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Mistakes were made, my R34 Story

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So the search for a gearbox began where all searches begin, gumtree.com.au or FB Marketplace.

I also figured i'd need a clutch, and one of the things all Commodore people constantly raved about was a remote clutch bleeder. I had already managed to find myself a starter motor re locator kit from mal wood automotive. I don't know if this existed on the Berzerk R32 that got LS swapped here years ago, because they went about it by changing the steering rack to a VL non powered one instead.

It turns out before you make decisions on things... there's a lot... LOT of options to choose from, but I decided

a) I want the car to be legal
b) I want the car engineered by VASS
c) I want the car to be dailyable, so that meant retaining power steering, and retaining aircon, as well as the heater.
d) I wanted all the gauges to operate as factory

This sounds like a bit of a tall order, but this is where my bad luck actually turned around.

LS's often have standalone looms, so you can run the thing on an engine stand quite easily. R34's quite easily run standalone engine ECU's and don't suddenly have problems with the dash doing weird shit, speedos not working.. so my line of thinking was "this should work", joys of a basic car.

I found a gearbox for sale eventually that didn't look like it'd been outside for 200 years, and found someone who was "90%" of the way through their LS conversion into Skyline build themselves, but wanted to sell up to conslidate cars/put money into business etc.

Again i thought : .. maybe I should walk away, like this guy is currently trying to.

But no, am stupid.


In the end, I bought:

1x T56 Gearbox
1x Heavy Duty clutch for above gearbox

Both Cross members, because the seller also sent me photos of a stock GM sump clearing the skyline crossmember, whereas the motor I had... definitely, de finitely hit (to the point we had pulled it off already to start notching it).


1x Standalone loom
1x "Later' ls1 ECU (needed to run Flex fuel)


1x Set of radiator hoses modified by seller to fit stock locations on a skyline (yay)
1x Clutch bleeder relocation kit.


Pretty much everything I needed except manifolds and a tailshaft. The manifolds had made custom, I got a photo of them, but they had already been sold.


1x Rip Shifter
1x Shifter extension to mount up with the standard hole in a R33/R34.

I also had to buy another engine, to get everything in the above package. I had originally planned on just sticking with a stock 220 or whatever rwkw a LS1 makes, and iron out all of the infinite bugs i was expecting to begin with and go and rebuild/try and make some power later, but this "forced" my hand.

The engine that came with the above had a fresh rebuild with all receipts, a VCM714 cam (232/234 .600 lift), LS7 Lifters, double manley cam springs, double timing chain, 25% underdriven balancer, ARP fastners throughout, and the heads had been skimmed for more compression. New bearings, freshly machined, suitable oil pump, aftermarket baffling for the new sump, etc, and of course, all of the gaskets, seals and such were brand new and just fitted, which eliminated my shopping cart to replace all of those old things on the previous, now-spare motor. And the new one was drive by cable too, which was nice.

He had initially built the thing to go and drift, so had done all the needed things for this to sustain some pretty sustained "high" RPM. Just so happens for me, the parts he selected were basically identical to what I was planning to do.. "one day"..

It was at this point that family and friends switched from "This car is a curse" to "This is a good idea, see, the car wants to live, the universe agrees!"


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Excellent NA track car, cannot beleive how quick they are with a set of shocks and decent tyres under them.

Very surprising all round and I hate subaru version of boxer engines, but I would take one over an MX5 if I had to choose 4cyl RWD NA track car. 


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86's are just awesome, perfect starter car and realistically, perfect "Enough car anyone needs" with a mild boost application.

It's the middle part of car progression where people go BUT I WANT POWEERRRRRRR in the middle they suck at. Then they grow up and realise the power was never always the fun part. (it is fun to a degree though).

(mx5 factory turbos are awesome though).

I could have SWORN I took photos of how awesome those headers fit (in addition to them being fkin not flat) and I have dug them up.

Yeah definitely 'block hugger' manifolds alright.. I am not sure what these do fit in, but it sure as hell isn't gonna be this. Even if they were flat. And this was on the "Easy" side without a steering rack to contend with!






Pictured above, my reaction to looking at that fantastic fitment.

I will write up other random shit soon enough now that I am looking for visual evidence.

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So at this point car looked like this:


I had an engine, and gearbox, and clutch, all I needed was a loom, and that part was super easy. (says the internet)
So things must be coming along great, fast, right?


Would it be fast if you just wanted to put the engine in, wire up some kind of loom, not really care about much else, get a tailshaft and manifolds fabbed up and go do skids?


Did I do this?


