When R31 Skyline Love Becomes An Obsession
The R31 Professionals

We all have them; those times that you make plans and say things you’re absolutely sure you can see through, but then life gets in the way and you don’t. S**t happens, you get sidetracked, and before you know it you’ve let yourself down. This is how I felt about not having ever visited R31 House.

Last week I put an end to it. Knowing that Ron and I had to travel south (west if you are Japanese) to Nagoya to meet up with Kato-san at Liberty Walk and check out his latest Honda duo, there was no way I was going to miss out on the opportunity to visit a world-renowned shop where boxy Skylines from the ’80s are maintained, modified, and in some cases brought back to life.

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After a ridiculously early rendezvous not far from where the Tomei Expressway begins, Ron and I embarked on our journey of discovery. In the car we talked about how the R31 House website shows a satellite view of the 400 cars they have sitting on their premises, and joked about how we’d never be able to capture it all within the space of just a short few hours. But this tour couldn’t have been more fun. Not even 30 seconds after arriving at R31 House in the Gifu Prefecture town of Sakahogi and meeting the head mechanic, we were chatting about the good old days and looking at some pretty badass cars, including the boss’s recently semi-restored GTS-R. But more on this car on a spotlight – it deserves a closer look.

Also, a disclaimer: we won’t accept any complaints on the flood of R31-related content that’s about to be unleashed over the next week. Just embrace it!

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As far as JDM workshops go, R31 House is easily the largest I’ve ever visited. It’s a series of buildings, garages and lots that over the years have been added to, combined and built upon as the business has grown and expanded. Our tour began right in front of what I’d call the main building; the lot where customer cars are kept.

Having chosen to specialize in this particular generation of the Nissan Skyline, R31 House is regarded as the authority on the san-ichi. If you own an R31 and live in Japan, you bring it here. Simple as that.

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Never had I seen so many different takes on the R31 in one place, and the mechanic was happy to explain and point out the differences between each car, and show me how they had all been tuned. I sort of drifted off and just let my camera do the talking.

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The sight of all these cars lined up was nothing short of mesmerizing; I had never seen anything like this ever before. But it was refreshing, too. R32s, R33s, R34s and R35s can generally be found at every event we cover in Japan, but you just don’t often see these angular beauties from a golden era of Japanese performance cars anymore.

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They have an inexplicable lure that just makes you want to own one, and ever since visiting R31 House I haven’t stopped thinking about what my perfect R31 would look like… I left Ron to go crazy on shooting a few cars in this one area for a spotlight post, so stay tuned for that.

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As for me, I kept wandering around. That’s what I like doing; it’s how you can uncover the unique atmosphere that every Japanese workshop seems to possess. R31 House is a little different in the fact that there are four separate and expansive areas, and the next space I visited left me even more dumbfounded. Race replicas were the order of the day in here.

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The GTS-R was the car that Nissan used to homologate the R31 for endurance racing, and while it may not have won the legendary GT-R badge, it’s not too far removed from the lineage.

The variety of engines around the place hint at the fact that a lot of swapping goes on, but it’s usually kept within the family with either RB25s or RB26s going in, or possibly even the odd SR20, even though it could be seen as sacrilegious to move away from the straight-six. I even spotted a VK out of a Cima; I wonder what they are planning to do with that…

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Each one of the cars in this area had its own distinct feel, starting off with this creation sporting the modern Motul livery. I actually recall seeing this car at the Nismo Festival some years ago.

There’s no RB20DET in here though – that’s gone in favor of a 500hp RB26.

The Ricoh replica car, however, has kept with its original powerplant, although extensive tuning has lifted output to 300hp. And that brings us to one particular part that this outfit is very well-known for: the exhaust manifold.

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It doesn’t matter if you have the turbo version of the RB20 or the naturally aspirated variant – if you don’t have an R31 House takoashi (octopus legs) on your san-ichi, you’re just not doing it right. They are now up to the third generation of the turbo version, which you can see here. It’s strictly for low-mount applications and is known for a more sonorous engine note due to its equal-length construction. There are also a few versions of the NA one, which looks even more intricate and impressive with the piping arching up higher than the cam cover.

This third demo car runs an RB25DET swap with an HKS GT3037 Pro-S turbo, which would probably make it the most fun car to drive out of the three.

The Tour That Never Ends
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With the space R31 House has, it came as no surprise to hear that they do everything in-house. We’re talking ground-up restorations, fabrication and metal work, and of course painting.

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From perfectly matched Nissan colors from the ’80s to custom hues, these guys are equipped for it all.

