Nissan Skyline R32 Autech Version
Nissan Skyline R32 Autech Version
Image: Nissan

One of the most recent mechanic memes that made me chuckle went like this:

“Hello, I’d like a wake-up call.” “Sure. Four doors are parts cars.”

It’s not a totally unreasonable approach, especially since the hot variants of some cars only came in two- or three-door specification and the regular sedans were just that, regular. But as a result, some clean four door cars may give their lives so a ratty two-door can live, and I don’t know if that’s the best possible outcome.

Another thing came to mind when we talked Skylines the other day. The current GT-R is literally just a GT-R, and everything underneath it is an Infiniti of some sort. It didn’t use to be like that, as the Skyline name has been affixed to far larger model palette, with the GT-R just the crown jewel above the midsize cars, but still being visually clearly related to those. Some Skyline generations were even available in very ordinary specification, with pre-R32 models sometimes sold as diesels, sometimes as wagons and sometimes as diesel wagons. In brown, with a manual gearshift. But of course.

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Nissan Skyline VR30 Estate
Nissan Skyline VR30 Estate
Image: Nissan

Combine these two separate discussions and it feels to me like the four-door Skylines would well deserve their time in the spotlight. There’s just so much more to the model name than GT-R worship, and some of the sedan versions wore a really neat design, making them worthy of appreciation on their own.

Skyline ER34 sedan
Skyline ER34 sedan
Image: Nissan
Skyline ER34 sedan
Skyline ER34 sedan
Image: Nissan
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Let’s start working our way back from the R34 generation, from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. It’s perhaps here that the Skyline’s GT-R slant works worst on the sedan cars. While the front end is not unpleasant, the rear end and especially the taillight surrounds just seem enormous and somehow weird without the rear spoilers of the GT-R and lesser coupes.

Skyline GTS25 sedan (ER33)
Skyline GTS25 sedan (ER33)
Image: Nissan
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Skyline GTS25 sedan (ER33)
Skyline GTS25 sedan (ER33)
Image: Nissan

Compare that to the 1993-on R33, which managed to have a really attractive saloon development that manages to stand up on its own without needing comparison with the R33 GT-R. The front end is more anonymous, but the glasshouse and the rear combine into a very likeable form, far closer to a classy sedan than a supercar wannabe. Granted, the spoiler fitted on this GT-S sedan does help it, but the dimensions are far more balanced despite the visual heaviness. The chunky five-spoke wheels make the sedan resemble the S14 generation 200SX/240SX, which isn’t really a bad thing.

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Skyline GTS-T sedan (RCR32)
Skyline GTS-T sedan (RCR32)
Image: Nissan
Skyline GTS-T sedan (RCR32)
Skyline GTS-T sedan (RCR32)
Image: Nissan
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But as we move on to the R32 from 1989, it’s where things really get interesting. The sedan version manages to look amazingly pretty. The glasshouse is spot-on, everything looks superbly balanced and the rear end does absolutely perfectly without any spoiler attached onto the trunklid. The widening of the rear quarter, beginning from the middle of the rear door is a treat to look at, combined with the little kick of the rear window bottom. And the saloon had frameless windows, something that was lost with newer generations.

Earlier generation cars are far more formal than the R32, and newer ones just look heavier in comparison. It’s here that the Skyline stylists really nailed it, and it’s a shape that works stunningly well even in four door form.

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Automotive writer based in Finland. Never paid more than two grand for a car. Currently drives a manual turbodiesel wagon.

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