The Skyline was created by the Prince Automobile Company which later merged with Nissan/Datsun. The GT-R abbreviation stands for Gran Turismo Racer and the GT-B stands for Gran Turismo Berlinetta. The earliest predecessor of the GT-R, the S54 2000GT-B, came second in its first race in 1964 against a Porsche 904 GTS. A cool little tid bit is the earlier Prince Skyline Sport coupe and convertible were created before the GT-R as the first sports-oriented model in the Skyline range, thus the name.
While there are 5 generations of this car, it is the 4th generation (R33) of this breed that is the focus of this blog, but I will get back to that later. The first cars named “Skyline GT-R” were produced between 1969 and 1972 under the model code KPGC10, and enjoyed legendary success in local Japanese touring car racing. This model was followed by a brief production run of second-generation cars, under model code KPGC110, in 1973. After a 16-year hiatus, the GT-R name was revived in 1989 as the BNR32 (“R32”) Skyline GT-R. The Skyline continued into the 1990s when it became popular largely because it remained a rear wheel drive model while most other manufacturers were focusing on front wheel drive cars (while front wheel drive cars have their place, any self respecting driver/racer will always choose a rear wheel drive configuration). The GT-R proceeded to win the Japanese JTCC Group A series championship four years straight. The R32 GT-R also had success in the Australian Touring Car Championship which helped the R31 Skyline GTS-R to victory in 1990 and winning alone in 1991 and 1992, until a regulation change excluded the GT-R in 1993.
Now, to get back on track about the R33 4th generation of cars. The E-BCNR33 was developed in 1995 as a successor to the R32 model. The engine in the R33 was nearly identical to the R32 as it used the same turbochargers and the same specification for the manual gearbox, however, the syncros were much stronger. The engine corrected the R32’s weak oil pump drive collar, which tended to fail in higher power applications, by using a wider collar. The base model R33 GT-R weighed in at 3,400 pounds but it could have been lighter.
There were several limited editions of the BCNR33 produced by NISMO. The first LeMans “LM” version was released in May 1996 to celebrate Nissan’s participation in the 24-hours of Le Mans. The only body colour available for the R33 LM was Champion Blue. The car had a front splitter lip to direct air to the upper front aperture, and a carbon fibre rear wing with Gurney flap. There were carbon fibre inserts on the rear wing fins with a GT-R badge on the inserts. The “GT-R Skyline” logo under the checkered flag was placed on the C-pillars. Nissan only made 188 of these cars consisting of 86 GT-R LM and 102 V-Spec LM. Nissan entered two R33 GT-R cars in the 1995 Le Mans 24 hour race where the number 22 car finished tenth overall. This was remarkable considering it was essentially running the same RB26 motor and going up against supercars of that era like the mighty Mclaren F1 GTR which was not bad at all when you think about that.
Another special edition R33 was released on 3 November 1997 called the 400R with R standing for Racing. Overall development and planning was by NISMO but its bored and stroked RB26DETT engine, the RBX-GT2, featured 77.7 mm (3.06) stroke crankshaft along with forged 87 mm (3.43 inch) pistons, upgraded rods, polished ports, high lift camshafts, upgraded oil system, larger exhaust manifolds and higher output turbochargers. NISMO produced an upgraded exhaust, a twin-plate clutch, and intercooler system. There was also Nismo brake pads fitted to the car. 400R exclusive aerodynamic updates were also added, such as wider bumpers, side skirts, a new rear bumper, a new front bumper with bigger air scoops, and a redesigned bonnet and rear spoiler made of carbon fibre. The 400R was also fitted with 18x10 Nismo LM-GT1s. The car developed 400 horsepower and 347 foot pounds of torque which catapulted this car to a top speed of over 186 mph. It also enabled it to reach 0–60 mph in just 4.0 seconds. Now, there was another little trick in order to reach 500 horsepower by dialing in a higher boost setting. NISMO had originally planned to produce 100 units of the 400R, however only 44 units were made before production of the R33 ended in 1998.
Lastly, the 5th generation (1999–2002) of this car known as the GF-BNR34 (R34) Skyline GT-R, GT-R V·Spec and GT-R V·Spec N1 models were released in January 1999. The R34 GT-R was also shorter (from front to rear), and the front overhang reduced. While this generation of the Skyline GT-R had some technological upgrades it also continued its strong racing performance. In February 2002 Nissan released a final production model of the R34 GT-R called the Skyline GT-R V·Spec II Nur and the Skyline GT-R M·Spec Nur. The Nur was named after the famous German Nurburgring racetrack, where the Skyline was developed. In total 1003 R34 GT-R Nur(s) were produced. Of that, 718 were V·Spec II Nurs and 285 were M·Spec Nurs.
Now, I will admit that when it comes to race cars I (like I have said for many years) prefer Ford and Porsche but this car made me take notice of what the Japanese could build and I am amazed by it.
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