The sixth-generation Nissan Skyline may not have had a GT-R version, but it was hardly racing-averse. The venerable Super Silhouette Skyline made a name for itself on circuits across Japan, and the beloved RS Turbo — with its two-tone factory paint job and large gold decals — hardly kept its sporting intentions hidden. An endorsement from Butch Cassidy himself certainly helped along that perception of performance.
It’s no secret Paul Newman was an accomplished professional racing driver in addition to a legendary actor. What I didn’t know until today — thanks to the wonderful Instagram page Japanese Racing Cars — was that through his relationship with Datsun via Bob Sharp’s SCCA outfit, Newman employed his trustworthy, confident smirk to boost Skyline sales in Japan. And boost he did!
The “R30" Skyline launched in 1981, but thanks to Nissan’s cunning television and print ad campaigns, the Japanese public knew it as the “Newman Skyline.” There was even a “Paul Newman Version” of the R30 — Wikipedia tells us it was really just a dolled up GT-ES Turbo with decals and embroidery of the racer-actor’s signature.
Japanese Racing Cars reminds us that Newman drove a Skyline that looked an awful lot like Masahiro Hasemi’s heroic Group 5 Silhouette chassis in a spot filmed at Daytona. It wasn’t the same car of course, but a replica. From the post:
Although similarities with the original Skyline Super Silhouette entered by Nissan/Hasemi Sport at the Super Silhouette races from Japan, the counterpart driven by Paul for the ads was just a replica built by Nissan supposedly just for the occasion.
So this post is killing another myth that Paul Newman “shared” the wheel of the R30 Super Silhouette with Masahiro Hasemi in a certain time between 1982/1983. Actually Hasemi-san didn’t shared his monster with nobody, and Paul drove a replica for promotional reasons.
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Here’s what Newman’s doppelgänger actually looked like:
And here’s one of the commercials it was featured in. It appears at the very end:
Obviously that “terrific” R30 is an approximation of Hasemi’s competition counterpart, but it nevertheless intimidates. Especially the “Paul Newman” decal absolutely dominating the foot-deep splitter. Remember that these were the days of blurry, color-bleeding CRT TVs, and come hell or high water Nissan wasn’t about to leave any doubt as to the identity of its celebrity behind the wheel.
Likewise, the print ads are absolutely delightful. I can’t embed them in this post because of Internet Law, but you can check a few out yourself here and here. While you’re traversing this digital plane, why not make a stop at JRC’s Instagram page and give ’em a follow? I don’t subscribe to many IG accounts aside from those belonging to friends and family, and theirs is one of the chosen few.