Behind every high revving 545-horsepower VR38DETT engine inside a Nissan GT-R is a master craftsman called a ‘takumi’. There are only four ‘takumi’ at Nissan’s Yokohama engine factory sanctioned to put their name badge on the Nissan GT-R.
Takumi Kurosawa, who incidentally shares the same name, leads the team of four composed of Izumi Shioya, Nobumitsu Gozu and Tsunemi Oyama. The artisans with over 100 years of combined factory experience carefully hand-make and test each high performance 3.8-liter twin-turbo VR38 engine, the Nissan brand’s pride and joy.
“By putting my name on the engine block, I strongly feel I represent Nissan and am regarded as a builder of GT-R engines,” says Kurosawa.
Kurosawa makes street engines as well as GT300 class racing engines used in Super GT race cars.
“If you just want to assemble GT-R engines, any skilled person can learn in three to four months, but GT-Rs are used for shopping or to drive at speeds of 320 km per hour on a racing circuit, so exact precision for each engine part is required,” adds Kurosawa.
Over 35 million engines have left the production line at the Yokohama factory in the Japanese automaker’s near eight decades of existence. The team members themselves have spent decades earning their role and responsibility. Despite the advances of automation, the ‘clean’ room at the Yokohama plant houses the hands-on assembly of some 374 engine parts to build a GT-R engine.
“We are constantly improving our quality. When GT-R production started in 2007, valve clearance adjustment was by machine, but now everything is by hand – measuring, tightening, measuring again. After manual checks and confirmation, only then do we deliver to our customers,” says Tsunemi Ohyama of his three decades at Nissan.
Each engine takes up to six hours to assemble, after which a takumi will affix their respectively nameplates on the engine block to certify quality and kansei. Afterwards, the V6 engine is subject to stringent testing on site to establish a bond between builder and own.
“Takumi are responsible not only for engine assembly but also judging part quality and guaranteeing precision. Each GT-R engine is hand-made by a single craftsman – that’s the difference from other engines,” added Kurosawa.
Nobumitsu Gozu, who owns a GT-R himself relates to the feeling of an owner to his/her car. “The GT-R owner has a special feeling towards their car, ” says Gozu.
“Although it’s an older model, I also own a GT-R, so I understand the feelings of GT-R customers, and we put our souls into each engine, hoping to deliver that excitement to customers,” adds Gozu.
In fact, GT-R owners have such unique feelings that sometimes they make requests like wanting to meet their engine builders themselves accord to Yokohama plant chief Nobuhiro Ozawa.
“We sometimes receive comments from GT-R owners such as ‘Who built this engine?’ Some even come to the Yokohama plant wishing to meet the actual engine-maker. When they met, he said, ‘Thank you for building my GT-R engine’,” says Ozawa.
Words and photos are not be enough to tell the story, so here’s a couple of videos from Nissan.