Reviving Legends: Inside the World’s #1 Nissan GT-R Restoration Shop | Capturing Car Culture

Reading Time: 9 minutes
Posted: 2023-11-18 13:00:14
Author: Hagerty
Join Larry Chen as he reveals the magic behind Garage Yoshida, the world’s leading Nissan GT-R restoration shop. Witness scrap metal morph into automotive masterpieces, highlighting the passion and precision that solidify Garage Yoshida as the #1 GT-R restoration destination in the world.

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Hagerty Video Transcript

You it’s no secret that in the past few years the R32 33 and 34 have skyrocketed in price and popularity among enthusiasts and car collectors at the same time I kept hearing the name garage yida apparently people ship their Trio of rassis vehicles from all of the world back to

Japan just to have Mr yida put his hands on their cars in fact the majority of cars at garage isida now are vehicles that are from International customers including the very anticipated built by Legends R34 we featured a few incredible cars from built by Legend on the Hagerty

Channel including the r33 that sold for half a million dollar in that previous episode we showed how mines can push the limit to what an r33 street car can be but they only provided the powertrain and a few Arrow bits the rest of it was built by garage

Yida I knew I needed to pay a visit to where these skylines were being built so I drove my Bayside blue R34 GT TR all the way from Tokyo to Osaka to pay a visit to what may be the best Skyline restoration shop in the World unfortunately along the way being a 25-year-old car I had many issues it was middle of summer and my air conditioning went out and of course one of my coilovers completely blew out and lost all its fluid it got to the point where it was dangerous to

Drive lucky for me yoshid desan had an extra set of used HKS coilovers that he took off another car he was restoring yeah it was from a a customer car that came in to change all the suspension and the bushings and the customer just didn’t didn’t want the the old one so

Them here recycle my friend Masa from built by Legends came to help me translate because Mr yida speaks very little English when I first laid eyes on this place I was expecting something like the Nismo Omari Factory or Bruce canepa’s incredible facility it turned out to be a very

Traditional Japanese and humble Mom and Pop shop that happens to build the best Concourse level skylines in the world only four people work here including Mr yoshida’s wife because Yoshida son wants to be Hands-On with his builds while keeping the quality quality as high as possible

He told me in his lifetime from this very point forward he can only build 100 more cars and that’s the Legacy he’s going to leave for the car culture world this is really eye openening to me and for whatever reason this way of thinking is something I’ve never come

Across before you look at individuals like Nikon who has a backlog of over 200 cars to build Currently and I’m assuming if you ask any other builders whether it be roof in Germany or FJ company in Colombia if you ask them the same question they probably wouldn’t be able to put a number to how many cars they can build in their lifetime maybe it’s a Japanese realistic

Methodical and efficient way of thinking but maybe it’s just Mr yasan yidan is 43 years old he grew up when the trio of skylines became legendary status this all started with a passion and love for these specific cars because as a kid he dreamed of owning a

GTR finally when he was of age and he was able to scrape up enough money to buy R32 GTR it was a rusty pile of crap that is when the love for tinkering and fixing started he has been solely focused on restoring skylines for 14 years now

Which means he was messing with them before the prices exploded I don’t think yosida son would have ever thought he would be pumping out half million doll cars one after the other this is the mpec nner that came in as a full restoration of the body but now that the customer actually saw

This car and he was really happy with how the chassis and the body was already so clean MH he’s thinking about doing the engine and drivetrain or suspension as well just like a BBL car so that’s why uh the process stopped because uh yoshid dasan is still in discussion with the

Customer tell me about all of these pieces did he restore these yeah these are all the parts that’s come off or being replaced and they all been powder coated mhm all the braces all the brackets the suspension arm the subframe all these parts it’s sand blasted of course to

Clean up each part and then he powder coats I’m assuming that he tries to save as many of the stock Parts as possible mhm or is he trying to use as many new parts as possible it depends on each vehicle once he takes the parts off if

The rust or the damage or is extensive the part can’t be reused he will replace them but if the parts after cleaning them up is usable still he will reuse the original parts that came with the car so then what we’re looking at here essentially is a as close to New R3

Before chassis pretty much close to a new car but this car didn’t go through the anti- rust treatment that the R32 chassis went through so a full restoration might include the anti-rust coating once the chassis is repaired it submerged in an electrolysis bath to remove any rust then dipped in OEM anti-rust coating

Twice then him and his team will take measurements of the chassis to see if it’s perfectly straight if it isn’t he has a custom jig to strain it back to OEM spec with the exact measurements heeded from Nissan his attention to detail ensures the chassis is more precise than it was

Off the factory line to his knowledge yidan is the only R chassis restorer that uses this OEM anti-rust dip and frame straightening process outside of Nissan in fact he started doing this before Nissan started their program a few years back because at the time Nissan didn’t see the value in restoring these cars

Yet the challenge with restoring these vehicles now is that it’s very hard to come by Parts even though they’ve gained in popularity and value over the years he has taken it upon himself to create his own stamped body panels and chassis parts that have better Stitch welds and better weather ceiling than

