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Thread: Skyline/GTR History

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    Administrator synth19's Avatar
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    Default Skyline/GTR History

    The Skyline is actually one of the most historic Japanese cars and has been around in various models for over 40 years already. Its production started in 1955 with the introduction of the Skyline ALSI-1, a car built by the Prince Motor Company. The Prince Motor Company was established in 1952 by the Tama Electric Car Company. Tama itself was founded by Tachikawa Aircraft Company which built fighter planes in World War II, and started producing the Tama Electric Car in 1952.

    In honor of the Emperor of Japan Crown Prince Hirohita, Tama changed its name to Prince Motor Company and started producing petrol powered instead of electric cars. Prince used an engine designed by Fuji Precision Industries, a company which was established by Nakajima Aircraft Company. In 1954, the Prince Motor Company merged with Fuji Precision Industries.

    Another important event in the Skyline’s history occurred in 1966, when the Japanese government recommended that larger companies should be created which would be more competitive in international markets and more resistant to hostile takeover attempts of foreign competitors. As a consequence, Nissan merged with Prince, just as Toyota merged with Hino and Daihatsu. Thus, from 1967 on, Princes were sold as Nissans or Datsuns. Even though, the Prince division is still alive within Nissan and responsible for the Skyline line-up today.

    1st Generation (1957 - 63)

    ALSI - 1 | ALSI - 2 | BLRA - 3

    ALSI - 1 Series

    The ALSI- 1 series was built from 1957 until 1958 in sedan and station wagon form. It was powered by the GA30, a 1500ccm OHV inline 4 engine producing 60 hp at 4400rpm.

    ALSI - 2 Series

    1958 saw the introduction of the ALSI- 2 series, which was built until 1963. The car was basically the same as its predecessor, except for a different bonnet emblem and a single large horizontal bar in the grille. New were also the quad head-lights instead of the twin lamps featured in the ALSI- 1 series and the GA4 engine with now 70hp.

    BLRA - 3 Series by Michelotti

    1961 saw the production of the limited edition, hand-built Skyline Sport BLRA- 3 series, designed by the Italian Michelotti. The car came in coupe and convertible forms and was powered by the GB4 engine, a 1862ccm OHC 4 cylinder pumping out 94hp. This car had a very beautiful design, but on the other hand was very expensive for its time. So unfortunately it was dropped in favor of the following S 50-E series, which was cheaper to produce.

    2nd Generation (1963 - 68 )

    S 50-E | S 54

    S 50 - E Series

    The Prince Skyline S50-E came out in 1963 and was built till 1968 in sedan (S50) and wagon (W50) form. It featured the new G1 engine, a 1484ccm OHV 4-cylinder, producing 70hp and in comparison to its predecessor had a more boxy shape. The S50 introduced the four round tail lights, a Skyline feature that was kept for many generations until the R34 series. It had large round brake lights and smaller round turn-signals beside them.

    The car came with two transmissions, a 3-speed column change gearbox and a more sportive 4-speed floor change gearbox. Latter version featured bucket seats to support its more sportive character, while the column shift version only had a single bench in front. In 1967, the S50 series was replaced by the S57 series, which came with the new G15 engine, a 1483ccm OHC 4-cylinder with 88hp. It was the most powerful 1500cc engine in Japan.

    Skyline 2000GT (S 54 Series)
    Birth of a legend

    In 1964 Prince started an attempt to go into racing. For this purpose the S50’s wheel base was extended by cutting the car off in front of the fire wall and adding an extra 8 inches of panel work to make a 6 cylinder engine fit in. Consequently, the G7 engine, a 1988ccm OHC inline-6 from the upper class S40 Gloria model, was installed to the car. In the beginning only a small number of this car were built to homologate it for GT-class racing, but since it proved very popular, Prince decided to put it into full production. The resulting car was called the S54 series or the Skyline 2000GT and came in two versions.

    The GT-A used an unchanged version of the G7 engine with only a single carburetor and 105hp. The GT-B on the other hand got a 5-speed close ratio gearbox, full instrumentation, a limited slip differential, power brakes, a 99 liter fuel tank and a high compression version of the G7 with triple 40DCOE-18 Weber carburetors and 125hp. Both featured disc brakes with twin piston calipers up front and alloy finned drum-brakes at the rear. Later models even had flow through ventilation with small eye ball vents added to the dashboard.

