me some odd effects after the first coat of primer to check leveling. The primer went on normal for most of the hood, but looked off over the areas that had exposed and dried Bondo. I had experienced this before with regular Tamiya putty and had just brushed it off, but in this scenario I actually needed to get it right. After some research, I discovered that it’s fairly common – apparently the Bondo “soaks” up the primer more than the surrounding material, giving you the weird texture. Recommendations to fix this? Drown it in more high-build primer. Yikes.
This is what Tamiya putty usually looks like after a day of drying and curing – it shrinks in.
Bondo to the rescue.
Looking smooth with some high-build primer.
The hood is getting better, but needs a lot of massaging and delicate primer work to really get the patched up areas seamless.
It’s a really fickle process, trying to cover up the Bondo sections while preventing the primer from going on too thick and obscuring detail.
Finally, a consistent finish. This is like what, four coats of high build primer, sanded between each coat, to a final coat of fine surface primer?
Let’s talk wheels real quick. My client’s actual GT-R is rocking Advan GT’s – a pretty well known wheel design, to the point where even Aoshima produced an official set. I opted to get the set from EightyOne, just because it was easier getting all my parts from them at once.
The somewhat unfortunate issue with these is that both Aoshima and EightyOne only produce these in 19 inch – while my client’s wheels are 20 inch. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but I’ve learned already that subtle changes in wheel diameter can have a big impact on how a car’s final ride height looks.
The upside to this problem is that I have plenty of leftover 19-inch wheels and tires – heck, even the stock wheels are 19 inch, so I banked on those tires being thicker to make up for the real wheels being 20 inch. Alas, it turns out all of the 19 inch tires I had were about the same size and thickness, so it didn’t really make a difference. It doesn’t help that these tires are all very thin in their sidewalls, but my client’s actual car has some pretty hefty meat wrapping his rims.
Strangely enough, the seats are each two-piece – and we get an “updated” set of seat backs for the 2014+ models, since I guess the old 2009 GT-R had different seat backs? Does this kind of detail really matter?
This kind does. The fender garnishes have been updated for the facelifted GT-R’s, but most importantly, it looks like the previous kit only got bare white pieces, while the new 2014 look gets some nice satin plated silver pieces.
I was surprised to see some parts (mostly body panels) actually undergated to save us time cleaning nubs. I didn’t think Aoshima was this builder-friendly.
Stock seats look great, but the headrest openings aren’t actually open. Fixed with some delicate heat knife work.
This really baffled me a bit when I got to assembling the motor – the instructions tell you to “cut of the pipes” (nice, Aoshima – missed one too many F’s there). For a bit I couldn’t understand if these “pipes” are just runner bits that were always meant to be cut off or if it was actually molded detail that Aoshima didn’t want you having in your GT-R for some reason.
After some Google Image’ing, it looks like the 2013+ GT-R’s had a slightly revised bay that sure enough, didn’t have those pipes, while the earlier 2009 models did. I like how Aoshima doesn’t even bother molding a new part for this – they just straight up tell you to modify the 2009 version to bring it up to date.
Now, I said I was pulling out all the stops for this kit right? I don’t normally bother with these photoetched detail sets that you can get on the aftermarket with most of my kits (I’ve used them before, though sparingly) since it’s just more money for usually little return. This set for the R35 seems like it comes with more than the usual though, and to top it off it’s actually an official set from Aoshima themselves, so fitment should be guaranteed.
I like how the one set includes photo-etched parts for both the early 2009 models and the facelifted car, which I’m building now.
The parts that I always want the most out of a photo-etched set is always the brake rotors – in this case, they even come with the drilled pattern.
Ironically, I think it was fairly recently that my client got a brake upgrade – he has some fancy J-Hook pattern on his rotors instead, and that’s going to be near-impossible to replicate, so the factory drilled style will have to do.
Calipers painted metallic orange. I’m pleasantly surprised that Aoshima decided to include the rotors and calipers separately – I’m still so used to having them as one unit.
Even more surprising was the fact that this kit came with spring suspension – I haven’t seen this in a long time.
Test fitting suspension. Lowering actual spring suspension is theoretically worlds easier than lowering plastic suspension – all you have to do is cut the spring to your desired height and everything else falls in place – but it’s a bit tougher to keep everything even and figure out exactly how much to cut out since things move.
