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R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R: Performance Car Icon
Offered in very limited numbers between 1969 and 1972, the first-generation Skyline GT-R was replaced by a scarcer breed in 1973. A one-year-only affair, the “Kenmeri” numbers fewer than 200 examples due to the first oil crisis. A little more than a decade later, the peeps at Nissan decided to carry out the automaker's then-most ambitious project.

R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R: Performance Car Icon

1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO
Codenamed 901, this project can be summed up rather easily. Nissan wanted to become Japan’s premier automaker of performance cars, an extremely ambitious goal by most accounts. Spurred by the success of the S30-generation Z car in the United States, the 901 movement paved the road for icons that include the Z32 300ZX, S13 Silvia, and R32 Skyline GT-R.

Today we’re talking about the latter, an all-wheel-drive icon that wouldn’t have been possible without the asset price bubble of the 1980s. Even though the good times came to a close in 1992, Nissan continued to improve the Skyline GT-R until 2002, when the R34 was retired with a glorious bang.

16 years after the second-generation Skyline GT-R was killed off by the economic downturn caused by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the GT-R was expected to sell in the ballpark of 5,000 units to homologate the GT-R for touring car racing. Ever wondered why this generation is called Godzilla? Of course, it dominated the track!

One of the most advanced cars of that era, the performance-oriented variant of the R32 entered production in August 1989. When production ended in November 1994, the Japanese brand had delivered nearly 44,000 copies.

Depending on who you ask, the tally ranges from 43,934 to 43,937 sales. Officially dubbed E-BNR32, the third-generation Skyline GT-R is rocking torque-sensitive AWD with lots of electronic trickery. Its mouthful of a designation is Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-terrain with Electronic Torque Split or ATTESA E-TS for short. How does it work? Well, it all starts with a microprocessor that senses the engine’s revolutions per minute, how much the throttle is open, and the lateral Gs.

In case of oversteer, torque is channeled from the rear to the front wheels for obvious reasons. The anti-lock braking system also needs to be mentioned, for it measures how fast the wheels are turning and the longitudinal Gs. The list of electronic wizardry doesn’t end here, though.

Nissan employed Super High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering, a.k.a. Super HICAS, to steer the rear wheels for improved stability at high speed and improved maneuverability at low speed. The rear wheels can turn in the same or opposite direction to the fronts by one degree. It’s not much, but hey, do remember that we’re talking about a car from 1989. To whom it may concern, The Cure’s Lovesong also launched in August of that year.

Tipping the scales at 1,430 kilograms (3,153 pounds), the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R is artificially limited to 180 kilometers per hour (112 miles per hour) from the factory. Devices such as the HKS Speed Limit Defencer can remove this limit, enabling a top speed of around 265 kph (165 mph).

The unitary steel chassis is complemented by double wishbones up front and a multi-link arrangement for the rear end. Anti-roll bars are – of course - featured, along with 16-inch alloys that were originally mounted with Bridgestone Potenza rubber boots. Four- and two-piston brake calipers are used, together with ventilated discs that measure 296 and 297 millimeters.

Pop the hood, and you’ll find a 2.6-liter powerplant that bears the RB26DETT codename to designate its engine family, displacement, dual overhead cams, electronic fuel injection, and twin turbochargers from Garrett. The spinny lads help the cast-iron engine with a lightweight alloy head produce 276 horsepower and 260 pound-feet (353 Nm) of torque. Nissan published these figures to satisfy the 276-hp gentleman’s agreement of that era, but in truth, the straight-six motor belts out more than 310 hp.

The only transmission is a five-speed manual related to the 300ZX, a gearbox that likes to break the third gear. Another failure point is the transfer case, which may suffer from hydraulics failure, mechanical issues, or electronic problems. Also worthy of note, the R32 GT-R can go rear-wheel drive if you pull a 30A fuse from a panel near the right headlight.

During its five-year production run, the R32 GT-R received two special editions. Offered between 1989 and 1990, the NISMO is arguably the best known of the bunch. 560 were delivered in total, of which 60 were turned into racing cars. A homologation special for the Super Taikyu N1 Enduro Series, the N1 followed in 1991. Merely 245 units were produced.

 
 
 
 
 

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