Feature

Stars, Stripes & Godzilla: Matt Haugen’s LS3 R34 Drift Car

By PJ Pitcher of Turbology

Welcome back once again DL faithful, to another spotlight of a rad car driven by a rad dude. This is not the first time you have seen Matt Haugen on our pages; we already brought some heat with a feature on his RB-swapped Laurel. Matt is well-known for his unwavering commitment to style both on and off the track, and this next platform is no exception. Is it possible to have a good-looking car that still performs reliably and consistently during competition? Undoubtedly a tall order, but keep reading.

As convoluted as it may seem, the R34 came to be because of Haugen’s former Hyundai Genesis pro car, its namesake becoming an ironic pun. Six color changes, five years, four engines and three transmissions later, Matt had enough of perpetually developing non-existent parts while simultaneously trying to remain competitive and acquire his Formula Drift license. He needed a unique chassis, but one that still had an abundance of off-the-shelf parts available from reputable manufacturers.


Given his affinity for all things JDM, an R34 was the perfect choice, but theory and practice are two different animals. Haugen originally sought out a GT-R model, but soon discovered that the front suspension and frame rails would have made it practically impossible to use any current suspension offerings on the market. Consequently, the decision was made to acquire a GT-S chassis, but Matt quickly learned that finding the rear-wheel drive variant in the US legally would not be easy.
After exhaustive searching and equally-burdensome paperwork, Matt had his R34 shell…but no heart. If your fingers are crossed for an RB love story, sorry to disappoint you. Yes, Matt is all about individual style, but he is also a competitive driver who wants to win, and a high-strung RB is simply not as practical, durable and easy to fix as a V8. This car is designed for competition at the highest American level, and safe money says you cannot pick up RB parts at your local parts store.


Lest anyone ring the ‘hater’ alarm, Haugen is quick to remind us that he owns two RB-powered vehicles, including his Laurel demo car. Matt on his motor choice: “Also I want to make one last point, V8s are f**king badass. My motor package in the Genesis right now sounds like no other LS out there. It is very different and absolutely screams. When it backfires people literally feel it in their chests in the stands. That stuff gets me pumped up! RBs scream but they don’t have that effect on the crowd.”


The next question, then, is what makes that motor in Matt’s Genesis so special? First and foremost, the 425 ci LS3 is designed and assembled by CBM Motorsports, one of the most widely-recognized and respected providers of competition-spec LS engines. It is force-fed by a Whipple 4.0-liter supercharger, a robust combination capable of 900 ft-lbs without breaking a sweat. Jam hits the toast via a G-Force 4-speed transmission and a Winters Quick Change rear differential.
All that go needs some serious show to match, and Haugen particularly loves planning the aero for his cars. The R34 will be treated to the complete URAS Type RR kit including front bumper, carbon front lip, front fenders, front over-fenders, side skirts, rear over-fenders, rear bumper, roof wing and a drag-style trunk wing. Rounding out the look will be a Seibon DS carbon hood, carbon fenders and carbon trunk. Needless to say, it will look as wild as it sounds!


For those of you rolling your eyes in disdain, put your judgment aside and give Matt props for his mission: building a competitive drift show car. Haugen believes too many drivers cut corners when it comes to style, and his goal is form and function, not one or the other. Authentic three-piece wheels and a real paint job are Matt’s norm rather than the exception. He even plans on bringing the R34 to car shows, to prove it looks just as good hard-parked as it does sideways at 90 mph.
The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts, and Matt is excited to once again be partnered with Haugen Racing, CBM Motorsports, Wilwood Brakes, ArrowLane and Street Standard. New relationships for this build include Fueled Racing, Feal Suspension, Voodoo13, Seibon Carbon and Mastermind North America. Haugen clearly understands the value of reciprocal partnerships, and he makes a point to express his gratitude for the opportunities.


Many of his partners have been by his side since day one, and Matt believes in supporting those who have supported him. Similarly, his new partners share the same motives and beliefs, so he is excited to introduce everyone and create a supportive team that can endure the journey as well as celebrate the victory together. As for next season, Haugen has not made any official announcements yet, with the exception of: “I’m not running pro-am anymore. I’m moving on to bigger better things…”


Keep up with the build on Matt’s blog www.haugenracing.com