I said a couple of posts ago that “While I’m here….” Was always going to be an element, and now is when it began to strike in full force, because while I also bought one shipment, there was actually 2, and there was scope shift.


It went from “Hey lets just change the engine”

Brain: Pssst… remember how this was all to remove annoying, worrysome things with this car?
Me: ……. Yes?

“Lets remove anything that caused annoyance in this car, EVER!

If I’d ever rolled my eyes, and dealt with it, or had to make an excuse for it, or “I’ll get around to it” it now became a prime target.
There were quite a few of these things. Like in every car. Even yours. Don't you judge me!

Given I needed the car to be engineered, I had a HICAS problem to deal with. I couldn’t use rose jointed arms/eliminator kit, and the stock ones had a lot of play in them, plus, they were f**kin shit, and already removed from my original subframe as they were quite shit. So were the arms i had replaced them with. So was my diff. All worked, pretty okay, and good enough for 99% of people, but sadly in this context, and the only context, I am the 1%. It was all bad. It was worse than bad, it was mildly annoying.

So what’s a boy to do? Lets convert the subframe instead to a NON HICAS one.
…..while it’s out, lets replace EVERY bush in it.
…..while it’s out, lets weld in some subframe reinforcement plates, I mean if S15's crack them, surely a v8 will? (not that skylines seem to..)
…..while it’s out, lets get my “1.5 way” Diff rebuilt, as this was clunking and being an asshole beyond what other diffs were doing.
…..while it’s out, lets remove the shocks and put some stock suspension back in. It’ll be needed for the engineer anyway, and I wanted to rebuild my shocks because they were leaking, and slightly annoying.

……and did I need a re-valve? I went from 5-4 springs to 8-6 in the past..... I also changed the engine. So maybe I need a re-valve. In any case it was a question, and it could not be suffered to live.

Pictured: Annoyance




^----ahhhh, refreshing!

Also, while I’m buying bushes..
….why not buy every bush? For the whole car? The front too?
….lets remove the front subframe while we’re at it, because.. there’s no engine there..
……so maybe we should clean up the engine bay
…maybe we should create fuel lines/adapt to the 34’s fuel system
…. maybe we shouldn’t use rubber lines.. maybe we should have braided hose and fittings for fuel the whole way..
….maybe we should get that e85 flex sensor all plumbed in.. before the car is going….instead of later
…maybe we should have braided lines for the catch can too… while we're buying lines...
…maybe we should have custom hard lines made for the coolant lines to the heater….. while we're doing lines..
…maybe we should relocate the oil cooler….... while we're buying lines..

….maybe I should get around to cleaning up the engine bay…

This was also the bulk of the cost, and a LARGE, LARGE, LARGE % of the head f**ks. We actually decided to do this in sections, i.e the rear of the car first, because it had 0 thinking to do, then we planned on doing the Engine bay part of things, then the middle/gearbox/clutch part last. The plan was to have everything done to the point where the only thing the car would need was wiring, and an exhaust fabricated up.

Also, anyone want to buy my diff? This is where I spent $800 (receipts available!) to have my diff totally taken apart and rebuilt, and told nothing was wrong with my somewhat-clunkier-than-others 1.5 way diff, and that's just how they are. How they are is a 2 way diff, which was somehow missed in that $800 adventure.

I'll leave it to your imagination how that diff drove with the new/refreshed/reinforced subframe.

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On 4/17/2020 at 9:36 AM, Dose Pipe Sutututu said:

Man you have either:

  • Too much time
  • Too much money, or
  • Great drugs

But loving the build - I have given up on building and now just click and collect Stage 1 or 2 or 3 carpark reflashes lol

It's funny, because as of now the car is done, the only things I'd do to improve it is add widebody (which i own) to fit wider tyres, and maybe get a set of heads for more NA power (which realistically looks like ... maybe? about 30-40rwkw).

However this would probably cost about ~15K to complete.

If my car spontaneously caught fire or was stolen, I could buy a new Mustang with less than 15K Difference.

Did I mention new Mustangs when tuned make about the Same KW as my motor with the heads I referred to above?
Did I also mention that Mustangs can fit a 315's on all 4/square setup with the OEM Body?
Did I mention that the new 10 speed auto is pretty amazeballs for keeping in said power range?
Have a look Here to find "Mustang Performance Pack 2" (which is a slower manual), but has aforementioned tyre fitment. It's 48th on the list.

If you CBF, here's a snippet:


So.. I am super happy with how it is, as is... but would I recommend what I have done for someone else? lol no.

