Nissan R390 GT1
The ultra-fast and super expensive Nissan street-car was manufactured to conform to the Le Mans GT1 Class regulations that required manufacturers to build at least one street-legal version of the race car. Unlike many others, Nissan built the road car first and built the racing version from it. Legendary car designer & current Chief designer at Jaguar, Ian Callum who was the brain behind the Aston Martin DB7’s design, conceptualized the R390 at the Walkinshaw Racing facility in England. Priced at a hefty $100,000, only two working models were ever produced and it is unclear whether any of them were actually sold (one of them is currently housed in Nissan’s own museum). Following suit with rival competitors like Chrysler, Porsche and Mercedes, the R390 was among a select few short run homologation models manufactured purely to comply with entry regulations into GT racing. Industry experts opined that one of Nissan’s primary objective behind the R390 GT1’s manufacture was to push consistency and forceful performance to the outright limit without compromising upon the drivability of a street car.
Underneath the hood of this true supercar, sits a powerful Nissan VRH35L twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre double-overhead-camshaft V8 engine having automated sequential port fuel injection. It produces a whopping 410kW at 6800 rpm while simultaneously conforming to every European emission standards and exhaust gas regulations. A launch control system and traction control encounters wheel spin well in difficult conditions and helps transmit the colossal power of the car across all four corners equitably by limiting individual fuel supply to engine cylinders. The R390 GT1 was also endowed by an upper and lower A-arm suspension with coiled springs at all four corners, inboard shock absorbers and front and rear anti-roll bars. Decelerating is managed by massive AP 14-inch vented front and back-end disc brakes with six piston calipers and ABS. The massive power credentials of the R390 GT1’s V8 engine enabled the car to sprint from zero to 100 km/hour in less than 4.0 seconds.
Inside the car’s cockpit, there is the usual paraphernalia of a passenger car like driver controls, a central dashboard and leather upholstery embellishing the driver as well as passenger racing seats. The short-throw gear lever meant for the six-speed X-trac sequential gearbox and tiny racing steering wheel bear a closer resemblance to the streetcar’s racing counterpart that won four out of the top-ten honors at Le-Mans in 1998.
With a total length of 4,580 mm and a wheelbase of 2,720 mm and a curb weight of just over 1,000 kg, the R390 GT1 had the perfect design credentials for being a super-streetcar. At the front end, designers at the Walkinshaw facility, employed headlamps from the ZX300 production sports car and distinguishing double front grilles that give the R390 a familiar look. The R390 GT1's chassis as well as its ubiquitous long tail were made from carbon fiber. The car’s aerodynamic design was perfected during comprehensive scale model wind-tunnel testing in England and full-size testing of the design prototype at Nissan Technical Center in Atsugi, Japan.