    Of both, the GT-B was finally the one to be used for racing. It finished 2nd in its first race, the 2nd GP of Japan in 1964 and almost beat the victorious Porsche 904GTS, which was a pure race car. This was an incredible achievement considering that the Skyline was a 4-door sedan. The S54 series was continued until 1968 and with its several race victories laid the foundation for the Skyline legend.

    3rd Generation (1968 - 72)

    1500 | GC-10 | PGC-10 (2000 GT-R)

    The 1500 series

    The 1500 series replaced the S 50 in July 1968 and was built until 1972. It came in 4-door sedan and wagon form with the G15 engine from the S57.The same car was also available as the 1800 with the G18 engine. These cars were mostly using Prince parts and were the last Skylines to be released with the Prince badge, with all following Skylines to be renamed Nissan Skyline.

    The Skyline 2000GT (GC10 series)

    Just like all other derivatives of the C10 series, the GC10 (G standing for GT) was basically planned by Prince, although it was later badged Nissan Skyline 2000GT. It was introduced in 1968 (2 months after the 1500) and first came in 4-door sedan (GC10) and 5-door wagon versions and from 1970 on also with two doors (KGC10). The car was almost the same as the preceding S54 GT-A model, featuring a 6-cylinder engine instead of the previously common 4-cylinder. The Skyline 2000GT got the L20 engine, a 1998ccm OHC inline-6 with 105hp.

    The Skyline 2000 GT-R (PGC-10 series)

    1968 had seen the introduction of a basic Skyline (the 1500 series) and a model comparable to the previous GT-A (the GC10 series). But people were still eagerly awaiting a replacement for the GT-B. Almost a year passed after the intro-duction of the new model range, until finally in February 1969 the new GT-R sedan came along.

    This car was about to write history!

    The Skyline 2000GT-R was powered by the S20 engine, a 1998ccm DOHC inline-6, producing 160hp - equally strong as a Porsche 911 of that time. This engine was basically the same as the GR8 of Nissan’s R380 racecar, which won the 3rd GP of Japan in 1966 against a Porsche Carrera 6.

    Since it was intended for racing, the PGC10 (P stood for Prince) was very lightweight inside, without a heater or radio, but from the outside almost looked like any other 4-door sedan. After over two years, the coupe-version of the GT-R (KPGC-10) was introduced in March 1971. A shorter wheelbase and less weight made for a better maneuver-ability in comparison to the 4-door version and further enhanced this car's capability on the circuit. The Skyline 2000GT-R lived up to the racing pedigree of its predecessors and the sedan scored 33 victories in those one-and-a-half years it raced, which was raised to 50 victories by the KPGC-10, until its production was stopped in 1972.

    The Skyline had become a Legend after all.

    4th Generation (1972 - 77)

    General | 2000 GT-R

    The C110 series was built from 1972 until 1977 and came in four versions.

    Firstly, there were two basic versions now, the 1600GT and the 1800GT, both using derivatives of the G15 engine, the G16 (1.6l) and the G18 (1.8l) respectively. The third model was the 2000GT-X, which could be compared to the C10 2000GT. It was powered by an improved version of the L20 engine with an output of 130hp instead of the earlier 109hp.

    The most powerful of the quartet, though, was the 2000 GT-R, using an unchanged version of the S20 engine with still 160hp. Similar to its prede-cessor from 1969, the GT-R was avail-able as a coupe (KPGC110) and a 4-door sedan (PGC110).

    With only 197 unit produced, this was to be the last car to wear the GT-R badge for more than a decade, and the only one ever not to be used in racing at all.

    5th Generation (1977 - 81)

    The C211 series was released in August 1977 and, just like the C110 series, came in four versions. First of all, due to the fuel crisis and emissions regulations, the GT-R was missing and instead the Skyline 2000GT-ES (KGC211) marked the top-of-the-line now.

    The latter came out in April 1980 and featured a new turbo-version of the L20, called the L20ET, with 140hp. This engine might have been less powerful than the GT-Rs, but in contrast to the S20, obeyed to emissions regulations and marked a new milestone in Skyline history: For the first time a turbo engine powered a Skyline.

    The basic versions were called 1600TI and 1800TI now and featured L16 and L18 engines respectively, instead of the preceding "G" engines. The old 2000GT-X lost the X (and was now called the 2000GT), but kept an unchanged L20 engine, which still pumped out 130hp

    6th Generation (1981 - 85)

    General | R30 RS

    With the R30 series, Nissan started to change the nomenclature of the Skyline. For the rest of the century, all Skyline generations would be called R3X.

