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VIP nissan cedric


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Scorpion Exhausts Thor Racing JDM Garage Synionic Hosetechnik

Words: Paul Cowland Photos: DC Photography


Welcome to JP’s latest project car. Several feet of ’91 Y32 Nissan Cedric, to be precise. Just about as JDM as it’s possible to get and the perfect basis for all sorts of modifications and improvements. Buckle up – this is going to be a fun ride!


January 2011 Japanese Performance

Tech: Project VIP

In Association with Synionic Lubricants

et you weren’t expecting that, were you? To be fair – neither was I! Blame it on a combination of late-night eBay surfing, several beers and a Nissan Laurel-sized space on the driveway. The upshot? Committing to buy this epic barge on an absolute whim. Oops! On the upside, the purchase price was a not unpalatable £900, the buyer seemingly one of the nicest guys in the world and – best of all – when we went to pick it up (only 30 miles away), almost everything seemed to work. Trundling back with the warm, fuzzy glow of a valid MOT ensconced in the glove box and the £500 receipt for a recent cambelt service and pads nestling in the centre console, I was feeling pretty smug with my purchase.


Japanese Performance January 2011

Sure, the gearbox is lazier than a fat student and the vast flanks have more parking dents than an Afghan taxi, but on the whole she’s a level old bus and ripe for a bit of modifying. There are some great period design details on these Y32s, such as the ‘click and drop down’ control panels for everyday essentials like the mirror adjustment or antenna extension. 0/10 for ergonomics, but 11/10 for true gadget factor. Then there are really lovely JDM touches like Japanese script on the heater controls and real wool fabric on the seats, which makes you feel as if you’re sitting on somebody’s very expensive suit. All in all, I’m in love with it already and particularly partial to the response it creates every time I fill it up – which is a lot, by the way!

Nobody has a clue what it is, with suggestions ranging from Munich’s finest – even Coventry’s – through to Detroit. ‘No mate, it’s a Nissan.’ To achieve such sheer exclusivity and public-baffling ability for such a modest outlay is money well spent indeed. Having modded all sorts of J-Tin over the years, some of which even made it on to these hallowed pages, I have been spoilt with the ease of the splendidly diverse UK aftermarket. Having worked through a series of GC8 and GD8 Imprezas, a 22B, several Evos and even a Z32 300ZX, you become accustomed to the fact that tuning your car, put simply, is little more effort than saving your pocket money and then choosing which of the many fine-tuning emporiums you want to spend it with.


Whatever your preference, a quick flick through JP’s own ad pages reveals that you’re pretty well catered for. Start to modify something like a Y32 however, and things aren’t going to be so easy. Although much of the running gear is shared with the Z32, which opens up a few very knowledgeable doors, when it comes to suspension, exhaust, styling and trim, there’s nothing outside of the US or Japan. So expect some leftfield solutions along the way. Wheels should be easy enough, but as soon as you start to look at things like suspension, it all gets a little tricky. So, what’s the plan? Well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? With these lovely old Cedrics or Glorias, you can only really go down one path – VIP style! On the deck, plenty of camber, a fat set of big, dished rims and an interior that would make a Ferrari owner weep into his Nappa. With a VG30DE lump already nestling under the hood, the Ced’ Sled is no slouch, but rest assured you can expect great things there, too. So, set your alarm and join us back here. Same place, same time every month, as we tackle probably one of our most ‘different’ and difficult projects to date. If you have any comments, advice or

suggestions, please feel free to write to me care of the magazine, as you may be of more help than you could ever realise! It’s going to be a long, but hopefully enjoyable voyage of discovery, I think! Until next time! G

Contact Synionic – Tel: +44 01628 828473


January 2011 Japanese Performance

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Words and Pictures: Paul Cowland

ince I first introduced the somewhat rare Y32 Nissan Cedric to these hallowed pages last month, I am delighted to report that I have been racking up some serious miles on the old girl. As a firm believer that cars should be driven, some 1200 comfortable, blissful miles have passed beneath the Cedric’s somewhat wayward Chinese tyres in a little over four weeks. I always approach this section of a new project car with an equal mix of joy and dread. Like any new relationship, those formative journeys together enlighten you to the things that you really like about each other... and of course, serve to highlight the potential problems that might lurk around the corner.



