For most people, the Nissan Skyline will forever be a car that you will either love it to it's core or you will never understand the hype. Pretty much a household name these days, the Skyline has always been something that tried to prove a point and most of the time, it actually did. From humble beginnings of a four-door sedan to possibly one of the most desirable JDMs out there, we'll go in depth on how the Skyline gained a cult following.
However, the R34 was the last Skyline to be given the GT-R moniker before Nissan splitting the Skyline and GT-R name entirely into separate models. The GT-R name now lives on the VR38DETT-powered R35 while the Skyline name is currently a rebadged Infiniti Q50 for the Japanese market. For a while, the Skyline name was actually made into a crossover variant. Oh god Nissan, why?
The Prince.Way before the Skyline gained the GT-R moniker, the Skyline started in life as a four-door sedan under Prince Motor Company. See, Prince Motor Company is one of those companies that was once an aerospace company during the war. However, they started making cars in 1946 with electric cars. However, in 1957, they created the first Skyline. Made to look like a 1950's Chevrolet, the Skyline was meant to be a luxury car. As time goes on, a new Skyline emerges just after 6 years since the first generation was introduced. This second generation was given a much more European styling cues that featured similar styles to BMW's 700. This Skyline was one of the most desired cars at the time in Japan. In 1965, they release a Skyline 2000GT to compete in racing, paving way to the sports car that lies ahead.
A Hako Was Born.In 1966, Prince Motor Company merged with Nissan. However, the Skyline and Gloria was the two models that was brought over to Nissan. Two years later, Nissan unveiled the C10 Skyline or more commonly known as the "Hakosuka". A 2000GT and 2000GT-X was made available until the arrival of the GT-R. Launched in 1969 as a four-door sedan, it was estimated that a total of 832 were produced. A year later, the KPGC10 (2-door) was then sold. It is claimed that there are 1197 in existance. The Hako received an inline-six 2.0L S20 engine producing a punchy 160hp with 180Nm of torque. However, the Hakosuka was never the official name by Nissan. Engineers called it the C10 while fans referred to it as Hakosuka (pronounced as Ha-ko-ska) due to it's boxy nature. "Hako" which translate to 'boxy' in Japanese while "suka", which is short for 'sukairain', the type of Japanese mountain road from which the car takes its name.
Ken and Mary's Skyline.Similar to it's predecessor, the Kenmeri too was never officially named that way. Actually called the C110, it actually means "Ken & Mary" due to a western couple named Ken and Mary, in a series of commercials that was made to promote the model. Despite having a boxy body that now resembles an American muscle car, the Kenmeri was the first Skyline to feature quad circular taillights. Aside from being powered by the same S20 inline-six from the Hako, it gained a few upgrades that the Hako didn't get. Among which are 4-wheel fully independent suspension. Also, the Kenmeri was the first Japanese car to receive disc brakes on all four corners. Although, the biggest difference between the Kenmeri and Hako was that the GT-R only came in a coupe body with no sedan or wagon in sight. Combined with the boxy body and circular tail lamps, it remained a signature design language of the Skyline. Despite the Skyline name lived on, the GT-R badge was dropped in 1973 with the Kenmeri just after 197 examples. The GT-R returned after a 16 year hiatus in 1989 with the Godzilla of a car, the R32 GT-R.
The Rise of the RB.If you think the R33 was one of the forgotten generations of the Skyline, surely you have forgotten about the R30 & R31 generation. Though these models never received to full-on GT-R treatment, they surely received their small share of the Skyline prowess. However, the R30 received a model called the 2000 RS Turbo which was powered by the FJ20ET while the R31 was the first Skyline to be fitted with an RB-engine. Particularly an RB20. Moreover, the top-of-the-line R31 GTS-R was a 210hp model, highest at the time featuring an RB20DET-R. As the R31 GTS-R was based on Group A race specifications, it was sold as a limited edition. A total of 800 units were sold and all of them were painted blue.
Feared among many, Godzilla.
The BNR32 was the third Skyline to grace the GT-R name after the Kenmeri. With a racing heritage that dates back to the late 60s, the GT-R already has multiple championship titles to it's name. However, the R32 practically dominated the racing scene in that era.
Despite having agreed upon a 280hp 'limit', the RB26DETT-kitted R32 were actually more powerful than what was said. Nissan entered 7 GT-Rs for the 1990 Japan Touring Car Championship and won every single race, causing other Japanese manufacturers to back out after a year. Over 29 races that the GT-R entered, it won all 29 races.
The GT-R also participated in Spa 24 Hours, which it also won. It won three Group A Championship titles between 1990 to 1992 as well as the Bathurst 1000 in 1991 and 1992. The Japan Touring Car Championship and Australian Touring Car Championship had to change the rule to make sure that the GT-R never raced again. It was so powerful, Wheels Australia gave it the nickname of "Godzilla".
Apart from the standard GT-R, Nissan did produce a V-Spec and V-Spec II for the BNR32. It featured a few updated parts with upgrades. Furthermore, Nismo also had some involvement as they produced 500 units of a revised version of the BNR32 with all of them painted in the Gun Grey Metallic.
Nicknamed, The Boat.
After the success of the BNR32 or "Godzilla", the Skyline was notorious for being a car that destroyed everything in it's path. Although the successor to the BNR32 received the famed RB26DETT and updated "Super-HICAS" system, the BCNR33 was somehow not as adored by the fans.
Firstly, the R33 received a larger body as compared to the R32. Gone were those boxy 80's vibes and replaced with smooth curves and a longer wheelbase. This gave the R33 a somewhat 'ugly duckling' reputation among it's Nissan siblings, in which it also gained the "boat" nickname. Also, the R33 GT-R too was the first Skyline to received the infamous Midnight Purple paintjob.
A common misconception of the R33 that it was heavy. Sure it was heavier that the R32 but the R34 was much heavier in comparison. The R33 was just more comfortable than the R32 which made it tend to understeer. Furthermore, the soft suspension and long wheelbase gave the illusion of a heavy car.
Despite not being that loved, Nissan did manage to produce the R33 GT-R until a Series 3 model. A V-Spec was also available with upgrades such as Brembo brakes. Nismo developed a model named '400R' as well as a model that celebrated their participation in Le Mans racing called the R33 GT-R LM which was painted in LM Blue.
The Last Of It's Kind, The R34.
Growing up in the 90's, the Skyline GT-R was THE car in the Gran Turismo racing games. By the time Gran Turismo 2 was out in 1999, it featured the all-new R34 GT-R. While the car gained a reputation in the games, it was in 2003 where the R34 was immortalized in the big screens as the car of choice for Brian O' Conner, played by the late Paul Walker.
Beyond the underdog appeal in video games and before being the pop culture icon as we now know, the Skyline GT-R has always been a car with a deep racing heritage. Despite having ditched the R33 curves for the boxy R32 lines, Nissan almost ditched the RB26DETT entirely for a brand new V6 in a front-mid-engined layout. Supposedly, the rumored new VR30DETT engine would have required Nissan to build a new assembly line for the engine.
Also, The R34 GT-R had the most amount of variants throughout it's lifespan. From the V-Spec, the V-Spec II, M-Spec, Nur Spec and the N1. Furthermore, the Midnight Purple II and Midnight Purple III were considered as a unique model of it's own. Beyond that, Nismo had dipped their hands in the R34 pool and produced the S-Tune, R-Tune, Z-Tune and Clubman Race Spec, all with special engines and tunes.
Written by | Danial MalekBrochure photos courtesy of GTR Registry