Bulletproof and GT-RR Booth Debut in Tokyo at R’s Meeting Fuji Speedway

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We’ve just returned from a successful trip to Tokyo during which we exhibited our original parts for the first time in Japan. With assistance from our friends at Do-Luck we took the best from the worldwide GT-R market back to Japan. The event was “R’s Meeting” which is the largest GT-R owners meeting in Japan. R’s Meeting is held annually at Fuji Speedway.

It is especially an honor to have a booth and offer our goods to Japan, considering that 11 years ago our business began by importing from Japan. The process of us now selling back to Japan is very exciting and completes the circle of our evolution.

We are thankful to see many of our friends in Japan and to feel their support for us. Here are just a few of the many faces behind the Japanese tuning world that we all love:

Ito-san of Do-Luck

Hiei-san of TommyKaira

Yahagi-san of Varis

More extensive coverage can be found on our facebook fan page (we were even live posting on FB at the event as it took place thanks to Ito-san’s portable wifi hotspot).

http://www.facebook.com/therealjdm

Here’s one more shot of our display. It was really satisfying to be the only foreign company exhibitor at R’s meeting. Feedback was excellent on our brand_RR original parts lineup for the GT-R and I hope that with some good fortune we will return again next year for R’s Meeting!

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Color Schemes – Building the 2012 GT-RR Demo Car Pt. 3

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GT-RR R35 GT-R 2012 Demo Car

It all started with my obsession with limited edition Japan market Recaro seats. I already had the “super stark” RS-Gs for my S2000 and I was getting ready to buy the “advanced edition” SR-7 limited seats for the GT-R which are essentially also super stark styled. Then I saw the latest limited seat, the “evolution”. It was a SR-7 in black with orange leather accents and stitching. I instantly became obsessed. It was not even that the seat’s awesomeness had me obsessed, it was the challenge of how I would go about integrating a seat with orange accents into a GT-R. The seat got my mind racing for ideas. It seemed really difficult to do right which made it more exciting.  Those ideas formed into the fusion of how I envisioned the first phase of the GT-R project visually.

I knew that one of my favorite cars visually is the black and orange Porsche 911 GT3 RS. I absolutely loved how the orange cage popped on the all black Porsche and how the exterior accents drew out the roll cage. The Porsche 911 (turbo) is also of course one of the GT-Rs key competitors which makes the styling even more interesting. As a result, last January I decided that I was going to essentially build the GT-R’s styling around the seats just for the joy of the challenge.

After realizing the styling influence of the Porsche, I became really excited when I found a Germany based manufacturer for our roll cage which is comparable to a bolt in GT3 RS roll cage. Matching orange paint was the obvious choice. A couple of months later the cage was flown in from Germany and the seats arrived from Japan. The interior was mostly complete.

Externally, I did not want to boringly copy the Porsche orange accents. Inspiration is wonderful, but copying almost always ends up unimpressive (with the exception of gulf livery perhaps). I knew my pallet was simply black, carbon fiber and orange at this point. Strategic use of orange would be key to emphasize certain parts or shapes, otherwise on a black car nothing is noticed from afar. Putting orange on stock GT-R mirrors was a bit boring and I wanted to switch the mirrors anyway. The Top Racing dry carbon mirrors were selected as an OEM replacement since they are perfect for street use and swap in the factory mirror glass and motor.  Using the bottom of the mirror contour in orange gave me the effect Porsche gets with their mirror but is different and GT-R specific enough in shape to work well for the purpose. Additionally, it accents and draws attention to the dry carbon mirrors which otherwise might go unnoticed.

Door graphics were scary. I did not want the car to have a lot of vinyl this time around. Door graphics look fine with lots of vinyl but it is really easy to get it wrong on an otherwise clean car. I ended up using a design that Mana-P and I were working on for a different car years ago. It is simple, and gives just enough orange to integrate the side profile of the car. The goal here to integrate and draw out the orange of the interior with exterior orange accents from the side profile.

When we came up with the idea and execution for custom dual projector conversion headlights I knew it was a chance to draw attention to them and to use more orange for accenting. I had always wanted to color match the central headlight bridge, but on a black car that is pointless since the bridge is black to begin with so I decided to use orange on the bridge. The result is that the headlights get some much deserved attention since they’re entirely custom pieces. We also produce the carbon fiber front grill, which on a black car blends in and goes unnoticed. A simple orange stripe draws out the carbon grill and also accentuates the revised grill shape unique to the 2012 model year.

