The internet has made it incredibly easy to purchase things by mistake. This is usually made worse by the fact that you don’t always get what you think you are getting. Joe Battista told Power & Performance about the time he was up far too late browsing eBay, bidding on random things, and accidentally purchased a 2009 Nissan GT-R.
I know exactly what you are thinking… How do you accidentally buy a GT-R?
“I was the only bid and did not expect to win the car,” Battista said. He added that the car was stock but had been neglected. It came with a moderate amount of rust and had several of the original parts and panels replaced with parts either newly ordered from Nissan or from a donor 2014 and 2016 car… all for $47,000.
What drew Battista to the GT-R in the first place are its abilities to go fast. “I like the rarity of the car, it is much less common than most vehicles, and a great bang for the buck compared to other vehicles it can compete with,” Battista said.
“I named the car Reptar in homage to the cartoon character from an old Nickelodeon cartoon called ‘Rugrats’” Battista said. He added that he remembered Reptar in the cartoon as a comical defender and as a satirical cartoon version of Godzilla so the name is different from Godzilla, as the GT-R is globally known, but could be understood and fit his personality quite well.
Battista shared he is continually buying and selling cars. He currently owns 12 others, but most notably a 2014 Corvette Stingray making a healthy 740whp, a 500hp Infiniti G35 twin turbo coupe, a 1964 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, and a 2003 Dodge Viper.
After he got the GT-R, Battista immediately got to work sandblasting and powder coating the subframe as well as replacing many factory parts such as wheel hubs and exhaust work.
Looking back, Battista feels an “error portion of the build” was not going for what he wanted versus what was a “good deal” at the time. Battista’s goal with the car was to extract over a thousand horsepower, but he settled when it came to which modifications he got.
The additional bolt-ons were rated for up to 900 horsepower, such as larger turbo inlets, exhaust, flex fuel, and a tune. This brought the Nissan’s original 450 whp up to 620 whp and existed in that form for about a year.
“I would have saved a lot of money and downtime just spending the few thousand extra in the first place for the turbo kit and fuel system I wanted, versus upgrading them slowly over time,” Battista said. He added the largest of his mistakes was buying used transmissions instead of new ones.
“The cheap man pays twice, and I am currently dealing with my sixth transmission failure, four on my previous 800 whp rated transmission, and the second on my current 1,400 whp rated transmission,” Battista said.
The current transmission was out of a track car that was subjected to many launches. Consequently, its latest failure was caused by a worn gearset which resulted in a costly $22,000 repair and upgrade bill.
“Even though it is rated for the power of this build, it has obviously been well worn, so we are basically upgrading all of the internals with new parts, and spending considerably more than it would have cost to build the transmission new,” Battista said.
The car was finished roughly a week before the FL2K event with the help of a loaner transmission from Erik Davenport, as the one Battista planned to use failed after $11,000 in upgrades and 400 miles.
“It was heartbreaking,” Battista said. “I was forced to make the choice of spending 4k in transmission repairs to just dump it, or spend another 13k to repair it correctly and get it back in the vehicle. I took a pay cut this year and also paid out a lot to remove any debts I had, as well as refinanced my house – so spending the extra was really a surprise after all that I had put out in the previous month… a very unwelcome surprise. But we’re going to fix it right.”
At its current state, the GT-R sits on 2015 Nismo suspension with KW sleeves, Stillen Sway bars, DSC sports suspension tuned controller, a factory rear end, DBA Street Package brakes with slotted rotors and Hawk pads.
Power comes from a bullet proof, bored and sleeved 4.0 VR38DETT assembled by FastForward Race Engines. The engine has been fitted with an Induction Performance bottom end kit with Manley Rods and Diamond pistons. On the top, Induction Performance stage 1 heads, cams, clips, springs, and retainer package are all kept together with ARP studs and bolts.
Battista shared he wavered a lot on the turbo size he wanted to implement.Battista questioned, “how fast is too fast, and will I be overbuilding the car so that it becomes unreliable for daily street driving?” Ultimately he settled on Boost Logic 1000X stock manifold turbos along with a Nitrous Express progressive nitrous system which adds an additional 50-250 horsepower. Don’t let the word “stock turbos” fool you however, the bored out manifolds feed two custom billet wheeled turbochargers.
Helping feed the thirsty beast is a Fore Innovation’s triple pump fuel kit consisting of 3x Walbro Demon Pumps. Additionally, a set of ID1700 injectors feed Reptars 6-cylinders to boost power figures to a staggering 1,201 wheel horsepower and 960 ft-lb of torque.
Battista says the car was originally black, and going all out, he added a 2017 Kuhl Racing body conversion kit purchased directly off of the Kuhl Racing SEMA car. “To my knowledge this is the only kit like this in the country,” he said. With my background in the tuner world, it kills me to see the typical “drag car” has almost zero body-tuning modifications with exception to a custom wing to help aerodynamic flow. I love that went with this body kit because I believe that modifying the body and panels truly speak to the car owners personality. I highly applaud this mod!
This Kuhl Racing kit featurings very aggressive lines and takes style cues from the Nismo kit. This GT-R is a CBA meaning it is a first generation GT-R with the easy-going headlights and taillights. Kuhl has done a fantastic job by adding the 2018 grill and Nismo ducting to the front. The lip has been extended for a more dramatic effect. Underneath the wrap is a custom carbon hood with many cooling vents to help move air into the beast.