    The new line-up was released in August 1981 and came in 5 different models. Its design was dramatically different in comparison to its predecessors, since this new Skyline looked very boxy in shape and much more like an ordinary sedan than earlier Skylines. Even though, it marked a step back to the sporty roots of the Skyline.

    Earlier versions had constantly been gaining weight, which consequently slowed them down and made them less agile. This was changed with this new generation, although it was not until 1982 that a really sporty Skyline hit the road again.

    For the basic versions, the L16 engine was dropped, so only the 1800TI remained, which now used the Z18 4-cylinder engine with 105hp. The stronger 2000GT and 2800GT both came with inline-6 engines instead.

    The R30 Skyline RS

    After Nissan had dropped the GT-R, there had been no DOHC engine in the Skyline line-up anymore. Since the oil-crisis, the turbo had emerged, but a DOHC was still missing. The introduction of the Skyline RS was to change this condition in October 1981. It came in sedan and coupe form with the new FJ20E engine, a 2.0l four-cylinder pumping out 150hp, which was directly aimed at racing.

    In 1983 this engine’s performance was improved by a turbo, so the resulting FJ20ET (T standing for turbo) now produced 190hp, which was later boosted to an astonishing 205hp by the addition of an intercooler.

    This Skyline became known as the RS-X or the Turbo C. The result was not only the until then “strongest Skyline ever”, but also a very successful track car.

    The Skyline was back on track!

    7th Generation (1985 - 91)

    General | GTS Coupes

    Since the R30 was very successful, Nissan did not change much of the outward appearance of its successor, the R31 series. At its debut, the car was introduced only in all forms of 4-door versions. Due to the popularity of luxury cars, this Skyline was aimed at the luxury department and seemed to have lost its focus on sportiness. The base model was the 1800I, now using the CA 18, a 1.8l DOHC 4-cylinder with 100hp.

    But the R31 also saw the introduction of a new engine family, the RB20 engines which worked in the Passage GT. Especially the RB20DET, a 2.0l DOHC inline-6 turbo with 180hp at 6400rpm, stood out here as a very potent machine. It was the first in a great family of engines that the later GT-R's RB26DETT and other Skyline engines up to the R34 series also belonged to.

    The GTS Coupes

    People had to wait for a two-door until the GTS hit the showrooms in May 1986. This coupe got the RB20DET engine from the Passage GT. It was renamed GTS-X in 1988 and got an improved RB20DET version with now 190hp.

    More important about this car, though, was the appearance of the HICAS (High Capacity Active Steering) all-wheel-steer system for the first time in Skyline history. This system is still used on today’s top Skyline versions and improves the handling of the car immensely.

    The most famous of the GTS models was the GTS-R, though, which was developed especially for racing. The 180hp in the standard model may not have been bad, but were still short of the 205hp featured in the R30 RS-X. This is why Nissan introduced the R31 Skyline GTS-R in 1987 with a RB20DET engine tuned to 210hp thanks to a different turbocharger and different exhaust manifolds. The engine tuning was supported by an improved suspension and tuning on many other parts of the car, to give the GTS-R a sportier overall character. With only 200 built examples, this is still a highly desired car today.

    8th Generation (1989 - 94)

    General | R32 GT-R

    The 1989 R32 was the resurrection of old Skyline virtues, in that each of its many versions were very sporty and balanced in handling. The car came in sedan, coupe and finally also in GT-R form and for the first time in history, was available with rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive.

    The old engine line-up was mostly dropped, so all versions - sedans and coupes - at least got the RB20DE engine, a normally aspirated 2.0l inline-6 with 155hp. Stronger models like the GTS-t came with the RB20DET engine, already known from the R31 GTS-R, but with an increased output of 212hp. Later versions got the normally aspirated RB25DE engine, a 2.5l DOHC inline-6 with 180hp.

    The R32 Skyline GT-R

    Over a decade after the last GT-R had been dropped, a new Skyline GT-R finally saw the light of day in 1989. Of course, expectations for the new top-performer were high due to the heritage it could look back upon. But this new version was more than worth the GT-R badge in any way.

    At that time it may have seemed impossible for any car to resemble the PGC10’s success on and off the track - that was, until the new R32 GT-R came along, which soon earned the nickname Godzilla. The Skyline GT-R was available only in coupe form and featured high-tech in perfection, high-tech that in this case was used to support the driving experience, rather than hinder it.

    It came with ATTESA-ETS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All - Electronic Torque Split), an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system that usually delivers the power to the rear-wheels, but can send up to 50% of the torque to the front wheels. Thus even drifts are possible with this car, which is usually very difficult with AWD. The handling was further enhanced by Super-HICAS, an improved system of the R31 GTS-X’s all-wheel-steering, to make this car one of the best, if not THE best handling car in the world.

