SPEED GT

Nissan Skyline GT-R

This article is for the Nissan sports coupe produced from 1969 to 2002. For the 2007 continuation of the GT-R name, see Nissan GT-R.

The new GT-R is referred as the Skyline.

The Nissan Skyline GT-R is a Japanese sports car based on the Nissan Skyline range.

History of the brand

The Skyline name originated from Prince automobile company, which developed and sold the Skyline line of sedans before merging with Nissan-Datsun. The GT-R abbreviation stands for Gran Turismo Racer while the GT-B stands for Gran Turismo Berlinetta. The Japanese chose to use English when naming the car — as most cars made in Japan at that time used American abbreviation — to further enhance sales. The earliest predecessor of the GT-R, the S54 2000 GT-B, came second in its first race in 1964 to the purpose-built Porsche 904 GTS. The next development of the GT-R, the four-door PGC10 2000 GT-R, scored 33 victories in the one and a half years it raced, and by the time it attempted its 50th consecutive win, its run was ended by a Mazda Savanna RX-3. The car took 1000 victories by the time it was discontinued in 1972. The last of the original GT-Rs, the KPGC110 2000GT-R, used an unchanged S20 160 hp (120 kW) inline-6 engine from the earlier 2000 GT-R and only sold 197 units due to the worldwide energy crisis. This model was the only GT-R to never participate in a major race despite the sole purpose-built racecar which now resides in Nissan's storage unit for historical cars in Zama.

The Skyline continued into the 1990s when it became popular largely because it remained rear wheel drive, while most other manufacturers were focusing on front wheel drive cars.

After a 16 year hiatus after the KPGC110 Skyline GT-R of 1973, the GT-R version of the Skyline was reintroduced with the eighth generation Skyline R32 in 1989. The GT-R became the flagship of Nissan performance, showcasing many advanced technologies including the ATTESA-ETS 4WD system and the Super-HICAS four-wheel steering. The GT-Rs remained inexpensive compared to its European rivals, with a list-price of ¥ 4.5 million (about US$ 31,000).

GT-R Skylines of the 1990s progressed from the R32 (1989) through to the R34 (1999). Production of the GT-R ceased in August 2002. Although Nissan continues the Skyline name, a new GT-R was not developed as part of the lineup. However, it was later announced that a new Nissan GT-R would go into production as a separate car line, separating it from the Skyline nameplate. The new GT-R debuted in 2007.

Throughout its lifetime, various special editions containing additional performance-enhancing modifications, were released by Nissan and its performance division Nismo (Nissan Motorsport).

Versions

1st generation (1969-1972)

The first Skyline GT-R, known by the internal Nissan designation PGC10, was released in February 4 1969. It was available originally as a four-door sedan after a public debut at the 15th annual Tokyo Motor Show. It was advertised alongside the Nissan R380A racecar to showcase its racing heraldry. It was equipped with the 2.0 L DOHC S20 I6 producing at 7000 rpm and of torque. Power was delivered to the rear wheels by a 5-speed manual transmission. The first Skyline GT-R rode on a semi-trailing arm strut suspension. It was available as a coupe in March 1971 with the chassis code KPGC10.

A popular name for the PGC and KPGC10 Skyline GT-R was "Hakosuka," which is a combination of the Japanese word for box ("hako" or ハコ) and the pronounced abbreviation of skyline ("Suka" or スカ as in スカイライン or "sukairain").

A total of 1,945 PGC and KGPC10 Skyline GT-R's were produced.

2nd generation (1972-1977)

The KPGC10's successor, the C110, was released in 1973 after its introduction at the 1972 Tokyo motor show. Powered by a 1989 cc I6 S20 engine, the second generation GT-R delivered power to the rear wheels through a 5-speed manual gearbox. The suspension was a semi-trailing ring arm setup and minor aerodynamic parts were added.

This edition of the GT-R was also known as the "Ken & Mary" Skyline, due to a popular advertisement featuring a young couple (Ken and Mary) enjoying the Hokkaido countryside. The advertisement later spawned a hit song by Buzz, and the tree featured in the advertisement later became a minor star itself.

