Nissan is in the midst of a rebirth now, given that it’s revitalized most of its lineup in recent months and the new Z Proto is signaling exciting things for the brand’s bread-and-butter performance car. The outlier in this transformative era is, strangely, the R35 Nissan GT-R, which has been on the market 13 years and looks to remain here for at least a few more.
I don’t want to beat the drum that we need a new GT-R now. I find it ironic that many of us enthusiasts are always lamenting the disappearance of beloved models, saying things like “if they sold the Honda S2000 today exactly how it was 20 years ago, I’d buy one in a heartbeat.” Meanwhile, we lampoon cars like the R35 GT-R and 370Z for sticking around past their supposed prime. It smacks of a little hypocrisy, is all.
Nevertheless, when we do get a new GT-R, I hope it builds upon what the GT-R50 by Italdesign started.
The GT-R50 was originally built at as a concept car in 2018 to commemorate the coinciding 50th anniversaries of both design studio Italdesign and the GT-R nameplate. The one-off was such a hit that both companies decided to put it into limited production, restricted to an appropriately sized run of 50 examples and priced at 990,000 euros, or nearly $1.2 million. Those cars should be making deliveries as we speak.
Under Italdesign’s exterior craftsmanship, this is essentially a GT-R NISMO, which isn’t such a bad car to be. All told, you’re getting 720 horsepower in the GT-R50 — roughly 150 HP more than the standard R35 — and 575 lb-ft of torque.
The GT-R50's looks are polarizing for sure, but I personally can’t get enough of this thing. I love the way the blocky, painted portion of the body gives way to a curvier form shrouded in carbon fiber underneath. And in profile, I’m picking up an old-school vibe from the C-pillar back, that reminds me of the popular Nissan IDx concept from 2013. The overall effect is aggressive and futuristic, but never obnoxious — just like a GT-R should be.
Italdesign, of course, has a catalog of car design triumphs under its belt, though I think some of the company’s more interesting excursions are when it pens takes on existing sports cars. In addition to the GT-R50, there was the Corvette Moray of 2003, an opulent, Art Deco-infused spin on the American classic with Italian flair. Three years after that, we saw the Giugiaro Mustang, which in retrospect certainly informed the current-gen pony car with its sloping, pointed nose.
Whenever Italdesign reimagines icons like these, I almost always end up preferring the company’s coachbuilt renditions to the originals. Here’s hoping Nissan carries these ideas forward to the R36 GT-R, whenever we get it.