    The GT-R did not only have excellent handling characteristics, but also featured one of the best production engines of all times, the RB26DETT, a 2.6l DOHC inline-6 twin turbo with 280hp. The RB26DETT is a pure racing engine, derived directly from Group A racing, which was despec’ed to fit the maximum 280hp allowed by Japanese regulations. Tuned (newer) versions of this engine, however, have been seen to reach up to 1300hp, so make sure to check out the Tuning section of this site, because tuning is what the Skyline really is all about. Still, the standard version makes the 0-60mph sprint in 4.8 seconds, putting it on a par with a Ferrari 355.

    But the GT-R was not only a great street rocket. It was basically designed to fit Japanese Group A racing standards. And racing is where Godzilla really shone. It won so many races (i.e. it won every single race - 29 altogether) in Group A that this class was abolished because nobody wanted to compete against Nissan's flagship anymore.

    9th Generation (1993 - 99)

    General | R33 GT-R | Nismo 400R | Autech GT-R 4-door

    The R33 series was very similar to its predecessor, the R32 series. The GT-R was continued, as was the optional all-wheel-drive layout of the sedans and coupes. The car was still very sporty, although it had grown a little in size and weight and had thus become less agile. The weight disadvantage was compensated in the engine department though, by the new normally aspirated RB25, a 2.5l inline-6 with 190hp for the GTS-4 and GTS25 versions, and the far more powerful RB25DET, a 2.5l inline-6 turbo with an output of 255hp, which worked in the GTS25t.

    The R33 Skyline GT-R

    A heavy burden lay upon the R33's back when it was introduced in 1995. It’s predecessor had been very successful (almost unbeatable) and anybody hardly thought the new GT-R could possibly improve on the R32’s performance. Surprisingly, the R33 GT-R was better than the old version in almost any way, although it too had gained some weight.

    It kept the RB26DETT engine with an unchanged 280hp, but had a broader torque band which made the engine more flexible. Also standard were improved versions of ATTESA-ETS and Super-HICAS.

    NISMO 400R and GT-R LM

    NISMO stands for Nissan Motorsports and is the (you guessed it!) Motorsports division of Nissan which was responsible for the former Group A racing cars, as well as today’s JGTC (All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship) racing cars. Since engine power for production cars is restricted to 280hp in Japan, having a car built by a tuning division is the only way to get over such a regulation. And this is exactly what Nissan did with the 400R in February 1996, a car that was produced in a very limited number of only 99 pieces.

    Nissan had been racing the Skyline in the GT1 category of the 24-hours endurance race of Le Mans in 1995 and 1996, so the GT-R LM and the 400R were intended as road-going versions of these race cars. Both got derivatives of the RB26DETT engine, the GT-R LM with 305hp and the 400R with 400hp. Unfortunately only one GT-R LM was built to homologate the car for racing, which is confined to a museum today.

    The 400R on the other hand, got an enlarged RB26DETT engine with 2.8l of displacement, the RBX-GT2, a twin-turbo with an astonishing 400hp at 6.800rpm. The engine was not the only similarity with the GT-R though, since both cars were based upon the R33 GT-R V-spec (Victory Specification). But where the GT-R LM only got RWD (like the race-cars), the 400R got further improved GT-R technology, like ATTESA-ETS etc.

    Naturally, both car’s inner potency was resembled in their design as well. Each one of them featured bigger wheels, wider spoilers and wheel-arches and lower suspension, to give them a look even more dramatic than the already not too inconspicuous standard GT-R.

    Autech GT-R 4-door

    Autech is a subsidiary of Nissan specialized in tuning cars. The Autech GT-R was a four-door version of the R33 GT-R, which was introduced as a limited edition for the 40th birthday of the Nissan Skyline. The Autech version got all of the GT-R’s standard technology, as well as the most vital parts of its interior like bucket seats etc. So it really was a GT-R in terms of performance - just a lot more practical.

    NISMO also brought up a tuned version of the Autech GT-R, which featured the spoilers of the NISMO 400R and a 380hp engine. It is not difficult to imagine that this car was THE attraction on its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show.

    10th Generation (1998 - 02)

    General | R34 GT-R

    To some people the R33 series seemed a bit oversized and most of them considered the R32 to be the best Skyline ever. So Nissan changed its approach when the new R34 series was due.

