Monday, January 21, 2019

[Skyline] Waiting and delivery

Purchase day was September 1, and with a 4-6 month timeline I assumed the worst and expected that I'd have my car at the end of February. I figured that all parties would have a holiday slowdown, and on top of that I was warned that the conversion facility was working through a backlog.

Photo credit: Sean Morris

Top Rank set to work reverting my car to stock in preparation to meet emissions. In my case this called for removal of the Apex'i FC ECU and the HKS twin air intakes, along with cleaning and flow testing of the fuel injectors. On top of that, the A/C needed repair and I asked them to service the timing belt, which was original.

350 miles to the north, I started digging into the various knowledge bases on the interwebs and social media groups. I convinced myself that building a Tamiya 1/24 scale kit would help me get familiar with the major systems of the car, so I poured time into that. While in Hong Kong I found a die-cast model to match the real thing.

A little bit too bright, but overall a nice result.

But most importantly, with many parts coming from Japan I wanted to get a head start and order some pieces so they would be ready when the car was completed. Using the photos and notes I'd scribbled during my ~2 hours with the car, I put together a shopping list and started spending yen.

Divided intake pipe is kitteh approved

The weakest point of the car, when I viewed it, was the interior. The driver seat in particular had a weird Frankenstein thing going on. I like to imagine that the conversation went something like this:

Owner: I'm getting a lot of wear on the driver's side bolster, it's starting to tear the fabric after all these years.
Upholstery guy: No sweat. I've got OE Nissan cloth, it's going to be a perfect match.


Through the magic of Craigslist I picked up a pair of extremely tidy stock seats, from Z Car Garage in San Jose no less. That was a great introduction to the team there, I plan to use them for whatever service needs come up.

Room for improvement.

Up front, the car had no head unit, so I sourced a replacement and ordered harness adapters from across the world. I ordered a stock shift knob to replace the stubby Razo piece. In the back, the mid-rear pillar trim was shrinking and peeling so I ordered replacement pieces. I also ordered new floor mats, some original badges that had been removed along the way, a spare key, stock radiator cap, etc.

It wasn't all refurb parts. I started to form a vision of what I would do with the car, and because I'd noted that the tires on the stock wheels were past their prime, I figured I would skip new tires for the stock wheels and go right for the aftermarket setup I had in mind. The wheels ended up taking almost as long to receive as the car. More on these in another post.

A key component of the R32 GT-R basic bro starter pack.

In mid-December I called Top Rank to see how things were going, to my surprise they reported that my car was finished with emissions work and just waiting on VIN verification to complete the paperwork! I wanted to drop everything and fly down immediately, but with the holidays coming I had to punt pickup to the new year. This was just as well, because I needed time to sell my M3 and make space in the garage.

On January 4th, my wife and I booked a one-way flight to Orange Country to meet Yaska and pick up the car. The timing worked out perfectly, as we caught the Top Rank crew right between the holidays and their trip to Tokyo for the Auto Salon. Unfortunately I missed meeting Sean Morris for the third time in so many trips down there.

I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't worried. I like to be a man with a plan, which involves worrying about all the scenarios that might play out and how to address each one. There were many worries to lose sleep over. Was the car going to be ready? Were they going to be able to find the original records? Did I bring all of the correct paperwork? Would my wife like it? And perhaps the biggest one: was the car as awesome as I remembered?

Why, hello.

Thankfully, the pickup was smooth as could be. They'd washed the car for me and it looked stunning in the sunlight. The records were right there in the glovebox, the A/C was working, and the parts removed for emissions certification were packed away in the trunk. My wife was a fan. See, nothing to worry about!

Well, except for the 400+ mile drive home in a 27 year-old car. Read about that in the next entry.

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