The Nissan Skyline GT-R: That special car people always lust after seeing it in movies, games, and magazines. As Americans, we were never treated to the car for whatever reasons. It was a car never sold in the US, and we just had no access to it. But luckily in 2007, we were deemed worthy enough and able to purchase the new GT-R. Thanks, Nissan!
This is Rich Terpening’s 2013 GT-R, the first year the potent 3.8 liter twin turbo V6 had the 545 hp and 463 lb-ft engine. Also the first year the beautiful deep blue pearl color option was added, which I find to be the most attractive and unique factory color I’ve seen on an R35 GT-R.
Also, we have Zach LaSalle’s ‘90 R32 Skyline GTS-t. The GTS-t model came with the RB20DET engine making about 210 hp and was also a rear-wheel drive car. Zach’s particular car has an upgraded RB25DET engine, that with a 2.5-liter displacement, which has quite a bit more punch than the original RB20’s 2.0 liter.
Although very different cars, both the GT-R and the Skyline come from the same lineage, dating back to 1957 when Prince Motors first released the Skyline. Two years after Prince Motors and Nissan merged the C10 Skyline was born in 1968. This first Nissan Skyline, known as the Hakosuka by enthusiasts, is the first generation of the GT-R that featured the S60 engine DOHC inline six making 160 hp. The GT-R model would remain as the flagship Skyline all the way through to the R34 generation. The GT-R was the most expensive and best-performing version of the car. Originally, this meant you’d get the sportier S60 engine along with other changes geared towards track use for the Hakosuka and Kenmeri Skyline, which was built from 72-77. The introduction of the R32 added all-wheel-drive the larger 2.6-liter twin turbo, Rb26DETT inline six engine as the major differences from the standard Skyline. This remained true throughout the R33 and R34 generations, which ended production in 2002. With the introduction of the R35 generation in 2007, Nissan dropped the Skyline name, which only left the GT-R. Basic Skyline models were no longer available.
We’re finally getting to see the some of the older cars on the road, which for years, was an unattainable icon here in the states. Cars older than 25 years are exempt from US safety and emissions laws, and being that the R32 Skyline’s first production year was 1989, those willing to go through the work involved can now purchase and have one imported. This is how Zach got his ‘90 car. It was purchased through the classic Japanese car importer, Rivsu Imports, in Sanford, Florida. Once Rivsu had received the car from Japan, it was then shipped to New York. While the process sounds easy, it’s anything but. Zach had been searching for a very long time to find the right car, long enough that most people would’ve just given up.
The R32 generation was extremely important for the Skyline family, being the first to earn the Godzilla nickname. Although previous generations had a respectable racing history, the R32 GT-R, however, was a true force; winning all 29 Japanese Touring Car Championship races it entered. Although extremely impressive, it’s not the racing credentials that have won the hearts of car enthusiasts around the world, it’s the fun people get from driving these road-going vehicles and the way they really beg to be modified.
In Japan, and other countries where these cars were originally imported, they have been building them since they hit showroom floors. They have been proven as a great platform for every form of motorsport you can think of – from drag racing with engines well over 1000 horsepower to circuit racing, and drifting for the rear-wheel drive models – it’s hard to find something a Skyline/GT-R isn’t good at.
The introduction of the 2007 R35 Nissan GT-R was huge. Nissan cranked up the technological insanity with this car. When the new GT-R first came out, the performance was truly amazing and has only gotten better as the years went on. But just like a sports team that always wins, eventually, people began to nitpick and criticize the GT-R. I can confidently tell you though that Rich has no problem proving this car has earned its rank as an exotic car killer.
All of us car guys and girls have different perceptions of what makes a fast car. A lot of people grew up around old muscle cars and the fastest things anyone had seen had a big cubic inch V8 sending a ton of power to the rear wheels, and with a blip of the throttle the car was all over the road and the driver was hanging on for dear life. Getting these cars straight is half the battle. For a lot of us in the younger generation of car enthusiasts, it was a lot more of the smaller lightweight cars that may or may not have been turbocharged. In the more recent years, small Japanese and European cars were the cheapest and easiest way to go fast. Now your experiences may differ, but I would be willing to bet your teenage friend down the street didn’t have a 545 hp all-wheel-drive terror… like a GT-R.
The GT-R changed my perception fast. When you stomp the throttle of your average fast car you get wheel spin and craziness before you really start pulling. The GT-R on the other hand might spin a tad if you go full throttle from a very low speed, but after that, you’re gone. In what feels like the blink of an eye, you’re at a point where as Rich says, “It’s like no one else is moving.”
But of course the R35 GT-R didn’t stray too awfully far from its roots as a proper race car, and unlike some of the old muscle cars and the like, the GT-R’s cornering ability is equally as impressive as its outright speed. It’s one of those special cars where the limit seems impossible to reach anywhere outside of a racetrack.
The GT-R has always been Japan’s top performer, although some may dispute that if we look back at the ‘90s. Regardless, it is an extremely important machine that will always get better, which of course could be done by Nissan or the owner of the car. Looking at Zach’s older Skyline to Rich’s new GT-R is a great way to see the progression over the years of a legendary lineage. If history is anything to go by – the next 50 years of Skyline/GT-R should only get better.
In case you’re not super familiar with the Skyline GT-Rs. Here is a basic rundown of each generation mentioned. There are a few others, but these are the most popular.
C10:1968-72. Known as the Hakosuka, or box skyline in English. This was the first to have the high-performance GT-R model.
C110: 1972-77. Known as the Kenmeri, after the popular commercials of the car featuring a couple with the names Ken and Mary. Some say the names came from the fact that the car looked very American at the time; that makes sense being that the reverse of Kenmeri is Meriken. Get it?
R32: 1989-94. First to earn the Godzilla nickname because of its tremendous success in racing. Also, the first GT-R to offer all-wheel-drive and the first with the venerable RB26 engine.
R33:1995-98. Continued on where the R32 left off. Same engine and drive-train layout, still a force in racing
R34:1999-02. Possibly the most famous. Was featured in the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious which was probably the first time a lot of people ever saw it. Same AWD and RB26 drive-train still continued on from the R32.
R35:20 07-present. Latest generation and first to be sold in the US. All new technology to keep up with modern supercars and the first that didn’t use an inline six. The engine is now a V6 called the VR38DET.
Story By David Sblendorio
Photos By Chris Penree