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Built By Legends R34 GT-R: A 659 bhp Restomod From the Land of the Rising Sun

Updated: Jun 27

Built By Legends R34 GT-R

Restoring and improving cars from our childhoods seems to be all the rage. The latest car to receive this treatment is the Nissan R34 GT-R. Aaron Stokes looks at what this restoration gets you. Images credited to

As we are moving further and further away from the era of cars that got many of us into this obsession, we want to try and capture this experience once more. The only downside is when compared to today’s offerings, we can be left somewhat underwhelmed. Whether this be from a lack of power, softer, less immediate handling or as good old turbo lag, as was common in the R34’s era.

Built By Legends co-founders, Masaharu Kuji and Katsu Takahashi, share the same sentiment. Their ambition is to ‘restore and recreate the Japanese tuner cars that have been permanently engraved in our memory’. As with everything in the rarified restomod world, this does come at a price, estimated at around £335,000 not including the required donor car, but Built By Legends can source that. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how much an R34 GT-R costs these days.

However, we have a sneaky feeling the price tag might just be worth it. That’s because of the ethos behind the Built By Legends name. Each restoration is the result of a collaboration between all of Japan’s most renowned tuners and master craftsmen to take every part the GT-R rolled out the factory with, and set out to perfect them, giving the Skyline its own Kanzai treatment. How does a handbuilt, 659 bhp RB26 by Mines grab your attention? 

Built By Legends R34 GT-R
Built By Legends R34 GT-R

Only it’s no longer an RB26, because such are the amount of changes, the engine is granted its own designation; MB7. The headline stat is 659 bhp coming from the MB7 engine found in the front of the R34. How has this been achieved? Well, Mine’s breathed upon the engine, increasing the redline to 8,000 rpm. The restored R34 still retains the 6-speed manual gearbox. This isn’t the only change that was made to the MB7, an upgraded ECU, overhaul to fuel pipes and air ducts. There are also parts borrowed from the R35 GT-R, this being the airflow injectors and metre.

As you’d expect for your £335,000,  you’ll get far more than an engine overhaul. You also get a complete chassis restoration. Built By Legends will blast the chassis to bare metal, then powder coat over 150 parts. But that merely scratches the surface. The chassis will also get a full wet blasting, dry ice treatment, anti-rust epoxy spray coat, a two component urethane coat, and full sealant before finally receiving a two-tone chassis paint in the colour of your choice. Not only that, Built By Legends also add an astonishing 150 extra weld spots to hugely increase the torsional rigidity of the chassis.

The suspension is also replaced, with an Aragosta suspension system, bushes and bearings from the donor car are thrown away and upgraded. The brake discs are also subjected to the same treatment, increasing the size and stopping power of the R34. You will get six-pot callipers at the front with 356 mm discs, at the rear you’ll get four-pot callipers with the same 356 mm discs.

Built By Legends also sprinkle carbon fibre across the exterior of the Skyline, across the front bumper and bonnet. It’s not just a case of it being for show, it does have purpose, in this instance helping to improve air flow around the front of the car. The rear diffuser and fins also get the carbon fibre treatment. 

Built By Legends R34 GT-R
Built By Legends R34 GT-R
Built By Legends R34 GT-R

The work that Built By Legends have done is different to that of other restomods we’ve seen in recent times, like the TWR Supercat. Instead of creating something new from the ground up, what’s been done here is take every single part of the Skyline and improve it to bring it inline to today's standards.

For that alone, I respect what Built By Legends have done with the R34. They haven’t removed the DNA of the Skyline, instead by going back through its family tree to improve the car. There’s no doubt you’d have spent hours tuning and refining your dream GT-R on Gran Turismo, well if you have the minimum of £335,000 and a R34 GT-R lying around you now have the chance to do it in real life. The only downside is it’ll take 12 months for the work to be complete, not the few seconds it takes on Gran Turismo. 

Question is, would you rather have the Built By Legends makeover, or send your R34 back to NISMO for their Clubman Race Spec (CRS) treatment at the Omori factory, where you can retrofit the unicorn Z-tune kit to your R34 to your exact specifications. Going through this program will allow you to cherry pick what you would like exactly on your R34, allowing you to create your ultimate version of the iconic GT-R.

Built By Legends R34 GT-R
Built By Legends R34 GT-R


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