GT-R farewells Australia with two special editions

Nissan’s flagship performance vehicle, GT-R, has convincingly cemented its place in automotive royalty over the past 52 years. Now, the R35 GT-R has taken its last stand in Australia.

To celebrate the final R35 Godzilla’s arrival down under, Nissan introduced two special editions —GT-R T-spec and GT-R NISMO SV. All vehicles arrived in Australia prior to 31 October 2021 and have been secured by eager collectors, determined to own a final iteration of this cult performance icon.

“The name GT-R is undoubtedly one of the most iconic names in automotive performance circles – both locally and around the world.” said Nissan Australia Managing Director, Adam Paterson.

“Since arriving in Australia, I have learnt just how revered the GT-R is by Australians. Nissan Motorsport has a fantastic legacy in Australia – dominating the Australian Touring Car Championships and convincingly conquering Bathurst in the early ’90s.

“Since that time, the GT-R has been a performance icon with just shy of 1000 R35 GT-R sold to Australian performance car enthusiasts. When we announced that the R35 GT-R would cease being imported in Australia, we saw an incredible surge in demand. In fact, October 2021 was the fifth best sales month ever for R35, with sales only higher in the launch year of 2009.

“We are now marking the closure of this chapter for the R35 GT-R in Australia.”


First-generation Prince Skyline GT-R – 1969-1972

While Skyline GT-R is best known as a two-door coupe, Nissan’s high-performance hero began life as a four-door sedan when it was officially revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1968.

It was showcased alongside the company’s ground-breaking R380 race car as a way of highlighting how Nissan transferred its motorsport expertise from the race track to the road.

Skyline GT-R, which went on sale exclusively in Japan in February 1969, was powered by a derivate of the R380’s 2.0-litre inline six-cylinder powerplant (codenamed S20) that was the first mass-produced four-valve-per-cylinder double overhead camshaft engine. It generated 118kW of power at 7,000rpm and 177Nm of torque at 5,600rpm.

More than just an engine transplant, Skyline GT-R featured flared wheel arches, variable-ratio steering, MacPherson front strut and semi-trailing arm rear suspension configuration as well as a limited-slip differential.

Those modifications, along with the arrival of a lighter two-door coupe model with a 100-litre fuel tank in 1971, forged Skyline GT-R’s racing reputation from the first moment it hit the track, with 52 outright victories – including a record 49 consecutive wins – in Japanese touring car competition within three years.

The car was nicknamed Hakosuka (or Box Skyline) by early enthusiasts, which combines the Japanese word for box (Hako) with an abbreviation for the meaning of Skyline roads (Suka).

A total of 1945 PGC10 sedan and KPGC10 coupe models were produced.

1969 Prince Skyline GT-R Specifications

Codename: PGC10 (sedan), KPGC10 (coupe)

Engine: 2.0-litre (1998cc) inline six-cylinder petrol

Power: 118kW at 7,000rpm

Torque: 177Nm at 5,600rpm

Transmission: Five-speed manual, RWD, with LSD

Length: 4,395mm

Width: 1,610mm

Height: 1,385mm

Weight: 1,120kg

Second-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R – 1973

The second-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R made its public debut at the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show before going on sale in January 1973.

Based on the fourth generation C110 Skyline, and available exclusively as a two-door coupe, the stylish GT-R built on the foundations of the original, with a host of technical upgrades, including four-wheel disc brakes and aerodynamic body parts such as a rear wing for extra stability at high speed.

The 2.0-litre six-cylinder engine also featured a number of new innovations to improve its performance and endurance, such as a full transistor ignition system and a double roller-type timing chain but maintained the same power output as before.

It was also the first model to feature the twin round tail lamps that have since become a signature of GT-R’s aesthetic.

The second-generation Skyline GT-R is often referred to as a Kenmeri, owing to the popular advertising campaign that depicted a young Japanese couple called Ken and Mary enjoying a day driving through the Hokkaido countryside.

