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Behind Closed Doors At Garage Active – Speedhunters



main office and customer workshop. Today, I’m going to take you on a tour of the company’s operating theatre, where cars go under the knife and re-emerge as wide-bodied and highly-tuned versions of their former selves. This is where Sakamoto-san builds his ‘Active Full Dry Carbon-R’ cars and every other incredible vehicle he puts his name to.

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When I arrived, Sakamoto-san’s new R33 Skyline GT-R was being prepped for its debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon. I asked if I’d be able to shoot it for a feature the next morning, but the guys still needed to finish off some paint correction on its glass-flaked pearl white exterior. That’s OK, I was looking for an excuse to fly back to Fukuoka anyway…

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I was really keen to see how Garage Active’s carbon fibre parts are made, especially the mould-making process. Unfortunately for me though, production and demand has outgrown Sakamoto-san’s small team, so the composite work is now outsourced to a company in Shizuoka.

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Still, Sakamoto-san was proud to show me the workmanship of their bonnets, with the undersides just as beautiful as the tops. They really are handcrafted pieces of automotive art.

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There are two main transformations that each GT-R ‘complete car’ build goes through – mechanical and physical.

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The latter is why you can see so many Skyline GT-R skins adorning the walls like pelts of slain beasts.

Garage Active wide-body kits are more like brand new outer shells than simple bolt-on overfenders. For their standard kit, this means removal of the entire rear quarter panels and front fenders; for their full carbon kit it extends to removing every single exterior piece of sheet metal.

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While the cars are under the knife, many are seam-welded and have their chassis realigned on the jig above. Garage Active build all their custom roll cages and exhaust systems here too.

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I had to ask what the R35 shell was for, and Sakamoto-san’s reply was “that’s secret.” Something to look forward to, for sure.

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Customer cars are also brought over here from the main shop for paint work. This silver R35 was in for a Rocket Bunny kit.

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At this point we had been shooting all afternoon and it was getting late, but there was still one more stop to make.

GT-R Disneyland

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This is Sakamoto-san’s personal collection of GT-Rs. I can’t imagine how many times the value of these cars would have doubled over his years of ownership, but it’s probably best not to think about that.

“Welcome to GT-R Disneyland,” he said with a laugh.

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I’ll let you have a look around before we get to a really spicy machine in the back…

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Almost there…

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And here she is – an R32 GT-R with Garage Active’s ‘Full Dry Carbon-R’ conversion. I say ‘conversion’ because it’s not really a kit – every exterior panel has been replaced with a blue-tinted carbon fibre equivalent.

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These days, the philosophy at Garage Active is more about making well-rounded and comfortably-fast GT-Rs, but considering Sakamoto-san’s drag racing roots, it isn’t surprising to see that he’s got some big-power cars in his collection, and this one makes over 800hp. Considering the full carbon fibre body, it’s still a bit on the porky side, weighing in at 1,300kg, only 100-odd-kg lighter than a stock BNR32. The full welded roll cage and air suspension system adds a bit of the heft, so it’s lucky the engine is making almost triple the car’s stock power.

It seems weird to say it, but this isn’t the car I was at Garage Active to see.

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This is what I came for. Or at least to Sakamoto-san’s amusement, I thought it was…

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_
tobythyer.co.uk

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