Farewelling A JDM Icon
The Final Chapter

About a month ago, I made the decision: I’d sell my 1970 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT.

This wasn’t the first time the thought had crossed my mind, but unlike all those other occasions, this time it felt right.

The car’s been part of my daily routine for 12 years. Even if I wasn’t driving it, my days would always start and end on a good note because I’d get to see it crouching in the garage. And when we drove it, we drove it a lot. Of all the cars I’ve ever owned, this is the one I’ve put the most miles on.

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The C10 Skyline range came out in Japan in 1968, with the first 2000 GT-R coupe version arriving a couple of years later and quickly making a name for itself. Fifty years on, genuine GT-Rs with their S20 engines and racing pedigree have become extremely valuable, but just as much of the Hakosuka story belongs to the other Skyline models that regular people bought.

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There were sedans, coupes and station wagons, and the range would start with four cylinders, drum brakes, and solid axles for police cars and taxis. At the top of the range were the glamorous GT coupes and sedans, with twin-carburetted straight-six engines, 5-speed transmissions, disc brakes, and all-round independent suspension. A Skyline GT cost ¥700,000 at a time when a family-spec Toyota Corona was ¥500,000 yen.

Nissan marketed the Skyline masterfully. Practicality was king in Japan at the end of the 1960s, and car commercials would often show moms putting kids into the back of a sedan. But Skyline commercials would have a lantern-jawed young man, donning driving gloves to go pick up his date. Skylines were less about families and more about sex, a premium small car that was the same price as a big sedan.

And when Nissan went racing with the 2000 GT-R, it won every race it entered for three years. Off the back of this, Nissan’s marketing hinted at the fact the car wasn’t for everyone – only seasoned drivers and real men.

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That only made everyone want a Skyline more, and in its debut year, the C10 was a commercial hit, tripling the sales records of the previous Skyline. If you’d like to witness some charmingly masculine ’60s JDM advertising, check out this clip.

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Later in the C10’s production, the flame-spitting GT-R racing coupes brought something special to the entire Skyline range – even the four-banger base models. The C10 story isn’t just about the GT-R, and like the first Ford Mustang is to Americans, today even Japanese people who don’t like cars seem to know what a Hakosuka Skyline is.

Owning An Icon
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My car started life as a 2000 GT coupe, born with a 105hp, single-cam straight-six engine and 4-speed transmission. While it was pretty boss ride for the day, it missed out on options like twin carbs, aircon, power windows and power steering, which were reserved for the plush 2000 GT-X edition.

Somewhere along the line in Japan, it was hot-rodded with GT-R-type spoilers and over-fenders, repainted in signature silver, fitted with a 2.7L straight-six and wide RS Watanabe wheels, and given a nice slam. Many non-GT-R Hakosukas were upgraded in a similar way, and today it’s much harder to find a stock-bodied C10 coupe than it is a GT-R look-a-like.

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Like many older cars, decades later my car fell into a cycle of disrepair and restoration. By 2004 it had gotten the better of its last Japanese custodian, who stored it away in a partially deconstructed state, and it would never drive again on Japanese soil. I came along in 2007 to inherit the project, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I had it running and driving, and I’ve been restoring it ever since.

Okay, cool story, but what’s it like to drive?

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If you’ve driven a 240Z, then a lot will be familiar. Behind the wheel, it’s easy to imagine yourself as the dashing Hakosuka commercial guy as you survey the dash full of gauges (it wouldn’t be a 1960s GT without them), the chunky dished steering wheel and the vintage ergonomics, like the big toggle switches for the wipers and washers.

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The driving position is very period, in that you’re laid back with that classic ’60s straight-arm position where the steering wheel is a little too far away. All the major controls, like the clutch and steering have a lot of heft. Once you’re moving, the steering lightens up but always takes some effort.

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The gearshift is awesome; it has just the right amount of resistance, a nice mechanical feel, and well defined, clicky slots. Its brakes are fine on a winding road or track, but like most old cars, it’s in city driving that you discover the limitations. When traffic suddenly stops, you can’t be shy with the brake pedal.

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The brakes might take some getting used to, but the handling is a pleasant surprise to everyone who’s driven it. Struts at the front, and semi-trailing arms at the back with a 2-way LSD, it’s a very modern-feeling setup for a ’60s car, just like a BMW 2002.

The steering is heavy because the ratio is quick, so not like old cars where you’re constantly winding the steering wheel. Thread a Hakosuka down a winding road and there is a little bit of mid-corner understeer, and just like a well set up 240Z, the nose lightens and it goes into a slight tail-out stance as you feed in the power. As is common with performance cars of the same era, it’s always sliding a little, but there’s a lot of feedback so it never feels threatening.

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But the biggest highlight of all is the engine.

The Nissan L-series is Japan’s small block Chevy; it’s big, plentiful, strong and has been developed for racing use over decades. Mine is bored out to 3.0L, with triple Webers, a big cam, big compression, big cylinder head ports, and a built bottom end.

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All told, the engine is good for 250hp, and sat in a chassis that weighs in at just 1,100kg, she goes pretty good. But it’s the sound that is to die for, with that ripping-canvas shriek that only performance cars of the ’60s era seem to pull off.

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So why am I selling it? Well, the short version is that after 12 years of living and breathing old Skylines, I feel like I’ve done everything there is to do, and I’m ready for the next project (don’t worry, you’ll like it).

It’s time to hand the keys to the next custodian.

Kevin San
Instagram: babalouie888

Photos by Matthew Everingham
Instagram: matthew_everingham

The Hakosuka on Speedhunters

Behind The Scenes: Speedhunter Vs. Hakosuka

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Damn, those are some gorgeous pictures.

