Land of the Free?: Nissan Skyline


Land of the Free? : Nissan Skyline


            “Land of the Free?” is a new series of posts that deals with cars that aren’t available in the United States of America. Each post will provide some insight on the car, like performance and history. I will also voice my opinion about the cars. So without further ado, let’s begin with the legendary Nissan Skyline.

            Now, when most people hear the word Skyline, they automatically assume that the Skyline and the GTR are the same thing. There not. Skyline is the name of the model, like Accord or M3. GTR is a sub-trim, like EX-L or CSL. The Skyline had many trim levels, from the basic 4 cylinder GT to the balls to the wall GTR M-Spec. The thing is, the GTR range is the most desirable trim level, hence why everyone knows about the GTR and not the GT.  

The R32 Skyline GTR, where it all began.

The R32 Skyline GTR, where it all began.

            The Skyline’s been in Nissan model line up since the late 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the car really started to become interesting. The R32 debuted in 1989. Specifically speaking, the Skyline GTR was born with the coming of the R32, which is why this car is so important. The R32 GTR had a twin-turbo I6, which flexed around the 280hp mark. The GTR differentiated itself from the standard Skyline with a beefier looking body kit, larger intercooler, wider stance, and a sporty interior (which featured a boost gauge, oil temp gauge, and a battery voltage gauge). This was created to do work, specifically fight the legendary Porsche 959. And it did, shattering the 959’s lap record on the Nürburgring by more than 20 seconds!

R33 Skyline GTR

            After the R32 came the R33. The R33 really is the forgotten Skyline, as its predecessor outshined it. But it is still an important part of the history of the Skyline. The R33 generation of vehicles introduced LSD (limited slip differential) to the Skyline lineup. This combined with the added power allowed the R33 Skyline GTR break the 8-minute mark at the Nürburgring. It also allowed Nissan’s engineers to fine tune elements of the car, which lead them to create the most iconic Skyline generation.

R34 Skyline GTR...in purple

The R34 is what everyone pictures when they hear the word Skyline. The picture Paul Walker and his silver and blue Skyline GTR from the “2 Fast 2 Furious”. The R34 is, in my opinion, the best Skyline generation. It has great looks, menacing from any angle yet not over the top. The engine is a dream, I6 twin-turbo pushing 330hp stock, and was highly upgradable. Back in that time, JDM cars like the Supra, RX-7, and GTR were highly over engineered. This was a really good thing, because that meant that these cars could easily be upgraded to 3x’s there original power without drastic work on the transmission or engine block. That being said, the Skyline GTR was the poster child of this time. People tuned the living hell out of these cars, embarrassing Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, and 911 Turbo’s.

Baby GOT BACK!

Baby GOT BACK!

After the R34, the Skyline name degraded. Now a day, the Skyline in Japan is a rebranded Infiniti. And the GTR, well that’s a sports car designed by Nissan. Sure it’s faster than any Skyline of yesterday, and yes it’s got the design features of the Skylines of yesterday…but it’s not a Skyline. It’s a GTR. Not a Skyline GTR, just a GTR. Which is a shame, because the name Skyline has so much history behind it. It was the workingman’s car, which had a darker more powerful cousin. It was the perfect car for everyday.

Great car....not a Skyline.

Great car....not a Skyline.

Now, in 2014, you can legally import a R32 Skyline from Japan and drive it around the USA. It’ll cost you a lot of money, but in theory you could do it. The thing is, the R32 has to be a 1989. Can’t be any newer, or else you can’t drive it around (you can import it just not drive more than a certain mileage).  This is because the USA has a law the requires vehicles to be at least 25 years old before it can imported and driven without certification. If a newer car is brought in, it can be confiscated and crushed (this has happened before). This means that the only way your going to be able to experience the Skyline R33 and R34 is via Forza Motorsports 5 or Gran Turismo 6. Sadly, that’s as close most of us get to these wonderful machines.

Now you could go through a private company to get you Skyline Fix, but it’s really shady and it costs a lot of money (think enough to buy a loaded M3 with Vossen rims and an exhaust). But, if your like me and really love the Skyline, then money is no object. They are a dream for many, hopefully to become a reality for a few in the coming years.