When you actually stop and think about it the word ‘Skyline’ is a pretty poor name for what is one of Japan’s finest ever creations. The Nissan KickYoAss has got a much tougher ring to it, but if you’re a true petrolhead and you hear the word Skyline brought u p in conversation it’s mighty difficult not to get a little twitch going on in the pant department.
Nissan has actually been churning out Skylines since 1957 (can you believe that! ), but things started to get really interesting with the R32, which debuted in 1989. While the rear-wheel drive models were fun it was the 4WD, twin-turbo’d GT-R that grabbed all the headlines and opened up a new chapter in performance and handling. Somehow Nissan managed to move the whole package on even further with the R33 in 1993 and the R34 in 1998, and even though the current 485bhp GT-R has dropped the Skyline name it still carries the family DNA with pride.
Power, noise, handling and massive road presence all come as standard with any Skyline, and while you do need plenty of pennies to keep them purring, the key to Skyline ownership is not as expensive as you would first imagine.
There’s no getting away from the fact that any Skyline is slightly on the porky side, but the way that they hide their timber on the twisties will blow your mind. However, things can be further transformed with a pukka set of coilovers and some tidy anti-roll bars. Every Skyline needs more power like I need a cold lager every morning, er, I mean evening obviously, and with that goes extra stopping power. Never, ever scrimp when it comes a top braking setup, and look to the likes of StopTech, AP Racing and Brembo for some big upgrades.
Inside an R32 it’s all typical late-1980s Nissan with plenty of cheap feeling plastics and a no-frills approach to the design. Things improved slightly with the R33, but the R34 went all Gran Turismo with its 5.8-inch in-dash LCD display that showed a whole host of engine and vehicle stats. It’s proper sweet. Luckily for us there are very few stock interiors left on the roads, with a host of extra gauges, a fresh steering wheel, gearknob and pedals, more grippy seats and even a rollcage getting in on the action. Expect driver-focused mods for this driver-focused motor.
The heart of any Skyline is its engine – ain’t that a fact! The now legendary RB six-cylinder lumps make a simply stunning noise (get on YouTube to hear ’em) and if you go balls out and snap up a turbo’d version you can have as big a kick in the butt as your wallet can afford. The single turbo RB powering the rear-wheel drive GTS-Ts is a really well balanced engine that can seriously benefit from just some mild tuning, but for the serious bhp freaks you can’t beat the GT-R’s twin-turbo RB26DETT powerhouse. 300bhp isn’t even trying; 400bhp is just the start of things to come; 500bhp is getting into its stride; 600+bhp, well that’ll do nicely, ta.
One of the most famous Skylines in the UK belongs to atop fella called Rocket Ronnie, and do you know what mods he’s added to the exterior of his 830bhp, 209mph road legal R33? Virtually fuck all. In a way this proves that the Skyline already gives off all the right signals (or should that be warnings) to other road users as standard, but it doesn’t hurt to dip into the giant mod catalogue now and then. Plenty of Jap gods such as JUN, Top Secret, Vertex, Trust, Do-Luck, and VeilSide offer some real trick body goodies but our advice is to keep it simple and keep it tough.
FIRST PROJECT R32 GTS
Engine: 1998cc – 155bhp
Max speed: 132mph
Insurance group: 20
Price range: £950-£1950
PERFECT PROJECT R33 GTS-T
Engine: 2498cc – 250bhp
Max speed: 152mph
Insurance group: 20
Price range: £2500-£6500
ULTIMATE PROJECT R34 GT-R
Engine: 2568cc – 276bhp
Max speed: 165mph
Insurance group: 20
Price range: £20,000-£40,000
Is the Skyline GTR the ultimate road car? Well, in two words, fuck yeah! Nothing else really comes close to a highly modified R32, R33 or R34 and as for the new R35 GTR, well, that’s in a different league again. Dunno about you, but Bugatti can keep their Veyron and Ferrari can stick their 458 Italia where the prancing horse can’t jump – gimme a tricked out GTR any day.