Using the stock wheels to check fitment for now, since they’re the same diameter as the Advans anyway. I made a mistake here – I’m so used to slamming my cars and banishing any and all wheel gap to the nth dimension that I forgot to prioritize accuracy – the GT-R I’m modeling isn’t actually slammed flush.
Rough fitment without any springs in. I thought: okay, with the springs there’s a bit of gap, and without any it basically flushes up – let’s cut the springs just a tad.
Don’t lower your cars like this in real life, kids.
I’ll need to build out the rest of the car to finalize the wheel fitment, so for now we’re moving onto the bumper – more specifically, the Do Luck Japan front splitter. I’ve never heard of this brand before, and apparently it’s obscure enough that only a handful of GT-R’s even run this splitter in North America. Obviously this means this splitter won’t be available on the model kit aftermarket – which means we’re building it from scratch.
I’ll be using parts of the stock lip area as part of the splitter – so we’ll start by taking out those distinctive rectangles at the bottom edges.
Drawing out the splitter design on pla-plate. To keep it even, I started at the midpoint and drew half the splitter – then I cut that out and traced left and right sections out to get the whole thing.
The weirdest and most unique feature of this lip is how the middle curves up and has a bit of a strange mountain-like design. To accomplish this I just sanded the factory lip section up into a curve, then attached the pla-plate section flush.
Little triangular end pieces attached.
I was originally almost going to leave it at that, but decided that I obviously needed to give the lip depth – it couldn’t literally just be one piece of bent plastic sheeting. Solution? Trace another pla-plate lip sheet and stack it up against the first – but of course there’s going to be a slight gap where the curve in the middle is, since I don’t plan to just stack it completely flush. Good thing Bondo is prime for filling things.
Cut the excess, sand and shape. Voila! To be totally honest I’m not super sure how close I got to the real lip – it’s really hard to make out its shape in photos given its somewhat wonky design and dark carbon surface against an already dark car. I hope this is close enough to be passable; I don’t expect it to be 100% splitting image accurate.
Had to cut part of the rear end of the lip off; I accidentally made it too large, to the point where it got in the way of the rest of the body.
The hood is a very constant process of glossing, wetsanding, buffing, repeat. The gloss is passable, but due to the nature of the high-build primer beneath the paint, I don’t think I’ll ever get it to the absolute wet gloss black that I got with my Z33.
If I remember correctly, the Aoshima manual didn’t call for these seats to be painted like this – I believe they were either supposed to be all red or have red for the middle cushions only. To keep it in line with my client’s 2013 Black Edition interior though, I painted the seat edges red by hand.
Suspiciously underdetailed underbody. I guess the more expensive and exotic the car is, the less you get to see of how it works.
Resin Advan GT’s painted Dark Metallic Blue – the same color I used for the body of my FR-S. Turns out though, after seeing this color in the light and juxtaposing it directly against the actual Mag Blue that the real wheels are, it’s quite off.
Ironically, all it took to fix it and get it to the right hue was a thin coat of Mica Blue (World Rally Blue, body color for my STi) and it matched right up.
So, the body paint for this car is really going to be a process. Of course the GT-R I’m modeling this kit after has factory black paint – but that paint, called Jet Black, is actually a metallic black, rather than a deep solid gloss black. I noticed this the first time I saw the real car in person – it’s very distinct up-close. I could’ve very well just gone with solid gloss black for the kit and called it a day – the finish would’ve looked identical to my gloss black 350z, but it wouldn’t be accurate, dammit.
Lucky for me, both Tamiya and Mr. Hobby actually make a color called Metallic Black – easy, right? Too bad the color straight out of the can isn’t the best for this application – the metallic flakes are just a little too heavy, resulting in the final color looking closer to gunmetal than black. There will be sections of the bumpers and body (like the sideskirts) that will actually be gunmetal, and the contrast just isn’t notable enough with the straight metallic black.
My solution? Paint the body solid gloss black first, then mist a light coat of the metallic black over – this way the metallic color has a solid color coat underneath to show through, allowing me to keep the flakes lighter for a more subtle effect.
Bumper sections masked, painted actual gunmetal. Working around the front bumper bar was tedious, but the masking lines ended up really clean.
I’m kind of surprised and taken aback that Aoshima really expects you to just paint the fender vents/garnishes in by hand.
