Nissan GTR and Skyline
It's the twin turbo, all-wheel drive Titan from Japan that turned the world on its head!
It came had success, then, it did it again FIVE MORE TIMES.
I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again JDM-BEST might not exist without this car.
It wasn't available to most of us (people from USA) for decades, but it's an icon around the world.
As anything forbidden, specially if you grew up playing video games and seeing movies featuring a Nissan Skyline, it is a very appealing forbidden fruit.
At the end of the Second World War, the Japanese economy was totally exterminated and many industrial infrastructures had been destroyed. The company Prince, born from the ashes of the aircraft manufacturer Tachikawa, produced a small electric vehicle, the Tama, which remained popular among cabs until the early 1950's due to fuel shortages. During the second half of the 1950's, the Japanese began to gain access to car ownership with small cars like the Datsun 110 or the Subaru 360.
Shinichirō Sakurai, the iconic engineer behind the Skyline line, in 1953.
The first-generation Prince Skyline, a statutory sedan far larger than the standards of the time.
Unlike other carmakers, Prince set itself apart in 1957 with a large, relatively luxurious car, the Skyline. Designed largely by the young engineer Shinichirō Sakurai, it was originally equipped with a 1.5L engine, and later with a 1.9L engine.
A sporty coupe, derived from the sedan and designed by Italian Giovanni Michelotti made its appearance at the 1960 Turin Motor Show. Named Prince Skyline Sport, this 94 hp model could reach 150 km/h. It was raced in 1963 at the first Japanese Grand Prix, which took place on the brand new Suzuka circuit. Defeated in front of 200,000 spectators by the #39 Datsun Fairlady 1500 driven by Genichiro Tahara, the team led by Shinichirō Sakurai decided to completely overhaul its copy for the following year.
SKYLINE 2000 GT
Nissan Skyline GT-R debuted in 1969.
Born in Yokohama in 1929 Shinichirō Sakurai was the brainchild of Nissan and he was a man who expected the best from all of his teams.
Under his management new engineers had to them practice tracing lines all day long for weeks. His reason was that if a designer who was trained in technical drawings to not see the point of drawing simple lines and gave up, they should not be designing cars.
Shinichirō Sakurai was inspired by the formula 1 racers when he visited Europe.
He saw in person after getting back to Japan the Prince Motor Company put him in charge of building a racing car for the company this led to the GTRs predecessor : the Skyline 2000 GT.
Being a perfectionist he knew it could be better.
So the second generation of the Prince Skyline was launched in November 1963. Lighter by 300 kg, the S50 was much better equipped for racing than the previous generation. However, Sakurai wanted to go one step further by using the 2.0L inline six cylinder of the Prince Gloria instead of the 70hp four cylinder of the standard Skyline. To do this, the car was lengthened by 15 cm between the firewall and the front fenders, which also resulted in a longer wheelbase.
In order to enter the GT-II class at the Japanese Grand Prix, a minimum of 100 cars must be produced. Codenamed S54, the cars were not completed until two days before the race.
The GT-R myth was born at the 1964 Japanese Grand Prix, which took place at the Suzuka circuit. The manufacturer Prince entered a large number of Skyline 2000GTs. These cars were light and the power of their six cylinders overwhelmed the Japanese competition. However, a private driver entered a Porsche 904, which prevented them from claiming victory. They took the next 5 places and Prince decided to build a rear mid-engine sports car, the R380, whose engine would power the small Nissan sedan. The 2000 GT was then only slightly modified until the end of its production in 1968.
NISSAN SKYLINE GTR "HAKOSUKA"
So in 69 they dropped the GT-R, the GT-R was a handsome-looking 4-Door Sedan with a little secret.
Sakurai had taken a detuned 2 litre straight-six engine from the Prince R380 race car and stuffed it under the hood of the Skyline sedan.
The Prince R380 was sort of like Japan's version of the GT40 but instead of being designed to dominate Ferrari and Le Mans it was designed to beat Porsche in the Japan Grand Prix. It was a big deal for Nissan!
Imagine how big of a deal that was for Japan to put that winning engine in a production car. Keep in mind that sports sedans like this was unheard of at that time. Only the american muscle cars were available for this market
But those couldn't really go fast around the curves and the GT-R on the other hand... could. With a 160 HP and semi-trailing arm suspension the Skyline GT-R was a rocket on the track.