    The new line-up was oriented more towards the R32 series than towards its direct predecessor, to result in a car that was even more sporty than the R33 series.

    The standard R34 is available either with all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel drive. Of the standard versions there are five now, all of which come in coupe and sedan form: the R34GT, powered by the RB20DE with 140hp, the R34 25GT-V with the RB25DE engine and 193hp; the R34 25GT and 25GT-X, which get optional AWD, and last but not least the top-of-the-line R34 25GT-t, powered by the RB25DET with 280hp. There are no Coupe-versions for the GT-X and 25GT RWD models, though.

    Of course a GT-R may not be missing. Regarding the technology, the R34's top version is basically an evolution of the old R33 GT-R, but with a much sharper design and a truly improved chassis, making this the best Skyline GT-R ever and, in comparison to other sports cars, one of the fastest cars in the world:
    This GT-R held the Track Record for production cars at the Nürburgring Northloop, the most difficult racetrack of the world, until the Porsche 996 Turbo came along, and won several JGTC championships.

    11th Generation (2001 - ...)

    General | Infiniti G35 | GT-R Concept

    Finally, after 3 years of speculation and various pictures of what the new Skyline might look like, the wait is over. Fortunately, rumors stating the Skyline would be dropped in favor of the new Z-Car were not confirmed, since on June 18th, 2001 the all-new V35 Skyline was released.

    The new car comes with two entirely new engines, a 2.5l V6 with 215hp and a 3.0l V6 with 260hp. With these engines, Nissan marks a new step of the Skyline towards the luxury-sedan segment, since there is no entry level engine anymore.

    Had previous versions been evolutions of their respective predecessors, the new V35 now presents a cut into the Skyline's design history as radical as the last model change from the R31 to the R32. The V35 comes in 4 versions: 300 GT, 250 GT, 250 GT Four and 250 Gte, the 250 GTe being the least expensive.

    Infiniti G35

    Additionally, the Skyline finally made its long-awaited US debut for Nissan's luxury-brand Infiniti in spring 2002, where its derivative, the Infiniti G35, goes against the BMW 3-series and Lexus IS300 in the near-luxury class.

    An exciting Sport Coupe featuring a slightly stronger engine is scheduled for September 2002.

    GT-R Concept / GT-R Promo Concept

    The GT-R's future can only be called undefined at this point in time. For sure is there will be a new GT-R and for the first time in history, it will be sold in international markets!
    Unclear so far is, what its ingredients will look like. Since the RB-engine-series was dropped for the standard models, the GT-R is likely to lose its famous RB26DETT in favor of a V8 or a new V6 (maybe based on the new Z-Car's engine). Considering the refine-ment of ATTESA and Super-HICAS on the previous models, these systems are likely to be kept. A preview of what the future GT-R might look like, are the exciting GT-R Concepts of the 2001 and 2005 Tokyo Motor Shows.

    Nissan GTR

    The production version of the GT-R debuted at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, launching in the Japanese market on December 6, 2007. The U.S. official launch was 7 months later on July 07, 2008. Universal Nissan in Los Angeles provided a customer with the delivery of a new GT-R, fresh from the production line at 12:01 AM, on July 07, 2008. The Canadian launch was also in July 2008. Europe became the third consumer market, where it launched late in the year. The large disparity in initial marketing between these regional releases is due to Nissan having to build GT-R performance centers where the car is serviced. Also the engine and rear-mounted dual-clutch gearbox are built by hand, thus limiting production to around 1000 cars a month.

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  2. #2
    Executive Status I Phantom I's Avatar
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    Nov 2008


    Thanks for the history lesson! ... Z next maybe?

  3. #3
    Senior Member aeom's Avatar
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    Good thread.

  4. #4


    good info

  5. #5
    Site Regular
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    Feb 2009


    dang gt-r's been out for a minute

  6. #6
    Executive Status 300zxturboftw's Avatar
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    I'm going to refer to every skyline as a Prince skyline now.
    1985 300zx Turbo. AKA Z31. AKA WTF is a Z31.

    Cruising the 80's, Picking up the Ladies

  7. #7
    Site Fanatic NorthSlidinG35's Avatar
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    ^ lol so am i
    DG 04.5 G35

  8. #8
    n00b Chi-GTR-R35's Avatar
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    Did the really some out witht taht r35 cause that looks more like the concept, doesnt really look like the ones that are out now. if you know what im talking about

  9. #9
    Administrator synth19's Avatar
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    ^ You are right, that isn't the production version.
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  10. #10


    Great write-up, thanks for the info!

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