Nissan Skyline GT-R: history and evolution of the Japanese sports car

Name Nissan Skyline GT-R It is well known worldwide and has been raising passions for many years. If you ask about a series of sports cars of Japanese origin, a large part of the public will answer you with this family, which has a very long and interesting story. More than six decades have passed since its inception, so we are going to review its evolution with the different models and generations that have followed to date.

The precursor: Prince Skyline ALSI (1957)

Although we have always related the Skyline to Nissan, the truth is that its first appearance was under the umbrella of another brand. In 1957 the Prince Skyline appeared, a sedan from the Japanese firm Prince Motor Company that sought to position itself in the luxury segment. Several bodies of the model were released and there was even a competition version: the GT Skyline. In 1966, Prince merged with Nissan and a new chapter in history began, since clearly this model was one of those that remained in the range.

Nissan Skyline C10 (1969)

It didn’t take long for the first generation of the Nissan Skyline, already out of Prince and with a different personality. It remained a sedan, although its six-cylinder engine increased its power to 160 HP, quite impressive for the date. In fact, this model was also the first to have a GT-R version that took some characteristics of the competition specimen and reached that figure. It was available with a four-door body and also as a coupe later, beginning its legacy.

Nissan Skyline C110 (1972)

After that “Hakosuka”, nickname of the first Skyline 2000 GT-R, a new generation arrived. He Nissan Skyline C110 He will not go down in history as the best or the best known. He came out in 1973 in the middle of the oil crisis, which meant that he could not succeed as he deserved. The “Kenmari” also had a very interesting GT-R version, although only 197 units of this generation would be sold before withdraw from production. And it was a long break, since it would be more than a decade until the sports acronyms were recovered.

Nissan Skyline R30 (1981)

In the 1980s, the Nissan Skyline did not stand out too much. It was a transition period in which the R30 generation. In reality, it was a very versatile vehicle that was available in up to four bodies to add up to a total of 26 different versions in the years it was on the market. Among them would not be the expected GT-R, so it would end up going a little more unnoticed than the rest.

Nissan Skyline R31 (1985)

The same would happen with the Nissan Skyline R31, launched in 1986 with a more square design than previous generations. It did not have a GT-R version, but it is currently recognized for being the first to mount the famous “Red Top” engine, that FJ20 block with red cover which would be the predecessor of the most popular mechanics of the Japanese brand.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 (1989)

With the crisis left behind, in 1989 the Nissan Skyline GT-R R32, the generation that returned the splendor to this long-standing model. Now it was a pure GT-R, which had the RB26DETT 2.6-liter inline six-cylinder engine, which would go down in history for its performance and versatility. The all-wheel drive model reached up to 280 HP and soon gained a place in the JDM culture of the United States with the most outlandish preparations. There was also a competition version that won all the races it competed in (29 in a row) to begin to forge the legend.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 (1995)

The Japanese brand had hit the nail on the head and knew it, so it just had to continue that concept. He Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 It followed in the footsteps of its predecessor, maintaining the famous RB26DETT engine, although with some evolution in many ways. It had an optimized chassis and better weight distribution. Although the key to its effectiveness was the Attesa E-TS Pro all-wheel drive, which made him even faster. He slightly improved his power and managed to beat the Nürburgring record by going under 8 minutes.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 (1999)

He Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 He was born in 1998 and is one of the most remembered for his participation in several renowned films. The body took on a new, more aerodynamic design and had a shorter wheelbase. With that formula and, again, with the RB26DETT biturbo engine, it became a rival to beat. He assembled a new box Getrag manual transmission with six speeds and there was also an option for the RB28DETT Z-Tune engine. It was the last of an unrepeatable saga, although the story would not end there.

Nissan GT-R Proto Concepts (2001 and 2005)

With the legendary Skyline GT-R R34, a golden era came to an end. However, Nissan faced the turn of the century by working on a new concept. They did not want to lose the GT-R name and worked on a couple of prototypes that would show off its meaning. The first came out in 2001 with controversial shapes and very focused on performance. It had a second evolution in 2005 that was much closer of what would be the production GT-R R35 and which would lead to one of the most striking cars of recent times.

First Nissan GT-R R35 2007

The successor arrived in 2008 after being shown in prototype form. We talk about first Nissan GT-R, the R35 that no longer carried the Skyline name anywhere. It was a paradigm shift by introducing a completely different design and also innards that had nothing to do with those of its predecessors. This specimen mounted a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 with 476 hp. From the first moment it showed itself to be a real beast due to its incredible performance and all-wheel drive, putting much more expensive rivals in trouble. This earned him the nickname “Godzilla.”

50th anniversary

Of the Nissan GT-R R35 we saw several updates and the launch of different versions, including some striking ones like the GT-R Nismo. Meanwhile, in 2020 the 50th anniversary was celebrated of the model and some tributes were made. In addition to the GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition, the impressive Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign has also been made, the most exclusive and expensive to date. With this yes It seems that the end has arrived of a golden era.

Current and future of the Nissan GT-R

Although It’s been almost two decades Since its launch, the GT-R remains on sale in some markets. He said goodbye to Europe, but he is still alive in his native Japan, where they even made a special edition relatively recently. It seems that 2025 will be the year of farewell definitive of this model and it is still not clear whether it has a future or not. It seems likely that the Nissan GT-R can be maintained as it is today.

To survive it will have to be electrified and that’s bad news for the most purists and followers of the original Skyline. There is talk of a new hybrid generation with impressive performance levels, but still no news. Its design could be in line with that of the new Nissan Z, with that retro touch that the public has liked so much. What is not so clear is whether it will reach the European market.

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