It earned it's nickname fast : Hakosuka. Jaco stands for boxy in Japanese and Sukkah stands for Skyline still in Japanese, Jaco Suka gave Hakosuka.
With so many wins right out the gate Sakurai San knew he found a winning formula : a little car with big engine... can't lose.
NISSAN SKYLINE GT-R COUPE "KEN MARY"
The 1971 GT-R coupe had a shorter wheelbase and was wider than the previous model and looked more aggressive too.
This GT-R coupe had wider tires and a rear spoiler. Undoubtedly this Nissan was a true sports car. Shinichirō overhauled the GT-R entirely in 1972 this time adopting some muscle car fastback style.
Following a marketing campaign featuring two kids named Mary and Ken, this GT-R got the nickname Ken Mary.
This GT-R was not available in 4-door form, just for everybody know the Skylines at the time were available with four doors.
Even though it looked like a muscle car designed by Americans of the 70's, the Ken Mary GT-R sure didn't drive like an american car. It was featured with rear and front disc brakes which was not mainstream for the time.
Unfortunately Nissan has only built 197 of these cars because of the 1973 gas crisis.
NISSAN SKYLINE R31
Then in 1984 Sakurai San had fallen ill and was unable to complete the design of the next generation Skyline he gave the assignment to the only man he trusts with the task : an engineer named Naganori Ito.
Ito San had been a student of Shinichirō for years and was ready to do his mentor proud the next skyline the R31 was slated for release in 1985.
Sakurai San was a legendary figure in the Japanese auto industry at this point, a man who was known to call the Skyline his alter ego. Think about the pressure Naganori felt when he had to complete the design of his Senpai while the named Senpai was in the hospital.
What was a young man to do? The R31 dropped in 85, but the fan base was not very pleased. Skyline diehards are a tough, they have very high expectations and this new car just didn't do it for them.
There wasn't even a GT-R model. This is not to say that there weren't sick R30 ones there was the GTS-R group a car and the freaking Skyline Turbo C... and many others.
Feeling that he had shamed himself and brought dishonor to his mentor Ito San went back to the drawing board and got working on a true successor to the cars that Sakurai thought had made a worldwide phenomenon.
The next GTR would be designed with two goals in mind :
- Conquer the JTCC (Japanese Touring Car Championship) Group A division.
- Take over the world.
NISSAN SKYLINE R32 GTR
The new engine would also be turbocharged but also had a larger stroke than the previous RB25.
They called it the RB26DETT !! Today it is one of the most desired engine on earth.
Naganori Ito and the team dreamed up a new body to tuck this new engine under the new and improved R32 GTR, it was a sporty car but also a understated looking new coupe. When they associated the new chassis and the new drivetrain together they realised that the new car was a new level of new good : they called it GREAT !
In 1989 the R32 GTR Racecar was entered into the JTCC Group A, the series it was designed to dominate.
So how did it go? Out of all 29 races the Nissan Skyline R32 had entered the R32 won every single one of them!
You know that blue Calsonic car from Grand Turismo 4 ? It actually won the 1990 and 1994 JTC Championship making it the most famous R32 race car ever. In 1990 the R32 ran and won the Nurburgring 24-hour race. It went to Spa and won there. It went to Macau and you guessed it it won there, too!
But the R32 's was to achieve even greatest victories. Gibson Motorsport was a private racing team based in Australia and specialized in Group A and Group C Nissans, in 1990 Gibson got their hands on a Nismo tuned R32 race car.
Unnecessary parts like the air conditioning anti-lock brakes and rear windshield wiper were taken off, homologation rules mandated that Nissan built 500 of these things for sale to the public. Gibson was used to building the rear wheel drive R31 Skyline and found that parts for the new all-wheel drive car would be way more expensive during the build process Gibson racked up a tab of over 1 million Dollars with Nissan and they couldn't afford to do that every season.
So Gibson decided they would just build missing parts themselves by the end of their run with the GT-R. A few years later only the body front and rear cross members and the engine block were built by Nissan and Gibson built everything else.
They also build the sickest guitars!
Why Nissan GTR is called Godzilla?
