There is no other engine platform that has undergone as much development at Club DSPORT as the Nissan RB26DETT.
We’ve taken this performance icon to over 500 wheel horsepower per liter building street/drag examples that produce over 1,300 horsepower from just 2.6 liters of displacement. The key to maximum performance and reliability is a complete understanding of the engine’s strengths and weaknesses.
Comparisons to Toyota’s 2JZ-GTE are often made with the RB26DETT. In comparing the blocks, the RB26DETT sports a much better foundation for the crankshaft featuring a full girdle design. The individual cap design of the 2JZ-GTE means that an aftermarket cap upgrade is usually in order when power is expected to eclipse the 800 wheel horsepower level. The RB26DETT also sports a unique cylinder spacing arrangement effective creating two three-cylinder engine in line with each other across and extended bridge in the middle. The extended bore spacing on the RB26DETT allows for better head gasket designs as more space is available for a variety of stopper designs. The RB26DETT block also features 12mm head bolts instead of the 11mm found on 2JZ-GTE engines.
Continuing the comparison to Toyota’s 2JZ-GTE, one can also identify the weaknesses of the RB26DETT. Compared to the 2JZ-GTE, cylinder wall thicknesses are thinner. As such, higher-horsepower builds on a factory block are best kept to the 86.5mm bore size, while 87.0mm bore builds are better suited for the upgraded N1 blocks which feature slightly thicker cylinder walls. As a short-stroke engine, the overall deck height of the RB26DETT is considerable shorter than a 2JZ engine. As such, popular stroker crankshafts usually only go up from 73.7mm to 77.7mm (some 79mm stroke offerings are also available but less popular). The 77.7mm stroker crank with an 87mm bore delivers 2.8-liters of displacement. On the 2JZ-GTE, stroker offerings allow one to explore dispacements up to 3.4 or 3.5-liter. Of course, this increased displacement comes at the expense of reducing the peak RPM of the engine due to increased piston velocities on the stroker 2JZ-GTE builds.
While R33 and R34 RB26DETT crankshafts seem to have no issues with power handling, early R32 crankshafts used a narrow oil pump drive collar that seems to exacerbate issues with the factory oil pumps (the weakest link of the engine). Any RB26DETT engine build should budget for an aftermarket oil pump upgrade and a move away from the early R32 crankshaft if present. Unfortunately, a quality RB26DETT oil pump is about a $1,500 investment.
Bigger is Better?
RB26DETT or RB28DETT (stroker)? The truth is that both engine combinations can produce nearly identical peak power. The advantage of the RB28DETT is that the power can be realized at a lower engine speed. If the performance combination (cams, turbo, etc.) realizes peak power at 8,000RPM on an RB26DETT, you’ll realize the same peak power at 7,600RPM on an RB28DETT build. If peak power comes at 10,000RPM on an RB26DETT, peak power with come at 9,500RPM on a like RB28DETT build. While peak power difference may not be enough to win you over, the torque band will generally start 600RPM or more sooner on the RB28DETT build versus an RB26DETT. If it can be fit into the budget, an RB28DETT build is worth the cost. However, the RB26DETT will not disappoint if the valvetrain upgrades can support the extra RPM needed to realize the power.