I’m still as I write this on the fence on the wheel stripe. The thought process was that the unique depth of the wheel lips with our sizing, along with the fact that there is just too much black with the wheels made me give this a try. Pin stripes are a bit unoriginal and painting the wheels bright orange would be a ripoff of the Porsche design. Running a thick stripe the length of the lip in theory achieves the goal of showing off the depth, tying the orange accents to the wheels and creating a fun effect when the car is driving. It’s an old idea I’ve always liked in theory, it is a fun try and perhaps we’ll keep them. Time will tell. I’d like to lay a small gt-rr or bulletproof logo inside of each stripe at some point as well (that would be fun in reflective vinyl for night driving).

The rear of the car has those beautiful and unique red GT-R tail lights. Putting any orange back there I think would look terrible any where near those tail lights so that has been skipped entirely.

The windshield banner was an afterthought just as an experiment. Likely I’ll peel it off, its probably too much orange for the car.

The hood will be changed for a dry carbon hood in upcoming months and likely there will be orange accenting on the hood along with some black paint to better integrate it. Once the hood is installed I think the headlights will look better as a result of it. The hood will also make the dry carbon wing and trunk more relevant to the overall design.

A carbon fiber, black alcantara and orange stitched steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle are all likely in the cards as well.  Dry carbon doors are on the way as well. Likely there will be no orange on those, just black paint.

Side note – I came extremely close to doing a custom set of BBS LM’s in all gloss black with orange bolts and custom center caps. If I had not done BBS LMs on our earlier demo cars those would already be a go. To be honest, the long term vision for the wheels is not yet decided. I might just wait until the widebody phase until new wheels are selected.

In the process I’ve learned that black and orange is an extremely difficult color combination to work with. It is divisive, creating a love or hate type of feeling in a lot of people. It is very easy to get wrong. Most of the best things go lost in the black, and the orange sticks out so much that any misstep becomes an instant eyesore. At a best case scenario you get an amazing car that 90% cant be seen clearly in a picture and 10% is emphasized. I’m still happy I made the choice, but I knew it would be difficult and it is. I can’t name a single aftermarket tuned car that has this color combo and turned out memorable. It might be an impossible task but it’s fun to try. When the car gets a color change I think it will be something very special and much easier to hit a home run with. There are a number of very valid reasons why most companies don’t use black for demo cars. I’m still having my fun. Hopefully people enjoy the phases of this project as much as I am.

996 Porsche GT3 RS Black and Orange

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R.I.P rotary 1951-2011 by John Babbitt

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rotary4
For 60 years, the rotary engine captivated the imagination of enthusiasts world wide. It’s use in motorsport included Group B, IMSA, N1, and even a win at Le Mans(which prompted its ban from the event). Of all the manufacturers that experimented with these amazing engines, only Mazda dared use them in actual production cars.
Viewed by many as unreliable, un-economical, and under powered, the wankel and renesis engines caught a lot of hate over the years, mostly due to owners who just didn’t understand the capability of their machines. Rising fuel costs and awareness for lower emissions were the coffin nails. In 2011, only about 1100 RX8’s were sold.
In Japan, Mazda used rotaries in many applications. Some are well known, others not. What’s important though, is that we as enthusiasts remember these vehicles and preserve them for future generations to enjoy.
Unfortunately though, this is a harsh reminder that fun Japanese cars are becoming extinct, and fast. No more exciting Hondas, Mitsu gave up the ghost, Toyota decided its only interesting car should cost more than a house, Subaru is injecting salt water in its cars veins, and its only a matter of time before Nissan says Z cars don’t make any sense.
So pour some out for the rotary, because we won’t be seeing it ever again. Your time came way too soon.
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rx5

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Vision Statement – Building the 2012 GT-RR Demo Car Pt. 2

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gt-rr 2012 bulletproof automotive r35 gt-r

In March of 2011 we sold off our 2010 GT-R and upgraded to a 2012 spec to build. The first immediate difficulty of this demo car project was the reality that we’ve built so many GT-R demo cars before. One consistent goal of all of our projects is that we don’t want to repeat any vision statement too closely. As a result, a wide range of parts, color combination and overall themes were off limits to begin with.

Next we chose an extremely difficult color to work with for a demo car, black. Why? Two reasons. First off I think black GT-Rs look extremely aggressive and when paired with high quality parts make a car that has confident style and quality without screaming look at me. I have a lot of respect for builders who build highly modified black cars because the details only get noticed by those who really take a moment to appreciate them (everyone else passes them to look at the bright colored cars). Reason number two is that it is my long term goal to do a full color change and produce a custom widebody, at which point black or white are the two easiest colors to do a color change on. This point will come up later in the build, since it adds a level of complexity considering that there are two distinct stages to this build, a pre and post widebody car. The widebody stage will mark essentially an entirely new car. Budget permitting, it will happen not to long after the Cosworth x GT-RR crate motor goes in.