Gibson motorsport and the Nissan GT-R won the ATCC group a championship in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Victories after victories the car quickly got a nickname : they were titans from the Land of the Rising Sun who smashed anything in their path from, then on the GT-R would be known as Godzilla the GT-R achieved its last victory in Australia in the 1992 Toohey 1000 at Bathurst
After a controversial finish, the red Winfield Nissan Skyline R32 got a last podium. People were getting tired of seeing Nissan win all the time So for the 1993 season the ATCC changed its rules heavily favoring the V8 powered Fords.
Regardless Naganori Ito and his team and Gibson Motorsport had achieved
Nissan's goal of reclaiming the performance throne the R32 GT-R was a great car, no doubt.
THE NISSAN SKYLINE R33 GTR
But at this point in the story it shouldn't be a surprise that Nissan wanted the GT-R to be even better the GT-R team was now led by Kozo Watanabe.
There wasn't a better man for the job! Remember that Japanese Grand Prix back in the 60's? Well a young Kozo was the very one that witnessed that old Prince get defeated by the British and Italian race cars. It was literally his destiny to lead the GT-R team.
While testing the R33 Prototype at the Nurburgring, engineer and test driver HIroyoshi Kato welded brace bars underneath the car to harden the dang thing up. The bodywork was smoother looking and slippery in comparison to the R32 boxy shape.
The R33 wheelbase was four inches longer and an inch wider than the previous gen. It turned out that a longer wheelbase was definitely good : the R33 had more stability at high speeds, plus the redesigned aerodynamic reduced lift in the front end by nearly half.
The new GT-R had a redesigned all-wheel drive system that could better split the torque between all four wheels, which all but solved the understeer problem of the previous car.
The rear-wheel steering system was also upgraded with electric management, which could be quickly and accurately adjusted, not like the old hydraulic system. A lot of people think the R33 is a facelifted R32, but that's not the case.
The R33 went 20 seconds faster than the R32 when going around the Nurburgring, the final time was 7 minutes 59 seconds, a record for that type of car : it was actually the first sport coupe to go around that track in under 8 minutes.
There were tons of special edition of Nissan Skyline R33 GTRs. There was the very limited Midnight Purple edition, (some says it was named this way to honor the infamous Midnight Club street racing syndicate).
Then there was the Spec B, featuring a stiffer suspension setup, an active rear differential locking up on the acceleration phases and opening up when the throttle was down, making sharp turns easier.
Then there was the "Le Mans" or LM which had its all-wheel-drive system removed and a more powerful 400 horsepower engine. They only made three of these things two were race cars that competed in GT1 racing and one Road car which now lives in Nissan headquarters.
The next special Edition is the Nismo LM limited, and it was not the LM ! The LM limited was a celebration of Nissan entering the LM edition cars at Le Mans.
The LM limited was fitted with :
- Special blue paint.
- A carbon rear spoiler.
- Cooling ducts.
- Commemorative decals.
They also made some v-spec LM limited, and I'm officially getting dizzy, the coolest R33 of all was the GTR 400 R (R stands for Racing).
Instead of being powered by the RB26 like all the rest of the GTR's this special edition had a custom RB engine bored and stroked out to make 400 HP. The GTR 400 R had a zero to sixty of four seconds and a top speed of 180 miles per hours.
Nissan plan on making 100 of these bad boys but only ended up making 44 making them super duper rare. The R33 is the dark horse of the GT-R line : it's definitely bigger than the others and not as popular.
But let's give it time and I think they will be appreciated.
NISSAN SKYLINE R34 GTR
The air evacuation and new reworked front splitter work together to give the front end a lift coefficient of 0.1 which is basically nothing. Under the hood the turbo was upgraded with a new ball bearing ceramic turbine which decreasing turbo lag and increasing reliability.
Watanabe heard people's criticism about his car and heard they were expecting more... and they would get more.
Just like the leap from R32 to R33 a major improvement for the R34 was aerodynamics this car who wasn't sleek like last time the R34 is a blocky boy with angular cuts and aggressive features like a stealth bomber.
Small divets on the fenders direct air around the front wheels pulling warm air out from the engine bay and cooling the brakes as much as 100 degrees Fahrenheit that's a 50 degrees centigrade.
