Masanari Furukawa has been in love with this car since he was 10 years old. He’s had a few haircuts since then, but his C211 Nissan Skyline – aka Skyline Japan – has had a little more work done.
Growing up, Furukawa-san was really into American hot rod and lowrider culture, admiring ultra-clean custom fabrication work, tasteful washes of chrome and the classic styling that makes old cars seem timeless.
Back in the early 2000s, Furukawa-san would jump in the passenger seat of this very Skyline and cruise to various car shows. At the time, the C211 sedan was owned by a family friend, but Furukawa-san vividly remembers putting a deal in place long before anyone else even had a chance. “When I get my driver’s license, you have to sell this car to me,” he told his dad’s friend.
From that day on, Furukawa-san saved up his money, patiently waiting for his 18th birthday. When he passed his driver’s license test, the deal he made all those years ago finally came full circle, and he handed over the cash in exchange for the set of keys to his childhood dream machine.
At this time, Skylines of the C211 era would have been around 20 years old – about the same vintage that my Impreza is today. To me, the two decade mark is about the time cars start to be seen less as old, outdated models and appreciated more as classics.
I met Furukawa-san in a parking area near Lake Sagami, a popular destination with locals and Tokyoites since the 1970s. This location is full of Showa period fun parks and hotels, most of which are now abandoned or closed to the public. The roads around the lake are pretty scenic though, and due to the current situation, pretty empty. When I arrived, Furukawa-san was waiting with the Skyline on a trailer towed by his Chevy Silverado.
Just as the Kenmeri nickname was born from Nissan’s Japanese television commercial for the 4th generation Skyline, which featured two carefree characters, Ken and Mary, frolicking in the sunshine and picnicking with their beloved new car, the 5th generation Skyline advert also featured a young couple enjoying their fresh-off-the-production-line Nissan. Except this time, the commercials closed with an American overdub exclaiming “Skyline, Japan.” Obviously, they meant that this was the Skyline from Japan, but without the clarification it did seem as though this model was being labeled Skyline Japan. As is often the case, English expressions lost in translation have become an iconic part of Japanese culture, and in this case an adopted name for the C210/C211 model.
I’ve shown this image set to a few people already, and the recurring word used to describe Furukawa-san’s Skyline is clean. It’s not hard to see why either, as the build has been executed in an uncluttered, refined and deceptively simple manner. The pearlescent, opal-flaked white paint is a custom colour created by Furukawa-san himself, and it shifts hue in the sun like a chameleon on acid. It’s truly beautiful to see.
At the front, the iconic twin headlights and chrome bumper are complemented nicely by an original Volk front spoiler. This spoiler helps prevent front end lift and also brings the proportions of the car lower to the ground.
At the rear, another vintage spoiler helps to balance out the lines of this awkward late-’70s/early-’80s beauty. This time Furukawa-san has sourced an original Hiro ducktail which keeps thing period correct and gives the otherwise very simple-looking build a little edge.
The car sits very nicely on Skipper Hydro 1P1B air suspension and 15×7.5-inch front and 15×8-inch rear Rotiform GTB wheels. Behind the polished four-spoke fronts are Wilwood 2-pot calipers finished in Furukawa-san’s custom pearl white paint, another little detail that helps this build stand out from the rest.
While the exterior is beautiful yet unassuming, when you open the solid doors with a satisfying click that just reeks of vintage quality, the interior beckons you in with all manner of gadgets and period-correct style.
These include a pair of ’80s-era Pioneer TS-X60 speakers, an ignition kill switch, Auto Meter Sport-Comp Monster tacho, AEM air/fuel ratio gauge and a manual controller for the air suspension. The custom panels have been finished in black vinyl to give a classy, OEM-like feel.
On the functional side of things, you’ll find a one-off roll cage made by Saito, Bride Exas III bucket seats, and a relocated battery for reasons that will soon become clear.
The C211’s original L20 engine has been replaced with an L28, the same powertrain found in the Cedric, Gloria, and even the Patrol right up until 2002. Not only does the L28 have a larger displacement, it also has a redesigned cast iron block, increasing crankshaft support bearings from five to seven. This improved durability made the engine run much quieter and smoother. To keep things nice and tidy, Furukawa-san decided that 3.0 was a much cleaner number that 2.8, so the new block was bored out an extra 3mm to accommodate 89mm forged pistons.
The upgraded engine is being fed by triple 45mm Weber carburettors, and with support from the new pistons, big valves and reinforced valve springs, it’s churning out a healthy 280hp. That’s a whisker off double the original output of the L28 and 43% more powerful than the Skyline’s original L20. What’s more, K’s Trading in Saitama has been beautifully restored, painted, chromed and polished the engine like a black diamond inside a pearl-lined jewellery box.
By now you’ve probably realised why the battery is behind the driver’s seat. Taking inspiration from lowriders and hot rods, Furukawa-san always dreamed of a super-clean, shaved and tucked engine bay, and this aspect of the build was completed by a custom metalwork and paint shop called Hasty, also in Saitama. As you can see, it’s pretty minimalistic and ultra-clean. Driving the latter point home, when Furukawa-san opened the hood he removed some plastic cling film from the bay area near the carburettors. He had put it there to prevent fuel splashing onto the pristine paintwork.
Even though this precious pearl arrived on a trailer like the Queen of Saitama, her looks are definitely not all for show. Cruising around in the 30+°C heat, I kept asking if the old girl’s engine temperature was OK. “Everything is absolutely fine,” Furukawa-san confirmed. I for one was absolutely melting, so credit where credit’s due to K’s Trading for building a totally useable, reliable and beautiful motor.
In a world where so many people buy cars as projects just to be the first person to modify them with the latest trends – only then to sell them for the next big thing – it’s refreshing to meet people like Furukawa-san who build their cars to keep. Maybe it’s more of a classic car thing, where owners have kept their cars for over the 10-year mark, and during that time they’ve been refined so thoroughly that they become truly special and truly connected to their custodians.