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A short walk took me over to the other side of the facility, where I could see workshop number four. But there was something else I needed to check out first…

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R31 World is run as a separate business, but no cameras were allowed inside as there was some prototyping going on during the time of our visit. The stuff that’s made here is all miniature, which didn’t make any sense to me until we entered the main office area next door.

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This is where the day-to-day operations are run from, as well as being the place where customers are greeted and are able wait while their cars are being worked on. Magazines and tongue-scorching drip coffee is in plentiful supply here.

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More to the point, though, this is where I found out what the top secret stuff in the R31 World building was all about. As it turns out, since 2011 they’ve had their own RC model car brand called GRK, which has everything from complete running chassis to hop-up parts and more.

That includes some damn awesome bodies. Included in the line-up is the entire Skyline catalog, from the C10 all the way to the R34, plus the R35.

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They also make these funny caricature versions of F1 cars, which I thought were pretty cool.

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As interesting as the scale models and toys were though, it was the 1:1 stuff I was more keen on. In this respect there were some really cool items on display, including R31 House’s original 4-pot calipers, a must if you are building a complete R31 House Skyline.

They even offer licensed badges and stickers for every variant of R31 that was ever made. It’s the little details like these that allow owners to keep their cars looking pristine and complete.

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Behind a few more doors I discovered they have a pretty awesome indoor RC drift track, too. Apparently this place really fills up on weekends.

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As I stepped outside at the back of the shop I noticed another lot of cars in the distance across some recently harvested rice paddy fields. This is their R30 Skyline yard, which makes no sense as the shop is called R31 House and there is literally no crossover in parts between the two generations. Regardless, the owner has started stockpiling these too, and Ron will have more on this little collection in a few days’ time.

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Back to the tour and the fourth workshop area, where surprise, surprise, there were more immaculate R31s. This four-door was absolutely stunning.

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I turned around to find a couple more customer cars in for some scheduled maintenance.

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One of the coolest things about this particular Skyline generation, and the ones that came before it, was the option of a wagon version. However, while the C110, C210 and R30 wagons were, how can I put it – awkwardly styled, the R31 just flowed a hell of a lot better. In fact, it was probably the inspiration for the WC34 Stagea that came in the middle of the following decade. This car was pretty heavily tuned and even had a roll cage inside.

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And an RB25 swap. How damn cool is this? It’s even Bayside Blue!

Through another magic door I came across what I assume to be R31 House’s stock supply of engines and transmissions. I was starting to think the place was never going to end, not that it was a bad thing…

The Best Is Still To Come
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It was a few minutes later, while I was poring over a spotless Autech version of the GT-S, that R31 House’s big boss, Shibata-san, arrived in his Nissan Elgrand daily. After getting the JDM formalities out of the way, he proposed that we take a quick ride to his new shop, R31 Kingdom.

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As a bonus, I’d get to have my first ever ride in an R31 GTS-R, the same one we saw at the very beginning of this post. I have to say, I was blown away by the pace this car had with 300-odd horsepower, and the sound was unbelievable.

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About five minutes later we arrived. This separate shop was built last year as a sort of dealership for mint condition original and restored cars.

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For many Japanese tuners, offering complete cars, ready to go at a set price or customizable to potential owners, is the next logical step to take in growing their businesses, and Shibata-san has gone all in. As expected, the cars on offer here are extremely clean.

I was actually surprised at the affordability of some of them, too. Keen-eyeds reader will spot the Autech variant of the R32 four-door at the far right. Unfortunately, the RB26-Plasma naturally aspirated version of the RB26 had already been fished out of the bay and the car was running an RB20 swap.

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Looking for one of the most sought after variants of the R31? No problem, there are seven GTS-Rs in stock.

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Sedans, anyone? Just think of the project you could build up from this base… Or you could just keep it semi-stock and run it as a daily.

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While Ron and I looked around, staff had begun bringing over cars from the main shop, including this bronze-wrapped wagon I spotlighted at Tokyo Auto Salon earlier in the year.

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Here’s Shibata-san warming up a rare Tommy Kaira version, which you can easily identify from its green engine covers. This, like all the cars you see at this shop, are for sale.

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And take a look at this full-tune RB20DET-R. It goes without saying that Shibata-san has done an awesome job with R31 House, the reward being his own slice of the vintage Skyline market.

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He offers an easy and vastly customizable path to R31 ownership and welcomes everyone into the community he has created.

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Here’s another example of some more original R31 House parts – a recreation of the stock radiator overflow and washer tanks, and their coilovers and suspension components.

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This was easily one of the most fun and interesting tours I’ve had in recent years, but there’s a little more I’d like to share with you in my next post. Remember that stock of 400 cars I was talking about? Trust me – you’re not going to believe your eyes…

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

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79 comments

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1

Omg for how much does a stock GTR go for?

