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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.