Matthew Everingham

Thank you, Matty.


Life is all about letting go.
Eventually, you leave the primary vehicle behind too.

Matthew Everingham



Hakosuka you will be missed. RIP

Matthew Everingham

Hopefully it goes to another local owner and the legend will live on across Sydney streets.


I won't worry about your next one, didn't care about this one either. Just another copy and paste. Like the pictures.


The Clout Clown strikes.

ea lamatan- #PrayForKyoAni

I'm afraid you came to the wrong neighborhood to say that.....start packing up and leave pal


What do you drive?


He apparently drives a Honda, which are as un-"copy and paste" as it gets. You don't see those in traffic often.


Matthew, Babalouie, i love you both. spectacular photos chief, a fitting send off for the vehicle.

Matthew Everingham

Thanks dude. :)


Read about this on JNC. Such a sad story. I dont think I'd be able to part with my car let alone one of the most iconic and special cars in history. I'd retire it and make a massive display in my lounge room (if i had the money) or give it to a Nissan dealer to showcase haha


Cars are meant to be driven.


I never liked Hakosuka. But your build change it all. Now I want one.


What camera was used? and What lens primarily?

Matthew Everingham

Nikon D850, primary lens 70-200 2.8, and also used a 24-70 2.8.


Don't do it. Make some space for it and keep it. You'll miss it someday.


The next project is a little...ambitious...so there’s no way that I can do afford the new one, without selling the old one.

I’ve learned from experience that when you’re deep in a new restoration, your other cars get neglected. The Hako would have to be put in storage to make room at home, and next thing you know it’ll have sat idle for years and need another restoration to get it fresh again.

The right thing to do, is to let someone new take it over, keep working on it, driving it and sharing it around. That’s what the car deserves, and I’m no longer the right person to have it.


I was going to advise the same thing, "Don't do it!" - But I think you have the absolute right attitude about it, it's not fair to hold on to something so beautiful for the sake of nostalgia and sentiment.

I hope that your new project is as successful and beautiful as this one is. Good luck with it!


Great read. Anytime there is a old school Japanese car/garage involved on a SpeedHunters read, those are my favorite.


How much did you get for it?


I haven’t sold it yet!


Carporn. And best ad for sell ever


don't do it. it starting to sound like a story of regret.
this thing is a legend. and once its gone, replacing it will be difficult.
also sounds like part of the family... 12 years man :(


Well, I’m 50 and I bought the Hako when I was in my late 30s.

If I’m going to kick off another long restoration, I better start now :-)


Now I've gotten some new pictures for my computer home screen


Nice ad. GLWTS. Incidentally, I have a microwave surplus to requirements, two unused small bird cages, a hammock and a 14'x22' roll of purple wool carpet. Please place under 'miscellaneous items' in the new Speedhunters classified section. Thank you.


Inspired... I have forty pairs of part-worn mens socks, various colours, washed - 20 quid, and an old fishtail Parka that has some life in it still. XXL. Just needs the hood sewing back on. Collection only but happy to trade for Microwave/cages/medication...


Dibs on hammock

Matthew Everingham

What shade of purple? Do you accept swaps? I've got some orange carpet I'd be willing to part with for a slight cash adjustment my way.


Absolute staple of automotive photography. One day I'll get to that level lol


I will miss seeing this around. Not many owners are brave enough to take cars of this caliber in Chatswood traffic.


Lol, would it shock you if I said I park it at Mandarin Center from time to time


Taking your life in your hands by doing that.
I work at Archer Locksmiths, if you are in the area and need anything done come see me and I'll sort you out


I've promised myself that one day I will get one of these. Definitely my dream car, but for sure I will find a way to be with the steering wheel on the left side.

I will message you once the car is ready guys!


Classy. I suspect 240 is next project rite? hehe


No. Current plan is that it’ll be old, Italian and 12 cylinders.


A 1st Gen Fiat Panda with 2 spare engines! Wise choice.


@eoin kenny

Dang...how did you know? :-)


X3 Unos?


...or maybe 6x broken Cinqucento twin airs :-)


Sorry but that car goes to the grave with me


Good restoration but isnt this car just like putting GTR badges on a GTST ?
Don't pretend to be something you're not.


I've done a little research into UK based Hakos and of the 20 or so I know of, only 3 are genuine GTRs and only 2 don't have GTR badges xD


I ran without any badging for many years...as you say it isn’t a GT-R.

But one day I decided to change up the look a bit and fitted all the badges, and it does look so much better. The non-GT-R versions have trim and ornate plastic grilles where the badges go, so it looks very naked and plain without them.

In Japan, most clones have the GT-R badging for that reason. I was once told that the badges are needed to give it the right flavour, and they’re right, of course.

I’m always pretty careful to point out that the car is a GT, though.


I don't have one and don't think I'll ever be able to have one but I want one... badly. I know how you feel, I had owned far too many mk2 golfs over the last 10 years and had been on all the different forums and to all the different meets, I wanted a change, so everything vw went and I bought a 280z, it's good for a change, though I don't think personally I'd have sold the hako if I were in your position, in this instance by garage would have needed another space, they're just tooo rare and absolutely gorgeous.


As a guy who does a little photography (nowhere near your standard may I add), I can spot the tremendous amount of work that has gone into this beautiful set of images. Definitely something to aspire too.


They’re the result of an amazing amount of time and care, far more than me and my car deserves :-)


sad to see SH has turned into BAT for its' staff. and there's obviously nothing but hipster love for your cars. let me guess, next build is a porsche or an rx3


Nice use of lighting both at Dusk and at night, foreground and background. That light painting video at the end was a sweet little bonus. Good luck with your sale and your new project!