Not All GT-Rs Were All-Wheel Drive

Illustration for article titled Not All GT-Rs Were All-Wheel Drive

For years, us Americans dreamed of all-wheel drive Nissan Skyline GT-Rs, cars that we’d only see in Gran Turismo, banned from our roads. But now that more and more Skylines are legal under the 25-year import rule, we’re getting more and more of these things, including the non-AWD models.

These are the GT and GTS and GTS-t and a few other models of Skylines, versions that Nissan sold with rear-wheel drive, not all-wheel drive. I’ve seen more and more of these cars turning up on Craigslist, in import shop inventories and in drifting meets. They’re good cars, cars I never really thought of until recently.

And that all brings to mind a car that doesn’t fit particularly well into the GT-R history: the later GT500 cars that raced in Japan’s touring car championship.

This 1999 Skyline GT-R still has an RB26DETT inline six like the road car (though Nissan explains that this race version has its displacement upped to 2.7 liters for a good 500 horsepower and 520 lb-ft of torque), but the race car is rear-wheel drive not all-wheel drive to comply with the series’ rules. You see similar stuff happening to Audi R8s and Lamborghinis today.

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The earliest GT-Rs were rear-wheel drive, but it’s still nice to see this late, modern GT-R working with rear-wheel drive. It shows what balance and poise the chassis itself has without the mechanical and computer-controlled wizardry of an AWD GT-R.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

When you get past the GT-R trim level fan-boy fandom you realize that, for what’s maybe a very terrible way of putting it, the Nissan Skyline is effectively Japan’s Ford Mustang.

The GT-R has (had?) really disillusioned a lot of people. I remember years ago that a good chunk of people in the US (from what I would come across) didn’t seem to believe they came in four-door sedan trim levels despite the four door model being ridiculously common in Japan; like they were some sort of Nissan model converted somehow.