A Visit to Protuner

As mentioned in my previous post, I found myself at Protuner on Friday in order to collect the Japspeed Impreza and take it down to Lydden Hill that night with Ste and Josh. While proprietor Greg Gush busied himself with mapping Paul Smith’s 1JZ powered S15 I thought it’d be rude not to have a look around.

The first car that I noticed was Phil Morrison’s JZX110 that I mentioned in my previous in post, but once I was inside the first thing that struck me was Greg’s incredible PS13.

Greg has previously competed in the BDC using a Onevia of the same colour but the shell has since been scrapped and the build you see before you was undertaken. Before I go any further, I’ll get this out of the way now: the attention to detail on this build is unlike any other that I have seen in the flesh and the balance between the complexity of what lies beneath and the subtle simplicity of the exterior is absolutely spot on.

It’s commonplace for competition drift cars to run fat bodykits with overfenders and wide front wings these days; after all, OEM body parts are increasingly hard to come by as time goes on and it’d be a shame to ruin a genuine Nissan K’s PS13 front bumper in the heat of battle. However, the downside of these (usually replica) aero packages is that so many cars end up looking identical to others and the entire look becomes generic.

Somehow, Greg has managed to pull off the perfect look that sits somewhere between high-end competition car and a daily driven street weapon, undoubtedly as a result of the relatively subtle D-Max aero, with the boot spoiler being the icing on the cake and finishing off the exterior brilliantly.

Also, the decision to buck the trend of running the largest, widest wheels possible (with both 18 and 19″ diameters in 10, 11 and 12J widths being commonplace in competition nowadays) by running a set of relatively subtle and sensible hoops with carefully chosen tyre sizes means the end result is an excellent stance, all while ensuring there is plenty of rubber in contact with the ground at all times (something that is frequently ignored while chasing the perfect look).

With no glass fitted at all at this stage it was pretty easy to have a nosy around the sparse yet stunning interior. The roll cage alone is a work of art, with the gussets being nothing short of perfection. The neatly arranged, carefully labelled centre console and fuse boxes all point towards a builder who wants for nothing but the best – I couldn’t see any exposed wires but I’m certain that, if I could, each and every solder joint would be meticulously executed. That’s just the type of car this thing is.

Also making an appearance is a clean and simple digital dash, an obligatory hydraulic handbrake setup and a unique leather cover across the upper half of the dash – something I can’t remember seeing on a competition drift car before, for sure.

And then, I opened the bonnet. I don’t really think I need to say anything else as I’m sure you can already make your own judgements from the picture alone, but I will say a few words: this has to be the most impressive SR20 engine bay that I have ever seen on UK shores. On the fabrication side of things, the neatly tubbed arches, the clever brace running between the strut towers, the removable tubed slam panel arrangement, the upside-down intercooler with extremely short and straight pipework…the list goes on.

I’m not sure of the exact spec as Greg was mapping at the time and I hardly wanted to interrupt him, but I’m sure you can see the important bits for yourself.

Taking into account the tight confines of the unit and the car’s incomplete (albeit, impressive) state, I don’t think I could really do it the justice it deserves at the time. As you’ve probably gathered by now, I was completely blown away by the work that’s gone into this thing and to say that I’m looking forward to seeing it in action this season would be an understatement.

Shortly before we arrived Roger Smith had dropped son Paul’s 2012 BDC winning 1JZ powered S15 off for its first mapping session in years. It’s undergone quite the overhaul over the last couple of months, with the most obvious work being the change of livery and slight change of colour scheme.

I haven’t seen it since the Autosport show where it spent four days sat on the Maxxis stand but it’s always been a car that has impressed me. A few months ago it was sat in the workshop, unstickered with black wheels and nothing but black paintwork. I spent ages staring at it and thinking how much of an incredible street car it could be; the thought of the smooth idling 1JZ filling the inner city streets with its glorious tone, or the image of it throwing down third gear entries at our local spots. I can dream.

When people say that Greg is meticulous with his work they aren’t lying, and unfortunately we couldn’t stick around to wait for a final power figure as we had places to be (Monster Energy HQ in order to make lots of smoke and noise in their car park, funnily enough). We would be seeing Greg, Paul, Roger and the S15 at Lydden Hill the following morning so it was time to load up the Impreza, hop in the van and continue our journey southwards…

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