More history to follow 'soon'

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20 minutes ago, Kinkstaah said:

If my car spontaneously caught fire or was stolen, I could buy a new Mustang with less than 15K Difference.

Did I mention new Mustangs when tuned make about the Same KW as my motor with the heads I referred to above?
Did I also mention that Mustangs can fit a 315's on all 4/square setup with the OEM Body?
Did I mention that the new 10 speed auto is pretty amazeballs for keeping in said power range?
Have a look Here to find "Mustang Performance Pack 2" (which is a slower manual), but has aforementioned tyre fitment. It's 48th on the list.

If you CBF, here's a snippet:



New mustangs are great the 10 speed in the 2018+ just makes them great for cruising and highway fun :D 
2018 intake, full exhaust & e85 make 340ishKw or just add a blower & headers 450kw but they are pretty big cars, took a while to get use to parking/reversing them.
After being in a few mustangs and a 2019 M4. I would definitely take the mustang, much nicer to live with daily.

More build saga please, been good reading and seeing how you got to this point.

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The problem with going the Mustang route is that you then have a Mustang and blend into the plethora of them being driven by rich bogan wives, balding middle managers and other assorted poseurs.

Notwithstanding the massive price difference, the Camaro has to be the more satisfying choice, because there are none of them around and there are certainly no 4cyl ones around!

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I laughed so hard at this... holy jeebus. i know the feeling here, where you just don't want to give the car the satisfaction of acknowledging its issues.  ?

I remember something similar happened to a friend with his Boss kit. The switch/wiring broke and his horn was stuck on permanently. 
He was freaking out while i laughed so hard i nearly wet myself in the passenger seat while we drive down the Monash. The best part is while I kind of knew what had happened, he though the car was going to explode (or something i guess). He pulls over after a couple of minutes, i rip the button out and toss it into the back of the car... problem solved. 

Sometimes when cars break it is hilarious. Other times... it's lucky I don't carry a lighter!

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On 3/11/2020 at 9:37 AM, Kinkstaah said:

This is where people usually just sell their car BUT NOT ME, CAUSE I'M STUPID!

This resonated with me for some reason... 

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I too have an excel spreadsheet, infact I put this V8 conversion all in it, including dates, what i bought, and even compared what I thought I'd spend to what I actually did spend. Then it all became a bit superflous because the parts I did spend on weren't really strictly related to "Conversion only" costs.. like say, the previous post.

Also got a bit lucky in some aspects, like a pre-made ready to go refreshed cammed motor. Saved some $ there.

........Provided that engine actually started and was built correctly.........

Moving on, more bushings!


So now we had the rear of the car, and bushings done (many not pictured on the front arms), we decided to tackle plumbing up the engine side. We left the clutch out for now because it's just going to be easier taking engine in/out/in/out/in/out without a clutch to contend with. But the gearbox looks to have bolted up fine and took up space fine, useful for checking clearances to things.


Here was our lovely engine bay,complete with old R34 ancillaries just.. hanging out.


Gearbox sorta fitting okay!


The commodore shift knob options are horrific, so we ended up cutting this and welding on a literal bolt to the end of it with the same pitch that Nissan shift knobs use, so I can re-use my OEM Nissan/Nismo Shift knob. The gates are tighter than a R33 Gearbox is (maybe the ripshifter does this) but it means that the AUTO housing I had around the shifter now fit better after the conversion than it did before. Another win!


Please check page 1 for a description of my abomination of wiring. It was always a really sore point, but now that the motor was gone, we could remove what wasn't needed anymore. The way I thought about it was .....

My Haltech PS2000 ran the Engine, standalone.
The LS1 Ecu runs the Engine, standalone.
No other functions of the car did not work. AC worked, Power steering worked, dash worked, all electronics worked fine before the conversion.
Logically then.. we could remove all of the things the PS2000 was wired to.
Logically then.. we could run the LS1 in "Engine only" mode, and everything should be just fine, cause the rest of the car's wiring wasn't changed, because it was never in play to begin with.

... in the past my car has had up to 4-5 ECU's running various things. Anyway, all gone now.
So we started pulling wires out. Initially we labelled them, and thought about them, and then eventually came to the conclusion above.


"I'm sure it's fine"


What's this for? I don't know. I knew then, I don't know now, but I took a photo of it for some reason.

With literally all the engine wiring in the bin, we had an empty engine bay to start figuring stuff out in, and first cab off the ranks was the fuel system. The engine we got had some nice return EFI fuel rails on it which was great, because the LS1 uses a returnless system, and the rest of a skyline is .. not a returnless system.

so thank f**k for that, basically, but we had to plumb it all in.


