The GT-R has become a way of life that most people can only dream about. We often see them on tv or in video games, but seeing them in person is usually a rare occurrence. Seeing one is a sight to behold, and we recently managed to get 7 (yes, you read right - SEVEN!) of KZN's meanest GT-R's to come together for a one of a kind Godzilla Gathering to explain the history of the legendary Nissan GT-R!
The first Skyline GT-R was released on 4 February 1969, marking the start of a new era for petrolheads around the world. It was available originally as a four-door sedan and was equipped with the 2.0 L DOHC S20 I6 producing 160 hp (120 kW) at 7000 rpm and 177 N·m (131 ft·lbf) of torque at 5600 rpm. A popular name for the PGC and KPGC10 Skyline GT-R was "Hakosuka", and a total of only 1,945 PGC and KPGC10 Skyline GT-Rs were produced which explains why you've probably never seen one. The Hakosuka's successor was the KPGC110 which was released in 1973. Powered by a 1989 cc I6 S20 engine, this edition of the GT-R was also known as the "Kenmeri" Skyline, due to a popular advert featuring a young couple (Ken and Mary) enjoying the Hokkaido countryside. Unfortunately, the second generation GT-R was unsuccessful due to a gasoline crisis in the early 1970s, drying out any demand for high-performance sports cars and only 197 cars were built by the end of its short production run. For the next decade, this was the last GT-R until the production of the R32 in 1989 which eventually turned Nissan's luck around. The R32 was a car well ahead of its time which solidified Nissan's mark in the automotive industry. Australia was the first market the R32 GT-R was exported to before eventually reaching the rest of the world and the Australian auto press called the car “Godzilla” because it was a new monster from Japan. The name quickly spread and remains a common nickname for the GT-R to this day!
The E-BCNR33 (R33) was developed in 1995 as a successor to the R32 model. The engine in the R33 was nearly identical to the R32. It used the same turbochargers and the same specifications for the manual gearbox, although the syncros were stronger. The engine corrected the R32's weak oil pump drive collar, which tended to fail in higher power applications, by using a wider collar. The R33 ended production on 9 November 1998 and the last one that rolled off the line came in a R34 colour, as it shared the same colour code.
The GF-BNR34 (R34) Skyline GT-R and GT-R V·spec models were released in January 1999. In February 2002 Nissan released a final production model of the R34 GT-R called the Skyline GT-R V·spec II Nür. The Nür was named after the famous German Nürburgring racetrack where the Skyline was developed. In total only 1000 R34 GT-R Nür(s) were made - 750 were V·spec II Nürs' and 250 were M·Spec Nürs'.
The Nür model featured an improved RB26DETT based on the N1 racing engine. The standard turbochargers were upgraded to larger versions with a slight increase in boost and the ceramic blades were replaced with steel versions. This had increased lag, but to compensate the turbo's durability was improved while being able to handle a bigger boost increase. This allowed tuners to increase the boost safely with standard turbos up to 340 kW (450 hp) at the crank!
The V.spec II Nür is based on the regular V·spec II model, and the M·spec Nür was based on the regular M·spec model. Other than the addition of the Nür engine, the Nür models also included a speedometer reading up to 300 km/h. Due to Japanese car industry norms at the time, the car was advertised as having 206 kW (276 hp) but it actually had over 246 kW (330 hp) when it left the factory. Abdullah's R34 GT-R V·spec II Nür is by far the meanest of its kind in KZN - read more about it here.
Similar to the later generations of the Skyline GT-R's, the Nissan GT-R is four-wheel drive with a twin-turbo 6 cylinder engine and has the signature four round tail lights. However, the GT-R is an entirely new model sharing little with its Skyline siblings and is a complete redesign from previous Skylines rather than an incremental evolution; the four-wheel-steering HICAS system has been removed and the former straight-6 RB26DETT engine has been replaced with a new V6 VR38DETT. Because of the GT-R's heritage, the chassis code for the all-new version has been called CBA-R35, or 'R35' for short, carrying on the naming trend from previous Skyline GT-R generations.
Nissan chief creative officer, Shirō Nakamura, has likened the new GT-R to the giant robots of the Gundam series. Nakamura stated: "The GT-R is unique because it is not simply a copy of a European-designed Sports car; it had to really reflect Japanese culture."
Something you may not know is that Polyphony Digital, the creators of the Gran Turismo series of motor racing video games, were themselves involved in the development of the GT-R, having been contracted to design the GT-R's multi-function display. No wonder it looks so good!
In conclusion, the Skyline GT-R has become the flagship of Nissan performance and has become an icon throughout the world. Through generations of progress, it has become a dream car for many and after seeing all these, its easy to see why!
Photography by MNI Photography