Unfortunately, the second generation GT-R was unsuccessful, for a gas crisis hit in the early 1970s, drying out any demand for high-performance sports cars. A total of 197 cars were built by the end of its short production run. For the next decade, this would be the last GT-R until the production of the R32 in 1989.

3rd generation (1989–1994)

Concept

After canceling the Skyline GT-R marque in 1973, Nissan revived the GT-R again in 1989. At the time Nissan was competing in Group A Racing with the 1988 Nissan Skyline GTS-R. Nismo wanted to retire the GTS-R in favor of a more competitive vehicle. The Nissan Skyline E-BNR32 chassis (commonly shortened to R32) had just been designed, and was chosen as a base to build a more competitive Group A race car.

Nismo originally designed the new R32 Group A Skyline to have a 2350 cc Straight 6 turbocharged engine, and produce 313 horsepower (230 kW) using a RWD drivetrain. Under Group A regulations, a turbocharged engine must multiply its engine displacement by 1.7, putting the new Skyline in the 4000 cc class, and requiring the use of 10-inch-wide tires. Knowing that they would be required to use 10-inch-wide tires, Nismo made the decision to make the car all wheel drive. Nismo developed a special motorsport-oriented AWD system for this purpose called the ATTESA E-TS. Although this assisted with traction, it made the car heavier; the added weight put the GT-R at a disadvantage to other cars in the 4000 cc class. Nismo then made the decision to increase the displacement to 2600 cc, and put the car in the 4500 cc class, with the car's weight near-equal to competing cars. The 4500 cc class also allowed for 11-inch-wide tires.

Production

This new 2.6 L all wheel drive concept, designed by Nismo, was put into production by Nissan as the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R. Initial production of the car was the required 5000 to allow for homologation starting on May 22, 1989 which with critical acclaim by the motoring press along with heavy demand for the car, Nissan opted to allow an unlimited production run which went on sale to the public in August 1989, and began its Group A campaign in 1990. Due to strict Group A homologation rules, Nissan was required to also sell a series of the Skyline GT-R which more accurately reflected the car they use in Group A racing. This series was called the Skyline GT-R 'Nismo' edition.

The Skyline GT-R 'Nismo', introduced in February 22, 1990, has a total production of 560 units as required for the "Evolution" models regulation (over 500). Its purpose is to homologate a number of aerodynamic changes used in Group A racing. Changes include additional ducts in the front bumper to improve airflow to the intercooler, a bonnet lip spoiler to direct more air into the engine bay, and an additional boot lip spoiler to provide more downforce. The 'Nismo' GT-R was only available in Gunmetal Grey.

The Skyline GT-R 'N1' model, introduced on July 19, 1991, was designed for home-market N1 racing with a total of 228 units produced. The most notable change was in the engine, which was upgraded to the R32-N1 specification. The car was also lightened by the removal of the ABS, air conditioning, sound system, rear wiper, trunk carpet, and the use of light-weight headlights. No color options were available and all 'N1' cars were delivered with a thin layer of Crystal White paint.

To celebrate the success of the GT-R in both Group N and Group A racing, Nissan introduced the Skyline GT-R V-Spec ("Victory Specification") car on February 3, 1993. The V-Spec added Brembo brakes and a retuned ATTESA E-TS system to the Nismo and N1 packages, as well as 17" BBS wheels with 235/45/17 tires. The V-Spec has a list price of ¥ 5.260 million.

Finally on February 14, 1994 the Skyline GT-R V-Spec II was released, with the only change being wider 245/45/17 tires. Total production of the V-Spec I and II was 1,453 and 1,303 units respectively.

Total production of the R32 Skyline GT-R was 43,394 units, with production starting on May 22, 1989. An above average proportion of the GTR's were sold in white: this is likely due to the fact that white is the national racing color of Japan in international motorsport.

