Project MKIV Supra Update: Nitto NT01 Tires
Here’s a closeup of the outer blocks on a Nitto NT01. They come with 6.3/32nds tread. According to Nitto, this set up can be easily shaved down to 3/32nds of an inch tread depth, making the tire function as a race slick with twin circumferential grooves.

Prior to having these NT01s mounted, I naturally expected a little bit more traction than the previous set. This was due to the slightly taller and wider size in the rear (305/35-18 vs 295/35-18), and the fact that they’re a DOT R-compound tire rated at 100 UTQG treadwear. Until now, no matter what boost level I was driving at (just over 600whp is the minimum power level with the 17 PSI wastegate spring), I never….ever ever ever….expected to get traction in second gear. This was true for any weather, any surface. Period. Grip at these speeds just never happened. Wheelspin was always something I had to contend with, considering I don’t have traction control dialed in on the AEM Infinity (that’s going to change here shortly at Modified by KC). I’ve been sans-traction control in this car since I’ve owned it back in 2003. To say that driving this car aggressively is an all-day pedal-fest is an understatement. I’m used it, but I still have to be careful.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, when I put the throttle down for the first time in second gear. As mentioned earlier, I expected maybe a bit more forward-propelling action, but with the same, sideways action as always. Instead, the only action I got were my innards getting pressed back into my spine when the tires hooked. The rear end squatted down, and the car shot forward in a blue mist to 75 MPH, and with no wheelspin! I’ve never felt second gear hit like that. No wheel-spin, no warm-up, just straight hooking up! Project Supra is now a totally different animal. Granted, I was on cement and not on asphalt, but the car had never done that with the previous setup. And what time of the year are we in again? That’s right, January. In the Midwest!

The overall look of our Supra is enhanced with 305s back there. This isn’t the first time I’ve had 305/35-18s back there. I used to run a set of RA1s. Yeah, you guessed it–they didn’t grip like these Nittos either.
The fitment is perfect with the NT01 305/35-18 tires on our Forgestar F14 wheels. Anticipating the newfound grip, I raised the car 1/2 inch via the Tein coil-over suspension. While the car does indeed squat much harder now in the lower gears, there is no rubbing. At the time of this picture, the car was in winter put-away mode, which is why our TwinZ Design rocker panels and side splitters are off (so as to not scratch them on the lift–they sit 3-in lower).
Since our fronts remain the same 245/40-18 size, they look the same width of course. However, I could already tell a difference in grip under braking, even in the bitter cold.
The high modulus rayon carcass, steel-reinforced sidewall and body-ply construction together are intended to give the car a better feel, so that the driver has more confidence to push the tire to its limits

I’m so blown away by these tires that I had to jump online and look up what other people were saying, just to make sure I wasn’t out of touch with reality, or exaggerating it all in my mind. While I did find a lot of track people talking about the improved grip over their previous setups, what I also found was a common theme that was even more impressive—phenomenal tire wear. Some guys were getting over 20 hours of track time on them. Amazing! For someone using these on the street like myself, this info was music to my ears. And the fact these elevated levels of performance weren’t requiring heat cycling was icing on the cake. This was something I noticed right away myself, because my previous setup required at least one rip in any gear if I was going to have a prayer at having any grip. And that was for third gear, and only on cement or concrete (forget asphalt). Today, I’m getting great grip in second gear, and on most surfaces. The difference is comical, and because I’m not spinning the tires I may even get more life out of these.

While the overall feel of the tire is great and predictable on a daily-driven sportscar, the only thing I noticed was some increased road noise. Mind you, I am nit picking here, because it’s not bad at all in my opinion (I mean, I drive a Supra with a 3.5-in open-dump straight through exhaust with just one muffler. I can handle some noise in this car). And no, my car doesn’t sound like an off-road vehicle with big tires (like the old Yoko A032Rs, remember those?). It’s nothing like that. I can just hear the road a bit more. But with this type of performance, I couldn’t care any less about that. And I can’t imagine the grip MotoIQ’s Project GTR R35 has with these tires and all-wheel-drive.

