Confessions of a petrol-head...
posted on - 19/07/2013 13:32
Tinnitus is not a lot of fun. I was relaxed in bed a few weeks ago when creeping in as if from the darkness surrounding me was a constant, high-pitch squeal of a ringing noise. Hmm, I thought, ringing ears; must be all those nightclubs as a teenager.
But, that was 15 years ago, why is it starting now? And so the brain began to whirr. I’d just finished a long drive in my new Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R, a car that I’d owned for a few weeks at this point.
Now, I’ve had a few ‘tuner cars’ before – cars that are modified for speed and performance – having been a writer for the famous Max Power tuning magazine back in the day, so I know what a loud car sounds like. I’d had plenty of them; generally Japanese, turbocharged and about as lairy as low-flying B52 bomber. But, thinking about this new Skyline with its wealth of tune up parts and one of the loudest exhausts I’ve ever heard, I put two and two together, and came up with exhaust-induced tinnitus. Great.
You see, the exhaust system on the GT-R – made by VeilSide in Japan; one of the finest and most famous Japanese tuning brands around – is a very high-quality, very rare, and very wide bore (3-inches all the way along to let the engine breathe) bit of lovely stainless steel kit, but at certain revs it resonates through the car’s cabin like someone’s left a giant angry bee in the boot!
And the worst part is that it’s at exactly 70mph and 3,000rpm in 5th gear that the rattle and hum is at its worst. Motorway cruising speed, basically.
I love to drive this car. It’s nearly 400bhp and has one of the smoothest, most torquey engines known to man under the aluminium (for lightness) bonnet. The legendary Nissan RB26DETT is six cylinders of pure silk. With two turbos to back up its 2.6-litre, straight-6 capacity, if you hit the throttle, the turbos spool, the growl turns to a huge howl, and the GT-R sets of like a scalded cat in a catapult!
It’s automotive soundtrack addiction of the very best kind, and every time I complain to myself about the cost of insuring the metallic Jaguar Racing Green – over Yanaka wide wheel arches - Skyline monster, and the cost of the high-octane fuel on which it must be run, I just open those turbo-taps and happiness is once again a car called ‘Skyline’.
But what about my ears? I’m not even 40 yet and I don’t fancy getting gradually deafer with every weekend blast in the Godzilla.
I have a couple of options, basically. I could get a new, full exhaust system. This would not be cheap – around £1,000 – as it would have to be some quality kit to handle the raging hot gases flowing down it, and to match the rest of the quality tuning parts that are on this car – a car that cost around £25,000 to build without the cost of the car itself.
I could also swap the back box, or tailpipe, for something less booming. This would involve cutting off the VeilSide 5-inch-span back box – that looks like a small dustbin! – and welding another box on there from another manufacturer. I have mates in the trade and it can be done. But, there is a problem with this sounds-like-easy fix.
Like any petrol-head that falls in love with his car, I’ve also gone and fallen in love with that thumping VeilSide exhaust. You see, they didn’t make many of them and my Skyline has quite a few hard to find Japanese aftermarket parts on it, and I want to keep the package complete. And, it’s only at 3,000rpm when the exhaust stabs at my eardrums, the rest of the time it’s a menacing burble that rises to a pedestrian-shaking roar as the revs thrust to the heady 8,000rpm redline.
And so, I’ve come to a decision. I’ve bought myself a pack of foam earplugs – the type you see motorcycle racers stuffing in their ears – and I’m going to pop these in every time I hit the motorway. That’s fair enough, isn’t it? Well, everyone I’ve told about this little deafening issue so far has looked at me like I’m a madman wearing a giant chicken suit. I guess that answers my question!
Posted by Craig Salter