Turbo L98-powered R31 Nissan Skyline Silhouette at Drag Challenge 2022/23

Anthony Burns rebuilt the poor Borgy in his brutal R31 five times over DC

Photographers: Ellen Dewar, Shaun Tanner, Chris Thorogood

UPDATE, 8 February 2023: Anthony took on his first Drag Challenge with the new LS combo in the R31, and unfortunately, as he puts it: “It was the year of the broken diff!”

He hit problems with the R31 Borgy rear end on the first pass of his DC campaign, when his first attempt at a launch at Heathcote resulted in an unmistakable sound of diff gears going bye-bye. “It smashed the crown wheel pretty good on that one; there were five big chunks of teeth missing,” Anthony told us at the time.

Not willing to give in, he whipped the diff out of the R31 and got a lift with another competitor up the road to see Adam at ATS Automatics. They rebuilt the diff, got it back to Heathcote and slammed it back into the R31 before hitting the road to Portland.

“We were the last to leave, but luckily this thing will cruise at 1700rpm with the six-speed no worries, so we made really good time, and the economy is insane! Barely half a tank from Maryborough to Portland; it just cruises so well,” said Anthony.

Unfortunately, the tales of diff woe didn’t stop there for the R31. In short, the diff broke on the first pass at every track and Anthony rebuilt the shortened Borgy four times across the week, including a stop over at his Harcourt workshop on the way from Portland up to Mildura. After the fourth breakage in Mildura, he finally threw in the towel. “It got to the point where the pinion would just slide out of the housing when you tipped it upside down, so at that point I knew we were done for this one,” said Anthony.

Because of that, the only decent pass Anthony handed in was a 7.55 @102mph at Portland’s eighth-mile, but this isn’t the end for the R31. “I have a Mustang 8.8 rear end sitting there spare, so there’s a good chance that’ll make its way into the car,” he said.

For his efforts Anthony, was awarded the Hard Luck Award, and hopefully later this year he’ll bring the R31 back with a better arse-end and run some decent numbers.

The story to here

January 26, 2023: Victorian racer Anthony Burns is not afraid to stir the pot with his LS conversions, having successfully campaigned his aspirated wagon at a bunch of our Drag Challenge events.

The owner of Harcourt Auto Wreckers recently sold the dependable wagon as a roller, and now its motor has found its way into his 1987 Nissan Skyline R31 Silhouette – this time with a six-speed manual and GT42 hairdryer bolted to it.

Avid followers of Drag Challenge will know that this car was at our three-day DC Weekend event in Victoria in March 2022, but it nearly made its DC debut long before that.

“I got it as a grandpa car from Melbourne, with clearcoat peel but all original and [with a] factory manual,” says Anthony. “Not long before DC 2019, we found a turbo kit in Canberra for the RB30 for bugger-all, so we spent all weekend before the event bolting that on and had it ready the Sunday before sign-in day for that DC.”

Unfortunately, the R31 never made it to Calder Park that year. “We took it for a drive around the block and it melted a piston in the RB, so I jumped in the XD wagon the next day and did the event in that instead,” Anthony says.

Fast-forward to mid-2021 and Anthony decided to resurrect the Silhouette, this time with LS grunt. “I knew it’d annoy the Skyline purists, and it’s such an easy way to make good power,” he says. He had an LS1 and T56 spare from a crashed VY Commodore, so he decided to use those in lieu of the original RB30 and undertook what he says was a fairly easy swap.

“I had to massage the headers, but other than that, it fit pretty easily to be honest,” he says. The original BorgWarner diff these things come with from birth was shortened to fit the 15×8 VMS Racing wheels with 235 radials.

The car stayed aspirated with the LS1 and successfully completed Drag Challenge Weekend 2022 with no issues, running a best of 12.06 on PULP using standard LS engine management. “It had a bit of an issue with the tune where it’d bog a bit off the line, so the 60-foot wasn’t very good and I couldn’t get it any faster,” says Anthony.

The last-minute Drag Challenge bug bit again not long before what was meant to be DC 2022 in late October, as Anthony decided to throw the 6.0-litre L98 from his XD in the R31, this time with a turbo. “I’d always planned to turbo that 6.0-litre, and the LS1 that was in the R31 had a small crack and was leaking,” he says of the move to the L98. Anthony’s mate Daniel Barbary did the bulk of the work converting the L98 to turbo, using flipped cast 6.0-litre LS exhaust manifolds, custom piping, a relocation of the alternator and MegaSquirt MS3 wiring and ECU.

The boys got the conversion done and working just in time for DC ’22 in October, but unfortunately we had to postpone it to January ’23 due to gnarly weather. That’s given Anthony the time he needs to dial in the new combo, and so far he’s bloody loving it. “It’s what I always wanted when I was younger – a stupidly fast manual R31, which is why I kept it manual with the turbo conversion,” he says.

At the time of writing, Anthony hasn’t fully wound the car up on the dyno, but he isn’t really worried about horsepower numbers anyway. “On E85 it should be good for around 800hp, but all I really care about is how fast it is at the track,” he says. “Power figures are all well and good, but that’s pointless if you can’t put it down.”

Without a rollcage, Anthony’s ET limit is set in the mid-10s, which is where he’s aiming to put the R31 in Haltech Radial Blown at Drag Challenge in just a few day’s time.

  • Class: Haltech Radial Blown
  • Brand: 6.0L LS
  • ECU: MegaSquirt MS3
  • Turbo: GT42 style
  • Inlet: FAST EFI manifold
  • Heads: Standard rectangle-port
  • Camshaft: GM Motorsport
  • Internals: Standard
  • Ignition: MSD
  • Fuel system: Walbro 250 lift pump, Walbro 450 main pump
  • Cooling: Alloy radiator
  • Gearbox: T56
  • Clutch: Twin-plate organic
  • Diff: Shortened BorgWarner, 28-spline axles, 3.73:1 gears
  • Suspension: King Springs, Monroe shocks (f & r)
  • Brakes: Standard R31
  • Wheels: VMS Racing; 15×5 (f), 15×8 (r)
  • Tyres: Mickey Thompson 26×6.00R15 (f), M&H Racemaster 235/60R15 (r)
  • DRAG CHALLENGE PB: 12.06@117mph