Article by Brian Hannon. Photography by Ryan Randels.
When we first contacted Nico, we knew he was a special person. Not only is he the owner of one of the sharpest G35s we have seen to date, but he also embodies the modified lifestyle we promote at Revvolution. He understands that more is involved than just building a car that you’re proud of; it’s connecting with the community and building relationships that last a lifetime.
For Nico, his automotive interest kicked into high gear after his family moved from Indiana to Hawaii when he was in high school. Growing up in the Midwest gave him plenty of exposure to the domestic car scene and helped him form a less-than-positive opinion of the potential of import cars. The move to Hawaii, however, immersed him in the Asian culture, where his appreciation of cars and the scene from across the Pacific started to grow. He began to learn as much as he could about the culture, even learning Japanese.
After finishing school, Nico joined the Navy because he knew it would help him see the world. With his growing interest in Japanese culture, his first choice of duty stations was Japan, and luckily he took up shop just 30 minutes by train from Yokohama. His passion for the cars and culture were about to hit the next level.
For those who don’t know, the Daikoku Parking Area by the Yokohama Bay Bridge is home to some of the most impressive car meets in Japan. Everything from wild Bosozuko cars to huge gatherings of RX-7s on the seventh of July every year (7/7 day, get it?) occurs at the parking area at the bridge. Nico was amazed by what he saw. No two cars were the same, and the attention to detail was stellar. He also began to notice that even though there were occasional language barriers, the overall passion for the cars was impressive, and there was a positive camaraderie among the groups. He started making connections and planted the seeds of relationships that would last a lifetime.
As he prepared to move back to the United States, he was determined to start his own project where he could express himself. The first platform he picked up after he returned to Hawaii was a 2001 Dodge Stratus, which was actually made by Mitsubishi. He basically left no bolt unturned and became very interested in the show culture. Back on the mainland, Denver to be exact, he even went so far as to buy a truck and trailer so that he wouldn’t be limited in where he could show his car, even winning his class at the huge NOPI Nationals several times. Nico was also becoming heavily involved in the online communities where he could collaborate with other owners and like-minded enthusiasts.
While his Stratus was essentially a show-only car, he picked up a 2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe with a 6-speed and Brembo brake package for daily driving duties. Since the R34 Skyline GT-R had been replaced by the G35 (still badged as a Skyline in Japan) and no GT-R version was on the horizon, he knew this was as close as he could get to owning a Skyline in the U.S. at the time. He wouldn’t forget that desire for GT-R ownership, though.
He originally wanted a nice, reliable daily driver, but soon he knew that he could do this and that to the G35, and eventually the car began to take on a life of its own. At the same time he was starting to tinker with the G35, prototypes and concepts of the next-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R began to surface online. He now had a goal in mind: build his own interpretation of a GT-R.
Because of the concurrent launch of the Nissan 350Z (which shared underpinnings with the Infiniti), most of the aftermarket attention was paid to the Z, and not too many enthusiasts were performing any crazy builds with the G35. Though he was blazing his own trail, he again was able to turn to Japan and Internet forums for inspiration, specifically Smokey Nagata of Top Secret tuning fame, who had put together an impressive G35/Skyline widebody build with an 800 horsepower twin-turbo V8.
Although he didn’t drop in a V-8 as Smokey did, his twin-turbo engine build is nothing short of impressive. With a Greddy 20G turbo kit as the basis of the build, he turned to Forged Performance in Atlanta to strip down the block and build it back strong enough to withstand GT-R-like levels of power. After employing components from the best names in the business (Arias, Eagle, Cosworth, Stillen), Nico’s G35 was putting down a staggering 616 horsepower and 597 lb-ft of torque on 91 octane pump gas.
He also paid careful attention to the suspension and brakes, an area not to skimp on when you’re putting down that much power. A StopTech big brake kit with 6-piston calipers up front and 4-pots in the rear bear the responsibility of reining in the power, while a set of TEIN Flex coilovers and Hotchkis sway bars help keep the G35 planted in the turns. Massive 20x9.5 and 20x12-inch DPE SP10s shod with Continental Extreme tires serve street duty, and a set of HRE C90s with race-ready Toyo R888s see duty on the track.
Nico is especially proud of the way the interior turned out and how everything looks completely stock. He swapped in a JDM Skyline console, which gave him the double-DIN capability, JDM Nissan steering wheel, and JDM Skyline kick plates—details that may go completely overlooked but help keep the interior clean and form part of his vision.
The clean theme continues as he cleverly mounted an HKS Camp2 gauge in the pop-up navigation screen, and his air/fuel and boost gauges hide in the stock navigation ROM driver location. When he doesn’t need them, it looks like a factory-clean ride on the inside. When it’s "go-time,” he has all the information he needs right along the dash.