Production figures

Standard Cars = 40,390
NISMO Group A Evolution = 560
V-Spec = 1,453
V-Spec II = 1,303
N1 Race Version = 228
Total = 43,934

4th generation (1995–1998)

The E-BCNR33 (R33) was developed in 1995 as a successor to the venerable R32 model. The engine in the R33 was nearly identical to the R32. It used the same turbochargers and the same specification for the manual gearbox, although the syncros were made to be stronger. The engine corrected the R32's weak oil pump drive collar, which tended to fail in higher power applications, with a wider collar. The R33 engine also introduced a mechanical advance on the intake camshaft improving torque slightly. The base model R33 GT-R weighs 1540 kg.

The R33 GT-R launched in January 1995 with the base model GT-R and the V-spec model. The V-spec model weighed in heavier, and had sportier suspension resulting in lower ground clearance. The V-spec also featured the newer ATTESA E-TS Pro all wheel drive system, which included an Active Limited Slip differential. The V-spec model also included a four wheel independent channel anti-lock braking system.

At the same time as the release of the R33 GT-R, and GT-R V-spec, Nissan released an R33 GT-R V-spec N1 model. Changes on the R33 N1 model are similar to the R32 N1 model. The car was made lighter, by removing the ABS, air conditioning, sound system, rear wiper, and the trunk carpet. The R33 GT-R V-spec N1 received the slightly revised R33 N1 engine.

A special edition R33 was released on November 3, 1997. The car was called the 400R, with R standing for Racing. Developed with Nismo, it featured an overbored RB26DETT engine, the RBX-GT2, with polished ports, an upgraded exhaust, composite parts, and a more free flowing turbo and intercooler system. The car developed 400 horsepower and 347 lbs-tq, which allowed a top speed of over , and enabled it to reach 0-97 km/h in 4.0 seconds. This version was a limited 100 units available to the general public.

A limited 4 door version of the R33 Skyline GT-R was produced to celebrate Nissan's 40th anniversary. The car was produced by Autech and Nismo, both tuning subsidiaries of Nissan.

Production figures

Standard Cars = 9,871
V-Spec = 6,551
Autech-Version = 447
Total = 16,422
(Figures Include N1 and LM Limited Versions)

5th generation (1999–2002)

The GT-BNR34 (R34) Skyline GT-R and GT-R V-spec models were released in January 1999. The R34 GT-R was also made to be shorter (from front to rear), and the front wheels were made closer to the front. The valve covers were also painted glossy red, rather than dull black.

A new feature on the R34 GT-R is a 5.8" LCD multifunction display on the center of the dashboard, which shows seven different live readings of engine and vehicle statistics such as turbocharger pressure (1.2 bar max), oil and water temperature, among others. The GT-R V-spec model added two extra features to the display: intake and exhaust gas temperatures. Special order Nismo Multi-function Displays (MFD) included a lateral-G meter, a lap timer and an increase in boost pressure measurement to 2 bar. R34 rears are longer than previous models.

Like the R33, the new R34 GT-R V-spec models come equipped with the ATTESA E-TS Pro system and an Active LSD at the rear, while standard GT-R models come with the non-Pro system and a conventional mechanical differential. The V-spec model also had firmer suspension, and lower ground clearance. The V-spec model also included a plastic front air diffuser (covering the underside of the engine), and also a rear carbon fiber air diffuser, designed to keep air flowing smoothly under the car.

Another special model of the R34 GT-R is the M-spec. It was similar to the V-spec, but had special "Ripple control" dampers and a leather interior with heated front seats.

At the time of the R34's release, like the R32 and R33, Nissan released an R34 N1 model. The R34 GT-R N1 was equipped similar to the R32 and R33 N1 models - a homologation special. It was sold without ABS, air conditioning, audio equipment, rear wiper, or carpet in the trunk. The new R34 N1 was also given the new R34 N1 engine. Only 45 R34 N1 models were produced from the factory, 12 of which were used by Nismo for Super Taikyu racing. The rest were sold to various customers, mostly racing teams, and tuning garages.

