Dai Yoshihara’s DAI33 Stands Out Amongst Top Tier JDM Hero Cars at T14 HQ

Photography: Mike Maravilla

  • What began as Dai Yoshihara’s mild street car build soon transformed into the ultimate 400R homage that debuted at SEMA 2022.
  • Dai’s car debuts GReddy’s all-new RB-spec 2.8-liter stroker engine and accompanying turbo that can accommodate 1,000+ horsepower goals with ease.
  • The DAI33’s visit to Turn 14 Distribution marks its first visit back to the East Coast since its transformation, allowing us to get a closer look at its incredible details.

Remember this: Dai Yoshihara’s R33 GT-R started as a daily driver project. If the result is any indication, it’s proof that the vast majority of automotive enthusiasts are bad about setting limits. While most see a daily driver as a functional method for getting from point A to B, car enthusiasts (like Dai) see another opportunity to improve upon how we get to any destination altogether.


You could argue that an R33 may not be the best car for school runs, given its part in JDM hero car lore. But strip away the GT-R moniker, and it is a simple, tried-and-true Japanese commuter. The AWD and useable horsepower output of the range-topping GT-R make the platform a truly versatile bit of kit that, especially now, won’t go down in value even if you pack on the miles. The value proposition is something that Dai would admit unabashedly; the R33’s middle-child anonymity was a blessing in sourcing and ultimately purchasing this cherry example from Top Rank Importers.


A celebratory track day in factory form revealed everything that Dai needed to know about the R33. It needed to be tightened all around — better brakes, suspension components, and interior updates to name a few — and, compared to other cars that Yoshihara has driven, it needed a bit more power, too.

The mod list started modestly, addressing the car’s response: a StopTech big brake kit, Ohlins Road & Track coilovers, SPL adjustable rear arms, Ikeya Formula front control arms, Whiteline sways, Driveshaft Shop axles/driveshaft, and GReddy chassis bracing that cleverly lived underneath the front fenders. Two pivotal upgrades — a set of custom-made Titan 7 T-07 wheels (nostalgic to the original R33 design) — and some 400R body bits instantly made the exterior bolder.

The initial drive after all of these modifications was transformative. It made Dai realize the car was already at a tipping point between his initial daily driver vision and something…more. The decision came swiftly, in part because the car’s current state meant the chassis was far better equipped to handle like Dai wanted, but also because it was freshly committed to debuting on the industry’s grand stage: SEMA.

The debut was serendipitous for what GReddy already had in the queue. The JDM hero company was brewing a new 2.8-liter crate motor and turbo program for RB-powered cars, one that would push the Skyline platform north of 1,000 horsepower with relative ease. Given its planned SEMA debut, Dai’s R33 was the perfect home for both components. Since the car’s output would nearly quadruple, an OS Giken OS-88 sequential six-speed transmission was also sourced to cope with the additional demand.


Despite the new performance threshold, the DAI33’s supporting mods were carefully selected to preserve its road-going intent. Underneath the car, a G-Sport GEN2 EPA-compliant catalytic converter (85200) kept the exhaust smell in check without compromising an ounce of output and Yokohama AD09 tires offered plenty of grip without a track-day tire’s harshness and noise. On the inside, reclinable Recaro Speed V seats, a Haltech digital dash, a GReddy steering wheel, and a modern audio system helped update the driver experience dramatically. All in all, the cumulative upgrade list achieved two things: 1.) it made the DAI33 feel like a car that was built 20 years later than its production date would suggest and 2.) it still delivered the analog driving experience that you simply cannot get from a modern equivalent.


The DAI33 was a major hit and, rightfully so, it attracted the attention of YouTube’s best, Larry Chen and Dustin Williams. The pair took turns talking to Dai about the car and his overall impressions of the build, but you could almost immediately tell that both chats were a means to an end: driving the DAI33 themselves. “I feel like this is the ultimate driver’s car. It’s a package you can find in an R35 GT-R, but you get the rawness of a Skyline…I need this,” said Dustin Williams. Larry’s sentiment wasn’t very different. “You don’t even need to go that fast and it already feels crazy. The sequential, the sound, the comfort…that’s what really puts this build over the top for me.”

But words only convey so much. The ear-to-ear grins and exuberant sounds that Dustin and Larry made when they were behind the wheel approaching the DAI33’s screaming redline said more than the testimonials themselves. And that’s what it’s all about. The DAI33 is, crucially, an emotionally driven car. Sure, it has plenty of big numbers to boast, but as Larry said, it isn’t just about speed. It’s about the way the car makes you feel. To that end, it’s no surprise to me that the DAI33 continues to inspire armfuls of enthusiasts almost every day. With factory specials like the Nismo 400R or new R35 GT-Rs pushing well above the six-figure mark, building your own version over time (utilizing the best of the aftermarket industry) is quickly becoming one of the only ways to get what you want.