VIP The Cedric is somewhat of a mystery on the service front, having only a single cam belt service invoice to represent its sum total of 19 years on the planet. The car outwardly appears to have been fairly well cared for, but there are a few mechanical niggles showing through already that perhaps suggest that the previous owners may have strayed away from the religious servicing disciplines that the factory suggest. Not wanting to chance my luck any further, I thought that a prudent move would be to have it all checked over by a suitable specialist. Cue THOR racing, in Canley, Coventry. This capable outfit is no stranger to the pages of JP, having had numerous features in this fine mag over the years. Perhaps even better known for their sublime Toyota V8 and Nissan RB30 engine

conversions, the firm also offer routine servicing on any Japanese and performance marque. Also, having just moved to some sparkly new premises, just an hour from the Cedric’s garage, they fitted the bill perfectly. They say that you can be judged by the company that you keep, so it was a reassuring sight to see that my Nissan would be rubbing flanks with a plethora of trick race and fast road machinery. A rollcall of engine swapped classic Celica and Supra, race Integra and Skyline, widebody V8 Altezza, BMW M3 and concours Evo 9 told me I had made the right decision. My car was definitely the poor relation here. After sitting down in the plush waiting room, I chatted over a welcome brew with boss, Peter Betts, outlining a couple of

February 2011 Japanese Performance

Tech: Project VIP

Synionic lubricants used by Roger Clark Motorsport in their famous ‘Gobstopper’. More than adequate for the old Nissan then

In Association with Synionic Lubricants

Thor technician Zeca checking for play in the wheel bearing and HICAS system. There was lots...

Front bushes beyond shot and not long for this world

Thor MD Peter Betts makes a pre-service check list. Essential on a random spec car like the Y32 to ensure that the correct spec parts are ordered!. This one’s doesn’t feature on any UK parts lists

problems that I had noted and listening to his sage words of advice. ‘We’ll do a full check and a change of all fluids. We’ll check the integrity of the cambelt that’s been fitted, to be on the safe side, change and gap the plugs and also have a real good look around the car to identify any other areas to be worked on at a later date.’ Having previously identified the correct service parts required the day before, it was impressive to note on my arrival that a neat pile of filters and fluids were stacked in the workshop ready to go. Moving the car into the workshop, THOR’s technician Zeca began a commendably thorough series of checks and tests – the usual bulbs and tyre pressures – before commencing on the more exciting matter of the trick lubricants

Japanese Performance February 2011

that we were going to use. ‘Synionic’ is the new brand name for Prolong and showcases a whole new set of tricks for the oil market. Favoured by three times JP Tuner Of The Year, Roger Clark Motorsport, with the very same oil to be found coursing through their ‘Gobstopper’ race car, this was a bit of a no-brainer really. The new Synionic formulation is very clever. Actually bonding to the metal surfaces within the engine at an ionic level, it reduces the friction co-efficient, but not simply by inserting a hydrodynamic wedge like most lubricants do. These are ‘surface modifying lubricants – and as the name suggests, they stick to the metal and become part of it, rather than simply keeping two juxtaposing components apart. The much higher film strength of Synionic (22,000 psi

vs. the 5,000 of a high-quality synthetic) also means that when running under extreme temperature or pressure, the lubricant cannot break down as some lesser formulations can. As well as 5 litres of their engine oil, I also clicked to their website ( and treated myself to their gearbox treatment, lubricating spray and grease. We were going to give the thing a full hit. Boss Pete had spotted something on the previous visit that confused us all – particularly as the car sports the VG30DE engine code here, there and everywhere – and that was a dump valve. Surely, that would be on a DET code, right? Well, as we jacked the old girl up to have a squint underneath, sure enough, a small but perfectly formed ‘charger was found lurking


