Nissan skyline GT-R Part II  1957

During its golden years, the Japanese automotive industry gave birth to numerous sports cars that regularly challenged and outperformed their European competitors, while being faster, cheaper and more reliable. Many of these cars were renowned for their racing heritage. Unfortunately, a large portion of these sports cars remained only in the pages of history or are now used primarily as marketing tools, like the new Supra. However, some have managed to survive and remain formidable to this day. Today, we will talk about the Skyline and its most famous version – the GT-R.

Contrary to popular belief, the history of the Skyline begins not within Nissan’s lineup, but with a company called the Prince Motor Company. In 1957, the car entered the market, bearing a striking resemblance to American design, which was not uncommon for Japanese cars of that time. In fact, the Skyline was based on the ALSI platform for sedans and wagons and the BLRA platform for coupes and convertibles. The model enjoyed steady demand, leading to the launch of the second generation – the S50 – in 1962. These were delightful cars, devoid of any aggression in their appearance. However, in 1964, Prince engineers decided to change the game and create a sports car. Without overcomplicating matters, they took the body of a small sedan and inserted an engine from the more prestigious Gloria. This required extending the wheelbase by 20 centimeters, but such details could not hinder their creative thinking. The new sports car was named the Skyline GT and became the first stepping stone towards the birth of the GT-R. In its first race, the car finished from second to sixth place, bringing joy to the higher-ups and paving the way for the release of the road-going version – the Prince 2000GT, the progenitor of the GT-R lineup.

In 1966, with ambitions for their sports division, Prince was acquired by Nissan. Two years later, the next generation of the Skyline, codenamed C10, was introduced, and most importantly, the GT-R version was born. This was the base model, equipped with a 2.0-liter, six-cylinder engine producing 160 horsepower. Not only did the car win numerous races, but it also became a favorite among street racers, as 160 horsepower was quite significant considering the car’s small mass.

In September 1972, the Skyline C110 GT-R was introduced. Equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-six engine called the S20, it featured disc brakes on both axles. The nickname “Kenmari” came from a TV commercial where a young couple is seen driving the car and showcasing all the benefits of owning a Nissan. Today, this generation is considered one of the most stylish, although it is extremely rare to see one in person. Only 197 units were produced, and in March 1973, GT-R production was halted for a long 16 years. The reason was simple – the world was preparing for an oil crisis and the demand for fuel-thirsty cars was rapidly declining. Nissan needed to stay afloat, so even the factory racing team had to leave. The roar of powerful engines quieted down, and the era of small-displacement cars began.

However, it’s not entirely true that Nissan completely shifted its focus to economical cars. While the brand needed to survive difficult times, they didn’t abandon work on innovative technologies. In 1977, the Skyline C210 (211) was introduced, available with both traditional inline-six engines and the CA engine family – inline-four engines. Over 537,727 units were sold in its 5-year production run – a remarkable achievement. But special mention goes to the GT-EX variant, which, while not a fully-fledged GT-R, played a role in shaping the future monster. It was equipped with the L20ET engine – a turbocharged inline-six producing 145 horsepower. This was the first production car with a turbocharger made in Japan.

In 1984, Nissan decided to make a breakthrough once again. Since acquiring Prince, Nissan had two separate divisions working on sports technology: Oppama Works and Omori Works. They merged into a single company called Nismo, short for Nissan Motorsport. The new division was responsible for everything related to fast cars and Nissan’s involvement in motorsport. After a warm-up with the Saurus racing car, engineers set out to revive the legend of the circuit tracks and Japanese highways – the future Skyline R32 GT-R.

The base R32 model became the eighth generation of the Skyline, an evolution of the classic model. Over the years, the “Skyline” line developed its own design language and recognizable rear light style, with the legendary “buns” becoming so popular that they were even imitated by other aftermarket manufacturers. Only the sedan and coupe body styles remained for the new generation, featuring the popular “frameless” doors of that time. The engine lineup included inline-four engines from the CA series and inline-six engines from the RB series, which would become the hallmark of powerful Nissans for years to come, each with its unique characteristics. To enhance handling, the HICAS system was introduced – a hydraulically controlled rear-wheel steering system that allowed the rear wheels to slightly turn in the same direction as the front wheels during corners. But all of this was just a prelude to the arrival of the true monster with the GT-R badge.

All of this happened in 1989. By this time, participating in touring car races required homologation, which meant producing a limited number of cars that closely resembled race cars. The GT-R was immediately homologated under Group A regulations, which meant one thing for its competitors: the champion had returned. The car featured a full-time all-wheel-drive system called 4WD ATTESA ETS. While primarily rear-wheel drive, it could quickly redistribute up to 50% of the torque to the front wheels if slippage occurred. Power came from the legendary RB26DETT, a twin-turbo inline-six engine often considered the counterpart to Toyota’s JZ turbo engine lineup. Prior to the release of the GT-R, Japanese automakers had entered into a gentlemen’s agreement called Jishu-kisei, which limited engine power to 280 horsepower. Nissan pushed the limits slightly by claiming peak power at 286 horsepower, but this was more of a technicality. In reality, the new sports car could easily produce around 500 horsepower.

Needless to say, the new GT-R proved to be an outstanding successor to its lineage. With 29 wins in 29 JTCC races, consecutive championships from 1990 to 1993 and a new lap record on the Nürburgring Nordschleife for a production car, its dominance was virtually unparalleled. After crushing the competition in Japan, Nismo took their creation to Australia, showcasing their winning capabilities, before heading to Europe and the United States. The list of titles, victories, and records is too extensive to mention, but the car was so dominant that it earned the nickname “Godzilla.” According to legend, the GT-R was named after the monster from movies and comics, as it emerged from the sea, disrupted the established racing order and completely dominated for multiple seasons. However, there is another myth that “Godzilla” referred to its immense power combined with relatively small brakes difficultly fitted into 16-inch wheels from the factory, resulting in overheating and braking issues. The GT-R switched to larger brakes in the V-spec version, which were supplied by Brembo and fit within 17-inch wheels.

n 1993, the new Skyline R33 was unveiled to the public. The exterior design was quite controversial, with the body appearing more swollen and the front optics narrowed. The rear lights, while still retaining the traditional “buns” design, were now integrated into a unified rear lamp assembly. The concept of the 4-cylinder engines was completely abandoned, with only the “junior” RB20E engine remaining. The “senior” RB25DE and RB25DET engines were equipped with variable valve timing, slightly increasing power and reducing fuel consumption. But the world was waiting for more, the world was waiting for the GT-R, and they had to wait a couple more years.
It is said that the new sports car simply wasn’t ready by ’93 and some claimed that they needed to sell the remaining BNR body shells. Whatever the reason, the release of the GT-R was delayed until 1995. The new car was both new and old, with different body shapes.

The RB26DETT engine was left almost unchanged, with some minor improvements to the turbocharging system, ultimately pushing the power output to a psychological milestone of 300 horsepower. The Super HICAS (Super High Capacity Active Steering) system was introduced, building upon the initial experiments carried out on the R32 GT-R. This system was based on electronic control rather than hydraulic, and it relied on its own sensors rather than just the speed sensor. All the cars were equipped with Brembo brakes to avoid any issues faced by the previous model.

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