This R34 Skyline GT-R Is the Holy Grail of JDM Tuner Culture

When you think of a Japanese tuner car, what comes to mind? Decals, a giant wing, cool wheels and a beefy body kit, right? It’s an aesthetic that oozes nostalgia, and it makes the Signal Auto R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R perhaps one of the most famous tuner cars to date.


On the outside, this R34 wears a coat of incandescent, multi-colored metallic paint. It’s papered with decals, the most prominent of which is a large Formula Drift sticker that evidences its time of going sideways.

Illustration for article titled This R34 Skyline GT-R Is the Holy Grail of JDM Tuner Culture

But tug out the pins and lift the hood and a highly polished tuner’s dream greets the eye. Usually, the engine is a 2.6-liter, but it’s now up to 2.8 and has an aluminum radiator. It can rev up to 10,000 RPM and makes about 600 to 650 horsepower to the wheels. And it’s been converted from all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive.

Consistent coverage of the Signal Auto R34 pretty much stopped after 2010, and that’s probably because it was picked up by its current owner, Colton Amster of Redline Restorations in Connecticut, in 2011. Amster was generous enough to lend us the day and walked us around his prized show car.

Illustration for article titled This R34 Skyline GT-R Is the Holy Grail of JDM Tuner Culture

The Signal Auto R34 is truly one-of-a-kind, but it’s not unmarred. Along its bumpers and fenders are scrapes and dents from its Formula Drift days. Once upon a time, Amster would have tried to get those fixed and buffed and repainted, but today he’s accepted that they are the battle scars, and they as much a part of the car as everything else about it is.


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Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.


awesomeaustinv @

The ‘90s GTRs are some of the few cars that I irrationally hate. I understand that they are incredible to drive and have amazing tuning potential and even though I don’t usually like ‘90s car styling, I have to admit that ‘90s GTRs (especially the R34) look really good. Just like everyone else, I’ve driven them in video games and was very impressed. And yet, despite all of this, I loathe Nissan GTRs. I think some of it has to do with the classic JDM-enthusiast quote, “Nissan GTRs are so great that it is illegal to import them into America because they can outrun any American police car”, which I have heard more than a few times too many. Every time I hear someone say this, I want to scream, but I have enough self control to instead simply give a lengthy explanation of all the many reasons why that quote is wrong and bad. So I understand that GTRs are amazing, but the portion of the GTR fandom that I have been exposed to has ruined the car for me.