The long term vision of the car is put down some respectable lap times against top competition and to do so with full interior and comfort. It is a lofty goal, and many baby steps are needed to get there. In setting the vision, we knew that the aggressive street styling of our 2010 GT-R would not be enough for the track functionality that we are building the car up for. It became apparent that we would need to sacrifice some classy street styling for some function-first styling of racing parts. One of the earliest choices was to move from the old TommyKaira wing (which we loved) to the full dry carbon Esprit GT wing.

In how I look at car building there are two general guides in particular that I follow. One is the overall mission statement or vision of the car. The second is ensuring that parts pair well together and create a cohesive statement. Sometimes going with one part will require a second part to simply make sense of the first part. In this context, the choice of a Esprit dry carbon GT-R we felt needed other racing parts just to make sense of it from purely a superficial visual point of view. The wing created a feeling of a race car being born, a Top Racing dry carbon trunk continued it. The roll cage, unique Amuse inspired wheel fitment, titanium front tow hook, and front diffuser continued reinforcing that point.

The car’s vision statement looks something like this:

Produce a 2012 GT-R utilizing only the absolute best products available world wide. Never compromise on quality. When products are not available, we will produce them ourselves whenever possible. The car must function for daily use, remain comfortable and must evolve into a balanced track capable car that in its ultimate spec is capable of running as fast as full race spec GT-Rs. The car must have a style unique to itself. The limits of tuning must be pushed, but with a steady balance of avoiding trade-offs or going into an area of one-dimensionality (avoiding drag only, track only, street only, show only). All products must be acceptable to be recommended to our customers and to serve as a statement of the best GT-R that we can build for this purpose. Preferably most of the products selected in stage one should be able to be used for stage two when the car takes an entirely new form.

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Vision and Process – Building the 2012 GT-RR Demo Car Pt. 1

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gt-rr r35 2012 demo car bulletproof automotive

Trying something new here, I wanted to take a few minutes to share the thought process and goals of preparing our latest demo car.

Every project car we do requires considerable planning to determine the overall vision and goal of the project. In many cases with newer cars it is even more difficult because many parts are not produced yet, and still, the vision must painted clear enough to be able to evaluate and accommodate the evolving product landscape with ease.  Creating a car vision statement is in many ways like creating a business mission statement. You know you have it right when the result encompasses a philosophy, a style, a set of principles and a feeling that can be internalized deeply enough that you can apply scenarios to it and know right away whether it is a fit or not. Put into actual examples, I knew 11 years ago that I would never sell knockoffs or fly by night trendy parts because it goes against my vision for the company’s ethics and quality. For any car project, it is ideal to know right away which style or function of products will be consistent with the end vision. Every project is unique, for some projects huge 3pc wheels go against the vision but for other projects they are acceptable or possibly even preferred. The same thing goes for color choices, vinyl styling, exhaust loudness, fuel economy, quality of construction, horsepower levels, suspension stiffness, brake heat characteristics, seat support, clutch stiffness, road noise, all weather performance, etc.

It is not about right or wrong, it is about right or wrong for the specific project’s vision. What it all boils down to is knowing the vision, standards and feeling from the onset of the project so that guiding standards are deeply felt and used as a benchmark to judge all possible future modifications against. I’ve seen far too many cars that sell their soul to jump on freebie parts or some short term trend that does not fit and discredits the entire car’s value as a cohesive statement. A great car is only as good as it’s weakest link. If Amuse built the GT1 S2000 and put Rota wheels on it, it would negate all of the amazing things that the GT1 accomplishes. Yet when I go to SEMA or see many cars, I more often than not see cars that are 80+% incredible but are totally ruined (for me) by a few shortsighted choices that sacrifice their credibility and vision.

With that being said, I’ll outline the goals and general vision of the 2012 GT-R project car. I think the resulting story and future updates will be interesting to see how the product selections, tuning philosophy and styles tie into the vision and either help, disrupt or change it. At the very least, it will make things more interesting and insightful for those who have been looking at the various updates on the car over the past few months.

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Bulletproof x R34 Z-Tune

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Bulletproof Automotive x Nismo R34 GT-R Z-Tune

Bulletproof Automotive’s R34 GT-R Nismo Z-Tune.

Such an honor, such an incredible car. This car is a legit and super clean Z-Tune, not a kit car or replica. These pictures were from earlier. We’ve now sold the car to an appreciative new owner. There’s a Z-Tune rolling around now with Bulletproof stickers in an undisclosed location. That makes us very happy just to think of it.

PS – Sorry the blog has been a little inactive. We’ve been busy with awesome stuff like this and designing/producing original new parts. More blog posts will be coming. In the meantime, we update our facebook fan page daily if you want to stay better in touch with us.

http://www.facebook.com/therealjdm

PS – Thank you to our friend Mr. Ito.

Bulletproof Automotive x Nismo R34 GT-R Z-Tune

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