Author2
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Which generation?

3
Miles Hayler-MacMillan

Made me chuckle!

4

Chuckle away sir

6

R31 like the ones displayed above.

7

Those are some pretty good prices. I may have to take a trip there!

8
Thelamus Ceasar

That is awesome. I am not even a fan of the R31 but I may change my tune. These are awesome cars. I saw a few of them in 2009 at the Nismo Festival. But there is an opportunity to buy one in my area of Japan.

Author9
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Same boat as you, was never a real fan, but sort of liked them, now I really like them a lot haha

10

This thread just proves why I love SH so much the level of detail and shots are great. I can almost feel the excitement in the post all I can say is thanks great read loved it.

Author11
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks Philip, we strive to bring the most original and unique content to you guys :)

12

thank you!

13

Whaaaaaattt theeeee.... that's amazing. I'm soooo glad people like this exist in the world.

Author14
Dino Dalle Carbonare

We are too! :D

15
foxboyhunter@insta(DarkShadowFox)

HEY I WAS THERE WHEN YOU WERE AT THAT INSTAGRAM LIVESTREAM AND SOMEONE THREW A SPANNER AT YOU \:D/

16

If you can dodge a spanner you can dodge a ball.

17
foxboyhunter@insta(DarkShadowFox)

*gets shot with a bullet*

18

while everyone is lusting for R32, R33, R34 and R35, my favourite Skyline is the R30/R31. I am a sucker for those '80s angular looks. My dream Skyline would be a R30 with RB26DETT and two-tone red and black paint.

Author19
Dino Dalle Carbonare

It's fun to be a square haha

20

Keep the r31 love going!
Why we haven't looked to the 80's for retro styling ideas is beyond me. We have the materials and technology to improve on any shortcomings the svelte 80's cars had. The first image alone is drool-worthy.
Cars are too fat now. That's my opinion though.

Author21
Dino Dalle Carbonare

^^^ what he said

22

Probably the same reason why pop ups are now a no go. Safety etc etc in case you decide to hit a pedestrian, visibility, etc

23
foxboyhunter@insta(DarkShadowFox)

fixed headlights are so much more sexy anyways.

24

Pretty sure the one with the green cam covers is a Tommy Kaira M30 not an Autech

25
foxboyhunter@insta(DarkShadowFox)

TK is the best i want a mines so bad mines skylines are sex.

Author26
Dino Dalle Carbonare

My bad, yes it is!

27

Finally the R31s are getting some love! Found this beauty almost a year ago for sale and I went for it right away

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Author28
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Good man, that looks sick! Love the fitment :)

29

You know you wanted that wagon. WagonHunters! We need a Stagea feature here again.

30

WagonHunters? I like your idea :) WAGONS FTW!!!!

Author31
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Wagons rock!!

32

"They guys are now up to the third generation of the turbo version, which you can see" typo at the part about the octopus legs

Author33
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks Alex, all fixed now :)

34

can you post more that R31 wagon picture? or any R31 wagon?

35

mine. in russia. under construction, vq30det neo + 5 st. manual trans.

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Author36
Dino Dalle Carbonare

There is a shot of a wagon coming up in the second post...but it aint clean that's for sure ...

37
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Wow... the sheer vastness of the space this company alone takes up just blows my mind...

38

Lord have mercy. I want every single photo as my desktop wallpaper!

39

In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, a small number of C110s, C210s, R30s, and R31s are used for freestyle drifting which is extremely fun.

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Author40
Dino Dalle Carbonare

That I have to see!

41

Here's a link to one of many videos that you can find on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNnuw1ORaMs

42

Wants to see more of that blue R31 i the 1st pic pretty pls pls pls.....

Author43
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Don't worry, spotlight on that coming up very soon :)

44

Ah I want an r31 so bad! 80's Japanese cars have always been a soft spot for me. I don't know if it's because they are pretty cheap at the moment or just not that common or what. The r31 would be so unrecognizable here in the Midwest U.S. where the r32-r35 actually are around here and there. it'd complement my 280zx well I think. I am 100% ok with more r31 coverage!

Author45
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Get one while they are still affordable!

46

Ha! I'd love to. Problem is I'm a broke college student in the Midwest. I can barely afford gas at this point.

47

My first car was an Aussie built red over grey R31 4 door skyline (stove top tail lights and all!), so these cars have a special place in my heart. Always had a dream of importing a built R31 House wagon, this article just makes want one even more. Something about the boxy styling of the 31 that just works,

48
Antonio Olympio Filho

Dreams !