We decided to cut these lines shorter, to angle them up against the firewall as much as possible. We didn't know how the f**k people ran a manifold/exhaust through here but we sure weren't going to be the guys that didn't make every effort to try and make someone's future life easier. People notice that shit!

(also I almost melted my car to the ground due to wiring issues and heat in the past. This is fuel... and a manifold, what could go wrong?)


Ah yes the first braided line, the one that started it all.

The stock ECU can handle flex fuel. I had a flex fuel sensor. I had to mount it somewhere.


So this:


+ This


= This


It seems I don't have too many photos of the fuel lines, they went through many, many revisions.

With the engine in again, I had to think about cooling, as a clutch fan isn't feasible/doesn't exist. Luckily the LS is setup for thermos from the factory as it has them, and luckily, the AU falcon's thermos match up nearly perfectly with a R34 radiator, as well as pushing a LOT of air.

"but isn't the LS huge?" A lot of people are still suprised by how small it is in the engine bay.


.... so much room for activities! You can't see it in this photo, but you can actually fit your entire arm down behind the motor and grab the bellhousing too, so my e85 sensor was not in peril.


Radiator and Thermos in!






Sometimes things just fkin work out!


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In the spirit of 'braided lines rape wallets'

Next cab off the rank was moving the oil cooler, because we noticed that

a) Don't need the intercooler holes for anything now...
b) Oil block is on the passenger side of the engine, not the driver side
c) Lines all the way across the engine would be bad.

So we moved the cooler from behind the driver side to the passenger side. For general better'ness, and did not have the washer bottle to contend with anymore.

... we may have had to remove a tow point though. But there's still one left...




I also test fitted the (18x9 +30) wheels I bought.
I was going to get R34 GTR ones, but they were expensive, 2nd hand, and these ones have a bit of a concave fit to them too.
hated my old rims as they were a complete and utter pain to clean, 15 minutes per wheel vs about 4 seconds per wheel.
This is also why these new wheels are black. (remember, mildly annoying = must be destroyed)


Maths well on my side, these cleared the brakes without a worry.

I also decided to change the cabin filter in the Renault (pls buy it)


Now is when things got a bit more fiddly, because it was more fabrication and "how to make things work and not be utterly disgusting".


This is a LS. The Red Circled bit is where the coolant lines run to the heater core. In a commodore these are actually on the driver side chassis rail (so the hoses are small).

Almost like it was designed for it. But where are they on a r34 GTT?

Right on the opposing side of the engine bay.
So we had to run two pretty damn long rubber hoses with a bunch of kinks across the entire frigging motor, notwithstanding the fact that there's a manifold on each side of the motor and not a lot of room at all.

"Do you really need a heater?"
I mean technically the car would be pretty hot anyway, gearbox right under the centre console, warm transmission tunnel, brand new exhaust running under the driver feet, you know bu- YES I REALLY NEED A HEATER!

Luckily my friend and partner in crime was always looking for an excuse to buy a pipe bender.


How bendy is too bendy? relax everyone that was just testing. Below was the final result:




I was worried about power steering in general, as it's really hard to find any information about the power steering pump used by Nissan, and the power steering pump used by GM. Could I just connect the lines from the Skyline system into the GM power steering pump?

Was it that simple? Was the GM pump stronger? Was the Skyline pump stronger? Is that going to break anything? What about that dreaded "Heavy steering" problem with R34's anyway. If you get that from a sensor not being on, or a vac line missing, what about if you have NO sensors at all, and a fkin Commodore pump. Would it be massively light? WHO KNOWS.

What I did do was go to Active Power Steering in Dandenong in Vic with the old power steering line and say "Can you make this with the GM fittings on the end?"

The top is what I brought them, the bottom is what I received.


They included the sensor for the plug, though didn't know either WTF would happen to my steering afterwards.

And I can't fault them on any of it, because it worked perfectly and cost very very very little ($250ish). Done in a day.



And how is the power steering in the end? It turns out that the result definitely works, power steering exists, and the result is that it is really very heavy, but provides a ton of feedback.

Undoubtably it's heavier than both a commodore and a R34 but it is a little lighter than R34 in "broken heavy mode" because I can only assume the pump is more grunty.

You'd get in it and drive it and be all "Damn man this is heavy" but it actually suits the thing when driving around, as big notchy shifter, heavy clutch, heavy steering, V8 all really works in conjunction with one another, placebo I know, but it makes the whole thing feel "Heavy Duty" and the steering has absolutely NO play in it or any kind of deadzone at all. So all in all, surprisingly cheap to get done, and works with no real side effect!


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