All latches and hinges treated with Synionic SPL spray. Think of it as the mutant spawn of WD40

Oil filter VERY hard to access

underneath. Something of a bonus, as well as a genuine surprise, with no boost gauge on the dash, like the Z32 sports. However, this should bode well for ease of tuning at a later date. As well as running Synionic lubricants throughout, THOR also drained and replaced both the brake fluid and coolant. After bleeding both through to ensure that all air had been expelled, the service sheet was getting an encouraging amount of ticks. Several other niggling jobs like the cracked mounts on the rear mudflaps were also sorted at the same time. The brake fluid was pretty discoloured as we poured it away, and the coolant didn’t look especially clever either, so these were both timely tasks. Looking underneath, the general consensus was that the car was in pretty good shape, although at some point in the past, it has evidently been jacked up


THOR’ superb workshop packed with veritably pornographic bedfellows…

carelessly, and it appears as though it has development road. never been properly undersealed. After spending an enjoyable day within Something I am keen to rectify fairly the welcoming environs of THOR’s facilities, quickly, as I plan to use the car through the I was itching to get back behind the wheel depths of winter. Plugs were also removed and see whether the car felt any different. and checked and although they look okay I’m delighted to report that it did. The most for the time being, you can count on us noticeable change was the quieter idle upping the ante here at a later stage. Ditto note. The Synionic oil makes many claims the factory air-filter, which trivia buffs will be towards smoother, more efficient running – intrigued to learn is exactly the same which I will report back on over time, but dimensions as an Impreza Turbo. for now at least, it’s made the car notably It’s not all good news though. The rear less audible at idle, and seemingly better HICAS system contains a world of play, and under load, which could also be due to the the front wishbone bushes contain more fact that the ‘box and diff are also full of the fresh air than they do rubber. Thankfully, stuff. Either way, I’m far more confident in both of these parts look likely to cross over the old girl now. Until next month. G to another member of the Nissan family, so we can also effect some suitable THOR Racing,, 0330 555 45 45 upgrade here further Synionic,, 01628 828473 down the


February 2011 Japanese Performance


And Breathe

Words & photos: Paul Cowland Additional photos: Scorpion Exhausts


ith all the ‘sensible’ boxes ticked after a thorough service, it’s time to endow our RisingSun rarity with a little extra oomph! Cue the ‘A-Team’ music, fire up the welder – and prepare to feel exhausted! It’s an age-old debate amongst all petrolheads: ‘Which is the ideal first mod?’ Some favour the instant aesthetic gratification of a set of wheels and tyres. Others prefer the combined visual and dynamic charms of uprated suspension. Some even dive straight in with the styling. When saving up your money to improve your chosen steed, taking that first step can often


be the most bewildering one of all. Having paid my dues in an unusually sensible manner last issue, our Nissan Cedric now had a clean bill of health, thanks to serial Nissan fettlists, THOR Racing. As I drove away from their Canley premises, happily listening to the muffled woofle of the V6, I knew straight away what the first mod was going to be – revealing the un-muffled woofle of the V6. With so few tuning parts available for the Cedric, the list of potential suppliers available is neither long nor distinguished. We were going to have to be creative – and, more importantly I think, look to more home-grown talent to engineer around our problems. To my mind, the list was

Even with a comprehensive list of model fitments available, unsurprisingly the Scorpion brochure didn’t list the Cedric

March 2011 Japanese Performance


only ever going to contain one name: Scorpion Exhausts. Why Scorpion, I hear you cry? Well, take a look at some of the top-table Jap names that it already supplies. Currently an OEM manufacturer to Subaru and Prodrive, it also creates the bespoke systems for some outfit called Roger Clark Motorsport and has even been selected by Honda UK to provide some seriously saucy systems for their 2011 BTCC campaign. Its list of Jap fitments is fairly extensive, covering most Subaru, Mitsubishi, Honda, Nissan and Mazda tuning applications, with all of its systems being designed and fabricated here in the UK. Best of all, they serve a really decent brew when you get there! Despite this impressive list of models covered, we were all fairly unsurprised to learn that it didn’t have anything ‘off the shelf’ for the Cedric.

