We no longer wish to hear about how oil companies stab the planet’s crust, searching for liquid money. We hug that electric car battery makers dig mines in search of rare metals that will increase autonomy and performance and make us feel good about ourselves when searching for a charging station.
But that’s another story for people who worship electric vehicles and jump the gun on internal combustion followers. This race is the no-nonsense, politically incorrect to the core, and downright outrageously loud and smelling of burned gasoline protest against the tyranny of circuit boards on wheels.
Can you ask for anything better? It’s the perfect replica of American drag racing perfection, albeit with Japanese makes and some computer enhancements. Each car has a modification list long enough to cover the drag strip from start to finish.
The R-34 GT-T Skyline has a 2.5-liter straight-six that makes nearly 2.5 times the power of the original, factory-built engine from 25 years ago. A six-speed takes the beating, and it’s entirely up to the person behind the wheel to keep the car in a straight line: no traction control, no launch control. It’s all up to the driver’s coordination, precision, speed, cool-headedness, and anticipation to crack the whip and stay in the saddle of this 1.4-ton pocket rocket.
The RX7 differs from the mainstream rivals, with its tiny 1.3-liter engine fitted with a single turbo. But, unlike the others, it doesn’t have the same cylinder headcount. It doesn’t have any cylinders at all. It is a high-revving screaming rotary missile that weighs a mere 1.3 tons and packs 720 horses under that sleek profile.
All in all, 553 hp/ton is way ahead of the two previously introduced competitors (496 hp/ton on the Nissan and 437 hp/ton on the weight-clad Toyota). Furthermore, it has a dog box transmission to back high power and low weight advantages. Just like its adversaries, it is rear-wheel drive.
Paper racing dictates that the Silvia will take home the trophy without having to put up a fight, and this time the paper is correct. The lightweight Nissan leaves its opponents looking at its taillights – although the RX7 and the R34 gave it a good run for its money.
Mathematically obedient, the Supra is last to cross the line in the roll races, which all go to the Silvia. But extra power comes with a hidden cost – these builds each have their Achille’s heels. In this case, a colling line snaps and takes out the S15 during the first standing quarter race. Although the brightly-colored Nissan Silvia wins one round, it’s game over.
Surprisingly, the Skyline can’t put its power down properly, leaving a thick trail of tire smoke in its wake. As Carroll Shelby put it best, ‘There’s no “too much power,” just not enough traction.’ The Toyota gets its act together and takes a clean win, closing this epic episode of the Far East sword fight.
The best times achieved by the four Japanese icons are right in line with paper calculations: the Silvia bested a 12.51-second quarter mile at 128 mph (206 kph). The Mazda RX7 inched behind it at 12.74 and 127 mph (204 kph). The heavyweight Supra falls a full second behind the winner, with 13.51@119 mph (191 kph). The Skyline had a higher top speed - 126 mph (203 kph), but got to the end last, in 13.88 seconds.