Photography by Rick McDowell
Interview by Justin Fox
In what feels like an eternity ago I contacted Brendan Underwood after reading an article on "How to buy Godzilla" in SPEED magazine (RIP). The article featured Brendan’s immaculate R32 GT-R V-Spec. I hunted him down and asked him a billion and one questions about R32 GT-R's, bought some parts from him and over time we became mates over MSN. Silbeer, his latest project, started in 2004 and has won Auto Salon show awards, a feature in UK Banzai magazine and cover car of Fast Fours magazine.
Justin Fox: I’m pretty sure I remember reading an article in SPEED magazine and your GT-R was featured in it.
Brendan Underwood: Yep. Had my almost showroom condition R32 GT-R V-spec in there. I miss that car.
JF: That's the one. That was an inspiration to me, big time. What happened to the car?
BU: I was way overstretched financially on it so we had to sell it. It went to a good home in Melbourne where the owner did a few more choice Nismo branded modifications I believe.
JF: I do remember you buying another R32 GT-R not too long after. I remember it had ridiculous offset. Maybe the first GT-R I had ever seen in Australia (on SAU at least) to go so wide.
BU: When I sold it I had a nice Black Silvia lined up. I sourced it through C-Red where I purchased the V-spec. At the time we had a Camry wagon as well, great car, V6 with 17" rims to boot, somehow I got this crazy idea to sell the Camry and buy the Maroon R32 GT-R. It was a good price, but soon after getting it the bottom end let loose. When we opened it up, it had definitely been whipped bad.
My wife used the Black Silvia as her daily, and I borrowed my Dad's 180B SSS while we rebuilt the GT-R engine.
JF: Care to share what happened to this maroon GT-R?
BU: To cut a long story short, after rebuilding the engine a second time (!), sorting out the suspension with a Whiteline kit and dropping some killer-b's (Brembo's) into the mix, the day I finished getting it tuned was it's last day on earth. Being a little overzealous at the time I mounted a kerb and went under the low bow of a tree completely squashing the passenger side of the turret. RIP GT-R.
JF: that must have been painful, especially after all that work.
BU: It was. I was lucky my wife didn't castrate me. I think she saw it coming at some point. After that incident I really had to take a relook on my driving habits.
JF: So how long was it between the incident and the Silbeer project?
BU: About a month! I was already eyeing up the possibility of a Silvia build, because I really enjoyed the chuck-ability of my black one.
JF: Charles from Auto Salon would definitely classify you as being one of those dying breed of modifiers. With Silbeer you've gone all out but you never did that with the other cars. You also seemed to have time on your hands, from 2004-2009, that’s a long build! How do you explain the motivation behind a build such as Silbeer?
BU: Yes August 2004 to about November 2007. I'd probably have to blame myself being really anal-retentive. Everything needed to be just right, the usual drift treatment wasn't going to cut it for me, so I went the 'factory special' route, something Nismo or Autech might have done. I knew from the get go it needed to be clean and simple.
I think also at the time, I'd just got Foxtel and was watching a lot of Chip Foose and his Overhaulin show which had a big impact on how to do it right.
JF: I know, through our many online conversations over the years, that you’re a busy man. You’ve got how many kids now? You’ve changed jobs a couple of times too. I even read somewhere that your wife was driving the GT-R with the kids in the back! How have you managed to make this all work?
BU: Yep, I now have 3 kids and my wife is very understanding (I suppose that's an understatement). There was bribery involved at a couple of points in the build. Diamond rings, other assorted jewellery items.
JF: You also have a relationship with C-Red, what’s the situation there?
BU: Well I bought 3 cars off of them. Jeff Ash was the owner at the time and we have become very close friends. We collaborate on ideas all the time. I was also C-Red’s in-house designer, refreshing the C-Red brand and doing the website among other things in exchange for C-Red’s help on the build where necessary.
JF: I've not met Jeff but have had chats with him online, and seen pics of him in Japan at Tokyo Auto Salon many years ago. He's way into JDM culture. Did he perhaps influence you as well or were you already a JDM nut?
BU: For sure there was definitely some influence from Jeff, we have similar tastes, less is more.
JF: Amen to that. Any parting words Brendan? Silbeer: Where to from here?
BU: After a great day at the track up at Barbagallo, coming down into the final corner at 190km/h, the clutch went to the floor. Something had let go (it felt like the pivot release point, a weak point in the SR gearbox). Silbeer was trucked back to the workshop. If you read my blog earlier this year, a head replacement had been on the cards for sometime due to tuning problems on an over serviced head. The engine and gearbox are now out of the car.
As the head is going to be off I'm going to refresh the bottom end too. Currently I'm only running stock Z32 (VG30) pistons, so I'm almost at the decision to go for some forged pistons and have the bottom end blueprinted and race-prepped again, maybe some slightly higher compression pistons too to try and get back some of the renowned SR20 low-end torque.
When I popped the hood after the clutch broke, there was also an even coating of oil over the drivers side of the engine bay, we think the oil filter sandwich block seal may have failed, so I'll be putting on of Tomei's sandwich blocks on that bolts to the side of the block, rather than using the centre threaded bolt.
While on the track that day, temps on the short track were manageable, but on the long track where you're at WOT about 80% of the track the temps were getting a little hot. Even with the big radiator and oil cooler. This could be a number of things, but I'll start by fitting up a standard engine undertray as that could have an affect on the cooling system.
