Project DBA R35 Nissan GT-R

By Mike Kojima

Our Project GT-R was originally going to be an early 2009 CBA model.  We had acquired a low mileage first generation CBA and were about to start applying the normal MotoIQ tricks when we got to drive a 2014 model second generation or DBA GT-R at a dealer and were pretty amazed at the difference in refinement and performance that the newer car had over the old car.

The CBA was no slouch at all but the DBA was much faster, handled noticeably better and was much more refined from a NVH standpoint.  Most of the differences came about during the car's mid cycle facelift in 2012 when the model changed from CBA to DBA.  Even though most of the major changes happened in the switch from CBA to DBA, Nissan has been hard at work refining the GT-R and each model year comes with a list of continual refinements.

After our test we talked to our dealer (Connell Nissan) and they worked out a generous deal for trading in our CBA on a brand new 2014 DBA Black Edition in the rare Super Silver color.  We love the car and our first mod isn't some super trick part but an important one nevertheless. 

The GT-R has a long nose with a lot of overhang.  It also has trick aerodynamics that actually create downforce with a super low 0.27 coefficient of drag.  A lot of this is due to the car's flat bottom coupled to its low air dam.  This air dam is damage prone and we had scraped it several times in normal driving.  We wanted to protect the front end from serious damage that might occur due to dips and parking lot hazards.

The DBA GT-R has a redesigned front end that reduces the drag coefficient from a super low 0.28 to a really low 0.27.  Unfortunately, this means a front end with a lot of overhang and a low damage prone air dam.  We had scraped the air dam several times when driving already and decided it was time to be proactive and protect the front end from more severe damage, especially given that we plan to lower the car a little later.
We obtained this skid plate from Stillen.  The Stillen skidplate is made of tough, abrasion resistant and flexible polyurethane and installs in a matter of minutes.  This will go a long way towards protecting the car's front end.  When you see some GT-R's check out the air dams, chances are all of them will be damaged to one extent or another and the Stillen part minimizes this.
The Stillen skidplate is held on with a mix of 3M automotive grade adhesive tape and screws.  The 3M tape has a good grip and is used by OEM manufacturers including Nissan to hold on everything from trim to spoilers.
We started our installation by cleaning the air dam with some wax and silicone remover.
Next we test fit the part to make sure our fit was good before proceeding further.





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Thursday, June 27, 2013 4:04 AM
Congratulations on what I'm sure will be one of the most anticipated project cars thus far. I'm surprised there was such a difference between year models. I thought the main difference might have been items which would be swapped out in the tuning process like suspension, trans upgrade or power upgrades like exhaust, etc.

A review of the differences between CBA and DBA would be fantastic.
Thursday, June 27, 2013 6:32 AM
Suh-weet! If you want a Corvette on your project cars list too, just let me know. :)

On that flat bottom, it appears that the center hangs below the outsides leading up to the tires. Isn't the center typically higher? Care to explain to an aero n00b?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 7:49 AM
That's a front diffuser. It helps increase the low pressure zone under the nose.
b drecksage
b drecksagelink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 7:59 AM
Nice...love the gtr...wish it had a 3rd pedal. I wish these c ame out when scc was still doing the uscc. It would have probably done what the 360 modena did to the competition the one year.
Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:39 AM
It may be just me, but I have trouble getting excited for a project GT-R. I mean don't get me wrong, the GT-R is a great car and I appreciate it for it's performance, but at the price point it may as well be a Ferrari to me. I'll never be able to afford one, not even used.

I don't feel like it fits in with the "tuner" cars that people probly come here to see. I get more excited for less expensive cars that maybe I'll be able to pick up on the used market after a few years. Modifying cars is expensive enough without picking a starting price of $100k. Hell even the several year old model you traded in for not being fast enough to start a project with would run north of $60k. When are you going to pick up a couple year old 911 Turbo for a project car?

Sorry I didn't mean to rant. Cool car, I'm probly just jealous.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:55 AM
While a GT-R may not be in your price range today, one day it may be.. and when that day comes you'll be able to check back in with us and find a complete project to read up on. We're trying to "build the dream".

Until then I think Justin may have a project S12 update coming soon ;)
Thursday, June 27, 2013 11:04 AM
Jeff, I see what you're saying about building the dream. But I'm an adult, and an engineer. I may strike it rich unexpectedly, but until then I've got a house to pay for.

Who am I kidding? I'm going to read the articles anyways, I still like to know how to make a car faster, and I shouldn't be any more upset by this than an article about a Miata that I'm never going to buy (because I'm not manly enough to rock a Miata). Not that I'm really upset and wouldn't mean to come off that way. I just don't get why the "tuner" crowd is in love with this car anymore than any supercar they can't afford. It's like in the SCC USCC when the Ferrari won and I was like "Piss! I may as well stop trying."
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 11:34 AM
I am an adult and an engineer and I afforded a house, a kid an now a GT-R on a professionals salary. A lot had to do with saving a lot when I was younger, working two jobs as an engineer and a magazine editor, paying off my house early and some luck with my investments (and saving enough to build a good portfolio). I am also 50 years old. No way would I have bought a car like this in my 20s, 30s or 40s.
Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:07 PM
I realize it's a diffuser, but I've seen center sections of front diffusers that were cut higher than the outsides but this one appears to be the opposite.
Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:53 PM
I get your point Mike, I just meant that I'm not fresh out of high school flipping burgers and complaining about being poor. I'm glad you can afford one and maybe someday I can too.

