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Nissan Skyline GT-R
The Nissan Skyline GT-R is an iconic Japanese sports coupe in the Nissan Skyline range. Dubbed "Godzilla" by Wheels magazine in Australia when released there in 1989, it was rated by many motoring magazines, including the well-respected Wheels, as providing performance and handling equal or superior to that of European icons like the Porsche 911 and the Ferrari 360 Modena, at a considerably lower price. The Skyline's home-market competitors have included the Honda NSX, Toyota Supra, Mitsubishi 3000GT and Mazda RX-7.
History of the brand
The Skyline name originated with the Prince automobile company which developed and sold the Skyline line of sedans before merging with Nissan-Datsun. The earliest predecessor of the GT-R, the S54 2000GT-B, came second in its first race in 1964 to the purpose-built Porsche 904GTS race car. The next development of the GT-R, the KPGC10/PGC10 2000GT-R, scored 33 victories in the one and a half years it raced and scored 50 by the time it was discontinued in 1972. The last of the original GT-Rs, the KPGC110/PGC110 2000GT-R, used an unchanged S20 160 hp (120 kW) inline-6 engine from the earlier 2000GT-R and only sold 197 units. This model was the only GT-R to never participate in a race.
The Skyline model continued through into the 90s when it became popular largely because it remained rear wheel drive, while most other manufacturers' models were front wheel drive (which has certain inherent deficiencies in handling compared to rear-wheel drive). The GT-R version of the Skyline was reintroduced in 1989 after a 16 year hiatus from the Skyline GT-R of the late 1960s. However, the majority of Skylines sold were non-GT-R models, with the GT-R becoming the flagship of Nissan performance. Considering their performance and the fact that they showcased many advanced technologies not previously seen in mass produced vehicles, the 1989- GT-Rs remained (relatively) cheap. Although unconfirmed, it is even rumoured that they were sold at a loss. Although strange today, this cavalier attitude to marketing was common among Japanese car manufacturers of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The lack of investment return on cars like the GT-R undoubtedly contributed to Nissan's eventual takeover by Renault, and the demise of the model itself.
The GT-R of the 1990s included a potent 2.6 L straight six-cylinder twin-turbo motor producing 206 kW (276 hp) and an electronically-controlled all wheel drive drivetrain. The car had also computer-controlled all wheel steering. Its success in motor racing was formidable, particularly in the annual race at the Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst, Australia, where the champion three years running was a GT-R (despite receiving additional weight penalties in years two and three due to its unbeatable performance) and in the Japanese GT series where it has remained dominant up to the present day. No other race victories by the GT-R could escape without controversies, at the 1990 Macau Grand Prix Guia touring car race, the factory backed R32 driven by Masahiro Hasemi led the race from the start to the finishing line which caused a wave of protests by the European entrants. The following year, the car was forced to carry a weight penalty of 140kg. The GT-R's success at Mount Panorama in 1991 and 1992, both by Jim Richards, led to a change in formula regulations, which came to exclude turbocharged and four-wheel-drive cars in subsequent years. It also led indirectly to move to the Super Touring Car category in the JTCC and the creation of the JGTC grand touring car series in Japan, where GT-Rs can only compete in rear-wheel drive form (and still win).
The Skyline is also a popular car for Drift racing in Japan, and was featured as the vehicle of choice for Night Kid leader Nakazato Takeshi in Initial D. It is also popular in the import racing scene in Australia, New Zealand, and the USA where Skyline GT-Rs can be modified to produce upwards of 1000 hp (750 kW). An example of this is the Veilside R34 Street Drag model, which hit a top speed of 346.20km/h on an open road in Rotorua, New Zealand. It was tuned up to 1360hp, using 2 HKS GT3240 turbochargers pushing a total of 2.7 bar of boost. Although this is theoretically possible, the cost is substantial and engine reliability is severely diminished. Most commonly, GT-R Skylines can produce circa 400 hp (300 kW) with relativly simple modifications. In the Uk Andy Middlehurst took the Nissan Skyline GT-R32 to two consecutive championship wins in the National Saloon Car Cup. They are a popular target for such modification due to the amazing strength of the RB26DETT engine, common to all GT-Rs, an engine widely considered one of the most durable motors when heavily modified.
GT-R Skylines of the 1990s progressed from the R32 (1989), through to the R34 (2000) Production of the GT-R ceased in August, 2002 with the release of the V35 Skyline platform (sold as the Infiniti G35 in the United States) which includes only non-GT-R models. Before the final R34 Skyline GT-R was sold, various packages and special editions such as the V-Spec, containing additional performance-enhancing modifications, were released by Nissan and the performance division of Nissan, Nismo.
On January 14th, 2005, Nismo resurrected the R34 GT-R for one last tour of duty before the introduction of the anticipated next generation GT-R. Labeled as the R34 Z-tune, the Nismo engineers spared no expense into making this car the most powerful road-going GT-R ever created. With much technology borrowed from the GT500 Racing GT-Rs and endurance racing GT-Rs, the Z-tune boasts a 2.8 L twin turbo instead of the stock 2.6 L engine, racing pistons, connecting rods and camshaft, and a upgraded ECU gives the Z-tune 500 hp (370 kW) and 540 N·m (400 ft·lbf) of torque. The car became affectionately known as the "Mother of all GT-Rs" and is expected to carry a price tag of $170,000 US dollars. Nismo has stated that this car will be a limited run edition, and only 20 will ever be made and sold.
Future of the Skyline GT-R
The next GT-R model will be produced as a 2008 model in the year 2007; it will be separated from the "Skyline" nameplate, and it is rumored that a left-hand-drive version will possibly be offered — the UAE R-34 was the only other GT-R ever offered with left-hand drive. There has been proof of registered trademarks for the next GTR in Japan, Australia, Europe, and Canada as well as the U.S. The long arrival date is due to Nissan engineers focusing on mainstream car models. It will have to overcome many new, stringent emissions laws in Japan. Nissan may export the next GT-R to North America as an Infiniti. They are also working on an Infiniti R-Spec besides Nismo. Edmunds claims that the car will be called Infiniti GTR in the states and have spy shots that look like a longer, wider G35. Fortunately, under the hood it will be nothing like this and more like higher horsepower GTR from the previous generations but with 21 century emissions controls. Expect this car to compete against the new aluminum C6 Z06 Corvettes.