Unfortunately, it launched in the middle of the early ’70’s oil crisis that forced the introduction of much stricter exhaust emission regulations in Japan. Nissan ceased production of the GT-R in April 1973, just three months after the first cars were delivered.

As such, less than 200 second-generation Nissan Skyline GT-Rs were produced, and remaining versions are now considered highly valuable collector vehicles.

1973 Nissan Skyline GT-R Specifications

Codename: KPGC110 (coupe)

Engine: 2.0-litre (1998cc) inline six-cylinder petrol

Power: 118kW at 7,000rpm

Torque: 177Nm at 5,600rpm

Transmission: Five-speed manual, RWD, with LSD

Length: 4,460mm

Width: 1,695mm

Height: 1,380mm

Weight: 1,145kg

Third-generation Nissan Skyline – 1989-1994

Nissan revived the iconic GT-R nameplate in 1989 with the R32 Skyline after a 16-year absence.

Designed specifically for Group A touring car regulations, it was a technical tour de force that smashed racing records across the globe and, ultimately, forced Australia’s racing regulators to rewrite the premier motorsport category’s rule book.

As a successor to the rear-wheel drive HR31 Skyline, which was a regular race winner in the Australian Touring Car Championship in the late 1980s thanks to Fred Gibson, Jim Richards and rising stars, Glenn Seton and Mark Skaife. Nissan developed the R32 to take full advantage of the near-production car regulations.

While Nissan Motorsport in Japan initially planned to use a 2.4-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder that would allow GT-R to compete in a lower weight category than V8-powered rivals, it also decided to develop an advanced four-wheel drive transmission and four-wheel steering system to counteract any power deficit and amplify its already impressive handling characteristics.

Dubbed ATTESSA E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-terrains with Electronic Torque Slip), the all-wheel drive system endowed the R32 Skyline GT-R with phenomenal traction, especially in slippery conditions and when exiting slow speed corners.

Ultimately, the additional mechanical components added significant weight to the car, so the team decided to go head-to-head in the top class. With that, it allowed teams to run with wider slick tyres and Nissan subsequently developed a larger capacity 2.6-litre motor that was capable of generating more than 450kW in race trim.

As a result, Skyline GT-R annihilated its opposition on racetracks all around the globe, winning 29 consecutive races in the All Japan Touring Car Championship between 1990 and 1993, scoring back-to-back victories in the 1990 and 1991 Spa 24 Hours and taking the top prize in the 1990 Nurburgring 24 Hours.

In Australia, it dominated the Australian Touring Car Championships with Jim Richards and Mark Skaife from the moment it hit the track in 1990. Richards claimed the 1990 and 1991 titles and Skaife won the first of his five crowns in 1992.

The duo teamed up to romp away with victories in the 1991 and 1992 instalments of the iconic Bathurst 1000 endurance race, the latter ending in controversy after the race was stopped short when Richards crashed at Forrests Elbow following a torrential downpour and was later booed on the winner’s rostrum by a ‘lubricated’ and parochial crowd.

GT-R’s runaway racing success not only earned it the now famous ‘Godzilla’ nickname, originating in the Australia media as a nod to the fictional Japanese movie monster that destroyed everything in its path, but also forced the Australian Touring Car Championship to ditch the global Group A regulations.

In any case, its motorsport mauling created an appetite for GT-R to be sold outside of Japan for the first time, with Nissan Australia importing a limited run of R32 Skyline GT-Rs to be sold locally.

The production car’s RB26DETT six-cylinder produced 206kW of power and 353Nm of torque and was capable of launching the car from 0-100km/h in just 5.0 seconds – eclipsing many expensive and exotic European supercars at the time.

Nissan built almost 50,000 R32 Skyline GT-Rs between 1989 and 1994. For Group A homologation, Nissan built 560 examples of a special GT-R NISMO RA that featured additional aerodynamic elements for improved downforce and cooling properties specifically for motor racing. To meet the regulations, 500 were sold while the additional 60 were designated for racing.

Just 100 examples of the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R were officially sold locally, specially modified with assistance from Nissan Australia’s Special Vehicles Division to meet Australian Design Rule requirements.

Australian versions of the R32 GT-R feature unique side turn indicators and a high-mounted rear stop light sourced from the 300ZX, a roof-mounted antenna, Nissan bonnet logo, a radio unit specific to Australia, a transmission cooler and revised headlights and tail lights to meet ADR requirements.

1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R Specifications

Codename: E-BNR32 (coupe)

Engine: 2.6-litre (2568cc) inline six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol

Power: 206kW at 6,800rpm

Torque: 353Nm at 4,400rpm

Transmission: Five-speed manual, AWD, with LSD

Length: 4,545mm

Width: 1,755mm

Height: 1,340mm

Weight: 1,430kg

Fourth-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R – 1994-1998

The R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R was first shown as a prototype at the 1993 Tokyo Motor Show, ahead of its official introduction in January 1995.

The fourth-generation GT-R was an evolution of its all-conquering predecessor, carrying over much of the mechanical configuration of the R32 with mild modifications to the RB26DETT 2.6-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine that increased maximum torque, along with improvements to the electronics for the ATTESA all-wheel drive system and stability control system.

Despite its body being slightly larger and heavier than before, new production methods led to the overall structure being stiffer, a lower centre of gravity and better weight distribution that improved handling.

This allowed the R33 Nissan GT-R to become the first series-production vehicle to set a sub eight-minute lap time around the famed 22km Nurburgring circuit in Germany, renowned as a torture test for vehicles.

Mimicking the styling of the GT1 racing car, Nissan introduced the limited-edition road-legal GT-R LM in 1996 to celebrate its participation in the iconic Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race. The car featured a widened body, carbon fibre rear wing, large rear diffuser and unique lightweight alloy wheels.

The first model to eclipse Japan’s ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that limited production cars to a maximum 206kW of power, the Nissan GT-R Nismo 400R introduced in 1997 featured a 2.8-litre twin-turbo six cylinder that generated 298kW and 440Nm and could accelerate from 0-100km/h in under four seconds. Only 44 units were ever built, making it one of the rarest – and most prized – GT-R model variants.

Nissan produced a total of 16,668 R33 Skyline GT-Rs between January 1995 and November 1998.

Following the abolishment of global Group A touring car competition, Nissan turned its attention to the new Japanese domestic GT500 championship as well as long-distance sports car racing and the new GT1 rules with GT-R.

While not as successful as its predecessor, the R33 GT-R won the 1998 GT500 championship and finished 10 outright in the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hour.

1994 Nissan Skyline GT-R Specifications

Codename: E-BCNR33 (coupe)

Engine: 2.6-litre (2568cc) inline six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol

Power: 206kW at 6800rpm

Torque: 368Nm at 4400rpm

Transmission: Five-speed manual, AWD, with LSD

Length: 4,675mm

Width: 1,780mm

Height: 1,360mm

Weight: 1,540kg

Fifth-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R – 1999-2002

The fifth-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R rekindled the spirit of the R32, using a more compact platform, lighter yet stronger than the R33.

Introduced in January 1999, the R34 Skyline GT-R featured a sharper exterior design, with reduced front and rear overhangs and a 55mm shorter wheelbase to improve agility and cornering performance.

The RB26DETT engine was modified to increase maximum torque to 392Nm and it was fitted to a six-speed manual gearbox for the first time.

With previous models having gathered a cult following among young enthusiasts in the popular Sony Playstation Gran Turismo racing simulator video game, the R34 GT-R enhanced its appeal to technophiles with the introduction of a 5.8-inch colour multi-function screen in the centre of the dashboard that could be configured to display a multitude of live performance parameters.

It also cemented its status as a performance icon, with multiple appearances on the silver screen, including a leading role in the blockbuster Fast and Furious franchise.

Nissan produced a total of 11,578 of the R34 Skyline GT-R between January 1999 and August 2002.

In 2001, Nissan produced the limited-edition GT-R M-Spec, named after Chief Engineer, Kazutoshi Mizuno, known as the ‘Godfather of GT-R’. The car featured unique ‘ripple control’ suspension dampers, a stiffer rear anti-roll bar, heated leather front seats and a standard aluminium bonnet rather than the carbon fibre version from the V-Spec II it was based upon.

During pre-production testing, Nissan test driver, Kazuo Shimuzu, lowered GT-R’s Nurburgring production car lap record to 7min 52sec.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nismo, Nissan built a limited run of 19 GT-R Z-Tune models as the wildest incarnation of the R34. Each featured a 2.8-litre engine based on the GT500 racing car that produced 368kW and 540Nm, and could rev to 8,000rpm. Considering production of the standard R34 GT-R had already been completed, Nissan purchased 20 second-hand examples to create the Z-Tune edition, each of which was stripped, resprayed in an exclusive Z-Tune silver and then hand built by master technicians.

1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R Specifications

Codename: GF-BNR34 (coupe)

Engine: 2.6-litre (2,568cc) inline six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol

Power: 206kW at 6,800rpm

Torque: 392Nm at 4,400rpm

Transmission: Six-speed manual, AWD, with LSD

Length: 4,600mm

Width: 1,785mm

Height: 1,360mm

Weight: 1,560kg

Sixth-generation Nissan GT-R – 2007-Present

Following a brief hiatus, the iconic GT-R badge was revived once again as a standalone model for the first time when it was introduced in 2007.

First shown as GT-R Concept at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show and making its production debut at the same event two years later, the R35 Nissan GT-R has cemented the nameplate as a performance car icon.

Designed as a supercar from the outset, the R35 continued the legacy of its predecessors as a two-door coupe with all-wheel drive and a twin-turbo six-cylinder powerplant but was entirely new.

The body was uniquely styled and no longer based on the Skyline, rather it is based on the premium midship platform that also underpins the Skyline, 370Z and Infiniti G70 models. The design used clever aerodynamics to produce downforce for high-speed stability while maintaining a low drag co-efficiency of 0.26Cd – making GT-R the most efficient sports car at the time.

Under the sleek bodywork, the engine was a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 that drove a complex all-wheel drive transmission via a six-speed dual-clutch transaxle mounted in the rear axle to improve weight distribution.

At launch, the VR38DETT V6 produced 358kW and 583Nm, propelling the GT-R from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds. Hand built by master craftsman, the engine is exclusive to GT-R.

Since then, through a number of model upgrades, the same engine now produces a staggering 441kW and 652Nm in the highest-grade, track-inspired GT-R Nismo. It is among the fastest accelerating cars on the planet, with the ability to sprint to triple figures in under three seconds.

It also remains among the quickest production cars to lap Nurburgring with the GT-R Nismo clocking 7min 08sec.

The GT-R Nismo was introduced in 2013, taking direct technology flow from the GT3 racing series model.

To celebrate the GT-R’s 50th anniversary, Italian coachbuilders Italdesign were commissioned to build a limited run of 50 exclusive models with exclusive body work and a 530kW version of the twin-turbo V6, each costing in excess of $1.7m.

The Nissan GT-R holds a Guinness World Record for the fastest drift, when Masato Kawabata slid sideways, holding an angle at more than 30 degrees, while travelling at over 304km/h.

Like its predecessors, the R35 has made its mark in motorsport competition around the world, with three championship victories in the Japanese Super GT series (2011, 2012 and 2015), an overall title win in the 2015 Blancpain endurance series for GT3 machines and outright victory in the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour.

Nissan has produced more than 38,000 GT-Rs since its introduction in 2007. In Australia, Nissan has sold 982 GT-Rs since it was officially introduced locally in April 2009

2007 Nissan GT-R Specifications

Codename: CBA-R35 (coupe)

Engine: 3.8-litre (2,568cc) V6 twin-turbo petrol

Power: 358kW at 6,400rpm

Torque: 583Nm at 3,200-5200rpm

Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle, AWD, with LSD

Length: 4,656mm

Width: 1,895mm

Height: 1,369mm

Weight: 1,785kg

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