In August 2000, Nissan released a newer V-Spec II GT-R model. The V-Spec II has increased stiffness in the suspension (even stiffer than the original V-spec) and had larger brake rotors on the rear. It also comes equipped with a carbon fiber hood, which is lighter than the aluminum that all other GT-R hoods are made from. Also different on the V-Spec II was an iridium center console and aluminium pedals. The seats were also made with black cloth rather than the gray cloth used on previous R34 GT-R models, and the amber turn lenses were replaced with white versions. From this point on the standard trim level GT-Rs and V-Specs also received these updates, with the exception of the carbon fiber bonnet.

In February 2002 Nissan released a final production model of the R34 GT-R called the Nür. Nissan also released a limited Manufacturer Special model designated the M-Spec. This came in two forms, the base M-Spec, and the Nür. The Nür was sold in 2 different models: the Skyline GT-R V-spec II Nür and the previously mentioned Skyline GT-R M-spec Nür. The Nür was named after the famous German Nürburgring racetrack, where the Skyline was developed. The Nür model featured an improved RB26DETT based on the N1 racing engine, used by Nismo in Motorsports. The V-spec II Nür is based on the regular V-spec II model, and the M-spec Nür was based on the regular M-spec model. Other than the addition of the Nür engine, the Nür models also included a different color of stitching on the interior trim, as well as a speedometer reading up to .

Production figures

Standard Cars = 3,964
V-Spec = 7,301
N1 Race Version = 45
Total = 11,310

Z-Tune

Nismo originally designed the concept of the Z-tune in 2002 when Nissan was putting an end to the R34 Skyline production. The first Z-tune was built in 2003, using a used 2002 Skyline GT-R V-Spec II. It was built with a concept RB26DETT 'Z1' engine. The cylinder diameter was bored out, and the crankshaft was designed with a longer stroke. The engine was now a 2.8L, and produced about .

Nismo was then given the approval from Nissan to build 20 Z-tune models for the nismo anniversary. For the 20 production models, the 2.8L engine was revised to allow it to reach 9000 rpm. The turbochargers were supplied by IHI in Japan. The engine is advertised as making as much as 500 hp (for warranty reasons). This second revision of the Z-tune engine is called the 'Z2'. The bodywork is designed with the same functional components used in Nismo's GT500 racing cars, such as engine bay vents on the hood and fenders, as well as wider fenders for wider wheels. The Z-tune is also improved with an aggressive suspension setup from ohlins/sachs, and a specially designed Brembo brake setup.

The entire car is essentially handmade, with the car being completely stripped and re-built from the chassis up. Engineers reinforced and stiffened the chassis seam welding in key areas such as the door seams and door frames and added carbon fiber to the strut towers and transmission tunnel and the engine bay, completely redesigning the suspension, drivetrain, engine, gearbox and other components so as to work at maximum efficiency and reliability as is expected of a road-going vehicle. Only 20 units exist worldwide and is often regarded as the most expensive (prices for some have been known to exceed $180,000 usd) street legal GT-R ever built.

Replacement

Following the end of R34 production in 2002, Nissan announced their plans to separate the GT-R model from the Skyline name, creating an entirely new vehicle although it would remain on the same platform as the Skyline. This new car, now known simply as the Nissan GT-R, debuted in 2007 in Tokyo. It will be the first GT-R available worldwide, entering the North American market for the first time.

Although based on the FM platform used by the V36 generation Skyline, the GT-R uses an evolved Premium Midship (PM) platform. The car retains its heritage by using the chassis code CBA-R35, or simply R35.

Powertrain

The GT-R of the 1990s included a 2.6 L straight six-cylinder twin-turbo engine producing 206 kW (276 hp). The turbo-chargers were of a hybrid steel/ceramic design allowing them to spool up faster due to the light nature of the ceramic exhaust wheel.

