Ranking Every Generation Of Nissan Skyline GT-R, The JDM Supercar Nicknamed 'Godzilla'
The Nissan Skyline GT-R was for many years the ultimate in forbidden sports car fruit, a high performance Japanese masterpiece that only began sales in the United States in 2007. With decades of history prior to that, and several intriguing models available thanks to America's 25-year import rule, the Skyline GT-R has become the holy grail of turbo-loving enthusiasts seeking its reputation for nearly unlimited tuning power and exceptional speed. Oh, and appearing regularly in the 'Fast and Furious' franchise certainly didn't hurt.
Which Nissan Skyline GT-R is our favorite, and which one would we leave idling on the loading dock? Check out our ranking of each and every generation of the GT-R.
1. R34 Skyline GT-R (1999-2005)
The R34 generation Skyline is the one that captured the imaginations of so many tuners at the dawn of the new millennium. Whether it was due to its sleek lines, its twin-turbo RB26 inline six-cylinder engine, or its advanced all-wheel drive system, the R34 became an illicit object of desire for import fans frustrated by the fact that the right-hand drive coupe was never sold in North America. With an engine block capable of supporting over 500 horsepower and a starring role in the second installment of the Fast and Furious series, the R34 introduced 'Godzilla' into the pop consciousness of millions of fanboys worldwide.
2. C10 Hakosuka GT-R (1969-1972)
Running a close second in our ranking of the best Skyline GT-R models ever built is the original Hakosuka. Offered from 1969 to 1972, the C10 generation added a sporty coupe (and sedan) model to Datsun/Nissan's Skyline family for the first time. Rated at 160 horses from a 2.0-liter straight six engine, the Hakosuka would join the 1600/2000 roadster among Datsun's high performance options and do much to elevate the brand's perception in its homeland among driving enthusiasts.
3. R35 GT-R (2007-present)
In a world where monster power is now commonplace, it's easy to forget that the current-generation Nissan GT-R, the R35, was one of the early turbocharged players to throw down some truly impressive numbers. Although it ditched the Skyline name when it became the first GT-R sold in the United States, it's a clear successor to the same lineage, and rightfully claims the third spot on our list.
Nissan continually refined the R35's drivetrain throughout production, moving from 480 hp to a whopping 565 hp plus, depending on which model is ordered. All-wheel drive continues to be a highlight of the GT-R's package, and in a straight line there are few sports cars that can keep up with the Nissan's phenomenal grip and acceleration, helping it maintain its claim on the 'Godzilla' nickname.
4. R32 Skyline GT-R (1989-1994)
Currently, this is the most recent of the turbocharged modern Skylines to be legal for import to the United States, and as such the R32 GT-R now has a much higher profile among JDM fans. The R32 brought the GT-R badge back after lying dormant for nearly 20 years, and was also the first model to adopt all-wheel drive and the RB26 twin-turbo six. In terms of power, it's just as capable as the R34 at putting up impressive dyno numbers, and it's also somewhat lighter, making it a more agile option.
5. C110 Kenmeri GT-R (1973)
Built for a single model year before the energy crisis forced Nissan away from high-end sports cars, the C110 GT-R (called the 'Kenmeri' due to a popular series of ads starring drivers named Ken and Mary) is a poignant 'what might have been' for the Japanese performance segment in the 1970s. Although the Z car would build Datsun's reputation worldwide, the presence of an export-friendly GT-R (featuring the same engine as the Hakosuka) could have erased the 'lost decade' that kept Skylines out of America for most of the 1980s. Attractively styled, barely 200 C110s were produced before the brand pulled the plug.
6. R33 Skyline GT-R (1995-1998)
Let's get this out of the way: there's not nothing at all 'wrong' with the R33 Skyline GT-R. It simply has the misfortune of being sandwiched between the first-to-turbo R32 and the iconic R34, and having brought nothing new to the table itself, it's had a hard time standing out. Think of it as a marginally improved R32 with a slightly different look, and you're not far off from what the R33 has to offer. Given that it's just now starting be legal under American's 25-year import rule, it could see a spike in popularity among those locked out of the R32 fun by the latter's soaring prices.
Can't get enough classic Skyline action? Check out our mega-gallery of Skylines filling Fontana Raceway.