As car legends go, few have had their flames as passionately fanned as the Nissan Skyline. Despite extensive research proving only seven Americans have seen one on the street, and four have actually driven the mythical machine, it's astounding how often its tale is told. We're reminded of a particular Jonathan Gold restaurant review, in which he tells of intercepting scratchy CB conversations between truckers about a taqueria hidden somewhere in East Los Angeles. It's allegedly home to the world's most perfect torta. Gold never reveals if he found the mythic Mexican sandwich, or if the restaurant is anything more than a Hoffa-like figment of Teamster lore. And I'm glad. The reality could never hold up. That, in a nutshell, sums up my feelings vis-a-vis Nissan's decision to bring its Skyline replacement to America. The
get here already upcoming GT-R may whip a Porsche Turbo's ass around the 'Ring, but in time, we'll learn its flaws. Luckily, previous-generation Skylines remain automotive apocrypha to us Yanks, forever shrouded in imagination and painful thumb blisters. And now dear Jalops, you get to vote one into the Fantasy Garage.
Like many hot Japanese domestic market rides (Evo, WRX),
Electronic Arts' Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo is usually credited with alerting the American pistonhead's inner hoon to Nissan's world beater. We remember the Skyline from back when Mario was riding karts. In fact, the Skyline has been the stuff of dreams for several decades. In 1957, the Prince motor company released their first luxury car, the four-door Skyline. Powered, or rather underpowered, by a 1.5-liter straight four, the first Skyline was capable of reaching a grand total of 87 mph. Saving its bacon (in our mind at least) is the fact that the Skyline was available as both a wagon and a 'camino. And later as a coupe and a convertible. But pay no mind to its humble beginnings.
In 1966 Prince merged with Nissan-Datsun. In 1968 the company released the C10 Skyline, a rather handsome looking sedan still powered by a 1.5-liter engine (G-15), though power was up to 94 hp. In 1969, the Skyline GT-R came to market complete with a 2.0-liter DOHC straight-six good for 160 hp. The US spec Porsche 911 S was making 170 hp in 1969 (thought the Euro-spec model was good for 190 hp). Meaning the GT-R was seriously fast, especially for a JDM vehicle.
Later Nissan came out with a coupe version and, combined, the two body styles racked up 1,000 racing victories by the time they went out of production in 1972. Nissan blamed the car's fate on the oil crisis. The final iteration of the original Skyline (known as the KPGC110 2000GT-R) sold only 197 copies and was never raced. We know the C10 Skyline GT-R is a long shot for the Fantasy Garage and has as much chance of making it as Clay Aiken does finding a nice girl, but we're giving you the chance to vote on it for one simple reason: To battle the C10's notorious understeer, racers took to grabbing the handbrake while in motion. And just like that, drifting was born.
After mucking about for most of the 70s and 80s (though the C211 GT-ES was the first turbocharged Japanese car), Nissan big time bellied up to the bar in 1989 with the eighth-generation Skyline, the R32 GT-R. If being the first truly mega-performance Skyline counts for anything, than this is the car to go in the Fantasy Garage. Let's start with the engine.
The 2.6-liter RB26DETT (the RB prefix may or may not have stood for "Race Bred") was designed to produce 500 hp in racing tune. As sold, the RB26DETT with its twin-ceramic intercooled turbos, noisy recirculating blow off valve and DOHC four-valve heads put out 276 hp. Like most of our Fantasy Garagers, the R32 GT-R actually stonked closer to 320 horses, but because of Japan's lingering "gentleman's agreement," all cars sold on the island nation could be sold producing no more than 276 hp. However, Nissan colored the governor in the control lines yellow so owners could easily yank it out once they left the dealership. Long story short, the R32 was bloody fast. And with a little bit of tweaking, 600 hp is easily achieved. With some severe wrenching, 1,340+ hp was attainable (that's one megawatt for you metric types)!
Unlike last week's Buick GNX, which was also underrated in the power department, the Skyline was designed to do much more than go straight fast. Its all-wheel-drive system known as ATTESA E-TS was ridiculously advanced for the time. Lead engineer Naganori Itoh followed the mighty footsteps of Porsche's 959. Therefore the ATTESA E-TS was essentially a rear-drive system (constant power to the rear diff) with a transfer case mounted at the back of the gearbox to supply torque to the front wheels if slippage is detected at the rear. Just like in the 959, a chain-driven, multi-plate wet clutch pack routes power through a central differential when called for. The GT-R also featured Super HICAS electronic four-wheel steering. The cars were light, too.