How to Tune a 'GT-R Killer' Nissan 350Z

Watch a street tune 350Z by Powerhouse Amuse destroy the 600-hp MCR R34 Skyline GT-R.

Best Motoring Official / YouTube screencap

This infamous, blood-red R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R by legendary tuning house MCR (Matchless Crowd Racing) needs little introduction. With more than 600 horsepower and a trick scramble-boost function that increases boost pressure for a short period, Shinichi Kobayashi’s Skyline GT-R is a terror on the Tsukuba circuit, setting a lap time of 59.888 seconds, and losing out to Mine’s R34 Skyline GT-R by just fractions of a second during the Tuned Silvia & Skyline Face Off (Check out MCR's race here).

But to test its mettle on the street, Kobayashi brought his MCR GT-R to Hot Version’s Gunsai Showdown, where it faced a fresh competitor: a then-new 350Z tuned by Powerhouse Amuse. Could the hefty, naturally-aspirated coupe with a grand-touring reputation stand a chance against MCR’s turbocharged monster?

By comparison, the 350Z stepped into the ring with some relatively light mods (literally). Amuse gave the Z an extensive weight-loss plan, including dry carbon hood and doors, lightweight seats, and a titanium exhaust that brought the Z's weight down to 2,900 pounds. For Amuse, balance is the key to street tuning.

With wet conditions on the tight and twisty Gunsai Touge, MCR must have been feeling pretty smug with the GT-R's more stable AWD. However, the lightly tuned Amuse 350Z managed to completely gap MCR in the lead run, and shadow the GT-R in every corner during the chase run. This is a classic David vs. Goliath, and the 350Z executed a stunning upset that no doubt sent Kobayashi back to the drawing board.

The Nissan 350Z is relatively quick, but for whatever reason, it never enjoyed the same amount of adoration as the Honda S2000 or Porsche Cayman. Now, early 350Z models are quite a performance bargain and could go for as low as $5,000. Are you tempted to build your own Amuse-spec Z33 track car now?

Check out the vintage Hot Version videos (race begins at 7:20 mark), including a walk around the Z33 with the late Amuse founder Hideki Tanabe, below: