Nissan GT-R History, Generations, Skyline Connection & More: Supercar Slayer?

The Nissan GT-R, often referred to as the ‘supercar killer,’ is an automotive icon and has cemented its place in history as one of the best sports cars ever built. Nicknamed the Godzilla for its ability to produce insane levels of power, the GT-R is a legend in the world of car culture and hallowed among JDM enthusiasts.

Its lineage can be traced back to the humble beginnings of the Skyline series. Each generation pushed the boundaries of what a sports car can achieve. In this article, we embark on a journey through its history, exploring the origins and evolution of the Nissan GT-R, from its inception to the modern marvel that is the R35.

Origins of the Nissan GT-R

Nissan Motor Corporation was incorporated in the 1930s and started off with castings and metal works. Its first car was produced in 1935 and immediately after, the brand started producing trucks and aircraft for the Imperial Japanese Army. After the Second World War, Nissan started producing sedans based on a few patents from Austin.

However, Nissan wanted to do more than just produce mediocre sedans. Nissan had its eyes set firmly on the sports car market and as a result, two of the most iconic sports cars in history were developed. 1969 was an important year as Nissan launched the first-gen Skyline GT-R and the Nissan 240Z. Read all about the history & generations of the Nissan Z here.

Skyline History

Before delving into the various generations of the GT-R, it’s essential to understand the significance of the Skyline series in the car’s history. The current-gen is known only as the Nissan GT-R. Until the previous generation, it was known as the Skyline GT-R. This is because of its Skyline history.

Prince Motor Company was a Japanese car manufacturer established in 1947. The brand produced two sedans named Skyline & Gloria in addition to a 15-seater van. In 1966, the brand merged with Nissan and became defunct. Nissan, however, continued producing the Skyline and Gloria.

Prince Skyline

The Gloria was treated as a luxury sedan and was eventually renamed the Infiniti Q70. The Skyline sedan eventually became the Infiniti G sedan. However, Nissan decided to develop a sporty version of the Skyline, and this is the car this article is all about — The Skyline GT-R & Nissan GT-R. 

Originally introduced in 1957, the Prince Skyline was envisioned as a luxury car, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that it started to gain recognition in motorsports, particularly in Japan’s touring car racing scene.

First Generation Skyline GT-R (PGC10) | 1969 – 1972

The first true GT-R model codenamed the PGC10, was introduced in 1969. Banking on the Skyline racing heritage, Nissan advertised the GT-R as a sporty version of the sedan, and some ad campaigns even included the Nissan R380 racecar. 

First Gen Nissan GT-R

Powered by a 2.0-litre inline-six engine, it produced 160hp & 176Nm which was pretty respectable back then. What set the PGC10 apart was its racing pedigree and its advanced suspension. In 1971, a two-door coupe version of the sedan was introduced and codenamed KPGC10. This generation won numerous championships in Japan.

Second Generation Skyline GT-R (KPGC110) | 1972 – 1973

The second generation, introduced in 1972, built upon the success of its predecessor. It was powered by the same 2.0-litre inline-6 engine but was now tuned to be more responsive. With improved aerodynamics, it further solidified the GT-R’s dominance in motorsports. 

Second Gen Nissan GT-R

However, due to stricter emissions regulations and the oil crisis of the 1970s, production of the GT-R was halted, marking the end of an era. Only 197 units were produced and hence it is a rare collectible today.

Third Generation Skyline GT-R (R32) | 1989 – 1994

After a 16-year hiatus, the GT-R returned in 1989 with the iconic R32 model. The R32 is highly revered by car enthusiasts across the world. It introduced quite a few revolutionary technologies. The R32 was developed with the sole purpose of racing in the Group A class. 

Third Gen Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

Initially designed with a 2.4-litre turbocharged inline-6 engine, the car was eventually launched with a 2.6-litre turbocharged inline-6. The standard variant produced 276hp and 353Nm. The super exclusive R32 Zero-R produced 591hp! 

The R32 quickly gained a reputation for its unparalleled performance. Thanks to Wheels Magazine, it became known as the ‘Godzilla’ of the automotive world. It dominated the racing circuit and earned the respect of enthusiasts worldwide. A total of 43,937 units were produced.

Fourth Generation Skyline GT-R (R33) | 1995 – 1998

The R33 was introduced in 1995. With improvements in aerodynamics and handling, it further enhanced the GT-R’s performance capabilities. It featured sportier suspension and a lower ground clearance. 

Fourth Gen Nissan GT-R R33

The R33 GT-R had a newer ATTESA E-TS Pro all-wheel-drive system with a limited-slip differential, making it more capable than its predecessor. The engine though, remained the same. However, it somehow had more performance. The R33 GT-R was the first production car in the world to take a sub-8-minute lap time at the Nurburgring!

Fifth Generation Skyline GT-R (R34) | 1999 – 2002

The R34, introduced in 1999, is widely regarded as the greatest GT-R generation ever produced. With advanced technology, including the Super-HICAS rear-wheel steering system, it offered unparalleled performance and handling. The R34’s appearance in popular media, such as the Fast and Furious franchise, further solidified its status as a cultural icon.

Fifth Gen Nissan GT-R R34

This generation was dubbed ‘Return of the Godzilla’, as it was as revolutionary as the R33. Standard, V-Spec, M-Spec & M-Spec Nur models used the 2.6-litre RB26DETT turbocharged inline-6 engine. Nissan claimed it produced around 276hp, but there are widespread beliefs that the factory output was just above 400hp.

The Z-tune variant featured the 2.8-litre RB28DETT inline-6 engine producing 493hp. Aftermarket tuning options are plenty, with several examples producing over 1,000hp and some even producing 1,500hp! This was the last Skyline GT-R generation and the legacy of the inline-6 GT-R ended with this one.

Sixth Generation (R35) | 2007 – Present

In 2007, Nissan introduced the R35 GT-R, marking a significant departure from its predecessors. The changes begin with the name. Nissan ditched the brand for the first time in 50 years! In addition, the R35 is a sports car and a grand tourer

Sixth Gen Nissan GT-R R35

It is powered by a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine that produced 473hp when it was first introduced. The latest edition launched in 2016 produces 562hp. The track edition takes the power up to 592hp. If one looks at aftermarket modifications, 800+hp is achievable with a few simple modifications. If one decides to go over the top, 1,500+hp is easy to achieve. 

The R35’s blistering performance and cutting-edge features have earned it praise from enthusiasts and critics alike. Its launch control system is known to be brutal, pinning its occupants to the seats as it accelerates. 

The Nissan GT-R R35 is quite obviously the most popular generation of this sports car. However, enthusiasts who love classics and modern classics tend to pick the first, third, fourth & fifth generations of the GT-R.

Sixth Gen Nissan GT-R R35

Find new Nissan GT-R for sale in the UAE & used Nissan GT-R for sale in the UAE.

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