If you, like me, were a kid of the 80s or 90s and grew up stuck in front of your television playing Gran Turismo since the beginning, chances are that this car needs no introduction. One of a handful of Mine’s tuned vehicles offered to players in the second iteration of Playstation’s flagship racer, the Mine’s R34 GT-R wasn’t the most powerful GT-R you could acquire in the game but it was one of the quickest and most balanced machines built into the game.
For me, Gran Turismo was my window into a vast library of automotive otaku goodness and it presented to me an escape into a world where age no longer mattered and allowed a teenager like me to drive cars I had until then, only through the pages of expensive imported Option magazines and extremely grainy videos downloaded overnight through dial-up connections. It was also because of Gran Turismo that I became acquainted with the vehicles from Mine’s.
What we have here today with us is Otto Mobile’s 1/18th recreation of Mine’s legendary R34 Skyline GT-R. But before we get started, a quick history lesson.
Started by Tsuzo Niikura in 1985. Mine’s is a tuning firm based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It was among the first Japanese companies to sell re-programmed ECU systems for popular Japanese sports cars back in the late 80s, a feat which gave rise to its local prominence. Today Mine’s expertise in automotive tuning range from injectors to complete engine builds.
While Mine’s currently makes software upgrades for hundreds of Japanese cars, but only makes hardware upgrades for a few select cars. With years of research behind each of their performance upgrades including exhaust systems, engine computers, camshafts, suspension parts, brake systems, and carbon fiber body panels. With a core focus solely on “Things that make a difference”, the cars from Mine’s have always concentrated on functionality, rather than appearance. Which was one of the reasons why I felt so drawn to them many years ago when all other tuners had gaudy bright graphics, Mine’s kept their cars looking rather clean.
While this R34 might have a rather clean and simple aesthetic, what went on under the panel of the actual 1/1 demo car was as far from simple as anyone can get. For those who’ve devoured countless old Best Motoring videos, you’d know that for this build, quick response and balance instead of big power was the name of the game and even when going up against heavier horse-powered rivals, the magnificent Mine’s machine reigned supreme on the tracks of Tsukuba.
Under the shut bonnet of the R34 lay and engine built on the internals of the extremely limited edition N1 version of the BNR34. While the Mine’s Spec 2 RB26 retained the stock 2.6L capacity, it had been extensively modified with the lightweight Tomei internals and finely balanced to very high tolerances. Increasing boost throttle response at all RPMs for immediate power. Porting and polishing of the intake and exhaust tracts further boosted response while the complete valvetrain had been upgraded to cope with high RPM usage since this engine revs well over 9,000 rpm depending on configuration.
That very special engine is of course, unfortunately not visible on our 1/18th due to the sealed nature of resin models, but there’s no stopping your imagination as we scale down back to this lovely model in front of us, and lovely indeed. This is in my opinion one of Otto’s best, not just in terms of subject matter but the actual build quality of the model is pretty impressive as well. For starters, just the weight of the model itself lends a good impression, it is a rather heavy model, especially for a resin, so do be careful when handling it and taking it out of its box.
All major details are all present, the BBS magnesium wheels, the Naca duct bonnet, the Carbon body parts, the blue steering and even the little body decals are all painstakingly recreated on what most of us would consider a “budget” model. Even the diff coolers are recreated.
There are of course a few areas which could do with improvement. The paint finish while being rather well done does come across as being slightly thick and the signature “Mine’s” decal has an obvious clear surround encircling the insignia, something I’m afraid might turn yellow with time.
The exhaust pipe which looks good from far but is far from good could have also been made better with a deeper opening or even some black paint on the inside of the pipes to better simulate the real deal.
For those wanting a comparison, the only other 1/18 Mine’s R34 is from Ignition Models with a price tag coming in at over twice (and close to three times) what I paid for the Otto car. Interestingly, the Ignition Models car runs a different set of wheels and has less decals than the Otto car. With IG’s rather crazy attention to detail when it comes to recreating their models, I highly doubt those differences were mistakes on their part, perhaps, they modelled their R34 on a different build year?
If it seems like I’m being nitpicky with a “budget” model, it is because I am. The truth is that while there are some drawbacks and areas where we can see money being saved, this model overall is one of my favourites from Otto, it is lovingly made, looks fantastic and for the money, once again represents great value.