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Listen: The Non-GT-R Nissan Skylines Are Excellent Too

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I have looked into your heart and I know who you are. You grew up on Gran Turismo dreams, pitcturing the day when those radical Nissan Skyline GT-R speed machines would be legal (and like, really legal) in the United States so you could drive so fast and so gloriously into your shining future. But! I am here to tell you that if you’re beholden to the GT-R alone, you are wrong.

Here’s the thing about the Nissan Skyline: it’s not so much a car, as it’s cars. There have been a lot of them in all different shapes and sizes. Skyline is a long-running nameplate in Japan that dates back to the Prince Motor Company in the 1950s, before it was acquired by Nissan a decade later. Over the years there have been all sorts of Skylines, including coupes, sedans, wagons and race cars. Technically, while the newest GT-R is its own thing, the Infiniti Q50 is a Skyline, too.


Yet of them all, the GT-R variants tend to be the most desirable—the Hakosuka and Kenmeri Skylines of the 1970s for sure, but most especially the R32, R33 and R34 of the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s that so dominated the tuning scene and video games. This makes sense. The GT-R was typically the top-shelf Skyline, the one derived from motorsports and built out to incredible horsepower numbers by modifiers.


While it is fine and good that the GT-R is so popular, it must be remembered that other variants of Skyline should not be discounted or written off. In fact, some of them are quite desirable.

I say this because of a 1998 Skyline GT-t sedan for sale on Vancouver Craigslist that came to my attention recently. I cannot own this car legally because it won’t be legal in my country for a few more years (remember, Canada’s import rule holds to 15 years and not 25) but I wish I could. I’m kind of in love.

This GT-t sedan (and it gets extra cool points for being a sedan) does not have the vaunted RB26DETT engine, but rather the smaller, single turbo 2.5-liter RB25DET inline-six engine. It’s rear-wheel drive, not all-wheel drive like the GT-R. However, it does have a five-speed manual, four-wheel steering and in this particular car’s case, a tasteful list of minor modifications.


That, my friends, is a neat car. Please find me a car that you can buy today that has all the following attributes:

  • Four doors
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • A five-speed manual
  • A turbocharged inline-six engine
  • Four-wheel steering

That’s right, you goddamn can’t. Because they don’t exist. All this for the extremely reasonable price of $12,900 Canadian, or about $10,400 American. Not bad!


But you, fellow American, can’t buy that even if you wanted to. Unless you stashed it in Canada, which is a lot of work. To prove my point further, here’s a 1991 Skyline GTS-T currently for sale by our friends at Japanese Classics in Virginia. Five-speed manual, 2.0-liter turbo straight six, rear-wheel drive, purrs like a kitten.


Will it give you the insane power and potential that a GT-R has? Nah, but there’s absolutely no shame in owning such a vehicle. Very much the opposite. It’s interesting. It’s sexy and different. I’m sure it’s quite fun to drive. And as I said, the Skyline has always been much more than just the GT-R.

Remember, you don’t need the best version of any car to have a great time. And the Skylines have such a rich, interesting history that’s only beginning to be truly experienced in America. Anyone who scoffs at the ones that aren’t GT-Rs—and yes, I have seen this—is missing out.


In the meantime, I’ll see you out there on the road, in whatever normal-ass Skyline you choose to make your own. You may even find the reality to be as sweet as your dream.