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R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R: Small Improvements Galore
No fewer than 16 years after the 1973 oil crisis forced Nissan to discontinue the incredibly rare KPGC110, the Japanese automaker wowed pretty much everyone with the unveiling of the R32 Skyline GT-R. An unexpected commercial success that proved successful on the racetrack as well, the one they call Godzilla received a successor in 1995.

R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R: Small Improvements Galore

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As the headline implies, many small improvements describe this generation best. Nissan knew it had a winning formula with the R32, which is why the R33 is more of an evolution rather than a revolution. It’s the same thing Porsche has done to the iconic 911 ever since the air-cooled original of 1964.

Redesigning a legend of the automotive industry is similar to a band writing material for their second album. It's always a daunting prospect; make no mistake about it. But exceptions do exist. Led Zeppelin II of October 1969 reached number one in many countries, while Led Zeppelin of January 1969 peaked at number six back home in the UK and number seven in the U.S.

A prototype of the R33 was presented in October 1993 at the Tokyo Motor Show. The positive reception of this work-in-progress affair prompted Nissan to continue development at full throttle. 15 months later, the first units of the series-production model were on route to dealers. The biggest changes from the prototype come in the guise of the wheel design and front end, but all told, Nissan stayed true to the prototype revealed at the show.

Even though it wouldn’t compete in the touring car series, the R33 did see lots of track action in the Japanese GT Championship and at Le Mans. As for the road-going model, the R33 is the first series-production car to break into the sub-8:00 mark at the Nurburgring, with Dirk Schoysman at the wheel.

Under the skin, the unitary steel chassis was elongated from 2,615 to 2,720 millimeters. Nissan further sweetened the deal with beefed-up mounting points for precise steering. Highlights also include more suspension travel out back, a slightly different suspension design up front for improved camber stiffness, the battery moved to the trunk, and Brembo brakes with 28-millimeters larger discs fore and 3-millimeters larger rotors at the aft.

Riding on upsized wheels, namely 17x9s compared to 16x8s for the previous generation, the second coming of Godzilla was originally fitted with Bridgestone Potenza tires. Due to the 276-hp gentleman’s agreement of that era, Nissan knew that it had to improve the power-to-weight ratio for any significant gains in performance. A weight-saving measure that stands out from the rest is the fuel tank’s capacity, now rated at 65 liters (circa 17.1 U.S. gallons) versus 72 liters (19 gallons) in the much-beloved R32.

The RB26DETT in the R33 waws upgraded to ceramic internals for the turbochargers, which raised the boost for more power. Nonetheless, the 2.6-liter engine developed the same 276 force-fed ponies as before. That's on paper because it actually cranks out in the ballpark of 320 horsepower.

The oil pump drive collar, one of the weakest points of the straight-six plant, was understandably widened in the name of durability. Last but certainly not least, Nissan developed a new intake camshaft. As a result of these upgrades, torque went up from 260 to 271 pound-feet (353 to 368 Nm).

From a cosmetic standpoint, wider fenders and a deep spoiler for the front bumper are joined by a four-way adjustable rear wing. Taller than its forerunner, the R33 is a bit more aerodynamic as well: Cd 0.35 versus Cd 0.40, according to the Japanese manufacturer. Equipped with air conditioning, power mirrors, power windows, and a stereo as standard, this generation of the Skyline GT-R doesn’t differ all the much on the inside.

Due to more demanding safety requirements, Nissan also had to spend money on internal crash bars and a steering-wheel airbag. Upholstered in tricot fabric, the bucket seats of the R33 are gifted with integrated headrests. In terms of options, prospective customers were offered an upgraded stereo from Kenwood, a stereo delete, as well as a frontal passenger-side airbag.

ATTESA E-TS permanent all-wheel drive is featured, yet the Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-terrain with Electronic Torque Split is pretty much the same as the system found in the R32. Once again, a five-speed manual with stronger gear synchros had to suffice. HICAS rear-wheel steering, as in High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering, was renamed Super HICAS by switching from a hydraulic pump to an electric actuator.

Including pre-production cars and the NISMO 400R that flaunts a tricked-out sixer with a displacement of 2.8 liters, the R33 ended its run with a little under 16,700 units produced. The final example of the breed rolled off the assembly line in November 1998, making room for the R34 that we covered in a previous article. All R33s were finished in right-hand drive.

 
 
 
 
 

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