Speaking Skyline: 14 terms every GT-R fan should know
The latest in our Great Reads series is a compelling history and canyon drive of the R32-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R. The story, which you can find here, includes a whole mess of specific terminology. To help make sense of it, we enlisted resident GT-R nerd Greg Ingold to assemble the following Skyline glossary. This won’t be on the midterm, so study up at your own pace. –Ed.
Like any automotive subculture, the world of JDM cars has its own language. (For starters, JDM = Japanese Domestic Market, or cars originally sold in Japan.) From model names to chassis codes and engines, the land of RX-7s, Supras, NSXs, and Nissans is peppered with a word salad of letters and numbers that can leave visitors dumbfounded. With the Nissan Skyline GT-R emerging as one of the most coveted modern collector cars, here are some of the more commonly used Skyline GT-R terms.
The first usage of this nickname was in the July, 1989 edition of the Australia’s Wheels magazine. The cover title was Skyline Supercar! Nissan’s new Godzilla aims to slay the Sierra. And it’s here soon.
The name stuck, and with the R32’s incredible performance on the race track, it became legendary. But while the broad car community often refers to any Skyline GT-R as Godzilla, die-hards only associated the nickname with the R32-generation car.
R32, R33, R34
Each of these alphanumeric shorthands denotes a generation in the life of the Skyline GT-R. If you’re familiar with Porsche chassis codes, the concept here is essentially the same. Some background: The second half of the chassis code prefix is the source of these terms. Chassis BNR32 is what enthusiasts know as the R32 GT-R built from model year 1989-1994, for example. After that came BCNR33 (the R33 GT-R, model year 1995-1998), and then BNR34 (R34 GT-R, model year 1999-2002). The current-generation car, due to be replaced soon, is the R35.
The standard engine for the Skyline GT-R from the R32 through the R34, the RB26DETT is the name for Nissan’s Response Balance (RB) engine series. It’s a 2.6-liter (26), dual overhead cam (D), electronic fuel injection (E), twin-turbo (TT) straight-six. These engines were rated at 276 horsepower, reflecting a gentleman’s agreement among Japanese auto manufacturers to limit advertised horsepower, but the key word there is “advertised.” Stock GT-Rs have been known to lay down dyno numbers into the 300-hp range, and a bit of gentle tuning can significantly increase output.
Nissan Motorsports International is a name synonymous with Nissan performance. Its roots stretch all the way back to the 1960s, but the division as we know it merged with Nissan in 1984. While very successful in motorsport through the 1980s, NISMO is best known for its work on the R32 and later GT-Rs. Hits include the R32-based GT-R NISMO (for Group A racing homologation), the R33-based 400R (stuffed with technology from NIMSO’s Le Mans program), and the R34-based Z-Tune (considered the ultimate R34). And that’s just the highlight reel; in addition to branded performance versions of existing Nissan products, NISMO also offers parts and a factory restoration service for GT-R owners.
A subsidiary of Nissan, Autech specializes in customization of Nissan automobiles. Did you think GT-Rs only came in coupe form? Think again: Autech offered a GT-R Sedan for 1998 as well as a GT-R station wagon (!) in the form of the Stagea 260RS.
These are some of the rarest regular-production GT-Rs, another motorsports-oriented model homologated for Super Taikyu N1 series racing. Naturally, these cars were built with a particular focus on lightness and performance.
The GT-R’s High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering (HICAS) made it one of a handful of Japanese sports cars using a four-wheel steering system. The technology allows for improved turn-in during aggressive driving. In the R32, HICAS is hydraulically controlled via the power steering system, however subsequent generations switched to electronic control.
This one stands for Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Terrain with Electronic Torque Split. It’s a mouthful that, distilled down, really means all-wheel drive. This computer-controlled system responds to signals from three accelerometers, engaging the front axle when it determines additional torque up front is necessary. This was genuinely exotic stuff in 1989 when it was introduced for the R32 GT-R.
The GT-R’s Victory Specification celebrated the GT-R’s success in racing. On the R32 car, the V-Spec and V-Spec II got a set of Brembo brakes and BBS wheels, but the R33 would see nuanced subtle changes with suspension and active limited-slip differential upgrades. R34 V-Specs are another matter completely, packed with the aforementioned suspension and active diff plus advanced aero and diffuser upgrades and added features to the Multifunction Display and two-stage tachometer. The V-Spec II even tacked on a carbon-fiber hood for further weight savings.
In simple terms, the M-Spec is an upgraded V-Spec II version of the R34 GT-R, albeit without the carbon fiber hood and with an aim more toward improved on-road comfort. It came appointed with leather interior and a more forgiving suspension with Ripple Control shocks.
Named for the famous Nürburgring race track, the R34 Nur was a final edition of sorts for the so-named generation. It was an optional package could be tacked onto the V-Spec II and M-Spec that brought special badging, a 300-kph speedometer, available Millennium Jade paint, and, most notably, the coveted N1 version of the RB26DETT engine. The M-spec Nur is one of just three configurations of R34 GT-R that is available for early import to the U.S. via the federal Show or Display provision.
Stands for Multi Function Display. The R34 GT-R was an early adopter of technology that now features in nearly every new car today—a center-mounted screen. Being a performance car, Nissan wanted to treat its customers to performance data and used the MFD to communicate essential sensor readouts beyond what was visible in the gauge cluster. Everything from oil pressure, oil temperature, coolant temperature, boost pressure, and a g-meter, the R34 had it. There were different levels of functionality depending on which MFD you got, but the coolest feature was undoubtedly a TV tuner.
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