I have just apparently failed to make my point that I don't feel like the GT-R "fits in" with a lot of the cars on this site. Not that it isn't a cool car, I just don't feel the same way about it as I do STi's and Evo's.
Thursday, June 27, 2013 1:09 PM
Supercharged, I've seen some diffusers with ducts for cooling that draw from there, maybe that was what you're thinking of. I'm having trouble finding an example of what I think you're describing as most do not kick up in the middle like that.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 1:18 PM
I bet you are nowhere near as old as me. :) I would rather be young again than have a cool car!
Thursday, June 27, 2013 2:17 PM
Wonder if that is the first GTR sold to a guy in shorts and yellow glasses. Any other dealer may have never given you the time of day.
I know that when I was younger I had to "dress the part" to get a good deal on cars that I bought off a lot.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 2:25 PM
It's one of the reasons why I have a Z32TT instead of an FD. I went to the local Mazda dealer to look at one dressed like a slob and the sales guy refused to show it to me telling me "you can't afford this". He tried to sell me some Mazda shitbox little car. I got so pissed off I went to the Nissan dealer bought a Z32 twin turbo, came back and said, look what I bought instead asshole and left.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 2:51 PM
Are those the OEM wheels?
Nick B
Nick Blink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 3:51 PM
@Dusty - Mike will probably chime in but yeah those are the OEM wheels for the "Black Edition" GT-R, I believe they are Rays.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 7:37 PM
Why does it feel prophetic that the CRP GT-R article mentions stock motor, turbos and bolt-ones = 550-600HP and now this? Hmmm...

I'm still waiting for the project TDIs to go at it against each other....

Oh,oh and did MotoIQ ever figure out the tuning problem, that most others have, with project FR-S?

I'll keep tuning in to see Supercar killer GT-R status! It'll give me a target to aim for when I'm ready to shoot for the stars ;-)
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 8:02 PM
higher center sections of the undertray are for real low cars with long splitters to reduce pitch sensitivity.
Thursday, June 27, 2013 9:52 PM
Burninator, it is sometimes just about priorities. I am fortunate enough to have a DBA GT-R. However I have no kids, no house, don't take vacations aside from going home in the winter. All my money goes to student loans and my car. No way I could afford the car if I had house payments. I would rather rent and daily drive a GT-R instead. I have friends with families and a house and Xboxes with big TVs, it's not for me.

I already messed up my front lip worse than normal leaving a 7-11. There really is no give in the stock lip. You knock it a bit, and the whole front bumper and supports get moved. It looks like it bent the front intercooler bracks a bit too. I thought they were supposed to be shaped like mine were, turns out they are supposed to be straight!

I have been to Connell Nissan (was turned off by price gouging) and bought mine at Tustin Nissan (color/price/right time). Both places treated me well and I was taken seriously when looking, despite the neck/throat tattoo, multiple facial piercings and mohawk. I guess in So Cal, they just though I was some wealthy musician. So you don't always have to dress up :)

180sx0, below is a great site that explains the adjustments made through the years to the R35. The site is run by a MotoIQ member.

Mike, have you looked at wheels to replace the OEM Black Editions? It is very hard to find something that is lighter or even the same weight as those in the same size.

I can't wait to see more project articles for this car.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, June 27, 2013 11:44 PM
We have these really light forged Advans that will be going on.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Friday, June 28, 2013 3:21 AM
For people wondering about the flat middle part on the diffuser in front, think of it in terms of where the air goes after the diffuser ends. On full bore LeMans Prototype cars with raised footboxes and mid engine configuration, the middle part of the diffuser would be raised too, because the chassis is designed to leave places to evacuate the air from that. On the GT-R, there's an engine there so that wouldn't work. The Panoz LMP cars (only modernish front engine prototypes evar, and IMO some pretty cool cars even if they weren't always competitive) did the same sort of thing for the same sort of reason.

I kinda see the point about the GT-R not "fitting" but at the same time... if MotoIQ had a project Ferrari I'd read every single article too. Going to do the same on this, even if for some reason the GT-R just isn't one of my favorite cars, because it's cool to see what you guys do.
Friday, June 28, 2013 7:08 AM
I didn't realize the price on these had gone up so much. I thought they were still in the 70k region.
Saturday, June 29, 2013 10:48 PM
As if I didn't want one of these car's bad enough already they had to release the Black Edition.
Saturday, July 06, 2013 2:11 PM
There's a white Black Edition sitting behind be while I wait for the clock to run out and go home for the day.

And Mike, most of our GT-R customers don't look a whole lot different from your glamor shot up there. I was honestly shocked. When I worked for Subaru a few years ago, the sh*thead STi owners outnumbered the Really Cool Guy customers by a fair margin. Now I'm at Nissan and most of our GT-R owners are older, (obviously) financially stable and generally really cool folks to talk to. The fact that most of them are engineers may or may not have anything to do with that.

Also location has a lot to do with whether you can look at a GT-R seriously. Out here in Okie-land a decent house isn't an obscene expenditure, so even owning my own place it's something I'm seriously considering when I finish my MAE degree in the next couple years. Obviously not going to afford one as a tech, no matter how good I get (though our shop foreman can honestly say the only thing that makes him say no is lack of appeal... go figure).

Anyway, congrats! The DB-A interiors are gorgeous, whithout being gaudy, and still being primarily functional.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Saturday, February 07, 2015 7:00 PM
This project has come to mind the last couple weeks begging the question: "What did happen to this project in the last 18 months?"!!
Did you realize it was killing most super cars bone stock?

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