The engine bay lay’s hoist to a vast array of carbon goodies and performance parts. I absolutely love the attention to detail in this GT-R, every color choice was properly thought out from the intake manifold, to blow off valves and even the inside lining of the charge pipe couplers.
Moving to the side, the Varis front fenders have always been a favorite of mine. Not stopping there with the carbon, Battista has installed a set of carbon fiber doors hidden under the wrap. The Kuhl side skirts show hints of the Nismo styling, but Battista has gone an extra step further and has added carbon plates underneath.
At the rear, the taillights have been swapped out for some LED units and a carbon duckbill trunk adds a perfect subtle touch to the rear. However, the rear bumper is anything but. Kuhl Racing did not hold back when designing the rear and gave it aggressive lines that protrude past the exhaust tips and flow throughout the rear of the car into the diffuser.
He added the car is custom wrapped in 3M Satin White pearl with carbon fiber and liquid copper metallic accents by Christopher Clayton at Wrapstar Studios, in Charleston, South Carolina.
Inside, the stock interior remains with some additional sound deadening, and the AV unit has been upgraded to 2014 HD display.
In street form, a set of Vorsteiner VF107 wheels are accompanied by some sticky Nitto NT05R radials. When things get serious at the track, Battista throws on 17-inch Bogart wheels with Hoosier slicks on the rear for some hardcore AWD launches.
“It is 100-percent a functional racecar and 1000+hp daily driver… She’s pretty, but not a show car” Battista said, adding “but mostly – it is raced and used to pick up groceries.”
Battista said his favorite part of the car is that it is 100-percent “him,” from the components inside, to the body panels, the colors and exhaust note, each and every part of the build was selected by himself.
If he had to do it over again, Battista shares he would have just gone big the first time and dropped the car at TSM for an elite+ package with a warranty.
“I am unsure that I will ever be finished, but currently, I am very satisfied with the car in its current form. The car may receive a larger shot of nitrous in the next year to add another 100 or so horsepower for race events. After 2019’s race season we will probably refresh the engine and add some additional headwork – at that time we may decide to upgrade the turbo system again – possibly to a larger stock manifold system capable of 1,400 whp without nitrous.”
- Engine: Sleeved 4.0 VR28DETT built bottom end from Induction performance, assembled by FastForward Race engines, with diamond pistons, manley rods – Induction performance stage 1 heads with cams, clips, springs, and retainers,
- Power Adder (If present): BL1000X stock manifold turbos, Nitrous Express progressive nitrous system (50-250 horsepower) Fore Triple Pump fuel system with ID1700 injectors and 3x Walbro demon pumps
- Transmission: Shep transmission custom trans (somewhere around the shep stage 4 package with a few extras) Dodson gearset, Promax 21 Plate clutch, drop gears, etc.
- Rear End: Factory rear end
- Horsepower/Torque Numbers: 1201whp/960tq
- Chassis/Suspension: 2015 Nismo suspension on KW sleeves, Stillen Sway bars, DSC sport suspension tuned controller
- Brakes: DBA street package, slotted rotors and hawk pads
- Tires/Wheels: Vorsteiner VF107 wheels with Nitto NT05R radials, 17” bogart wheels with hoosier slicks for drag racing.
- Exterior (Paint, wrap, aero, custom bodywork, etc.): Car is originally black in color, it has a 2017 Kuhl Racing body conversion kit purchased directly off of the Kuhl Racing SEMA car. To my knowledge this is the only kit like this in the country. The car is custom wrapped in 3m by Christopher Clayton at Wrapstar Studios, in Charleston SC. The colors are Satin White pearl with carbon fiber and liquid copper metallic accents. The car has custom OEM sized varis style fenders with carbon louvers, and also a Carbon hood, duckbill trunk, and carbon doors.
- Interior: Full stock interior with additional sound deadening, the AV unit has been upgraded to 2014 HD display
- Driveline parts (rear end, clutch, drive shaft, etc.): 2014 Rear differential, Sheptrans, Dodson Promax 21 plate clutch, Dodson heavy duty gear set
As mentioned in other FL2K coverage, the event attracted the fastest cars in the United States, so of course I had to share two 1,000 horsepower cars that caught my eye.
‘Leroy’ the Stripped Down C5 Corvette
Its no surprise Cleetus Mcfarland was at FL2K with his 2001 C5 Corvette. It stands out among other curves as it has little to no body panels. According to his YouTube channel, Cleetus got quite a deal on the car. He only paid $5,500 for this 6-speed manual, 32,000 mile, 5.7-liter LS1 powered beast. The stripped-down ‘Vette has a salvage title and received some headlights and taillights for safety reasons, making it street legal.
His goal for the build was to create “one of the coolest YouTube builds ever,” “a street, drag, and drift monster.”
Nicknamed Leroy, Cleetus turned to Texas-Speed & Performance who set him up with a forged 427 cubic inch LS along with a “Bald Eagle” camshaft to ensure the Corvette could run with the big boys. A set of 6466 Precision turbos were added to cram up to 30 pounds of boost down the LS engine’s throat and allow it to produce well north of 1,000 rear-wheel horsepower.
Naturally, he went with a Holley Dominator setup—with which the car easily makes 1,000 rear-wheel horsepower.