Unleashing The Dragon: Jimmy Tu's R35 GT-R

Unleashing The Dragon: Jimmy Tu's R35 GT-R

In the concrete jungles of the San Francisco Bay Area, where every turn of a corner reveals an automotive tale, Jimmy Tu's Nissan GT-R emerges as a builder’s magnum opus. Jimmy, now making his way as a full-time real estate investor, is no stranger to the symphony of Japanese steel and engineering. In fact, he’s been at this game of speed and style since 1998. Nearly two decades deep in the game, he decided it was time to make his mark - permanently.

As a disciple of Japan’s iconic Option 2 videos, and an avid reader of every tuner magazine he could get his hands on - PASMAG included - Tu's automotive journey is a tapestry woven with the threads of creativity and individuality. He’s been around long enough to watch the dominant styles shift in the sands of time. From crazy paint jobs and wild body kits or conversions, to the timeless and subtle influ- ence of the late ‘90s and early 2000s JDM scene, Tu has seen it all. His builds reflect his eclectic tastes over the years, and are a fusion of audacious custom work and subtle, rare Japanese-inspired details. It’s a rolling testament to his appreciation for all styling eras of the culture.


The GT-R, the undisputed monarch of the Japanese automotive world, was the natural canvas for Jimmy's latest vision. The twin-turbo AWD V6 platform has always stood out to him as a dream car. Once a seemingly unattainable vehicle, Tu began his latest build saga with the acquisition of a 2015 R35 GT-R in late 2020, as a blank canvas awaiting transformation. LTMW got the honor of first cuts to the GT-R, with the installation of the Rocket Bunny V1 widebody kit and an Air Lift Performance 3P air suspension system being among the first modifications Tu opted for. Unsatisfied with just aesthetic modifications to get the ball rolling, the car was then treated to SPE Engineering’s flex fuel page, Injector Dynamics injectors, Hellcat fuel pumps, HKS intakes, and downpipes before getting a quick tune for a little bump in power. Queue the snowball effect; more on that in a moment.

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Before he tipped the scales of modification to the radical end of the spectrum, the car was vinyl wrapped, and during that downtime Tu had Shawn from HBP Built fabricate a custom titanium exhaust system. The bespoke exhaust featured a full 4-inch center exit, and some of the coolest exhaust tips ever made - the Boost Logic F16 fighter-jet style titanium tips. The pivotal moment would occur when Jimmy crossed paths with Jesse at Worx Kustomz in Newark, CA. Together, they brainstormed and birthed a vision of a GT-R that defied convention.

A one-of-one design emerged, from a custom front bumper to GT3-inspired side skirts, a symphony of exclusivity. Daniel from Con10der crafted front splitters, canards, and a rear diffuser, adding the final strokes of bespoke artistry that would stay in place until the final iteration. Jesse and his team also spent some time on the interior, reupholstering every surface in genuine Bride fabric. Kevlar Bride Stradia II reclinable bucket seats cradle the R35’s oc- cupants, secured by Takata 4-point harnesses, and a custom 4-point roll cage from Studio RSR rounds out the interior transformation. Even the trunk exudes the same bespoke ethos, with Jesse's handcrafted subwoofer enclosure adorned with Bride fabric. The windows bear an eye-catching detail - a mark of Tu's vision - hand-etched with a design inspired by Horiyoshi III, making it a true one-off.


The ball was already rolling faster than Tu had expected, so he continued to leverage the experts in their respective fields to execute his vision. Finish Logic wielded their mastery to powdercoat the HKS intercooler piping, charge pipes, intakes, Ultra Racing strut bar, and Agency Power harness bar in a Flaming Candy Gold finish. Ed at Mobile Solutions brought a touch of futuristic technology with a custom T-Rex Tesla-type screen, merging the cutting edge of tech with JDM tuner sensibilities.

The wheels are three-piece Work Meister S1s, a wheel that Tu had always regarded as the pinnacle of Japanese wheels, uniquely tailored for the R35 platform by way of some suspension wizardry from Dan Chandra from ModsGarage21. The Meisters, with their outer lips etched in the same design as the windows, found their crowning glory with Baid Polish's Prismatic Universe finish and 24k gold hardware, before being wrapped with Toyo Proxes Sport tires. Stopping power is handled by Project Mu by way of SCR Pro rotors and Type PS pads.


Remember when we mentioned the snowball effect taking hold? Well it didn’t take long before the exciting nature of what Tu’s GT-R had become called for more jam. Ben Linney of Linney Tuning was in charge of fine- tuning the beast once HKS GT800 turbos, a GReddy Type 06 intercooler, supporting mods for the upgraded turbos, and a Shep Stage 2.5 transmission were in place. The end result was a potent 719 horsepower to all four wheels, with a transmission that could take the added abuse.

As a final crescendo to complete the R35’s total transformation from top to bottom, LOK's LCW Wraps cloaked the GT-R in a Madeira Red hue with a stunning vinyl wrap, a hue both bold and befitting of this one-of-one creation. In every contour, in every etch, Jimmy Tu's GT-R emerges as a singular opus, a testimony to the boundless possibilities that pulse within the heart of automotive artistry. This is not just a car; it is a statement, a symphony, and a legend in the making.

Photography by DJordanMedia (@djordanmedia), Raiden Galo (@raidvnn), Thomas Seabury (@twentythreenineteen)

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