Power was delivered to all four wheels using an electronically-controlled all wheel drive system referred to by Nissan as the ATTESA-ETS system. The ATTESA-ETS system uses two G-Sensors mounted underneath the center console, which feed lateral and longitudinal inputs to the ECU. The ECU would then control the feed of power by allowing a limited amount to be delivered to the front wheels via an electronic torque split converter. In 1995, the ATTESA-ETS Pro was introduced as an option for R33 GT-R customers, and came as standard equipment in GT-R V-spec models. It was later standard equipment in all GT-R models for the R34 Skyline GT-R. The ATTESA-ETS Pro added an Active Limited Slip Differential, which was controlled by the onboard ATTESA computer. This was only for the rear differential, as the front differential remained as a normal Limited Slip Differential. The ATTESA-ETS Pro was also advertised in brochures as adding an electronically controlled 4-channel ABS brake system. Although it is not related to the all wheel drive system, it uses much of the same sensors, and the same computer. The R32 could be switched from AWD to RWD by removing the 4WD fuse, but R33 and R34 models had to have the front tailshaft removed.

The car also had computer-controlled all wheel steering system referred to as HICAS. The HICAS system activated when the vehicle exceeded and controlled the steering of the rear wheels in the same direction as the front to improve turn in on entry to corners. It should be noted however that this feature is often seen as more of a hindrance than help in race applications. The system tends to favor less advanced drivers, and can make the rear suspension unstable during high speed cornering. For this reason many kits are available to override this system usually by looping it's hydraulic lines back on themselves. This is seen to make the car much more predictable when driving at the limit of grip.

While the published figures from Nissan were as quoted above, practical tests showed the car had a factory power output of closer to 330 PS (325 hp) at the flywheel. The lower published figure was Nissan's response to the need to abide by a gentleman's agreement between the Japanese auto manufacturers not to release a car to the public exceeding 280 PS (276 hp) of power output.

N1 engines

The RB26DETT N1 is an upgraded version of the standard RB26DETT engine. It was first developed by Nismo for Group A racing purposes. The standard RB26DETT, although known for its durability, proved to require too much maintenance for Group A racing conditions. The N1 engine is built from the standard RB26DETT block. The water cooling channels in the block are enhanced to increase flow. The block, and internal components are also strengthened. The pistons have top rings, but otherwise as standard. The connecting rods are the same as standard, and the crankshaft is standard but balanced. The specifications of the camshafts were also improved for power. The N1 engine uses the same parallel twin turbocharger layout but with improved turbochargers. The N1 engine also received an upgraded oil pump and water pump, to improve the cooling and lubrication of the engine. The N1 engine is identified by its 24U number stamped on the block, as opposed to the 05U stamp on standard RB26DETT engines.

The first model of the N1 engine was the R32 N1 engine. It uses a pair of larger turbochargers compared to the standard R32 GT-R. The turbine wheels on the new turbochargers are made from steel, rather than the weaker ceramic used for all standard GT-R models. The R33 N1 engine was slightly revised, with larger turbochargers than the R32 N1 engine, supporting more power if the engine were to be modified.

The R34 N1 engine saw further improvement. The camshafts were slightly improved for even more potential power, the turbochargers were about the same size as the R32 N1 turbochargers, except now they use ball bearing technology, which operates much more quickly than any other model used.

The most improved N1 engine is the R34 Nür engine. It is based on the R34 N1 engine. The camshafts were further improved for power, and the crankshaft was further balanced for higher engine speed. There were 1000 Nür engines made for use in the R34 V-spec II Nür, and R34 M-spec Nür models, however an undefined amount of extras were made and sold through Nissan dealers. They were advertised as making the same 280 PS (276 hp) as the standard model, but with the lighter engine parts, and more efficient turbochargers, the engine would make closer to .

Motorsport

The GT-R's history of racetrack dominance began with its 50 victories scored from 1968-1972, including 49 consecutive wins in the Japanese race circuit. Nissan pulled out of racing shortly after the release of the KPGC110.

