When the subject of Nissan’s Skyline GT-R comes up in automotive talk, it’ll nearly always be about the BNR32 or BNR34. The latter is definitely my favorite; the BCNR33, not so much.
But as I found out, one should never discount the awesomeness of a well-sorted R33 GT-R, especially if it’s finished in Midnight Purple and packing some serious punch…
The way I found this car here in South Africa is a little bit different than normal – it happened while I was browsing the classifieds website Gumtree. When I called up the seller, André, he was understandably a little surprised to hear that I just wanted to photograph the car, but was keen all the same.
André is based in a little farming town called Villiersdorp, around an hour and a half’s drive from Cape Town. The community has a population of 10,000 and specializes mostly in fruit farming and viticulture – pretty much the last place you’d expect to find a car like this.
The next surprise was the owner himself; André is no young gun, but rather a 70-year-old petrolhead with an impressive list of previously owned cars. There’s been everything from multiple Chevrolet Camaros, no less than a dozen Shelby Cobra replicas, and even a few Austin-Healeys along the way.
In the early ’00s, around the same time as the first Fast & Furious movie came out and tuner culture was at an all-time high, André started taking an interest in Japanese performance cars. He’s imported many into South Africa since then, including Supras and Celicas, RX-7s, an R32 Skyline, and this R33 GT-R V-spec that came from the UK.
Externally, the Skyline remains largely originally, because let’s face it – GT-Rs don’t need much. The front bumper is a Blitz item featuring a larger opening for the intercooler, the bonnet is a Top Secret dry carbon fiber piece, and the mirrors – also carbon – are by Ganador.
This Skyline was built to be enjoyed, and over the many years he’s owned it, André’s enjoyed taking it for spirited drives on the weekend. And he doesn’t have to travel far for some amazing blacktop.
Villiersdorp is quite close to Franschhoek, the location of Red Bull’s Conquer The Cape video starring Mad Mike Whiddett and his BADBUL Mazda RX-8. Our shoot location was actually the road leading to the famed Franschhoek Pass, which was closed for a few months after a big storm damaged it quite significantly. Luckily, we were able to access a part of the cordoned-off road.
The tasteful modifications continue with the wheels, where you’ll find a set of highly sought after 3-piece 18-inch Nismo LM-GT1s (by RAYS) that have been fully rebuilt and refinished with gloss black faces, and wrapped up in grippy Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tyres.
Braking has been improved with a Tarox 6-pot package up front, and uprated discs and pads in the rear working with the original Brembo calipers.
For handling enhancement, the suspension system has been specced with a Cusco HICAS delete kit, Tein Mono Flex coilovers controlled by an EDFC Active Pro module, Whiteline sway bars front and rear, and adjustable arms.The Heart Of The Beast
The legendary RB26DETT is what draws many people to the R32, R33 and R34 variants of the Skyline GT-R, and this one’s been given a good work over with quality parts throughout. André says that it was pieced together by Abbey Motorsport in the UK more than 10 years ago, and it’s still going strong today.
An HKS 2.8L Step 2 stroker kit comprising of forged pistons, a lightweight forged crankshaft and H-beam connecting rods is at the heart of the build, but it’s only the start of a huge spec list that among many other things features HKS Step 2 cams, a modified Trust T78 single turbo with GReddy external wastegate on a Full Race manifold, A’PEXi Drag intercooler, 720cc injectors, a Kakimoto Racing exhaust and HKS F-CON V Pro engine management. Tuned on AVGAS, André’s fuel of choice, the result is an effortless 600kW (805hp).
The GT-R’s original 5-speed gearbox remains, but there’s an OS Giken triple-plate carbon clutch and lightweight flywheel in the mix to help transfer the power.
In stark contrast to the engine bay, the interior space is somewhat reserved. The seats and trim are all stock facelift fare, and they’re joined by a Momo steering wheel and Nismo gearknob. The only real hint that all is not stock under the bonnet are a bunch of Blitz gauges and an HKS EVC5 boost controller, which is switched from low to high boost depending on what fuel is in the tank.
As I said at the beginning of this post, the R34 is my favorite Skyline GT-R, but after experiencing André’s angry R33 during a beautiful day on an amazing closed road in the middle of nowhere, it’s hard not to have an different outlook on the often overlooked and under-appreciated middle child. This one’s pretty close to tuner perfection.