If you’ve followed us for a while there’s a good chance you’ve heard us mention Japan’s ‘Golden Era’. Broadly referring to the awesome cars that came out of Japan in the 1990’s it was in fact down to the 1980’s financial boom that allowed Japanese car manufacturers to raise the bar more than ever.
Following the successes of the ’69 – ’72 GTR the R31 Skyline GTS-R had comparably fallen well short. With the surge of money flowing through Japan, Nissan decided to capitalise and develop a racing GT-R model from the outset.
The Nissan Skyline R32 GTR NISMO was born…
Although the first six were made in 1989 the NISMO edition was officially introduced to the public on 22 February 1990 at a premium of ¥235,500 over the standard car. Only 560 were made to comply with Group A ‘Evo’ regulations, 60 of which were turned into race cars.
It was so well received that sales figures far exceeded Nissan’s expectations with over 43,000 R32 GTRs produced between 1989 and 1994.
At around 320bhp in standard guise, 600 horses were squeezed out of the RB26 in race spec. To cope with the power, Nissan’s engineers developed an advanced all-wheel-drive system called ATTESSA E-TS, apparently inspired from the Porsche 959.
Much like the 959, the GT-R split torque between the front and the rear axles, but where the Porsche split torque based on the car’s weight distribution whilst driven the GT-R remained rear wheel drive until the rear wheels lost traction. Ultimately it was this cutting edge technology that paved the way for the numerous Motorsport accolades achieved by the NISMO over the following years.
Unsurprisingly, the GT-R made an instant impact emerging as a dominant force in Group A racing, winning 29 out of the 29 races in the Japanese Touring Car Championship and taking victory at the 1991 Spa 24 Hour race. Arguably the biggest waves were made in Australia where it took three Group A Championships between 1990-1992 and 1st place at the Bathurst 1000 in 1991 and 1992. The local press fittingly dubbed the GT-R “Godzilla.” A name that’s stuck for almost 30 years!
The GT-Rs dominance In Australia was such that the Touring Car Championship’s governing body forced the series into a two make championship, consisting of GM-Holden and Ford which ended the GT-R’s Australian reign, as turbocharging and all-wheel-drive was no longer allowed in the series.
Richard Meaden from EVO magazine was quoted saying… “It’s the turn-in agility followed by the ability to put all its power down on the way out of corners that made the GT-R such a formidable weapon,”… ”A Group A [Ford] Sierra RS500 was lighter and had 500-550bhp, but with rear-wheel-drive it couldn’t match the traction, especially over longer runs. To be fair to Ford, nothing else could.”
How to Spot a NISMO
The easiest way to distinguish a NISMO from all other models of GT-Rs is the chassis number. Only the 560 NISMOs start with a 1, so their chassis numbers start from BNR32-100001 all the way to 100560. They can also be identified by the model code prefix “RA”.
There may seem little visible difference between the standard GTR and NISMO edition but there are a number of subtle aerodynamic changes that help distinguish one from the other. Further to the two additional ducts in the front bumper and the absence of the protective mesh to improve airflow to the intercooler, a bonnet lip spoiler is fitted to help direct more air into the engine bay. Along with deeper rear spats an additional low level lip spoiler provides greater downforce.
The NISMO spec deletes ABS, which is required for entry into Group A. To save weight Nissan opted for an aluminium bonnet and front bumpers rather than the standard steel and discarded the rear wiper. Overall the NISMO sheds 30kg from the 1430 kg standard GTR.
It’s without question Godzilla’s dominance in motorsport that turned it into the automotive icon it is today. Unsurprisingly values are rising Worldwide with the likes of Europe, Australasia, the United States and Japan fighting over the best examples before they become far out of reach. Where values will end up in 5 years time is difficult to predict but if there was ever a case for an iconic car with serious motorsport credentials it would be wise to consider the Nissan Skyline R32 GTR NISMO.