Project Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 – Part 2: Volk wheels and Falken tires

Before even acquiring the Skyline GT-R R33, I had already decided on the Falken tires and Volk wheels. Fortunately, I had ordered them ahead of time because both were back-ordered from Japan 3 and 4 months, respectively; but they were worth the wait.

If you read our Part 1 introduction, you know what acquiring this GT-R has meant to me. For decades, I tortured myself with videos and web searches that kept me yearning for an R33. We’re talking watching these videos so much that I can replay every frame and sound in my head–even now–over twenty years later. These are old enough that they’re not on Youtube or anywhere online anymore (at least I couldn’t seem to find them). After an arduous search in my basement, I found the DVDs that I burned back around 2000! I even uploaded one of them onto Youtube for your viewing pleasure, because that’s the kind of guy I am. It’s on Page 4. And you’re welcome.

Okay, enough about my endless obsession of the Skyline GT-R. Let’s talk some wheels and tires!

While we will be discussing the all too familiar Volk TE37 wheels by RAYS wheels, let’s first get to really should be one of the most important upgrades to a car, period–the tires.

The first upgrade ordered and received for this project was a set of Falken Azenis RT660 tires, which are of the Extreme Performance Summer Category, as put out by Tire Rack. For the GT-R, I ordered 275/35-18 all around. Falken mentioned their tires fit around 1 size (10mm) wider than most of its competitors, which should be perfect given my goal of filling out the wheel wells, but without going overboard and looking too “aftermarket”.

The Extreme Performance Summer (EPS) tire is one of the latest categories introduced by Tire Rack. I can’t seem to find much information online regarding this class, but when I was first exposed to it at a media tire gig back in 2013, I remember hearing about these tires being developed for the sole purpose of a“street touring” class in SCCA racing. These tires had to have a minimum of 200 UTQG treadwear. Essentially, they were filling the gap between the old-school “Max Performance” summer tire and the full R-compound road racing tires. This made the EPS tire category great for the weekend track warrior who wishes to drive to and from the track on the same tires (as opposed to swapping wheels upon arrival and leaving the track), and even use them year-round on the street, weather permitting. Since I was only planning to drive the GT-R on Kansas City’s nice days (hey, we have plenty, too), these tires were perfect this car.

When you look at the tread of the Falken Azenis RT660, it can easily be confused for an R-compound tire. With such thick outer blocks for lateral-G performance, and a wide slick down the middle for optimal acceleration and braking grip, the RT660 has racing tire-like characteristics in overall dry performance and steering response. When the weather clears up I’m going to grab my Racelogic Performance Box and measure the max Gs I can hit around my favorite, local test turn. While I’ve so far seen 1.21G with a different set EPS tires on Project E46 BMW M3, I’m confident I can beat that with this GT-R on these Falkens. I hope to find out soon.

The Azenis RT660 features a two-ply construction and a polyester casing that Falken calls its “Crosshatch Carcass” design. This provides a very firm contact patch and sidewall, which is to enhance the tire’s overall handling and high-speed stability. The tire is also reportedly built with a couple of wide, steel belts to support the tread area, and is reinforced with two polyamide cap plies to further enhance these aforementioned characteristics.

Am I the only one who does this? After a 4-month wait for my Volks, on the day they were expected I was stalking the UPS driver. On the left, they’re two blocks away! Oh if you could have seen me then. On the right, poor UPS guy—he never knew any of this was going on (and what is he laughing at, anyway?). My wife says I’m a child. Whatevs.

9 comments

  1. You can’t go wrong with TE37-s on a GT-R. Like BBS E88-s on an aircooled Porsche, or BBS RS-s on an E30.
    The brake ducts seem like a prime example of parts that need to be reverse engineered and remade from carbon fibre.

  2. I saw some Rays wheels on a wrecked Nissan Z at the junkyard and the barrel was massively bent out of shape, but there were no cracks whatsoever. I am an engineer and I have never seen aluminum deform like that. It was seriously impressive. They must use some kind of proprietary alloy. I don’t know how you could do that with 6061.

  3. New wheels/tires look awesome, and fit the car nicely!

    Seems like it’s an easy opportunity to make reproductions of the brake ducts on a 3D printer a la Billy Johnson’s articles on Project NSX. Should cut down on the cost a fair bit, even if you have to get them 3D scanned to develop the initial model.

    The last picture on page 1 made me chuckle pretty good.

  4. Thanks for replies, guys. I agree, reverse engineering some of these parts would be awesome. Another impossible part is the most forward of the two under trays (that actually attaches to the lip). Of course someone could fab that out of some aluminum, too. I’m afraid I’ll find some other forbidden-fruit parts as the years go on.
    Andy ;-).

  5. I DEFINETELY remember the 2nd video from back in the day, I remember just being like “HOLY SHEEYYT”

  6. My UPS guy has a stash of treats for “overzealous” pets. Would have been hilarious if he threw you a Snickers or something to keep you “calm”. That pic made the article lol.

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