NX GTi-R: Version 3


Photo Credit here should actually go to Sally McNulty, who used my camera to capture this photo at Buttonwillow. I wasn't stalking Mike. I mean, who stalks someone with a florescent lime green vest! (The vest was part of my attire as I was photographing the Super Lap Battle.)

Then last fall I was at the Super Lap Battle with Global Time Attack – combining a getaway vacation for my wife with an opportunity to support the Canadian contingent (Chris Boersma, Jimmy Houghton, and Will Au-Yeung) at Buttonwillow. The part collection was already well along the way with a spare engine, spare crank, Nissan OEM gasket rebuild kit (which by the way is very hard to find so, when I found it, I bought three of them), two GTi-R oil pumps, two GTi-R water pumps, a Mazworx oil pump block off plate, and an Ishihara-Johnson crank scraper all in my possession. Of course, a couple of bins full of other parts and accessories that I might need and have been gathering for years. Then the plans took a slight change of direction.

Mike Kojima and I met in the paddock at Buttonwillow. It was not that I was stalking him (well, maybe I was sort of stalking him) but a chance to meet the man after years of online chatting and emails was simply something I knew had to happen. After very few pleasantries the conversation moved to cars and then Mike asked about the NX. With his suggestions and input, my future build took a change of direction with my intended stock build moving to a built engine. Believe me, it did not take very much persuading to make this move. Eagle Rods, CP – Carillo Pistons, JWT cams, Calico Bearings, and a Precision Turbo. There is a plan for the NX GTi-R. I have not put this much money into the car since I bought it! The end result, however, should be spectacular. Version 1 – GA16DE with almost all bolt-on options. Version 2 – SR20DET with boost controller. And now for Version 3 – with a built engine, larger turbo, and eventually a stand-alone ECU.


CP-Carrillo pistons. It was fun to open the box and see these 8.5:1 pistons gleaming in the light.

The stock GTi-R engine, carrying the 54C designation, is a strong engine. Unique from all other SR20 engines, including the other DET variants, as it was designed for world rally competition with beefier components from the factory. Even though it did not prove itself in competition, it's a great engine. Nissan absolutely should have put this engine into the NX – it would have made the challenges I have had over the last few years vanish! I have said before that it is my dream engine – what I planned to swap into my NX going back over a decade. However, it can be made better. And as the parts began to fill the shelves in my garage, my excitement for the build began to grow and the desire to tear into the engine was huge.


The packaging for shipping is superb. It's better than Christmas morning when the courier starts bringing in the car parts!

CP Pistons are absolutely beautiful. Open up the box and they shine brilliantly.  The immediate desire was to order CP's new HD line of piston. These heavy duty pistons are made from 2618 alloy and are designed for high boost applications, extremely high boost applications, and can handle up to 300 horsepower per cylinder. These new pistons also come with rings having a new PVD coating that have upgraded strength and friction reducing properties over the standard set. Of course, the wrist pin has been upgraded also to match the capabilities of the piston and rings. Available for the SR20DET, VR38DETT, 2JZGTE, and B series Hondas right now (4G63 later this year) this set that includes upgraded forging, rings and pistons available off of the shelf was so very tempting. Unfortunately for me, the 10:1 compression ratio of these new CP pistons was simply not appropriate for my application. It was simply too high for the NX GTi-R which will continue to be used in Time Attack applications, so this new CP Piston had to stay on the shelf. Knowing that they were on the shelf and ready for me to order was very difficult to walk away from. But I did.


A simple tool makes ring installation so easy. Have good tools. And I would highly suggest work with a good mechanic!

I did not walk very far.  The better choice was CP-Carillo's standard line of piston at an 8.5:1 compression ratio. Once the design choice was settled, the order was placed with CP Carillo and a set with standard bore were on their way to me. The cylinder heads were great and the cylinders did not need to be bored out and thus needing oversized pistons. They were honed and looked almost as good as new.


Workmanship and attention to detail – very evident in CP-Carrillo's pistons. Hopefully it will be evident in our engine build too.

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