OEM so this is a a garage oida original part that he produced so these are made in Japan these are made in Japan yes and part of it is because it’s basically impossible to get these brand new anymore huh you can’t and also this part

In particular for the r33 and the 34 is where the rust accumulates because in in a production car the seals are not done uh completely and as you saw the one that came off the car it gets rusted underneath so he always wanted to have a replacement part and he produced it last

Year is this so this is a a side seal for the R32 this is a stock part that came out of uh Nissan oh but it’s no longer available from Nissan so what he’s using it for is he’s already scanned the product he’s already taken the measurements and now he’s

Developing the part with a manufacturer and this is a high strength steel the material being used for these parts or the side seal are actually stronger than the original part so these are all parts that he’s developing for the future because these parts are becoming hard to come by or they’ve already stopped

Production I don’t know what it is with Japanese manufacturers maybe it’s an efficiency thing but most Parts manufacturers including Nissan only make enough restoration parts to fulfill pre-orders they don’t just make Parts willy-nilly hoping to sell them in the future when yosida has the chance to place an

Order on these parts he does and when he has a chance to stock up on things like glass or rubber or anything else he does that also hey if you like what you’re watching do me a favor go check out the Hagerty Drivers Club 24/7 roadside assistance with flatbed towing

Subscription to our award-winning magazine and more sign up today links right down here in the description you want to talk about something impressive that’s one of the things that’s the most impressive to me is all that glass just sitting there he has the career quarter windows

For the 32 33 34 a few dozen each and also the the small boxes that you see on the Shelf is also the the molding so while his skills in terms of the actual restoration and metal work is very impressive it seems like he has the

Foresight to get all the parts that he needs in advance as many as he can have that’s kind of a big part of it so he figures that in his lifetime he should be able to maybe restore a 100 more cars maybe so he’s hoping that uh he has

Enough Parts if you want to be one of those 100 cars you better get in line cuz it’s going to be filled very quickly we sat down for lunch and yisan casually showed me some swatches for the R34 Bayside blue GTR according to him there’s two different shades of Base

Blue one used to paint the bumpers and side skirts one used to paint metal his theory is that there were two different shades because depending on the material it was painted on Nissan expected them to fade at different rates what he’s come up with to remedy

That is his own paint mix that’s the average of two with modern materials this paint will lasts another lifetime on a restoration this is the level of detail he goes into for every single car he touches the cars that he restores can start off as something that is nearly

Perfect which begs the question why even restore it or it could be as bad as something like this R3 2 chassis that he had in his shop it was in a massive wreck and even the SE pillar was crumpled from a frontend impact but it has so much sentimental

Value to the owner as he thinks this particular R32 actually saved his life which technically it did he wants to honor it by restoring it back to its former glory how is this possible this looks like crumpled up newspaper look at this so he’s already scanned brand new

Parts the parts that he needs so if he can’t find new parts he will probably make them from scratch even like this like there’s a fold here or like is that why this had to be cut out cuz all of this folded in he actually needed to pull this part

Straight so when he was doing it if this was connected he would actually pull the the roof and other parts as well so he wanted to cut it this is going to be some project how long do you think it’s going to take two years do you have an estimate in terms

Of cost um no he doesn’t this is obviously not a business it’s more uh of his passion and also it’s a challenge for him to see if he can fix something like this Most cars have about 30,000 Parts the question is how do you get the ones that you can’t make yourself yisan is a bit of a hoer when it comes to saving everything even the rustiest parts from every single car that he comes across big or small because he is saving for the

Future think about it there are 100 cars waiting to be res sword this is such an early car yeah there well yeah it is look at that 805 yeah that’s so sad so no but although it is a parts car as long as he has the the chassis the caution plates

Once he’s able to reproduce all the panels that requires to build a car he can probably rebuild this car the thing is this is even a better condition than this chassis and also way better condition than the chassis downstairs I mean wouldn’t this be a better starting

Point so this Rusty oh really yeah more a lot of rust yeah was this a car that was driven up north where there’s salt oh this car was probably just left outside to the elements too long before it came here yeah I was looking around in the yard

And I saw so many of these vehicles returning back to the Earth what’s incredible to me is that all these will be restored but at one point these were destined for the scrapyard and it wasn’t worth saving but now they’re worth so much it’s worth putting in that time and effort to get

Each and every one of these back on the road I’ve already driven two fully stored BBL Vehicles the R32 and r33 and I was really looking forward to driving Mr ishida’s personal R32 that he used as a development vehicle for his full Factory Restorations this one in particular is

Fully built as a track car with nothing left untouched it’s making 650 horsepower and I was lucky enough to feel every bit of it N After seeing all this firsthand before I even left the shop I decided to ask him to restore my R3 4 GTR to its former glory because to me the R34 was never about how capable it was or its horsepower figures personally it was just about the aura surrounding the car and what it

Represented which was my legitimate childhood dream realized after 25 years of whining this car he accepted my offer and I’m so grateful to be one of the 100 left that he is restoring in his Lifetime