49

Great article Dino. I've owned a number of Skylines here in Oz, from R31 to R34, but I will always have a soft spot for these. I'm looking forward to part 2.

Author50
Dino Dalle Carbonare

I'm sure you'll enjoy the rest of the coverage...

51

Truly amazing shop and absolute credit to the owner. Makes me so happy Skyline classics are being treated with this level of respect. R31's are so 80's and just plain awesome - about to check values.... Will need to get their RC with each Skyline body style. One of your best articles Dino!

Author52
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks man, was so worth the trip! And I want that R34 body lol

53

Saw the cars and the ads of this shop on the pages of Hachimaru Hero several times. Always was amazed by the quality.
Thank you Dino!

54

So how much would one of these go for in usd? Shipping?

Author55
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Which ones?

56

Any basic one I guess. I'd love to know how much these go for on average.

57

EPIC!

58

And here I was, crying internally because I don't have cash while looking at these clean Skylines. Thank you Dino

Author59
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well at least they aren't prices as stupid as GT-Rs are right now

60
Stephen Mollica

Awesome that you finally got to R31House Dino, and I'm stoked that you are doing some features on their shop/cars. I'm sure looking forward to the next instalments. For too long the R31 has been the forgotten RB powered skyline so it is great to see them getting some SH love. Of course I could be a little biased about them... Here's mine.

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Author61
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Very nice! They really are the forgotten RB Skyline! I guess that's a good thing for those in the know... Never knew the a gently tuned GTS-R was so damn nice to drive. And the sound...

62
Stephen Mollica

Well I guess the secret is out now with this level of exposure Dino. Which is a good thing, as I do think the HR31 is criminally under appreciated. Makes me wonder how popular GTS-Rs would have been if Nissan had dropped the "S" from the title. Either way, I'm very happy with my gently tuned one!

63

Fan-bloody-tastic.
As someone who's spent some serious quality-time around R31's in the past, it's safe to say I'm pretty damn disappointed in myself for not making it there on previous visits to Japan. Ohhh, the shame.
Ah well, another reason to go back..!

Author64
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well it's worth it. And I still can't believe it took me so damn long to get out there!

65

Shibata-san is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet!! During our trip there he helped us out more than we could have imagined!
Maximum respect to all the team at R31 House!

Author66
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Love hearing stories like these!

67

maaaaan. I used to kind of ignore the R31 (R30 iron mask is still my #1 Skyline) but ever since they put one in Forza, R31s have really grown on me. I think Shibata-san might have found me living in the back of one of these wagons if I visited.
Maximum respect to Shibata-san for taking care of R31s across Japan, and maximum respect to you guys for bringing our attention to his work. This is the best post I've seen on this site in like 6 years, definitely my new favourite shop in Japan, and it sounds like things are going to get even better!

Author68
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Haha thanks man. Shibata-san has a true goldmine on his hands, total respect to the guy for turning his love for these cars into an amazing business that appeals so strongly to owners.

69
Philly Robertson

That whole visit would be worthy of flying over to japan just for the visit there! I would be like a japanese tourist at disney world and taking pics of everything! Need more tours of tuning shops!

Author70
Dino Dalle Carbonare

It's so totally is. You could probably spend the entire day there and not get bored

71

Gonna be honest, ever since I first delved into their history I'd rather take an Ironmask over any generation of Skyline today. I've been hoping that they'd stay under the radar long enough for me to get my hands on one. Don't let them be spoiled too soon!

Author72
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Shhhhhh, don't worry, everyone wants a GTR. You'll be good for a while still ;)

73

The R31 is particularly cherished in my part of the world (Tasmania, Australia) as it is an affordable RWD. My group of friends use this one for khana x, it is the cheapest form of motorsport to get into down here.

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74

I loved this article and look forward to more like it. Well done !

75

OMG.... its like walking into a candy store! So much want!!!! (or perhaps i'm a sucker for boxy japanese cars lol)

76

Also, a disclaimer: we won’t accept any complaints on the flood of R31-related content that’s about to be unleashed over the next week.

HELL YEAH Thank you Dino, and about bloody time.

77
Miles Hayler-MacMillan

Nearly bought an R31 about 6 months ago, but needed something running and didn't have the time. :(

78

Damn, what an awesome write-up. Thanks Dino, I love SH for stuff like this. The R31 is the "forgotten" Skyline, unfortunately...at least where I live (Germany). I´m not sure, if I ever have seen one in person.

Nice to see the blue one in the header picture and the one with the Reebok (JGTC inspired) livery sporting a set of SSR Hasemi Prot-S. I also run a refurbished set of those on my S15 and thought of selling them for something different, but this article makes me keep them. :)

79

I spy a Land Cruiser :D

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