Japanese Performance March 2011

However, with an extensive R&D department at its disposal and a team of fabricators that can wield a welder like a magic wand, they invited us down so they could build something on to the car. Despite having to juggle its three BTCC clients, all of whom were clamouring for their 2011 systems for pre-season testing, chief designer Greg kindly came in on a Saturday to help us hit our editorial deadline. What a guy! Knowing that the turbo would add a degree of silencing on its own, our brief was simple: ‘Just one box, free-flowing and a tasteful rear finisher.’ The rest would be up to him. Leaving the car with them in the depths of the bad weather, we also took the opportunity to test the smart new Richbrook seat

Understatement is the key to the VIP style of tuning

The free-flowing single-box system is all hand made in-house at Scorpion’s headquarters


t c e j o pr cover that had been sent to the offices. Engineering shops and light-coloured wool fabric do not make good bedfellows! As the pictures show, the old system was massively restrictive, and incredibly heavy! With cats, additional boxes and extraneous flappery abounding, Greg was keen to streamline and simplify the new system to improve gasflow and, of course, the exhaust note. His exquisitely engineered solution was to be a relatively straight 70mm pipe, in T304 aerospace grade stainless, flowing straight off the manifold, via a customfabbed box, through a Y-pipe and terminating in a pair of Scorpion’s exquisite twin-walled Daytona trims. Our intention with this car is definitely an ‘OEM-plus’ demeanour, and this idea was right on the money for us. Watching the system being fabricated, entirely by hand, was an impressive sight. Everything had to be made as a one-off, and using only the visual reference of the old system – and decades of experience – Greg quickly bent the pipework to suit, before turning his attention to the rear box. This was a tricky one, thanks to the crazy offset nature of the OEM system. The silencer box can only sit in one place, meaning that an eccentric rear plate had to be cut and punched to accept the Y-piece, allowing that to exit neatly through the factory bumper aperture, looking as if


Nissan has always designed it that way. When we went to collect the car, we were hugely impressed with the work that had been carried out. Not only was the quality of fit and finish quite outstanding, but details like brackets and clearances had clearly been extremely well thought out and executed. But forget all that – we all wanted to hear how it would sound. The answer, predictably, was BLOODY AMAZING! With the engine and turbo now free to voice their anger straight out to the atmosphere, the exhaust note contains a noticeable turbine whine and fantastic bass-enriched growl. It finally sounds like a proper V6, and not unlike my old beloved Z32 with its full sports system. An amazing job. Thank you, Scorpion! The drive home revealed what a very satisfying and self-indulgent first mod the exhaust had been. Gunning the throttle up and down the rev range, just to hear the fantastic symphony of combustion now available at any speed, doubtless added significant fuel costs along the way, but when the soundtrack to your journey is this good – who cares? So, when considering your first mod, have a think. Wheels? Can’t be enjoyed from the driver’s seat. Suspension? No added fun on the daily commute, but an exhaust? That works on every level. It’s aural, dynamic and visual. The ultimate ‘feelgood’ first improvement!G

Massive thanks to; Scorpion Exhausts 01773 744123

The new Scorpion twin-tip system looks great and sounds amazing

March 2011 Japanese Performance


A Bum Steer!