If you’re a weekend track warrior and have been contemplating a good tire for the street, you need to give these NT01s a shot. While I haven’t been able to thoroughly test the car in this crazy midwest weather we’ve been having, I managed to zip down the road and lay down a second-gear rip. As mentioned earlier, the acceleration time from 50-70mph is usually a joke because I have so much wheelspin. Today (and it’s cold–we’re expecting 5 inches of snow in 4 hours, mind you!), this car pulled a 0.75-G pull on a 3-4% grade uphill onramp, which gave a 50-70 MPH time of 1.3 seconds, just 0.1 seconds off of a $400k Porsche GT2 RS at sea level. It’s not a great test, and the GTR RS is probably mid-millisecond shifting from second to third in that speed range, but it’s worth mentioning because second gear in this car is not anything I could ever compare with to any hot rod before, sans grip. And the Supra was going uphill (which usually causes even more wheelspin due to the load), and this was on its “cute” 17 PSI boost level (that time is also a tenth quicker than the Aventador 700 time I saw)! Again, I know it’s nowhere near scientific but it’s something quite remarkable to me. The thrust was awesome, and something I thoroughly repeated as I rushed home to beat the snow. Boy, can I not wait for Spring!

So, earlier I mentioned worrying about driveline components. Well, wouldn’t you know it—G Force Engineering, based out of Wichita, also has a shop located just 30 miles from my house. Next stop, Stillwell, Kansas. Stay tuned!
(EDIT: As of Five days after this article went live, G Force has already installed our new components! I can’t pick up the car yet because, you’ve guessed, there’s snow and ice everywhere).

A huge thank you to Nitto for providing a product that is so good, this article just flowed right through my fingers. Make no mistake, the excitement above by me is genuine, but so is my desire for this snow to disappear so I can get back out on the road. Regardless, it’s going to be a fun next couple of years.

G Force Engineering
Nitto Tires


  1. Yep, NT01s are good tires but they have been around for almost 14 years? The Rival is a much newer tire so I guess I don’t understand your Shawshank reference.

    It’s really the difference between an “Extreme Performance Summer Tire” and an “R Comp”, and yeah it’s a big jump. I saw lap time decrease 2-3 seconds on a 1:40 lap on my E36 M3 when I switched from Direzza Z2s to NT01s. I don’t have good data but the Direzzas lasted forever, I got something like 18 track days from them. The NT01s I think I get less than 8 maybe more like 6. So it’s a huge difference in tread wear is what I’m finding. But it’s very hard to go back to a significantly slower tire even if running costs will be much cheaper haha.

    Road noise is terrible with the NT01s but it comes with the territory.

    1. Oh I forgot the best part, Amazon Prime has NT01s! Very useful when you have a few days between track weekends and find you have corded tires.

  2. I’m surprised you feel the NT01 are that much better than the Rivals. While it’s not a direct comparison, I found RE-71 to grip better than NT01 when I had them. The NT01 were wider as well.

    Only reason why I think you found the NT01 to be better is because you have the older BFG Rival’s and not the Rival S’s. And well your Rival’s may be heat cycled/worn.

  3. I wish to hell they still sold the Rivals in 295/35/18, the selection in that size absolutely blows. It’s no mans land as far as tire width goes.

  4. thanks for reading guys!
    @MDR-they have been around for a while. I don’t think as long as you say but if I’m not mistaken the first release was 2010 with some sizes. I just had no experience with Nitto until now. My Shawshank reference was more along the lines of my being in this “prison” of lower performance while others were enjoying tires like these, all the while I’m just fishtailing everywhere and all day at anything sub 80mph. I enjoyed the Rivals actually (really enjoyed them on my E46 M3, they were great!), but yeah the NT01s are at a different level. I expected the difference to be smaller since–when I tested the BFGs against the R1 compounds back-to-back–the difference between the Rival and an R-compound wasn’t as large as I’d thought (kudos to the Rivals–or maybe some can argue anti-kudos to the R1). And yes anything on Amazon is a great thing!
    @Dustin, I didn’t know they’d even discontinued them. I’ve been out of the tire game too long, driving only 2-3k mi per year with the Supra, hence not needing tires.
    @Khiem, yeah I’m glad someone noticed. I was blown away because it was on the “cute” boost and uphill. And then I was really excited because this is the first time since my twin-turbo days back in 2004 that I can actually lay some rubber down in 2nd! 😀

  5. My speculative title for FF 9 is “rubber meats the road.”

    BTW, Paul Walker died in a Porsche Carrera GT with 7 year old tires. Always buy fresh tires.

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