This is where things unexpectedly went south. After all the miscellaneous body colors have been painted on like the silver and gunmetal, it was time to clear everything and seal it with some nice deep gloss. The paint devil goblins must’ve been in the area during this process though, because for some inexplicable reason my clear decided to grain up the moment it hit the body. I wasn’t even painting in unfavorable conditions like extreme cold or extreme humidity.
But this is okay – not all hope is lost. Wetsanding and polishing can save the day.
Until it can’t. I was so focused on taking down some high spots that I ended up burning through all the paint in some very conspicuous areas. All that previous work was for naught – the body will have to be repainted from the ground up.
So, I respray the gloss black base, top it with some metallic black, and re-clear the whole thing. Of course, because I’m lazy, I only did a light rubdown of the body before this process, rather than stripping all the paint off clean. This would come back to bite me when the paint started to gunk up and fill in certain body details, like the door handles. They ended up being lost completely, and I wasn’t about to tolerate flat, detail-less door handles.
Hope is never lost. We may be in our darkest hour, but not to worry – we have reserves. Literally. I plan to build a complete resin transkit for my Tamiya R35 anyway, so the spare plastic body is completely disposable. I couldn’t just start over with the Tamiya body since it wouldn’t fit with the Aoshima bumpers and chassis, but for the door handles, we could salvage.
I used a heat knife to cut the handles out of the Tamiya body and transferred them to the Aoshima body. Thankfully they were the same size and fit nice and snug, though of course it’ll need some sanding and cleaning up.
Even with the door handles taken care of though, we’re having more problems with the paint matching – I had only sanded the main body and repainted it – the bumpers were fine, and therefore untouched. The issue comes with the fact that I had originally applied the metallic black mist with the bumpers attached to the body, so the mist would have an even effect on all the parts. I couldn’t do that in this situation, so unfortunately the metallic black on the body ended up heavier than what was applied for the bumpers.
Long story short, the paint doesn’t match. The bumpers and hood are a nice black with a metallic hint, the way I had intended, but the body (look where the fender meets the bumper) is so heavily coated with metallic black that it’s skirting closer to gunmetal in comparison.
I finally decided to man up and just strip the entire body down and (actually) start over from scratch, with even, thin coats. I had originally tried dunking everything in Purple Power degreaser, but it barely had any effect – the stuff hasn’t really been working for me for a while. We need stronger stuff, but not strong enough to melt or harm the plastic – cue DOT3 brake fluid.
So far the fastest and most reliable stripper I’ve used for my lacquer paints. The paint will come off in chunks within a few hours – some encouragement from a bristle brush helps it along, and a second soak gets rid of most of the stubborn areas. Granted, brake fluid is a lot more trouble to dispose of than the less harmful degreaser, but the payoff is worth it. I should’ve been using this stuff a long time ago.
Plastic is completely unharmed – no melting or brittleness at all. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information online about what’s good and right to strip model kits, but for my specific application using Tamiya lacquer aerosol paints, I can attest that DOT3 brake fluid will be my go-to from now on.
Light sanding to clean the body up.
Prim and proper with primer, mostly just to check if there are any uneven patches from paint I may have missed. Turns out it really is pristine – and we don’t end up losing panel detail like the gas cap because of thick paint!
Finally got it to where I wanted it from the start. Had it not been for the setbacks with the body paint, I could’ve finished this kit a lot faster.
Taking the smart approach and masking the fender vents to paint them this time rather than just freehanding it as I did earlier.
Anyway, moving on to interior work. I normally wouldn’t bother flocking a car like this, since I’m pretty sure by the time it’s all said and done you won’t even be able to see the carpet through the seats and dash – but this is for a customer, so I’m not about to make a bad impression cutting corners.
The photo-etched detail set came with metal speaker grilles for every section of the tub – the one that goes in the rear seats even has the BOSE logo stamped on it.
Blessed it be a simple interior. The photo-etched kit also came with one solid metal piece for the steering wheel, something I very much appreciate because painting that stuff in by hand with silver paint is a bitch and a half.
This is where I had to make concessions. The stock GT-R seats in the Black Edition are Recaros, and of course with any Recaro seat, they gotta tell you they’re Recaros by saying RECARO somewhere on the seat back. The unfortunate gig here is that the Black Edition GT-R’s RECARO logos are red, but being that I’m building a “Pure Edition” and not the Black Edition, the seats aren’t actually Recaros? (They look basically identical). The only appropriately sized logos I had were silver, from my new and unbuilt DC5 Type R.
