The scream of this Hakosuka GT-R may leave you speechless
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s an exhaust note worth? Well, if that exhaust note is coming from Abdul Hanan’s 1972 Nissan Skyline GT-R, the answer might be zero.
“I can’t describe the sound in exact words because it leaves me speechless every time I start it and rev it,” Hanan says. “It’s impeccable. It’s music to my ears. I just can’t get enough of it. Every time I hear it, it sends a tingling feeling down my back.”
But there’s much more to this Japanese icon than the knee-buckling, high-pitched scream of its 2.0-liter straight-six engine. The Hakosuka GT-R—in Japanese, “hako” means boxy, and “suka” is an abbreviation of suka rain, or Skyline—offers both performance and historic ties to a trio of Nissan works cars that dominated Fuji Speedway in the early 1970s. Competing in the Grand Champion series, those three GT-Rs racked up 58 overall wins—including 49 in a row—and 32 of those victories came at Fuji. Such was Hakosuka’s dominance that it was often said, “Skyline’s only rival is Skyline.”
Hanan says none of those three original works cars survived, but his GT-R is about as close as you can get to the real deal. The car, wearing red-and-white NISMO (Nissan Motorsports) livery, started its life as a 1972 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R road car before R Factory owner Tatsuya Aihara got ahold of it. Aihara rebuilt it—50 years ago—as a tribute to the original number 6 Hakosuka that won the 1971 Japan Grand Prix with Kunimitsu Takahashi behind the wheel. His version was so incredibly accurate that Nissan asked to borrow it to show at various automotive events throughout Japan. Hanan says the Hakosuka was later used in Japan’s Best Motoring video series and was driven by Motoharu Kurosawa in the Time Attack racing series at Fuji Speedway and Suga Circuit.
The exterior and interior of the right-hand-drive GT-R remain basically untouched from how it left R Factory, except for some on-track scrapes and the Recaro racing seat that replaced the original driver’s seat. And while Hanan admits that “R Factory didn’t share many of its tuning secrets,” under the bonnet is a transformed S20 mill (with custom Weber carburetors and a larger radiator) that produces approximately 220 horsepower and is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. Also under the bonnet—on the underside of it, to be exact—are the signatures of four Japanese motorsport legends: Takahashi, who drove the original, Kurosawa, who raced this one; Masahiro Hasemi, a multiple race winner and the first Japanese driver to start a Formula 1 Grand Prix; and engineer Shinichiro Sakurai, father of the Skyline.
So how did this one-of-a-kind Hakosuka GT-R end up in Hanan’s care? It’s a long story—one that actually started when he was in middle school.
“My oldest and first memory regarding an interest in cars began after I started watching Japanese racing and drifting anime called Initial D,” Hanan says. “My first dream car became the (Toyota) Ae86, and over the years Initial D came out with different series. They all caught my attention. My interest grew not only in drifting cars but also in Japanese culture and Japanese cars.”
Watching the Fast and Furious movie series, Hanan soon became fond of Skylines.
“Fortunately for me, my dad ran a dealership in Japan (since the early 2000s), and I got the chance to visit Japan on several occasions,” he says. “From time to time I got to go to car shows, events, and the Tokyo Auto Salon.”
Hanan’s passion for JDM cars resulted in his decision to move to Japan in 2015.
“I started learning Japanese and mastered it within six months, made several friends over time, and started learning drifting from my Japanese friends.”
In addition to visiting the NISMO Omori factory, Hanan’s friend Saito Hirose set up a meeting with R Factory legend Tatsuya Aihara, who told Hanan the story of the number 6 Hakosuka that he built and lent to Nissan. The two began meeting regularly and became friends—“like family,” Hanan says—and Aihara showed him the car on March 26, 2021. Clearly it was a big moment, as the date is seared into Hanan’s memory.
“He told me there is a surprise for me,” Hanan recalls. “The curiosity was killing me, and I rushed to his shop. When I entered his showroom my jaw dropped—number 6 Skyline was sitting right in front of me. For a minute there was silence, observing the car and just looking at it. Then I asked him, ‘How is this possible?’ and he said NISMO had returned it to him.
“I took all the time in the world to go over the car, inch by inch, and listen to the high-pitched exhaust note of the car. I was speechless. We talked about the car more in-depth, and that’s when he told me if I wanted to buy it, he would sell it to me.”
Hanan didn’t hesitate. The two shook hands, and the deal was done. Hanan won’t say what he paid, but he says it was worth it. “I’m super happy, as it is ‘one of one’ and was driven and signed by some of the most famous professional racers in history of Japanese motorsports.”
Hanan, who lives in Parlin, New Jersey, had R Factory perform a complete overhaul of the Hakosuka GT-R’s engine and transmission before shipping it to the U.S. just over a month ago.
“My plans for it right now are to take it to shows and events, so that it won’t just sit in my garage,” Hanan says. (Like that’s ever going to happen.)
Whether or not the car ever hits the track again remains to be seen, but it’s good to know that enthusiasts on this side of the Pacific will not only get to see this Japanese legend but also hear it. And that raw exhaust note might just leave you speechless.
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