Nissan NX GTi-R Version 3 Continued

Nissan NX GTi-R Version 3 Continued

by Frank Ewald


You have either been waiting for a year for this update or you are not even sure of what the NX GTi-R is. Of course, a minority may be saying, “not the NX again,” but you will have to endure my writing about my favorite car. For those of you who have been waiting, it has been a challenging couple of years but, with the help of AES Auto, automotively things are moving in the right direction. For those of you who are not familiar with this project, this one owner, Nissan NX1600 comes with a pedigree earned in the school of hard knocks. Version 1 was when this Nissan NX1600 was powered by a GA16DE with almost every bolt-on available, including JWT cams and a custom Calumsult ECU. Version 2 (2012) was the engine swap to the GTi-R's SR20DET. Version 3 is the built engine, standalone ecu, and a bit more. This NX has experienced several ups and downs over its life. The highs include a number of track records with CASC-OR Ontario Time Attack (with most of them being held by my daughter, Katie). The lows would include a sideways slide into a tire wall – yes, I was behind the wheel – that took a lot of effort by my good friend John Dattomo and his team to straighten out. Since the SR20DET swap took place it has been an ongoing learning process – and I must admit, I have made some mistakes along the way. When a cracked oil pump took out the engine in 2015, it was time to sit down and really think through the process. 

Chatting with Mike Kojima at the 2015 GTA SuperLap Battle at Buttonwillow, we discussed the basics of what should take place. Reverting back to the underpowered, but superbly balanced, 87whp momentum car was not an option to be considered. There is no question that a boost addiction has occured and was the path that needed (I really wanted) to be followed. But with moderation and horsepower goals of about 325 whp, to maintain a balance between the thrill of the go peddle and reliability was key. Obviously that involved some effort, some great parts, and then the time, energy and wallet to make this happen. The almost two years of downtime since that conversation reflects the challenges that life, and not just the car, has placed in my family's path. The result meant that the car sat in my garage, left to gather dust, for much of this time. But now, the NX GTi-R is back! Except it is now in B.C.'s Fraser Valley rather than in South-Western Ontario.

In my last article about the NX GTi-R, I outlined the part selection and the engine build. First, was a Precision 5128 Turbo to replace the factory Garrett T28 turbo. The Precision 5128 is an upgrade designed to easily replace the stock turbo while providing greater capability. Rated for 450 HP, it was more than sufficient for the anticipated output of the NX GTi-R and it's a road course/street application. I will clarify right now that in the first Version 3 article chronicling the build that an early photo shows the turbo with the oil drain almost parallel to the pavement, and that is wrong. Do not ever do that! This is now corrected with the drain clocked to be right out the bottom of the turbo. Without the oil being able to gravity drain easily, the build-up of oil inside the housing will absolutely cause issues.


The Precision 5128 turbo is a great addition to the NX. Simply put, it adds to the reliability of the build.

The communication with all of the suppliers has been outstanding, but there is no question that the support and interest of Eagle Rods is unparalleled. The product quality is outstanding and the rod and cap are two forged pieces that makes them stronger than a one piece forged rod. I hope to see them used in more projects in the not too distant future. When the Eagle Rods are mated to the beautiful CP-Carrillo pistons (can I say pistons are beautiful in a tech article? Well, I did because they are.), it will give the capability to handle all of the boost that we decide to throw at it.


Running with all stock internals yet with increased boost meant that I was potentially pushing the boundaries. Having a built engine means that I have greater reliability … and more room to push!

Rounding out the build of the bottom end were Calico coated bearings and an Ishihara-Johnson crank scraper. Both of these were selected with durability in mind. The Calico Bearings' CT-1 dry film lubricant coating is designed for motorsports use. The Ishihara-Johnson crank scraper reduces windage and thus allows for more horsepower. A better picture might be to consider how much work you can get done with oil all over your hands – everything you do is more difficult, right? Felt the resistance the oil offers when you have to reach into a tank/container to find a missing part you have dropped into it? Well, a crank scraper literally keeps the oil where it is required rather than allowing it to create drag. We all know that an engine requires oil but the oil must also be kept in place. A crank scraper does that – resulting in more power as there is now less rotating mass and a reduction of drag caused by the oil droplets in the windage cloud. Plus in the high G's that occur during cornering many engines have been lost due to oil starvation as the oil pickup can only find air as the oil is all at the side – less likely to happen if the oil is kept where it is meant to be kept.


I said before and will say again, I think that I'm going to love this Ishihara-Johnson crank scraper but it was more work installing it than I expected.

JWT S3M camshafts with .456″ of lift and 263 degree duration were installed. These cams are for use with the factory springs. I simply think that every Nissan needs to have some JWT parts installed. This company has simply always been there for the enthusiast. ARP studs, Cometic Head Gasket, New Nissan timing chain, oil pump, and water pump all went in. 

Of course, this is a review of what happened in May of 2016 when the engine build took longer than anticipated and there was no time to tune the car before it was shipped about 4500 kilometres across the country to its new home near the Pacific Coast. This move of our family caused another time setback in getting the car on track. But, now it is time to get it running properly. It is time that the NX GTi-R is back in action.

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