Engine Swap Insanity: An AWD Nissan GTR With A Pro Line 481X!

The quest to become the quickest and fastest in racing has led to some creative engineering by racers to gain an advantage by any means necessary. Usually, that engineering involves stuffing an engine into a chassis that it really isn’t designed for from the factory, and that typically requires some out-of-the-box thinking. Sergey Savinov wanted to dominate drag racing in Russia, and with the help of Alexei Briginevich at Altechno Racing, he’s taken a Nissan GTR and crammed a Pro Line Racing 481X between the fenders in hopes of running well into the six-second zone.

Photos courtesy Sergey Savinov

The Nissan GTR already comes with a potent V6 engine that’s boosted by a pair of turbos. This all-wheel-drive monster, nicknamed “Godzilla”, has shown the ability to run in the high sixes, however that level of performance requires some hefty engine modifications. Savinov was already familiar with the limits of what the GTR could do in stock form, so he hooked up with Briginevich to find a way to go faster, and that required a driveline swap that nobody had ever attempted before.

“Savinov wanted to go faster, but the reliability of the standard GTR engine at the higher horsepower levels was a problem. After doing some research, we decided to look to the United States since there’s so much racing in the country to find a solution. The Pro Line 481X became the top choice because of the power it makes and the reliability it possesses. Pro Line was great to work with, and we even went to their shop for the dyno testing to get the MoTec set up,” Briginevich explains.

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All of this was done to compete in the Russian Drag Racing Circuit (RDRC) AWD class, since cars are separated by driveline as to what class they compete in. The fastest cars were found in the AWD class and that’s exactly where Savinov wanted to be, right among the most powerful of cars. However, during the build process the RDRC combined both the AWD and RWD cars, so Savinov now races with both driveline types to prove how fast his creation is.

Savinov’s GTR was built at Altechno Racing by Briginevich and his team. A full chassis was built to hold the 481X that’s backed by a Rossler Transmission three-speed unit. The suspension consists of Kinetic shocks and springs in the rear that are paired with a Mark Williams Enterprises floater-style housing. Up front, Intrax provided the shocks and springs that keep the front suspension planted and putting the power down. Altechno Racing also built the turbo kit that uses a set of Precision Turbo 98mm units and TurboSmart blow-off valves. A MoTec ECU system is used to control the engine, provide power management, and collect data.

According to Briginevich, getting everything to fit in the front of the GTR was a unique challenge with many problems they had to solve as the build progressed.

“It took a lot of work to get the engine to fit under the hood of the GTR. There isn’t that much room, so we had to do a lot of trial fittings to see how to lay things out. It took a lot of time, but we eventually got it figured out and placed everything in the most optimal locations. The other big challenge was building the headers and piping due to the space confines with the 481X. We had to get very creative to make them fit how we wanted so they would function properly.”

Another thing to keep in mind about this radical build is that it is still designed to function as an AWD machine. Finding a way to keep the car AWD was another hurdle that Briginevich needed to overcome, but he was able to pull some parts from an older generation Skyline to make it happen.

“The car is still AWD and uses parts from an older R32 Skyline since they are proven to handle bigger amounts of power. We already found the weak point when the car broke an intermediary shaft during a burnout that we thought could take the power. We talked with Frank at The Driveshaft Shop and he is working on making us some parts that can take the abuse from the 481X,” Briginevich says.

The ultimate goal for Savinov’s GTR is to run in the 6.50s when the car is sorted out. Currently, the team is still trying to figure out how to use all the big 481X power on tap, but has managed to run in the low eight-second zone in RWD mode only. When the new parts come in the plan is to travel to Bahrain and see what the GTR is capable of with all four wheels putting power to the ground.

This combination of Japanese, American, and Russian hot rodding that has been produced by Sergey Savinov and Alexei Briginevich demonstrates the kind of ingenuity that’s possible when you think . The idea of taking a large engine and shoving it into a car where it doesn’t belong, all in the name of going insanely fast is what makes drag racing a global sport that’s so cool, fun, and unique.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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