Spannerhead Dot

Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R:

January 18, 2012 by Matt

Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R GTR White

Add this one to my “bucket list” of cars to at least drive before I die.

Forget all that namby-pamby Z-car stuff, this was and forever will be Nissan’s sports car flagship, for years the most performance-oriented car offered by a performance-oriented automaker: The Skyline GT-R.

Among the 5 generations of the GT-R offered between ’69 and ’02, my favorite is the ’89-’94 “revival” generation, the R32. The storied nameplate having been dormant since the second generation failed in the wake of the gas crisis in ’73, Nissan affixed it to their new homologation special in ’89, and initially intended to only produce the required minimum of 550 for the car to be able to participate in Japan’s Group A racing series. Once the automotive press and public got a whiff of the R32 GT-R’s sophistication and capability, they lobbied Nissan to manufacture the car in regular series production, which the automaker promptly did a few months after the car’s debut.

Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R GTR Silver Gray Grey

Most of the car’s innovations were designed to optimize the car for Group A competition. The 2.6l displacement of the well-nigh indestructible (underrated) 276-hp twin-turbo RB26DETT inline-6, the computer-controlled torque-spitting AWD system and the passive rear-wheel-steering suspension geometry allowed the car to utterly dominate Group A to the point where the racing series was discontinued, making the competition version of the car a victim of its own success. The Skyline GT-R continued to win races in other series, however, and evolved through two further generations, the R33 and R34, before being phased out in ’02 in preparation for the ’07 release of the GT-R, a car which paid homage to its namesake in many ways but was no longer an outgrowth of the regular Skyline.

Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R GTR Interior Inside Cockpit Dashboard

Why do I love the R32 in particular? For one, it manages to pack an incredible amount of sophistication and kit into a four-seat car weighing under 3,200 lbs. Not a lightweight in objective terms, but when a modern-day BMW M3 tips the scales at 3,600, the R32’s lightness is commendable. Its lines, too, are more “pure” than the later generations, more aggressive than the swoopy, elegant R33 and more understated than the extroverted R34. No GT-R is truly an unfiltered, elemental go-cart like a Lotus or even one of its archrivals, the Acura NSX, but without having actually been behind the wheel of a Skyline, and omitting the first two generations, the R32 seems like it would be the closest thing to a driver’s car in the GT-R lineage. With just enough electronic and mechanical complexity to augment, but not overwhelm, the driving experience. One day, one day…

Filed under: Nissan

Leave a Reply