Not the right color, but better than not having them at all. The seats are also pending a flat coat; their texture won’t be that bad on the final product.
As I’m putting the tub together, I realized that I can’t even glue the dash in until I figure out where it’s going to be placed relative to the main body and the windshield. I need to remind myself that this segment isn’t just plug and play, because it’s a Tamiya dash in an Aoshima car.
Aoshima is also a dick for making us paint this part of the engine cover by hand. I only learned during this process that the 2011 facelift had a revised “red top” cover, while the older 2009-2010’s were “black tops”.
Not a lot of parts for the motor itself – it’s basically two halves to make the block, a cover, and intercooler piping.
Before the motor actually goes in though, some bonus features need to be thrown in – magnets! These are your standard neo Earth magnets you can find all over eBay.
Glued into the chassis, below where the motor will sit so they won’t be seen after assembly.
Strong enough to hold the chassis vertically with no risk of falling. Four were also placed in the rear behind the tub, so for all intents and purposes you could make this car a fridge decoration if you wanted to. I’ll explain the reasons for the magnetism in a bit – no, my client didn’t actually request a fridge decoration of his car.
Engine put in, with some minor wiring and hose detail added. It’s really too bad Aoshima doesn’t include any intercoolers behind the front bumper, and that big radiator doesn’t even show through the grille because there’s a black connecting plate that blocks it when the body clips onto the chassis.
Lining the dash up to the windshield was less stressful than I thought – the LHD piece is surprisingly snug in its fitment even without being glued down, so I got the adjustments done with almost no trouble.
Masking stickers included for the windows, so you can paint the pillars and bezels black.
I was an idiot and missed some areas when I was masking though – mostly the side windows. The enamel that bled in was tough to sand out, and while real clear plastic polish (PlastX, the stuff you’d use to clear headlights) helped a lot, it never really got it back to perfect clarity.
So I said to hell with it, who needs side windows. They’re rolled down now. You can see the interior detail better this way (even though ironically my client’s car is completely untinted, so there wasn’t even the issue of having hard-to-see-through tinted plastic).
I’m really, really glad the photo-etched parts set came with pieces dedicated to the silver/chrome ribbon garnish on the front bumper. I was not looking forward to painting that stuff in by hand.
The GT-R’s now-iconic “lightning bolt” style headlights were only introduced in 2014, from the looks of it. My client’s 2013 still has the original style housings, and thankfully the 2014 kit came with both the original housings and clear lenses.
I think one of my client car’s most striking features are the distinctive yellow headlights and bumper lights. They came in clear plastic so it was a breeze to paint clear yellow.
Taillight assembly is done basically entirely for you though – chrome backing, clear red brake housing, and regular clear centers for reverse.
So, I mentioned earlier that I had to order two sets of canards from EightyOne because they sell them with one large and one small set per package right? So if I wanted two sets of large canards, I needed to get two packages, which I did. To my surprise though, the second package came with two sets of smalls, rather than one small and one large. This was a problem.
I didn’t have time to have EightyOne send me another set of correct canards from Hong Kong, so I decided to forsake them altogether – I can use them for future builds. For now, we’ll be building them out from scratch.
Painted metallic black first, then covered with carbon fiber decals that were cut from the original canard template. Having to do four of these with two decals per canard was a time consuming process, though I think the subtle carbon that you end up with is a worthwhile touch.
I originally tried to get away with just building two canards from scratch, to match the two large resin ones I had from EightyOne. While my attempts got really close, the shape was still off because the EightyOne resin canards bent and curved in weird ways that I couldn’t get plastic to do. I ended up building all four from scratch.
The hubs on EightyOne’s Advans were huge, so those had to be cut down with a new “spacer” to get the right offset.
I had fully intended to just glue the wheels to the hubs as I usually do, sacrificing the ability for the car to actually roll – it’s a display model, not a toy anyway. But the engineering behind this kit was a lot better than I expected.
