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" /> Interview with Mine's Niikura Michizo : GT-R Super Tuner - GLAM

Interview with Mine’s Niikura Michizo : GT-R Super Tuner

While in high school he maintained a huge interest in motorbikes as well as cars. It was at Isho College that he’d further develop into a forward-thinking engineer and tuner. Almost right after college Michizo joined Bridgestone and there he remained for 12 years, moonlighting the last few years to start up Mine’s. Rather than blowing the money on sake and women, he wisely invested his earnings at Bridgestone to buy the necessary equipment to make sure that his shop would be more than just a lift and an air compressor.

“The name: It’s plural of mine. I thought ‘Mine’s’ would be better than answering, ‘Niikura’. I designed the logo myself. I like simple and cool designs. I like simple cool designs, that’s why my cars aren’t always decked out. “

You may or may not know the name Niikura Michizo, but you definitely know the name Mine’s. Born in 1952 in Hayama, Japan, Michizo is the man responsible for the Japanese tuning house that has developed some of the fastest GT-Rs in the world. Niikura-san’s long love of the GT-R began in his teens when his father gave him a hand-me-down Skylineónice dad, huh? His first ìnewî car was a Celica GT-S.

While in high school he maintained a huge interest in motorbikes as well as cars. It was at Isho College that he’d further develop into a forward-thinking engineer and tuner. Almost right after college Michizo joined Bridgestone and there he remained for 12 years, moonlighting the last few years to start up Mine’s. Rather than blowing the money on sake and women, he wisely invested his earnings at Bridgestone to buy the necessary equipment to make sure that his shop would be more than just a lift and an air compressor.

After Bridgestone you established Mine’s. What concept did you have in mind?
Simple is best. A well-balanced car that stops, turns and can go fast. Another thing, I like to do things that my competitors don’t and can’t do. I like to do things fast. I like to build [my products and cars] quickly and be on time. I hate to be slower than anyone else. Tuning doesn’t have regulations like motorsports, but my thing is to be faster than the cars that are fully decked out like motorsports cars. The parts I develop are for my customers, but they also have to function and be good for the car. I want to keep my parts as realistic attainable tuning parts for consumers. It’s easy to build a bigger displacement engine, but how many people do that? Which leads to keeping it simple.

I learned a lot in my younger years. I had been involved with motorsports and worked with them when I was younger. I wanted to learn; the whole experience was a learning process. Teams are just there to win. I wanted to absorb what was available to me from motorsports. And I’ve put what I’ve learned in that experience into my tuning and products. From R32 to beginning of R34 I was prety much went to every race in the Super Taikyu series.

You must have become very familiar with the series, but also the development of racing and products. How do you use R&D to develop your products?
To develop my parts I would actually get into races and test my products. I do a lot of tenstive on-track testing privately. Testing, R&D you don’t necessarily have to go full throttle for a race distance. That’s not what’s needed for R&D. What I’ve striving for is not the ultimate speed or quickness or time. It’s actually drivability, or driving pleasure. It has to do with feeling comfortable while you’re driving, what the driver feels. You Have to feel good, safe about the feel of the vehicle. That’s a lot deeper than just speed or horsepower.

Tell us about the GT-R legacy and why you’ve chosen to continually developer the Skyline.
Long ago it was known as a very good car and the one to tune. And that’s what I was attracted to. I was attracted to the potential of the GT-R and because it was difficult to tune. For the US, I’m really looking forward to releasing parts for the Z and the new 2008 Nissan GT-R. I want to open a shop in LA and have that be my US headquarters. Sometime next year.

What are your thoughts on the new VQ38 versus the older RB26?
They’re completely diferent engines, of course, but they’re both GT-R motors. They’re great motors. Even if the new engine isn’t an RB, I can tune it. I’m not worried. As a characterisics of the car, I don’t think it’s the type of car you just want to max out the horsepower on. The characteristic of the new GT-R won’t be to boost the engine power, but to increase the total factor of the car a little higher. With the VQ it’s an advancement of technology using an aluminum blocking, compact V- engine. I have no worries about the engine, because it’s been developed by one of the best engineers at Nissan. I’m confident it’s a good engine to start with.

And what about the old GT-R versus the new one?
In Japan a lot of people say that the R33 isn’t an exact successor to the first-generation GT-R, it’s not an improvement, neither is the R34 to the R33. Neither is the R35 to the R34. They have all their own characterisitics. Some good and bad. Some people like the R32 better etc. So all four of them would have different characteristrics.

What is your philosophy on design and how does that factor into the looks of the new GT-R?
I think overall the design concept or deisgn character is similar to the R32 and R33. The R34 is a sportier looking car. And that’s your first impression. Whereas the R32 and R33 and new GT-R is design more or less than grows on you. The GT-R and Ferrari are two different cars. The GT-R enthusiasts wouldn’t accept the GT-R to be like the Ferrari and neither are the designers trying to imitate Ferrariócontrary to what some people may think. The debut of the R32 is very similar to the current vehicle. But even now the R32 is the most popular Skyline of all time.

Who do you see purchasing the new GT-R and what rivals does it have in Japan and in Europe?
I don’t think, at this point, there are any rivals to the GT-R in Japan. If it’s not limited to Japanese cars it’d be Porsche and BMW. I think the buyer would probably increase a little bit in terms of age, higher than before.

Moving onto a slightly different topic, you’ve been in just about every version of Sony’sGran Turismo. Is Mine’s in the next GT?
350Z and the GT-R will be in the new Gran Turismo. When I get the new GT-R, I assume it’ll be in the game, too. I’m looking forwad to getting involved with the game again. I work closely with Yamauchi-san, I know him very well and ensure that my vehicles feel like they should in the game. The production study of the game it’s very intense, very precise. They use a lot of laser scanning devices to scan the whole car. I do give input of the sound of the car and all other parameters.

When should we expect the next Mine’s Nissan GT-R? And what color will it be?
I hope to release the new GT-R within this year. And it’ll be white of course.

 

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