Words and Pictures Paul Cowland

ometimes modifying is as easy as opening a parcel or popping to your local accessory shop and simply fitting your purchase. Other times, it takes a great deal of head scratching and more than a little skill. This month has definitely fallen into the latter category. Last month’s fitment of a bespoke Scorpion exhaust had added a huge grin factor on many levels. As I wrote about its impressive fabrication in the last issue, I’d only had the pleasure of a rush-hour commute home to evaluate its worth, but now, with a full month’s driving and several cross country-spins under its belt, I can add a couple of extra features and benefits to the list. The first is a noticeably improved fuel consumption figure. Something that has arrived as a by-product of removing the quite ridiculous amount of restriction from the factory system, which passed through several boxes, a recirculation system and a big old catalyst, before egressing to the atmosphere. Now, with just a free-flowing backbox twixt the turbo and the ether, the engine’s new-found ability to breathe is rewarding me handsomely with a rise from 26 mpg to around 29-30 on a run. At around £1.30-a-litre, that’s some relevant news! This new aerobic ability also added a much more predictable outcome. You can really hear the turbo spinning up and down through the rev range now, and with less to hold it back, the car has significantly more mid-range grunt and is far more rewarding to drive. Naturally, this means I



have been pushing on a bit, which sadly, has only served to highlight how bad other areas of the car are. The principle offender in the ruination of my driving enjoyment was the factory HICAS system, or High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering system. Unlike the later, electronically-controlled units, which aren’t half bad, these early hydraulically-operated systems were considered a little intrusive for ‘press-on’ driving back in the day. Add in two decades of wear, slop and inaccuracy and that acronym should really denote Hideously Inaccurate, Completely Awful Steering. It really is terrible. Significant bumps can give the whole rear of the car a 2-to-3in ‘shimmy’, which feels truly unnerving, whilst highspeed sweeping bends reveal that the rear of the car feels as if it’s almost entirely disconnected from the front. Although the worn bushes aren’t helping, the recent pre-service inspection at THOR Racing in Coventry had revealed significant play in this component. Time to remove it then. Luckily, another hugely respected name in Nissan tuning circles, JDM Garage, produces a HICAS removal kit. Although there are many kits available that replace just the centre rack part, the JDM kit is pretty special as it is totally inclusive, with fully adjustable track rods, all bolts and collars and even race-quality rose-joints to ensure precision in operation. JDM offer a great range of tuning parts for all manner of J-Tin, but are also breaking all manner of Jap exotica on a

It may look like nothing more than a couple of red rods, but JDM garage’s HICAS removal kit has transformed the Cedric’s handling

April 2011 Japanese Performance


weekly basis, meaning that whatever you need, particularly for Skyline models, these guys have it first. Being based in Devon, most items can be delivered the next day. JDM’s Mark was a great help during my initial calls and mails, and after measuring the dimensions of the car, he was fairly confident that their R32/Z32 kit would fit, with the strict proviso that we would need to move the welded brackets that affix the main unit to the car. On pretty much every other Nissan, these are around 300mm apart, however, on the very unique Cedric, they have ‘conveniently’ made them 335mm! Suitably forewarned, when the kit arrived at THOR’s premises, the welder and grinder were already out for some swift surgery. As a company that fits V8 engines into cars that really shouldn’t have them, simply for fun, THOR’s certified welders made short work of cutting off, cleaning up and re-welding the brackets into their Cedric-specific positions, before a judicious bout of rubbing down, etch priming, painting and lacquering to restore the finish and attempt to match the quality powder coating of the JDM original. With that suitably adjusted, Grant at THOR quickly removed the old HICAS system; carefully blanking off the old hydraulic unions with bolts and copper washers, in case we ever want to reverse our decision. The rack came off in seconds, but the lower ball joints needed a little more persuasion. The offside unit needed some serious heat and hammer love, whereas the language and techniques required to remove the nearside one are probably best left unwritten. After many lost hours (and knuckles) Grant was