Once we've redone the engine it's really time to get it out there again. I've been a little slack on track time since completing it mainly due to the problems with tuning and the fact I couldn't wring its neck properly without it crapping out on each gear change. Looking forward to this next version for sure. Sillbeer v1.5?!
Follow Brendan’s amazing Silbeer blog: www.sillbeer.com
SUSPENSION & DRIVELINE:
- RG JTC'N1 Damper V-Stage Coilovers
- Nismo Rear Cradle (subframe) Bushes
- Kazama Pillow Ball Tension Rod
- Kazama (rear) S13 Arm Set (upper and lower arms)
- Kazama Super Strengthened Tie Rods
- Kazama Super Tie Rod Ends
- Nismo Power Brace
- Rear Lower Tie-Rod Brace
- Do-Luck 'Style' Front Ladder Brace
- URAS Floor Reinforcement Kit (extends LH chassis rail)
- Cusco OS Front and Rear Strut Tower Braces
- Cusco Rear OST Brace (triangulates to floor)
- Zenith Tuning Rear Boot Brace
- Whiteline Front and Rear Sway bars
- Front 5-stud Hub Conversion (Just Jap)
- Rear 5-stud Hub Conversion (R33 GT-R)
- R33 GT-R Brembo Brake Calipers front and rear
- R32 GT-R N1 Brake Master Cylinder (1" BM50)
- DBA4000 Brake Rotors front and rear
- Maltech Custom (ADR Approved) Brake Lines
- Wedsport TC 105N Lightweight Alloy Wheels (18x9.5+10F, 18x10.5+12R)
- Federal 595 RS Tyres (Front 235/40ZR18, Rear 265/35ZR18)
- OS Giken STR Twin-plate Clutch
- B&M Short-shift Kit
- Skyline GT-R Diff and Half Shafts
- Rebuilt with Z32 Pistons and Eagle Rods
- Head Service (head previously ported in Japan)
- GReddy Camshaft PRO - IN264deg/11.5mm EX264deg/11.5mm
- Tomei Type A Valve Springs
- Adjustable Cam gears
- Tomei RAS
- Tomei Metal head gasket
- Trust (GReddy) Sump (Genuine)
- Nissan SR20DET GTi-R Oil Pump
- Trust (GReddy) Oil Cooler Kit (thermostat incl.)
- Nismo 740cc Injectors
- Bosch Motorsport 044 Fuel Pump (in-tank)
- Tubular Manifold - we think it's HKS (ceramically coated)
- HKS GT-RS Turbocharger (turbine housing ceramically coated)
- HKS Dump Pipe (ceramically coated)
- HKS Front Pipe (ceramically coated)
- MetalCat Hi-flow Catalytic converter
- Dual N1 Cat-back Exhaust System
- Hybrid GT Intercooler Kit
- GReddy Surge Tank (Intake Plenum)
- K&N Filter
- Apexi Power FC + Commander ECU (for S15 plug)
- GReddy Oil/Air Seperator
- Nismo Engine Mounts
- Nismo Gearbox Mounts
- Lightweight Pulley Kit
- GFB Lightweight Crank Pulley (modified for GTi-R Oil Pump)
- GReddy Type-R BOV
- Hi Octane Racing Radiator Air Guide
- 1993 Nissan (S13) Silvia Shell
- Wise Sports Front (25mm) and Rear (50mm) Wide Body Guards
- Nissan Aero Kit (Nismo) Front Bar
- Nissan Aero Kit (Nismo) Side Skirts
- Nissan Aero Kit (Nismo) Rear Pods
- Painted in Mazda 'Velocity Red'
- Underbody painted PPC Chassiscoat 'Satin Black'
- Remove rear wing
- Remove rear badge
- East Bear Clear Front Indicators
- Ganador Mirrors
- Nissan Aero Kit (Nismo) Grill
- CA18 Boot Lock
- Nardi Deep Corn Leather Steering Wheel for Road
- Nardi Deep Corn Suede Steering Wheel for Track
- R34 GT-R Front Seats
- Re-trimmed S13 Rear Seats
- 60mm Defi-Link Meters (Oil Pressure, Oil Temp, Water Temp, Boost)
- Custom Dash Gauge Cluster (later)
- Alpine iDA-X001 Digital Media Receiver
- Alpine DLX-F177 DDLinear 6.5" Flagship Component 2-way
- Alpine SWX-1042D Type-X 10" Sub in removable Sub box
- Alpine PDX 1.1000 Mono and PDX 2.150 Digital Amplifiers
- Trust Shift Knob
- New plush pile mats
- Custom Spec B Badging
Always loved this car.
The attention to detail is something to be incredibly proud of!
Less is more,
I like that :)
it looks stunning now
I normally hate Silvia's, but this one is awesome!!! Love it to bits
this car is immaculate. You really need to see the undercarriage pics to see how much work went into it
Totally right, Anth. The issue of Fast Fours with this on the cover is probably the only issue I've ever bought. Everything that's been done to the car just enhances the original product, nothing tries to reinvent it.
what everyone says,
have been following the build for a while and am a massive fan of the work and hope to follow down your footsteps (albeit not as hardcore!)
The Spec B theme is great.
Makes it look super clean and gives an out of the factory feel.
looks like how it SHOULD have come out of the factory;)
Cleanest S13 i have ever seen.
One of my favourite S13's. I really like the 'factory style' of build quality. Amazing attention to detail.