The Skyline GT-R soon earned the name Godzilla, for its track performance. The R32 GT-R dominated JTCC, winning 29 races from 29 starts, taking the series title every year from 1989-1993. It took 50 races from 50 starts from 1991-1997 (latterly R33) in the N1 Super Taikyu. The GT-R's success sounded the death knell of Group A Touring Car racing; with the formula being scrapped soon after. JTCC was similarly blighted by the R32 GT-R, and splintered soon after, leading to the switch to the Supertouring category and also indirectly to the GT500 category of today.

The GT-R's success in motor racing was formidable, particularly in the annual 1,000 km race at the Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst, Australia, where the winner in 1991 and 1992 was a GT-R (despite receiving additional in weight penalties and a turbo pop off valve in 1992), and in the Japanese GT series where it has remained dominant for many years. The Skyline GT-R line were retired from the JGTC series (later changed Super GT Series) in 2004. And the successor Nissan GT-R will return in Super GT in the 2008 season.

No other race victories by the GT-R could escape without controversies. At the 1990 Macau Grand Prix Guia touring car race, the factory backed R32 driven by Masahiro Hasemi led the race from the start to the finishing line which caused a wave of protests by the European entrants. The following year, the car was forced to carry a weight penalty of and was up against the more competitive DTM BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II. A disgruntled Hasemi was forced to settle for fourth place. For the following and final year the weight penalty was reduced and works backed Hasemi returned with another privateer R32 that crashed in the race, while Hasemi would retire with engine failure.

In the UK, Andy Middlehurst took the Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32) to two consecutive championship wins in the National Saloon Car Cup. Other championship titles include the 1991 Australian Touring Car Championship (Jim Richards (race driver)), the 1991 Australian Endurance Championship (Mark Gibbs & Rowan Onslow), the 1991 Australian Manufacturers' Championship, the 1992 Australian Touring Car Championship (Mark Skaife) and the 1992 Spanish Touring Car Championship.

Akira Kameyama has taken the GT-R to the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb race on three occasion winning in each Open Class for production cars he entered, one in 1993 with the R32, another in 1996 with the R33 and again in 1998. For the following year, Rhys Millen took an R33 Skyline GT-R to win the High Performance Showroom Stock category

At the 1994 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the GT-R would make its US debut when Nismo entered a sole Group A specification R32 for the GTU category, the car would finish 20th.

In 1995 Nismo developed the Skyline GT-R for endurance racing with a pair of JGTC specification R33s for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In order to meet homologation regulations, a street legal version had to be built, although Nismo only required one example to comply. The two racing cars were able to achieve some success at Le Mans, with one car achieving 10th overall, and 5th in its GT1 class, being beaten only by the more developed McLaren F1 GTRs. For , the Skyline GT-R LMs would return, this time carrying enlarged RB26DETTs displacing 2.8 litres. Again competing in GT1, they would finish 15th overall, and 10th in class. However, Nissan chose to abandon their production-based Skyline GT-R LMs in 1997 and instead turn to the purpose-built R390 GT1s. In honor of the success of the Skyline at Le Mans, Nissan marketed a limited edition R33 referred to as "LM Limited", only available in a Competition Blue.

In 2007 Automotive Forums became the first ever to compete with a Nismo R34 Z-Tune in the United States, participating in the Speed World Challenge GT series. Team: Driver and President of Automotive Forums.com Igor Sushko, Crew Chief Sean Morris, Team Manager Victor Reyes, Mechanic Josh Mitchell, and Engineer Merritt Johnson. Tentative plans are in place for the 2007 season.

In 2007 the Heat Treatments Drag Skyline GT-R driven by Reece McGregor of New Zealand, broke the world record for the fastest AWD over a 1/4 mile with a 7.57 at at the Willowbank Dragway in Australia, a record previously held by the HKS Skyline GT-R with a 7.67.

Today, the car is popular for import Drag Racing, Circuit Track, Time Attack and events hosted by tuning magazines. The GT-R actually is the winner in the 2007 Tsukuba Time Attack held in Japan-- the M-Speed GT-R (9 out of the top 15 cars consists of GT-Rs ). This car was tagged by BBC's Top Gear as the only true Japanese contribution in the line of Supercars.

References

External links

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