When most people see a new, hot car in an article – they skip through the write-up and go straight for the performance specs. Is that you? If it is, this is what you want to know about Switzer’s latest R35 GTR conversion, the R1K-X: it makes over 1,400 horsepower, and you can drive it to a dragstrip, crack off back-to-back-to-back 1/4 miles in the 8.8-9.0 second range at 163-165mph, then it drive home with the A/C on.
There’s more to Switzer’s pavement-shredding R1K-X GTRs than specs, however. Take, for example, the car you see here. Its owner calls it “Red Katana”. It’s one of the first production Switzer R1K-X GTR Nissans, and almost every inch of the car, under and over the skin, has been “touched”, making it unique.
Outside, the car’s been given a striking two-tone paintjob, and has been fitted with a subtle (but functional!) aerodynamic bodykit that includes a new front bumper cover, lightweight carbon hood, front splitter, and rear decklid spoiler.
Inside, the customer touches are even more comprehensive, and address the factory GTR’s primary (only?) shortcoming: interior quality. “The GTR is a world-class performance car, but inside it’s still a Nissan,” explains David Kim, CEO of Switzer Performance. “That’s a good thing when you turn the key and the car starts every time, but these guys are used to the leather dashcaps and Alcantara headliners in Porsches and Ferraris. That’s what this Red Katana car has. It’s a GTR with an interior that can compete with the same kind of cars that the GTR can compete with on the track.” In addition to quilted leather inserts and higher-spec. materials on all the car’s tactile surfaces, the Red Katana has been fitted with a seriously high-end audio system, as well.
All told, the interior and audio upgrades made the Red Katana a nicer GTR to spend time in, but the upgrades added mass as well as class. Just over 300lbs of mass, to be exact. The weight had to be countered, but how?
The solution Tym Switzer and his crew of Oberlin, Ohio-based technicians came up with was simple: the car was 300lbs heavier, so Switzer made it 300 percent more powerful!
That power comes courtesy of a Switzer built-and-blueprinted VR38 Nissan engine that’s been fitted with reinforced rods and pistons, as well as Switzer-specific cams whose profiles are directly matched to Switzer’s CNC-machined cylinder heads and optimized for the Switzer R1K-X turbos and manifolds, which are unique to the cam/head setup in the R1K-X.
Temperatures are managed by Switzer’s MONSTER intercooler system, cooling PKG, and breathing is through an SS90 exhaust system. The hardware is managed by a Switzer-tuned Syvecs standalone ECU, allowing the R1K-X conversion in the Red Katana to deliver over 1250 horsepower at the wheels, while keeping all the car’s interior “creature comforts” intact.
“This is much more than the typical trailer or dyno queen you see guys take out and try to break records with,” explains Tym. “It’s not the everyday, no-excuses supercar the Ultimate Street Edition GTR is. The transmission is a little more harsh and you need to find race fuel to get all the power out of it. The power curve is a bit different than the Ultimate, too. The turbos hit harder on the R1K cars, and they just feel much more like wild cars.”
Still, the day the Red Katana broke into the 8s, it drove nearly 40 minutes to Summit Motorsports Park under its own power before making multiple passes and driving back home. “This wasn’t some private track rental with a sprayed-down sticky track, either,” notes Tym “this was an open track day, and there were dozens of cars on the track with us. It really speaks volumes about the GTR as a platform and, I think, to the quality of what the guys in the engine shop and what John at ShepTrans are doing.”
This Red Katana R1K-X, if I can paraphrase Switzer, is not the “ultimate” GTR, then. It requires a few excuses. Not many, to be sure, but a few. For those few excuses, though, you get to drive an eight-second GTR to the Piggly Wiggly in leather-wrapped, air-conditioned comfort even if it does weight 300lbs more than stock.