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V35 Saloon VK45DE build

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Hey folks,

Been browsing the forums for a while, good information around. I just wondered if anyone here would be interested to see some progress on my VK45DE swap that I have started a year ago. I'll post some more photos later but I thought I should save the information somewhere so if there is anyone else silly enough to attempt this, information could be found.

I own a PV35 350GT-8, the engine had about 160k-ish miles when it started to burn oil. In the end it was the valve stem seals, since I did not want to just fix it but do it properly, rebuilding the engine did not seem worthwhile considering the mileage. So the next best thing was a new-ish engine ideally with a transmission as the CVT would eventually puke out on me. Surprisingly it worked very well.

Anyway, got very reasonably priced VK45DE (Cima F50) from Japan with the 5 speed auto box that I intended to use. I like the paddle shifters on the CVT and can't be bothered with a manual for driving around and long road trips.

So plan is OEM-ish build with the factory ECU with a couple of mods to get a few more horses released.

Really brief requirements to fit the engine inside:

  • Firewall has to be modified to push it in as far as possible (did some preliminary corner weighing which I will mention later)
  • Engine crossmember needs modifications (scallop a bit from where the oil pan sits, relocate the mounting holes for the engine mounts by a few cm's)
  • Transmission crossmember needs to be modified as the A/T sits way back (that includes the gearshift selector rod)
  • Anti roll bar will not clear the engine so had to relocate it, more on that later
  • Oil filler neck and coolant inlet will not clear the bonnet so needs shortening
  • Propshaft needs shortening

I think that are all the snags to get it in.

Lot of work on the wiring as I want to use the factory ECU, that includes the factory TCU and NATS. Got to mention that the NATS is a huge pain in the rear as it uses a fob key but managed to get it working (well as far as the fault codes confirm), haven't started it yet 😄

Also used the factory fuel pump control module, same as on the R34's and such, just a dropping resistor switching between the two different voltages.

Had to change the speedo cluster as the CVT one is specific to that model and does not have some wires leading from the TCU. On that note the CVT TCU works completely separately from the CAN bus, interrogates between the cluster, shift selector and ECU directly. The Cima uses the more conventional ECU, cluster and TCU comms over CAN.

I think there might be some more bits I have forgot but so far the electrics are seemingly working, the big test will be starting the engine which is going to be soon. Need to finish the wiring loom in the engine bay, exhaust headers, coolant inlet and replace some gaskets and I am ready to start it! 

It's been a long project but hopefully near the final details to get it running!






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Awesome project, we definitely need more detail and updates :)

Given it is a DE not a DD, you should look into Uprev as they can remove NATS from the ECU. It also makes the ECU tunable which might be important depending on how it responds to breathing a bit better than factory (the DD went pretty rich at full throttle from just a cat back exhaust)

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the comments.

Yes it is a DE engine, I thought I'd use Romraider to do some adjustments but I am not sure if there is a definition map for my particular ECU so will look into it later. Thanks for the tip on Uprev, will check it out.

I have tried to get any information on the VK swap into a V35/G35 but there are only a few posts on forums with not much detailed information, some garages claiming to do it but not disclosing any info and then there is Smokey Nagata :D

One thing that you might find interesting is the weight difference as I did see some people rant on forums that you mess up the weight distribution. Well I got some empirical data here:

  • VQ35DE weight: 141kg
  • CVT weight: 115kg!!!
  • VK45DE weight: 209kg
  • AT5 weight: 86kg

So looking at the totals you have 256kg for the stock setup and 295kg for the VK setup. The CVT is a heavy bastard! Giving you a difference of only 39kg.

Then I corner weighed the original setup and later the VK once I had the engine mount and transmission mount ready. It's a rough measurement on the VK since I did not have everything mounted/assembled in the engine bay but gives a good idea. 

Sure the weight did distribute more towards the front but in my opinion not something to be too concerned about. 

Also attached a few photos of the engine bay preparation, crossmember modifications and anti roll bar relocation.




Stock results.jpg








Edited by Maruku
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Oh that's just an old photo to give people an idea how much needs to be cut out. Have sorted it with some new sheet metal. 



