Why The Nissan Skyline GT-R Is A Proper 90s Hero Car

The Skyline is a truly iconic Japanese sports car. But why is it such a 90's hero?
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Image via vehiclehi.com

Image via vehiclehi.com

The Nissan Skyline, in standard trim, was always a bit of a plain, boring sod. With a historically boxy design language, the 1989 R32 was a dramatic evolution but there was still room for a more aggressive sports car. Enter the Gran Turismo Racer.

Image via gtblogger.com

Image via gtblogger.com

If you know anything about Japanese car culture you’ll be familiar with the RB26DETT engine. It denotes the in-line 6-cylinder powerhouse, with 2.6-litres of displacement and twin turbos strapped on for good measure, built specifically with the GT-R in mind. Due to a ‘gentleman’s agreement‘, the Skyline was advertised to the public as having 276bhp, however realistically they produced around 320bhp.

Image via driftjapan.com

Image via driftjapan.com

The other aspect of the RB26DETT that caught petrolheads’ imaginations was the fact it was so easily tuned. The engine was built to withstand much higher power than came as standard, with 500bhp achieved by merely removing a few factory restrictions. Skyline owners were so encouraged to tune that the electronic boost control had a physical restriction in the control lines – it was marked in yellow to aid drivers wishing to remove it.

Image via grandprixlegends.com

Image via grandprixlegends.com

The Skyline’s racing prowess was immediately clear. Entering the Japanese Touring Car Championship in 1989, it would go on to win 29 races from 29 starts, plus every title between ’89 and ’93. Its domination then spread to the Australian Touring Car Championship where it toppled the almighty Ford Sierra Cosworth. The Australian press dubbed it the ‘monster from Japan’ Godzilla, and the name has stuck.

Image via spoki.tvnet.lv

Image via spoki.tvnet.lv

In 1993 the R33 Skyline was introduced. Featuring slightly more aggressive styling, the R33 was more evolution than revolution. With bigger brakes and a meatier torque curve, the R33 went on to argue with the Jaguar XJ220 over who was the first production car to break 8-minutes at the Nordschleife. Nissan saw out the ’90s in style with 1999′s R34. Taking the butch styling up a notch, the chassis was improved and the turbos got a ball bearing core.

Image via olar.deviantart.com

Image via olar.deviantart.com

It’s always a good time to buy a Skyline. It’s worth every penny just to see those iconic tail lights in your drive, and that’s before you even mash the throttle. You can pick up an R32 GT-R for around £8,500, or if you’re flash, £23,995 buys this R34 GT-R.


Built: 1989-2002
Engine: 2.6-litre twin-turbo
Power: 276bhp (realistically ~320bhp)
Torque: 260lb/ft – 289lb/ft
0-60mph: 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 112mph limited (realistically 160+mph)
Weight: 1,430kg (R32), 1,530kg (R33), 1,536 (R34)

Video 1 – R32 gives a McLaren MP4-12C a run for its money at the track

Video 2 – Richard Meaden of Evo Magazine drives the Calson R32 GT-R racer

Video 3 – Tiff Needel hoons an R34 GT-R

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  • Gabor Szedlak

    awesome article Darren!

  • darren

    darrens a bitch


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