The Nissan Skyline R34 engine also had more aggressive camshafts even more power the new GT-R was fitted with a 6-speed Getrag Transmission, the all-wheel drive was better. The rear wheel steering was better. Everything was better! And the special editions had an even more better on top of that there was the :
- V-Spec N1
- V-Spec 2
- V-Spec Nur
- V-Spec 2 N1
- M-Spec Nur
And don't even get me started on the race cars the R34 was a distillation of everything that made a GT-R a GT-R.
NISSAN GTR R35
So in 2001 Nissan unveiled the GT-R concept unlike the previous GT-R models : This car would not be a souped up Skyline, but its own thing entirely. The design team for this concept was led by Hiroshi Hasegawa who had worked on the Silvia S13, S 14 and the R34.
The concept square shape and broad wheel arches were penned to look like the shoulders of a frigging samurai, the taillights are definitely GT-R the only major deviation from the design if you think about it were the headlights which had a modern more vertical Z like look. The new GT-R or R35 hit the market in
No longer was the GT-R powered by the RB26 : it had done its task well, but it was time for something different something new.
The VR38DETT is an all-aluminum Twin-turbocharged V6, every engine is assembled by hand in a clean room and only the most experienced Nissan mechanics are allowed to work there. There's only four guys with 100 years of combined experience between them building the engines for every Nissan R35 GT-R and they deserve recognition :
- Tsunemi Ooyama.
- Nobumitsu Gozu.
- Izumi Shioya Lea.
- Takumi Kurosawa.
Thank you gentlemen for building this engine for us to enjoy.
The VR38DETT initially made 480 Horsepowers, that wasn't super powerful but when has the GTR ever been about raw power? I'll give you a hint : never.
The VR38 was hooked up to an updated version of Nissan's Attesa system that prioritizes rear grip this time around. The combination of power and truly unbelievable all-wheel-drive grip made the GT-R one of the hardest launching cars in history, achieving zero to 60 in a lightning fast 3.2 seconds.
Performance like that made the GT-R a youtube mainstay with thousands of videos showing off cars at blistering speed.
People say that it drives like a video game like that's a negative; the only reason we know about GT-Rs is because of Gran Turismo.
So of course the R35 drives like a video game and of course there were special editions and racing versions like the 2008 Nismo GT500 : this car was so dominant that the Super GT League weighed it down with 100 kilograms penalty ballast, but 100 kilograms were not enough to stop Godzilla which still won the 2008 championship.
It was the first car to complete a championship with a weight penalty in a decade. The last time a team actually won this championship with such added weight it was thePennzoil team in 98 behind the wheel of a... bright yellow R34 GTR.
When is the nissan GTR R36 coming out?
To celebrate the end of a well-deserved career, a final version of the Japanese supercar is about to be presented with no less than 720 horsepower.
The Nissan GT-R is slowly but surely heading towards a well-deserved end of its career. The supercar of the Japanese firm, present in the catalog of the manufacturer since 2007, is currently living its last months of marketing. And to celebrate the end of a successful career, the brand is preparing a limited edition "Final Edition" which will have the right to some specific elements and a big increase in power.
The first rumors we have eard about are about a model inspired by the Nissan GT-R GT3. The GT-R "Final Edition" would be marketed in only 20 units and could feature a 3.8-liter V6 developing no less than 720 horsepower, which is 120 horsepower more than the most powerful Nissan GT-R, the Nismo that makes 600 horsepower.
But the most anticipated model is not this special edition, but the next generation of GT-R. In view of the new regulations, in order to keep an acceptable level of performance while staying more or less in line with the regulations, the engineers will have no other choice than to resort to electrification.
According to the Japanese magazine "Best Car", Nissan would work on an electrification system for its next supercar, but not necessarily on what we expected. Indeed, if the switch to 100% electric seems a bit premature for such a car, we could have expected a plug-in hybrid model, like most of the new supercars presented now.
For its part, Nissan is said to be working on a micro-hybridization via a 48-volt system with an integrated starter-alternator that would produce around 30 horsepower and 250 Nm. The energy would also feed a system to reduce the decibels produced by the vehicle, in anticipation of stricter regulations on noise emissions. There is no precise date for the arrival of this future GT-R, although the magazine "Best Cars" is counting on a presentation in 2022.