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Just finished the manifold welding today. Going to do a leak test tomorrow, finish the VHT paint and heat wrap them. Really keen to get the engine in and do all the preparations now to start it! 😆


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Always interesting to read about these 'road less travelled' projects, big kudos for taking it on!  I have read a couple of VK56 swap stories and apparently it is a very tight fit, not sure if the 45 is a bit smaller?

From what I have read, if you are after outright power, the LS swap is still the way to go, but have big respect for people who take on these different options!  Given I almost certainly wouldn't have the patience to do it myself! :)

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On 5/13/2022 at 10:57 PM, Duncan said:

Looks like a big job. How did you go with clearance for steering rack and anything else down there?

Never attempted to build my own manifold so it was also a learning process. The manifold on the steering rack side has to be squashed more towards the engine block, the other side has the starter so that has to go a bit away from the block. I got lucky that I did manage to run the desired runner diameter of 48mm and have some wiggle room.

From what I have read the main bottleneck on these engines are the intake and exhaust. Not sure I can do much on the intake side yet but the stock exhaust manifold is a "wavy" log style manifold with very tiny ports. If I recall they were 36mm I/D. With that in mind, I decided to get as much horsepower out of it as possible, which lead me to the 48mm and that will be connected to a dual 2.5" stainless exhaust. Goal is 400bhp.

I want to be super sure the exhaust will not leak as with the limited space, the manifolds are not removable anymore. It's an engine out job now! 😆

20220508_115206.thumb.jpg.3504bb49876605496b2b29384d3526e8.jpg 20220508_115212.thumb.jpg.e0a6c4ecb2ab6a6afff49b98146289cb.jpg

On 5/14/2022 at 12:53 AM, sonicii said:

Always interesting to read about these 'road less travelled' projects, big kudos for taking it on!  I have read a couple of VK56 swap stories and apparently it is a very tight fit, not sure if the 45 is a bit smaller?

From what I have read, if you are after outright power, the LS swap is still the way to go, but have big respect for people who take on these different options!  Given I almost certainly wouldn't have the patience to do it myself! :)

Cheers mate, not really pursuing the "difference/uniqueness", but rather making something that (initially) seemed more economic and factory looking. Being such a big Nissan fanboy I felt the underdog V35 series Skyline did deserve a more respectful build 😀

Did some progress today and wrapped the exhaust. Need to make a heat shield out of aluminium for the starter motor, to protect it a bit more since the exhaust is only 1cm away from the starter body.


A few more things to note:

  • VK45DE stock wiring loom is way too short to reach through the bulkhead inside so needs serious work! Which means lengthening the whole loom with quite a few wires 😂
  • Japanese F50 Cima's had a hydraulic powered coolant fan with the speed operated via a solenoid by the ECU. The V35 IPDM controls the electric fans so that requires a CAN message to operate.
  • The VK throttle body uses drive by cable which is strange cause it only operates a built in throttle position sensor and not the actual valve, but also has a motor to operate the valve as a drive by wire would have. So that meant using the throttle pedal position on the V35 instead and then it works as any other drive by wire.


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On 5/19/2022 at 2:45 AM, V35_Paul said:

are you doing this all outside?

Yup 😄 Ain't got mains in my garage, live in a flat and just had to deal with it. Funny that it started a year ago all because of leaky valve stem seals on the original VQ engine. Also needed some fun stuff to do during this annoying pandemic.

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So a bit of an update, although I did finish the headers when I got to fit them I wanted to check how flat the flange is and found a problem. It seems the flanges warped much more than I expected to see, somewhere 1mm gap! So going to try to fix this.

In the mean time I removed the coolant filler from the engine inlet and welded that. Once I have the engine in I will determine where the radiator highest point is and may have to shorten it more. Also made a heat shield for the starter and shortened the oil filler neck which broke off during shipping.




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Good idea to check those flanges, is there enough meat to get them milled flat again? You don't need issues with the manifolds sealing once everything is in. I've never made a set but I understand the go is to tack the flange to some much heavier steel box or even i beam to ensure it stays straight 

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