Few cars in recent history have caused such a stir like the Nissan GT-R. The vehicle now finds itself backed by a reputation that's taken its name all over the world, even though it has only been showing proper supercar numbers since 2007, when the current R35 generation was launched in Japan.
Nissan vowed to give us a supercar that would be able to take on the best, vehicles with decades of road dominance in their resumes, but would be offered for an unbelievable price of under $100,000.
The car was launched, it kept its promises and was technically upgraded for most of the model years that followed, while the appearance remained largely unchanged.
In order to make the most out of the project, Nissan conceived the R35 as the first GT-R that would use a dedicated platform instead of being based on a Skyline sedan, like its predecessors were.
The Nissan GT-R has become some sort of a cult object in the car world, with the vehicle being nicknamed Godzilla - this is related to the fact that it came from Japan and managed to crush its opponents on the track, but was in fact inherited from the previous generation.
The Japanese carmaker was well aware of the tuning madness involving the previous incarnation of the GT-R and tried to prevent the R35 from having a similar fate. Nissan promoted an aggressive warranty voiding politics related to this. Nevertheless, the floodgates eventually burst and now tuners take the GT-R to about 900 or 1,000 hp for streetable kits and can go close to 2,000 hp in the most extreme applications.
We mention the GT-R fighting its competition above and we have to explain that Nissan set its crosshair on the Porsche 911 and did everything it could to allow the GT-R to post a superior Nurburgring lap time, which it did. Upon achieving this goal, the GT-R became the ultimate expression of “power to the people!”
Nissan hadn’t quite been able to raise up to the standard required to fight European supercars like the 911 Turbo in the past. That’s because, like we said, the previous GT-R models were supped up versions of the Skyline sedan. The R34, R33 and R32 were also limited to 280 hp due to the Japanese law at the time. Their actual output was slightly bigger, but this still meant they had to rely mainly on handling to impress.
The R32 GT-R had appeared as a homologated street car in 1989 that allowed Nissan to use its competition version in the fight for motorsport glory. The vehicles used a extremely capable four-wheel drive systems, previous incarnations of the one in the R35 and twin-turbo straight six engines. These may have been limited to 280 hp, but their racing incarnations more than doubled the power. This inspired tuners to do the same, which led to a series of vehicles that offered phenomenal power and sporty handling.
The GT-R earned points on the racetrack, as well as on the street and in the computer games world, with the vehicle gathering an ever-growing fan base. However, the aforementioned limitations meant that the car was always regarded as an underdog, an aspect that changes with the arrival of the R35.
The GT-R designation, which stands for Gran Turismo Racer, reveals the racing origin of the model and actually dates back to 1969. The First Skyline GT-R started life as a sedan and subsequently became a coupe. The production model followed the successful racing incarnation that started it all. Back then, the vehicle used a six-cylinder engine, but sent its power to the rear wheels.
The layout was kept for the second generation of the Skyline GT-R, which was launched in 1973. The timing couldn’t be worse, as the gas crisis was ravishing performance car sales, so only 197 units of the vehicle were ever made. The vehicle was discontinued until the arrival of the aforementioned R32 generation.
History repeated itself eventually - the Skyline GT-R R34 was put out of production in 2002 and the model was kept off the market for five years as Nissan was facing financial difficulties and a supercar must’ve been the last thing on the list of company priorities.
However, the appearance of the Nissan-Renault alliance sparked the need for a flagship model and this is how we’re returning to the R35 GT-R’s story. This is also the first GT-R to truly go global, as Nissan had previously only exported limited quantities of the car on select markets.
Now that the GT-R is free to travel across the world and it’s also received multiple model year upgrades designed to make it even faster, we set about inviting Godzilla over for tea - we recently got behind the wheel of a 2013 Nissan GT-R (2012 in Europe). Continue reading