What’s so special about RBs?

What’s so special about RBs?

Nissan’s RB engine has long been a favourite of tuners and car enthusiasts around the world.

But why? What makes this particular engine the favourite of so many?

The modern RB history story started with the launch of Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R in August of 1989.

After 16 years without a GT-R model, Nissan re-launched the Skyline GT-R as a showcase for, what was at the time, the pinnacle of performance technology.

The R32 GT-R featured a Multilink suspension system, HICAS all-wheel steering and  Nissans ATTESA all-wheel-drive system. But the clear highlight was the heart of the beast – the RB26DETT – a 2.6 litre turbocharged, inline 6 cylinder engine.

Off the showroom floor they made 276 horsepower with 260 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 mph took 5.6 seconds and they ran the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds.

The R32 race cars had great success in the FIA’s Group A series, both at home in Japan where the blue Calsonic-sponsored example has become a motoring icon, and in Australia the Aussie press nicknamed the fire-breathing monsters “Godzilla” when they dominated the local Ford and Holdens.

Next came the R33. It was first displayed at the 1993 Tokyo Motor Show, but its official launch wasn’t until January of 1995.

Still powered by the RB26DETT the R33 raced at Le Mans in the same year, finishing the gruelling event 10th overall and 5th in class.

The R33 has gained a strong and loyal following of its own, in particular the limited edition Nismo 400R variant, with 400hp on tap and a limited run of just 50 cars.

Next came the R34, which would turn out to be the last GT-R powered by the RB26DETT. While horsepower was officially rated at 280 bhp, it would appear the car was more powerful than the manufacturer advertised with some examples making closer to around 330hp.

The R34 made a formidable race car, with the Pennzoil Nismo GT-R winning the Japanese Grand Touring Championship in 1999.

The R34 clearly benefitted from the racing and testing done with the two previous generations of GTRs. It still had the same advertised power, but turbo lag was reduced, it made more torque, and had a new 6-speed manual transmission which replaced the earlier series 5-speed.

The body was also stiffer, the aerodynamics were improved, and several weight-saving measures were employed, including the use of a carbon fibre rear diffuser. The car was also shorter, as was the front overhang.

The R34 GT-R was also featured in several of the “Fast and Furious” movies, giving American car enthusiasts a taste for the unobtainable Japanese Godzilla.

The GT-R wasn’t the only model to be blessed with RB Power. Much of the Skyline range from the R31 to R34 in both coupe and four-door body shapes, whether RWD or AWD, also benefited from the RB engine, as did a lot of the not-so-well-known Nissans including the Stageas, Laurels, Cefiros, and even the odd Patrol.

Of course, we can’t talk about RBs without mentioning the Holden VL Commodore.

The VL was powered by Nissan’s single cam RB30, which in turbo form made 201 horsepower, giving it more grunt than the locally manufactured Holden V8s of the same era.

This made the VL turbo a favourite of both the Police highway patrol and car enthusiasts alike.

Should you get one?
The answer is most certainly yes! This is one of, if not THE most famous Japanese “Muscle” engine of all time. They look right at home in a wide range of Chassis like the Silvias and Skylines and especially in older Datsun bodies like 240z or 260z.

Which variant should you use?
It all depends on what you can get your hands on and what you are going to do with it. RB20, RB25, RB26 and RB30 are all good engines and all have that great RB sound!

There’s huge aftermarket support for the RB series and with most parts like cranks, rods, pistons, camshafts, stud kits and gaskets available off the shelf.

All you have to decide is whether you want one cam or two, one throttle or six, 2L, 2.5L, 2.6L or 3.0L and whether you wanna gear it towards a smaller street turbo or a giant dyno killing monster.

And that’s the real beauty of the RB – so many uses and so many choices really do make this one of the great ultimate all rounders.

Tuning Options
When it comes to RBs Haltech has been one of the first aftermarket ECU manufacturers to provide engine management solutions for these popular engines.

Haltech-powered RBs have been successful in various types of motorsport, from drag racing, drift and time attack and circuit racing.

If you’re after an ECU for your RB-powered vehicle you’ll have plenty to choose from. 
Use the guide below to choose the right Haltech ECU for your RB application.

Race Applications (custom wiring RB30/RB20DET/RB25DET/RB26DETT)

Elite 2500

Products available:  Universal Wire-in Kits, Terminated Engine Harness Kits.

Elite 2000

Products available:  Universal Wire-in Kits, Terminated Engine Harness Kits.  

Model-specific Plug’n’Play Solutions

Nissan R31 (RB30)

Products available: Terminated Engine Harnesses Kits.

Nissan R32 GTS-T (RB20DET)

Products available: Platinum Pro Plug-in ECUs and Elite Plug’n’Play Adaptor Kits.  

Nissan R32 GT-R (RB26DETT)

Products available: Platinum Pro Plug-in ECUs and Elite Plug’n’Play Adaptor Kits.  

Nissan R33 GTS-T (RB25DET)

Products available: Platinum Pro Plug-in ECUs and Elite Plug’n’Play Adaptor Kits.  

Nissan R33 GT-R (RB26DETT)

Products available: Platinum Pro Plug-in ECUs and Elite Plug’n’Play Adaptor Kits.

Nissan R34 GT-T (RB25DET)

Products available: Platinum Pro Plug-in ECUs and Elite Plug’n’Play Adaptor Kits.

Nissan R34 GT-R (RB26DETT)

Products available: Platinum Pro Plug-in ECUs and Elite Plug’n’Play Adaptor Kits.


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