On the outside, Nico didn’t want to take away from what Nissan had already developed with the G35—a really cool, eye-catching design. He wanted to complement the factory lines, so he picked pieces that simply accented the original design. While the hood may be carbon fiber and vented to help keep engine bay temps down, it is still painted to match the factory color and blends in nicely. Subtle 10mm wide front and 50mm wide rear fender flares also blend into the G35’s lines and are almost hard to pick up on at first glance, but they are needed to contain the massive DPEs.
There is another side to Nico’s story that we have touched on a bit, but to us it’s almost more important that just owning the car. Nico has been fortunate to travel all over the world, and he always had a knack for networking wherever he was located. He would search for the people he knew through Internet forums and work to put a name to a face, something that was very important to him.
His ability to network and connect paid off in 2005 during the cross-country "AKA Rally,” where he met "NSX Alex,” who introduced him to the International AllStars, a company originating from a group of NSX owners who found they could earn parts or payment for allowing companies to use their vehicles to promote and market parts and products. This became a marketing company that received contracts from various automotive companies that would give them parts and money to market their work.
This opportunity allowed Nico to become familiar with the business side of things and capitalize on his ability while also giving him broader access to the scene. Currently, he is the Entertainment Director of the International AllStars and really enjoys his work because he likes being part of something bigger than himself. It’s hard not to be a bit envious of someone doing what they love!
To put a wrap on this story, we really think Nico hit the nail on the head with a simple comment, "Once you get together, you start to stop caring about the car and more about the people.” We couldn’t agree more. That is truly what it is about.
Oh, and Nico finally got that R35 GT-R. Not surprisingly, he still prefers to take the G35 to meets since it represents a unique expression of his individuality. We’re sure it’s just a matter of time until the same thing happens with his GT-R. The cycle begins again!
Build at a Glance
Greddy 20G twin-turbo kit
Arias Zero Silicon AL EXTREME Duty Piston set 9.0:1
Eagle Forged H Beam Rod set w/ ARP rod bolts
Cosworth Rod Bearing Set-Tri Metal
Cosworth Main Bearing Set-Tri Metal
Cosworth Thrust Bearings
Forged Performance short block machining, blueprint, and assembly
ARP Extreme Duty Head Stud Kit
6 NGK-Two Steps Colder Iridium
Rear Main Seal Retainer Assembly
Walbro Fuel Pump 255lph
Greddy Turbo Racing Ti-C exhaust
HKS Super SQV3 blowoff valve
Polished Cosworth w/Carbon Intake Manifold Plenum
Intake Manifold Spacer Kit
Stillen Oil Cooler
Greddy Oil Line
AAM Oil Pan Spacer
Koyo Radiator 52mm R Series
Exedy custom twin-plate cerametallic clutch
Installation and tuning performed by Forged Performance (Atlanta, GA)
Current numbers: 616hp/597tq on 91 octane pump gas
Street: DPE SP10 Design, 20x9.5 +19, 20x12 -6; Continental Extreme 275/30, 325/25
Track: HRE C90 18x10.5, 18x12; Toyo R888 305/35, 325/30
StopTech Big Brake Kit:
Front: 6-piston Front Caliper, Red, Front Racing Pads, 355x32 Front Rotor w/ Zinc Coating
Rear: 4-piston Rear Caliper, Red, Rear Pad Shape D609, 355x32 Rear Rotor w/ Zinc Coating
TEIN Flex Coilovers
Hotchkis Sway Bar Set
ARC front Strut Bar
Adjustable toe and camber arms from Emotion Garage
Seibon carbon fiber fenders (10mm wider)
Carbon Creations/Extreme Dimensions CF hood
C-Sport front bumper
APR widebody rear fenders and bumper (modified)
Kenstyle side skirts (modified)
CF "duckbill” trunk
OEM Diamond Graphite paint
Installation and customization performed by D&I Body Shop (Atlanta, GA)
Nismo short-throw shift knob
JDM Nissan steering wheel
JDM Double-Din dash
JDM Skyline kick plates
Pioneer AVIC-X920BT 6.1-Inch In-Dash Double-Din Navigation A/V Receiver
Hybrid Audio Imagine 6.5" component/convertible speakers up front
Hybrid Imagine 6x9 in rear
2 ARC XXD 5080 amps and 2 ARC 10" subs in custom "stealth” trunk enclosure
HKS Camp2 for gauge display on factory pop-up navigation screen
Air/Fuel gauge and boost controller gauges hidden in stock navigation ROM driver location
All stock wiring upgraded and sound deadening applied throughout the doors, rear deck, backseat, and trunk
Birchwood and fiberglass were used in the construction of the sub/amp enclosure vice MDF to save some unnecessary weight
Fabrication and installation performed by Audition Audio & Electronics (formerly American Radio of Cumming, GA)
Audition Audio & Electronics (formerly American Radio of Cumming, GA)
D&I Body Shop (Atlanta, GA)
Carbon Creations/Extreme Dimensions
Bodykits Etc. (bodykits.org)