Japanese Performance April 2011

finally able to wind in the lovely new turned collars that fit precisely into the hub uprights. With those in, it was simply a case of assembling the nuts and bolts through and tweaking the adjustable rods to get the correct fitment. Grant had sensibly measured from rack centre to the outermost point of each rear rim, so he was able to approximate a decent benchmark setting to roll the car out on, but I think we will probably align the whole lot once we have sorted the bushes out anyway. After carefully torquing everything up, it was time for a quick road test. Although deadline was pressing once again, it was immediately apparent, from even the first corner, that the JDM Garage kit has made a huge difference to the precision of the rear-end of the chassis. The old HICAS could add up to a degree of steering input when new. When worn, it was probably adding two or maybe more. Now, the rear end is just sitting where we’ve bolted it, doing as it’s told and obediently following the front. I’m suitably impressed. It fitted easily and works perfectly, and despite being rose-jointed, hasn’t really added any noise or harshness into the cabin. Which, when added to the excellent finish of the kit, makes it something of a ‘must have’ item. If you’re running a HICAS car, don’t suffer that mid-corner sinking feeling any more. There is salvation! Massive thanks to JDM Garage and THOR for a hugely successful mod! Until next time!G

Massive thanks to Thor Racing 0330 555 4545 JDM Garage 08450 647726

The old HICAS system was looking worse for wear and giving a sloppy, disconnected feel to the rear end. But not anymore!


+the garage the cedric’s new stopping power has highlighted a problem with the suspension, meaning new bushes could be on the cards

Words Paul Cowland. Pics DC Photography/Pro-Motiv

Project v.i.p.

nissan cedric


THE CEDRIC GETS DOWN WITH SOME DIRTY (BRAKE) HOSE The recent additions of the Scorpion exhaust and JDM Garage HICAS lock-out kit have done wonders for the Cedric’s demeanour. Whilst one could never call it nimble, I’m really starting to enjoy the ‘B’ road performance of the old girl. However, all this point-to-point activity has highlighted an issue with the brakes. Despite the discs and pads being passed as A1, they still weren’t inspiring much confidence. To solve the issue, it was decided that a change of brake lines, to remove the flex that creeps into the rubber construction over the years, was the answer. When old hoses ‘balloon’ under pressure from braking, efficiency is lost, meaning that what you put in at the pedal end, is often lost by the time it reaches the pad. Luckily, Forge Motorsport has just opened an ultra highperformance brake-line production facility down at its Gloucestershire base. This new company, called Hosetechnik, produces custom lines for cars and bikes, covering any commercially available fitment on the planet. And as every hose is completely hand-crafted, they were confident that they could tailor something to sharpen up the Cedric. Hosetechnik’s chief technical bod, Bill, removed the tired factory hoses in order to create the new lines. As Hosetechnik use Teflon lines, braided stainless steel hose, and a bewildering array of tough PVC outers, it allows you to create something truly unique. We chose red to match the HICAS lock out. After cutting the new hose to

length, the PVC shrouding is carefully removed to allow the correct ends and fittings to be added. Hosetechnik has records of pretty much every vehicle ever made, so most of these hoses can be made without the need for this reference exercise. The ends are then clamped on under pressure to create an air and fluid-tight seal in both unions. The rears were straightforward, but the OEM fronts contained an ugly elbow joint, presumably to allow the lower portion of the hose to remain in a constant position relative to the caliper, and allowing the upper part to move with the suspension. Bill’s elegant solution was to create a longer coiled hose that ‘P’ clipped to the strut and still allowed the full degree of movement. The Hosetechnik team then bled the air out of the system and toped up the brake fluid. With the wheels back on, a spin round the local back roads highlighted that the pedal is far more positive now, with a greater degree of modulation and far less effort required to bring the car to a halt. For around £50-£60 for most standard fitments, the hose upgrade is definitely a good investment, and as your car is almost certainly covered on Hosetechnik’s neat online configurator, it means that you can get your own ordered from the comfort of your arm-chair. However, even if you run something as eclectic as the Cedric, they can even engineer a bespoke solution for that. Massive thanks to: Hosetechnik 0845 838 5364 or



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