I cemented the wheels to the rotor hubs the way you would on a real car, fully expecting that to be it – the wheels are static now. After the cement set though, I discovered a pleasant surprise – Aoshima had designed the rotors to actually rotate in their seats, just like a real car. I haven’t come across any kits that have done this yet – it passes through the caliper and everything. Big ups to Aoshima for the engineering here – I didn’t even realize it worked that way when I was building the brake assembly.
Maximum accuracy means even getting the teal-colored lugnuts in.
Body and chassis just about ready for final fitment. After this there’s no going back, since I won’t be able to take the body off after the diffuser and exhaust go in.
I’ve never heard of Difflow, but that’s apparently the brand of the diffuser – no parts available for it, so we’re building it from scratch.
Thankfully the design is very very simple – not much to it. I was originally just going to glue the fins to the back on their own, but decided that I would still go for maximum accuracy with the plate that they’re attached to.
I was told that the plate is apparently carbon fiber, but the fins are aluminum – a very welcoming thing given that applying carbon decals to every single fin would be back-breaking.
I’m not messing with the exhaust piping (you can barely see any of it under the car anyway, it’s all covered up), but I figured I should at least remake the tips. The factory tips have rolled edges and a slanted face – the aftermarket exhaust my client’s car has is a simpler staggered pipe.
Trying to get the blue burnt tips in with some creative use of clear blue and misting silver.
My reference GT-R’s hood is color-matched to the body, which makes it a bit easier for me to work with, but the front vents are all still left carbon – so of course they have to be carbon here. Every decal is cut and applied individually for this, since there’s really no blanket way to do it as neatly.
Okay, I’ll finally explain what the magnets in the chassis are for. As a little something extra and special for my client I decided to include a dedicated display case with their order – this is a pretty standard 1/24 scale case meant for this size of model that you can find at most local hobby shops, though I specifically went for one with a mirrored base.
I customized it a bit by adding the black bezel at the bottom, due to putting the mirror piece below the clear bottom of the base rather than on top – that’s why the paint dried in funny droplets on the bottom there – but that doesn’t matter. What matters is those two long neo-Earth magnets glued to the bottom of the base – can you see where I’m going with this?
Just putting the car in the case is fine and good, but what if my client wants to display it upside down? What if he wants it vertically off his wall? I’m not so narrow-minded as to not give the man options.
But really, I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while – I’ve seen other modelers do similar things for special displays, but I’ve never really gotten the chance since all my cars are displayed together in class cabinets. No one’s special enough to really get their own display or need magnets, but this is a one-shot for a customer, so it makes perfect sense.
Used a piece of cosplay foam (it’ll be heat-sealed and painted black) to cover up the ugly bottom. This will also make sure the magnets at the bottom aren’t too strong, so the entire case doesn’t accidentally snap itself to a metal table or the fridge if my client brings the display too near magnetic objects.
I’ve been putting off the wing for basically this whole build. Why? I got the wrong wing! My client’s car has a Voltex Type 5 GT Wing. EightyOne offers a Voltex Type 2. I thought, hey, Type 2, Type 5 – close enough. So I got the Type 2, painted it, fit it, and decal-d the whole thing in carbon fiber. Then I took another look and realized the Type 5 is really a much more different wing than I initially thought.
Worse yet, I discovered EightyOne actually offered a wing that was closer to the Type 5 – but it’s labeled as J’s Racing Type 2! The owner of the GT-R then told me that they’re really all one in the same – d’oh! I realized this late in the game, so it took some time to place the order for this wing and have it shipped to me, but at least I can rest easy knowing it’s a very close image of the actual Voltex Type 5 the car is supposed to have.
The only part significantly off was the end plates – but that’s easy to cut off and fix.
Made my own end plates from scratch.
Painted gunmetal before carbon decal work. Given the more complex design and “step” of the rear part off the wing, it took a lot longer to get it filled out than the Type 2.
Building custom mounting brackets for the wing, since it looks like they’re custom or at least larger than what the original wing came with on the actual car.
Scratch building the Aerocatch flat hood pins. I wasn’t going to bother with this at first but figured it wouldn’t take long so I might as well have. I’m surprised no decals for these hood pins are available on the aftermarket.
As a bit of the icing on the cake in really personalizing this GT-R for my client and going for the 100% accuracy completion run, I also decided to finally try working with custom license plates. The OMG GTR plates are one of the car’s most unique charms.
