Saturday, October 20, 2012

Classified ad of the week: Skyline GT-R

This is genesis. Not just for the GT-R moniker (or anything else hanging from its coattails), but for Nissan as a whole. This little specimen's a tribute to the first Nissan GT-R ever - the car that gave a little island in the north pacific a reputation for building something other than everyman street furniture - thanks to the PGC10, it could do fast and desirable too. It was called Hakosuka by Gran Turismo-Racer fans - hako means box in Japanese, and suka is an abbreviation of sukairain, which means Skyline - and its story started with a racer from Prince, a brand gobbled up by a merger with Nissan-Datsun. Prince made a fairly ordinary saloon car called the Skyline, and decided to build one for racing by crow-baring a straight six in from its bigger saloon, the Gloria. Despite the swap accumulating eight extra understeery inches of chassis ahead of the bulkhead, when it entered the second Japanese Grand prix it managed second through to sixth places against the purpose-built Porsche 904. On the back of its success, and before the Nissan-Datsun merger, Prince released two roadgoing versions in Japan, called the Skyline 2000GT. You could chose an S54A, a 105hp 2.0-litre with a single carburetor, or a triple-carb 125hp S54B with a limited-slip diff and close-ratio five-speed ‘box. On the back of the 2000GT's awesomeness, with newfound confidence from absorbing a brand with racing provenance that confounded even Prince itself, and the company's test track at Murayama, Nissan-Datsun asked the Skyline engineers to build them a hot twin-cam engine. It was based on the company's 2.0-litre six cylinder and was destined for a sporty version of the slightly dull C10 saloon. Come 1969, the first GT-R arrived, beginning its life as a four-door salon for its introduction in March 1971. As well as the big inline six - something synonymous with GT-Rs until the last Skyline-badged model left Japan in 2002 - they were stripped of most of their innards for added lightness. On the track, the first four-doors were utterly lethal - they racked up 33 victories in less than two years, and the coupĂ© like this one, which was introduced in 1971, stretched this to 50 in its first and second year. The competition was largely native, and its then-rivals have long since disappeared into obscurity (Toyota 1600 GT, Isuzu Bellett, Mazda Familia and Mazda Copella), but it managed to show several Porsches clean heels on more than one occasion - an achievement not to be underestimated considering Nissan-Datsun had only been racing for a shade over two years. Porsche had been at it since 1956. As we say, genesis. Admittedly, this one's not a racer, and it's been subject to some troubling pimp work like a carbon boot, carbon bonnet and a 180hp engine that's been re-bored up to 2.8-litres. But it's given us the fizz so we'll forgive it. It's not cheap, though - you'll need to find £39450, and that doesn't include shipping from Japan. But what price for this much AWESOME?

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