The legendary Skyline, first introduced in 1957, was originally built by Japan’s Prince Motor Company. Production of the Prince Skyline lasted from 1957 until 1966, when Prince and Nissan merged. With humble origins as a rather modest 4-door luxury car, the Skyline began to evolve into a performance-bred sportscar following the merger. Today the Skyline is most recognized as the influential predecessor to the modern GT-R.
THE EVOLUTION OF A SUPERCAR
THE FIRST SKYLINE
The Nissan Skyline was originally produced by the Prince Motor Company in 1957, and then by Nissan (becoming the ‘Nissan Skyline’) after the two companies merged in 1966. The Skyline was available as either a four-door sedan or a five-door station wagon, and it featured a 1.5L GA-30 engine. It wasn’t until 1964 that the first racing GT Skyline was introduced, still under the Prince Motors flag. The introduction of the GT Skyline marked the Skyline’s shift from sedan to race car.
THE FIRST GENERATION NISSAN SKYLINE
Skyline finally became a Nissan in 1969, when the first performance-bred Skyline GT-R was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show. It was still a sedan, but it now boasted an inline six engine and (impressive for the day) 160 horsepower. The first generation Nissan Skyline was available from 1969-1972.
The 1969 GT-R version of the Skyline was a touring car like no other. Taking cues from the Nissan Prince R380 racing prototype, it relied on a four-valve Dual Overhead Cam engine for power and four-wheel independent suspension for its remarkable handling. The car obliterated the competition in Japan’s domestic touring races, winning 52 races in its first three years of competition.
The first two-door version was introduced in 1970 with a successful launch and was well-received, but a global gasoline crisis and a move towards stricter emissions standards put the Skyline GT-R on the shelf for a time.
From 1973 to 1977, the C110 generation Skyline was produced, known as the Kenmari thanks to the commercial with owners named Ken and Mary. It too had a GT-R version but only for 1973, which would make it the last GT-R branded Skyline until 1989.
The R30 was a successful and remarkably versatile design, available as a coupe, four-door sedan, five-door hatchback, and a four-door wagon. All told, the R30 was available in 26 variations, none of them really hinting at what the Skyline would one day become.
1986 saw the introduction of the R31. It was a little bigger and boxier than previous models, and was the first to get the famous “Red Top” Skyline FJ20 engine with red cam covers and the Nissan Induction Control System.
THE R32 SKYLINE GT-R
The Skyline had been through many phases, but it was in 1989 that the real precursor to the GT-R of today was introduced. The R32 Skyline GT-R had all-wheel drive and the famed Nissan RB26DETT inline six engine that pumped out 280 horsepower. It still wasn’t sold in America, but the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) model was and still is a legend in the American tuner community.
A stripped-down version of the R32 entered the Japanese Touring Car Championship in 1989 and won every race it started—29 in a row—over the next four seasons. It was then that the legend of the GT-R was truly born.
R33 SKYLINE GT-R
After first appearing to the motoring world as a prototype at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1993, the R33 Skyline GT-R was finally launched to the public in January 1995 again with the famed RB26DETT.
In its evolution from the R32, the R33 Skyline GT-R became a faster, more stable car, thanks to highly improved body stiffness, better weight distribution and optimized traction control provided by the new all-wheel drive system called “ATTESA E-TS PRO”.
THE R34 SKYLINE GT-R
The R34 Skyline GT-R was introduced in 1998, and was available from 1998 to 2002. A technologically advanced display unit set the model apart, while it’s RB26DETT twin-turbo I6 engine produced impressive horsepower. The shorter wheelbase and more streamlined body of the R34 helped it to achieve even higher performance than its predecessors.
THE FIRST NISSAN GT-R
In 2008, the GT-R officially landed on American roads. Nissan dropped the Skyline name and added a twin-turbo V6 that put out 473 horsepower, propelling the GT-R to performance levels that could not only compete with, but outclass legendary American muscle cars as well as German and Italian supercars. Overnight, the GT-R became a legend. Its technologically advanced road-grabbing all-wheel drive provided exhilarating handling, and it was all wrapped up in a sleek, yet muscular, modern exterior design.