I can’t speak for everyone here, But I grew up in a household obsessed with motorsport. I remember being “allowed” to stay up and watch Daytona, Le Mans and F1 way after my bed time. Closer to home I remember sitting next to dad camped out on the lounge to watch the Australian touring car series. Little did I know all those years ago I was witnessing the golden era of Australian motorsport. True road going vehicles modified into fire breathing monsters that did battle on Australia’s best racetracks.
One of the key players in this era was Fred Gibson, a successful racer turned team owner and the man responsible for building some of the most iconic race cars and liveries in Australian history. Fred raced his way up the touring car ranks and in just his second Bathurst start he claimed a second place finish. This set him up for the following year when Frank Matich who had been set to drive with Harry Firth recommended Gibson as his replacement when Matich had to pull out due to other commitments. Having only met Firth on the Thursday before the event Gibson went on to qualify second behind the ever consistent Geoghegan brothers. This was the first time qualifying had set the grid as it was previously set by class.
On race day it was to be Firth and Gibson who took the honours. Earning Gibson his spot as a mainstay in the Ford works team for more than half a decade. But it was when he hung up his gloves in ’83 the wheels were set in motion for him to take over the Nissan Motorsport team at the end of the 1984 season.
It’s what Fred would do with his time at Nissan Motorsport that would create a cult like following, turning these humble road cars into legends that forever have a place in Australian motorsport history. In today’s world of more is more it is refreshing to take a trip back down memory lane where simplicity was king. No cars are more famous for this in Australia than the Gibson Nissans.
Seeing these 3 cars together brought back so many memories, but more so than the memories, I think it was the first time I had seen all three together. Although these cars are replicas it was surreal to take a walk around them and see the progression of the liveries from the proverbial grandfather of the bluebird through the R31 to the rebellious grandson, the iconic Godzilla. It’s an almost religious experience to see how each shape was accentuated by the use of the same three colours.
I came across these replicas at the recent Japanese nationals event at Queensland Raceway and I was stopped dead in my tracks. The three of these titans sitting along side each other was like something out of a dream. All 3 of these cars were built in house at SCS Motorsports on the Gold Coast. Aaron is not only making others dreams come true by building these monsters, he is also the owner of the R32 as well as a couple of Ford Sierras, one of which is in full Shell livery and raced regularly in Queensland.
The (Grandfather) Bluebird is in its first incarnation and currently runs a SR20 engine that is fed boost through a PWR intercooler by the GTX30 turbo on pump 98 fuel. Putting the power to the ground through a 5 speed gearbox and H190 differential. Stopping and turning is taken care of by R31 brakes sitting inside 17 inch wheels with 265 tread on the front and 300 on the rear.
While happy with where the car is now Tristan is planning to build a full 2.2L stroker running E85 in the engine department with the brakes and gearbox also getting an upgrade with a full race spec H-pattern gearbox and monster 335mm front and 300mm rear brakes improving the car and giving it more than enough under the shell to live up to the pedigree of the livery.
In an era filled with many cult cars the R31 GTS-X is often a dark horse. Almost a forgotten hero in the shadow of the mighty Bluebird and immortal Godzilla. But seeing John’s up close made me fall in love all over again. Saying this car is clean couldn’t be more of an understatement and its when you start to go over it to shoot all the details you can see just how well this car has been built.
Boasting a worked RB25 engine with a N1 oil pump and HKS 264 camshafts. The power is made through a single Pro boost 3582 turbo, 1000cc injectors and burns E85 and is tuned by local legend Matty Spry of Pits Dyno. The cooling is taken care of by a big PWR radiator and 2 19 row oil coolers. Keeping the vitals in check is hetech dash and ecu combo as well as a set of VDO gauges. Keeping John safe is a 6 point roll cage and a Sparco race seat.
While this car would be equally as good sitting on the sidelines in a show and shine, John’s plan is to let it loose and has 56’s around Queensland’s lakeside raceway in his sights as well as sub 1:19sec laps of the full national circuit at QR (Queensland Raceway). He is also hoping to have all three cars on display and take part in the midday mayhem at this years World time attack challenge. As well as competing in the local sports sedan series.
Which leaves Aaron’s R32 Godzilla. There is only a handful of cars that have such a distinctive shape and following as the R32 GTR. The sheer racing pedigree and the rebellious nature of the GTR means it will go down as one of the cult classics of Japanese car making history. Like the Bluebird and the R31 above Aaron’s GTR wasn’t built to watch from the sidelines, Instead Aaron has built a weapon of his own. With the RB26 breathing easier with a CNC ported head with 1mm oversize valves and 272 cams. A Tomei oil pump, big wing sump and 35 row oil cooler and braided lines keep temps in check, while the Haltech Elite 2000 ECU keeps a watchful eye over a GTX35 that does the heavy lifting in the boost department.
Although the GTR retains the standard gearbox for now, Aaron plans to upgrade that to a close ratio race box and front diff in the near future. The stopping and turning is looked after by 355mm front AP Racing rotors and 6 pot super car calipers, 330mm AP rear rotors and 4 pots AP Racing calipers, bm57 Nismo master cylinder, brakes adjuster for rears in-car with MCA gold suspension and a Paul Ruzic 4×4 control system, that gives the right amount of drive when it’s needed finishing off an impressive line up of parts. With the car being relatively new Aaron has very realistic goals for the car with a 55sec lap at Lakeside and a 1:18sec lap of the national circuit. With some seat time behind the wheel these times should be easily achieved.
I would like to close this post by saying a massive thank you to John, Tristan and Aaron for sharing these beauty’s with us and hopefully we will see them being unleashed at this years World Time Attack Challenge.