I didn’t get fancy with print-your-own-decal paper or anything, though I could have. They’re just plates, so printing them normally from my home printer worked fine, though it took some trial and error to get the sizing, front, and color right. Once that was done I decided to test run some clear coat on them, just to see how the regular paper and ink would react. Turns out it worked fine – the ink is now sealed.
Picked up some license plate frames to complete the look.
My biggest regret with this build is carrying the idiot ball when I was painting the body – not only did I have to strip and repaint as I detailed earlier, I also wasn’t paying attention and didn’t realize that on the actual car the rear Nissan badge had been shaved off. The Aoshima kit’s trunk comes with a raised badge outline, rather than relying on you to put a simple decal or photo-etched part alone.
By the time I noticed, the car was nearly done, and the only way to cleanly shave it now would be to sand the trunk and repaint the entire body from scratch, since the gloss/metallic black combo is too difficult to replicate on an isolated area. Since that’s not really an option anymore, it’s just gonna be what it is – though I am going to black the badge out with flat black to give it a meaningfully “blacked out” look instead.
Finishing the body paint with a fresh wax (actual carnauba!) to give it the deepest shine.
I think by the end of it this build had taken almost two months, maybe more. Almost three weeks of that time was just waiting for miscellaneous parts to come in.
Close enough? I was worried about the fitment a lot during the building process – turns out modifying the spring suspension at all was the wrong play.
When I’m building modified cars or just my cars in general, I tend to automatically steer all my ride height towards flush, with as little wheel gap as possible. I forgot that my client’s car is a bit more functional than that, so really the stock springs in the kit would’ve worked fine if I had just left them alone.
I ended up opening the suspension up and still using the cut springs, but they’re really just in there for show now. The ride height can now be manually adjusted lower or higher by pushing or pulling on the wheels, since I ended up retaining the original adjustable suspension design, just without the spring tension.
The size discrepancy between the 20″ Advans on the real car and the 19″ ones I used here also made me worry that the final ride height would look too low, but I think it worked out – both the splitter and rear diffuser still clear the ground!
I think being able to keep the steering and actually roll-ability of the wheels in one complex build is one of my greatest achievements as of late (even if keeping the rolling wheels was totally a happy little accident). I’ll usually sacrifice one or the other (or both) in the name of stance, so I guess this might be a by-product of being forced to finally not build a stanceboi car.
The front GT-R badge is barely visible because the photo-etched grille that it lays on curves really far back for some reason. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be closer to vertical on the actual car.
A better look at the real colors and finish without the over-edited Lightroom aesthetic (it’s a phase, I’ll get over it…I think).
Red interior accents in a black car is what I live for. The LHD conversion is much more seamless than I thought it would be.
And of course, after putting effort into building the motor we might as well show it off a little.
The very interesting thing is that both the Aoshima and Tamiya GT-R kits come with a thin little hood prop, complete with holes in the frame and and on the hood for you to slot it into. I’ve never seen hood props actually included with these model cars – I always have to make my own out of metal wire. Even the aftermarket hood from EightyOne comes with a predrilled hole for you to slot the prop into.
I’m surprisingly pleased with how the carbon parts came out on this build. I haven’t had the most solid track record for getting clean carbon, but the wing in particular ended up looking exactly as I wanted it. I didn’t bother gloss coating or clearing any of it since from what I saw on my client’s car his carbon parts weren’t deep and glassy gloss anyway.
The photo-etched brakes and surprisingly vibrant blue on the Advans are also some of my favorite bits for this build. Unfortunately, one of my biggest regrets is the canards – they’re not technically the right shape and with all the adjusting that I needed to do after they were mounted, they didn’t come out nearly as clean as I had hoped for.
Broadside, nothing to see here.
A little lineage with my last R34. Seeing the Skyline’s stance next to the R35’s much more squatted pose reminds me more of how I’m still slightly bothered by that car’s ride height.
Finally, what the end product display will look like as it goes to its new home with the actual car’s owner. I’m pretty sure the magnets on the underside are still strong enough to hold the entire case to a fridge.
Commission builds don’t normally take upwards of two months but I suppose this was a more special case than most, given the high aftermarket parts count and all the little details I wanted to work in. Future paid work will hopefully go smoother, though unfortunately as cool as it is to have a mini-scale of your own modified car, I’m sure this kind of stuff will still remain highly niche – it’s by no means cheap to get done after all.