Here's the second part of my Skyline retrospective from November '08.
Now we will continue our look back at the history of the Nissan Skyline from where we left off yesterday, with the R30 chassis. The R30 was released in 1981 and moved towards a more modern design than the C210 model. The coupe versions in particular were very good looking cars with a sleek, stretched out look. In Japan the R30 Skyline TV commercials featured legendary actor and driver Paul Newman, and there was even a special "Paul Newman version" of the car sold in Japan.The example in the photo above is the 1981 2000GT-ES coupe model, which was powered by the turbocharged L20ET engine.
Things truly got interesting for the R30 when RS models were offered. The best of these DR30's was the RS Turbo model which had the DOHC turbo FJ20ET engine that produced around 200hp. The FJ20 is a favorite of hardcore Nissan fans and one of the most advanced engines of its day. The RS models would also get a unique front end that was more aerodynamic and aggressive than the one on the standard R30's. The RS's with their two-tone paint were very popular in and they helped to inject some performance back into the Skyline line up. There were also race versions of the DR30 like the infamous Super Silhouette cars (more on those in another post).
Next was the R31 Skyline, introduced in 1985. On the outside, the R31's design was an evolution of the R30 with a few more modern touches. I particularly like the projector headlights on the R31 models. The big change mechanically on the R31 was the introduction of the new twin cam RB series of inline six engines. This was the first time the Skyline had a twin cam six since the original GT-R models. Nissan's new HICAS four-wheel steering system also debuted on the R31 chassis. The car in the photo is the 1987 2000 GTS-R, a very rare model which was powered by the 210ps RB20DET-R engine derived from the Group A race cars. The standard GTS Turbo models also had the RB20DET, but it they made slightly less power. The R31's were popular iin touring car racing around the world, particularly in the Group A series.
In 1989 the all new R32 Skyline was released. This was a huge leap from the previous model in terms of both design and performance. The standard rear drive models continued with the RB engines and were available only coupe and sedan forms. Up until this point there had been wagon or "van" versions of most Skyline models. The R32 GTS-t Type M was the most powerful of the rear drive R32's.
Of course the big news on the R32 was the return of the GT-R version, which hadn't been seen in 16 years. The new BNR32 GT-R (seen above) had the new ATTESA E-TS AWD system and was powered by the twin turbo RB26DETT engine. The GT-R was rated at 280ps, but in actuallity produced much more power than that. The new GT-R was groundbreaking in every way and was capable of beating the fastest sports cars in the world. Nissan made no attempt to hide that Porsche was their target when designing the R32 GT-R.
With the R32, the GT-R legend was back, and just like the original Hakosuka GT-R's, the R32's dominated in motorsport. This was particularly true in the All Japan Championship where the Group A GT-R's won all 29 rounds of the series between 1990 and 1993. Of course the R32 GT-R's would also become immensely popular among Japan's tuners where they were (and still are) built for every type of racing both legal and illegal.
The R33 Skyline followed in 1993, with the GT-R model appearing a little later. Although the mechanically similar to the R32, the new R33 was a bit larger and heavier than the old car. On the rear drive side of things, the ECR33 Skyline GTS-t was now available with the 250ps RB25DET engine, making it a popular car for those who didn't want to step up to the GT-R.
The R33 GT-R's received minor upgrades all around, and although the car was very fast, some people felt the it had lost its edge compared to the original BNR32 GT-R. Although the R33's weren't dominant in motorsport like the 32's, they did appear at LeMans and in the Super GT series. Although popular among tuners, the R33 models always seem to sandwiched between the original R32's and the newer R34 models.
In 1998 the R34 Skyline was introduced with a more aggressive shape that set it apart from the R33. Non GT-R models were now equipped with the NEO series of RB engines and the GT-R again received minor performance upgrades all around. Since the introduction of the R32 GT-R, there had always been a number of special edition GT-R's available over the years. The R34 in particular had a TON of special models including the V-spec, Nur Spec, and various Nismo versions including the Z-tune model which was released AFTER the R34 had left production. The R34 GT-R would become the posterchild of Japanese performance cars
and it held legendary status even in places like the United States
where it was never even sold.
Unfortunatley, the times were changing again and the R34 would be the last of the turbocharged Skylines. In 2002 the GT-R would again go on hiatus along with other turbocharged Japanese sports cars like the Silvia, RX7, and Supra.
The GT-R may have been eliminated, but the Skyline continued full speed ahead. The R34's were replaced by the all new V35 chassis, which shared the same FM platform as the new Z33 Fairlady. Gone were the turbocharged RB's of the past, and in their place was Nissan's new DOHC VQ35DE V6 engine. The rounded and more mature styling of the V35 was a big change from the R34. The V35's did exceptionally well in the United States where they were sold as the Infiniti G35. Up until this point, the Infiniti brand was struggling, but the new G35 brought the company back and became one the most popular sports sedans in the USA. The V35 Skyline coupes also became popular as a larger cousin to the new Z.
The latest Skyline is the V36 model, which was introduced in 2007. The V36 is an evolution of the popular V35 and continues to be a big seller for under both the Nissan and Infiniti brands. Both the sedan and coupe models now use the same 3.7L VQ engine found in the all new 370Z. It's pretty amazing to see that the standard rear drive Skylines are now making well over 300hp from a naturally aspirated V6. That's similar power to the GT-R's of just a few years ago.
And of course to wrap up we have the latest GT-R, the R35. Technically the new GT-R isn't even a Skyline at all because it's simply known as the "Nissan GT-R." Nonetheless, I thought I should include it in this story. There's no need for me to go over the specs on this car as its been done already time and time again. It's no less than a supercar in every sense. The R35 is not only successful in production form, but also in race form where it set records this year during its debut season in the Super GT series.
So there it is. 50 years of Skyline history…
With the current success of both the Skyline and GT-R, I wonder if they have another 50 years in them?
(Photos from Nissan archive)