Login | Register
SearchMy Stuff
My ProfileMy PreferencesMy Mates RSS Feed
Friday 25th January 2013

PH Heroes: Nissan Skyline GT-R R34

A hero on screen, road and track we celebrate Nissan's mighty R34



Like all true PH Heroes the Nissan Skyline does things its own way. That way mainly comprising the relentless pursuit of technology to set new boundaries, confound expectation and, just occasionally, really annoy Porsche. In both the virtual and real world Nissan has set its own agenda and forged a car with a unique and unmistakable identity, carefully managing the GT-R's role as an all-conquering hero car for generations of gamers into exactly that for the same folk as they graduate into the real world of performance cars. No small feat. No mean car.

Final Skyline also the meanest looking
Final Skyline also the meanest looking
We could have focused on any car from the GT-R lineage for these purposes. The current one will, no doubt, have its moment in the sun on these pages. But we'll concentrate on the R34, the last to wear the Skyline badge and the one that truly bridged the gap between the GT-R's reputation as a gaming legend and a giant-killing supercar slayer.

The example featured is a rare beast indeed - a totally standard V-Spec R34 GT-R exactly as they were sold in the UK from 1999 in a limited run of specially imported cars for £54,000 a pop. Modding is at the heart of Skyline culture and most of those that went into private hands will have been tweaked (the only UK car currently in the PH classifieds is a typical example) but this one from Nissan's historic fleet is exactly as they came, 80 cars eventually following the 100 R33s imported by Nissan in 1997 and SVA'd for UK roads by Skyline experts Middlehurst.

Famously tuneable RB26DETT engine
Famously tuneable RB26DETT engine
Preaching to the converted
Each R34 required 32 hours of conversion work, including a new ECU to run on UK fuel, Connolly leather for the seats, oil coolers for the transfer box, gearbox and engine and more besides. 55mm shorter in wheelbase than the R33 (75mm shorter overall) and, according to Nissan, 56 per cent stiffer in the body it also got a six-speed Getrag gearbox as standard. Lighter wheels, revised Super HICAS four-wheel steering and ball bearing turbos were also fitted, the latter contributing to an increase in torque from the R33's 271lb ft to 289lb ft, in standard form at least.

Famously tweakable, Skyline experts Abbey Motorsport reckon 400hp-plus is easily attainable with boost raised to around 1.2bar from the standard 0.9bar. With a boost controller, mappable ECU, racing cats and quality aftermarket downpipe and exhaust system a safe 430hp is achievable without pushing the standard injectors or transmission too hard. As delivered the cars were putting out 340hp, considerably more than advertised though less than many achieved. Not bad for a 2.6-litre six.

The view many of us know from virtual experience
The view many of us know from virtual experience
Rear lights glowing like afterburners, the view most recognisable to those of us raised on hours of Gran Turismo is the Skyline's rear, those circular lights incongruous against the hard-edged blockiness but creating an iconic visual signature. To see that in the metal after long nights in the virtual is almost surreal.

Age shall not weary them
It's aging well too. It lacks the origami sharpness of the current GT-R but years haven't dimmed the sheer aggression and, ahem, powerfully built swagger. There's some lovely detailing too, from the carbon fibre diffuser to the gold Brembo calipers nestling within anthracite alloys. It's one of the best looking engine bays you'll ever see too; all braided lines, Nismo-branded fittings and expensive looking garnish surrounding a blood-red cam cover nestled beneath a burly looking strut brace. OK, it's a geek's car. But it plays to its chosen audience well.

Interior is surprisingly simple and straightforward
Interior is surprisingly simple and straightforward
There's a classic simplicity about the interior, only the odd bit of 90s Nissan parts bin switchgear detracting from the experience. Of course the GT-R is anything but simple beneath but for all that reputation it's a pretty straightforward twist'n'go machine.

It's amazing how compact it feels - narrow especially - against more modern cars and how this contrasts with the muscular image. For a car famous for its electronic trickery your interfaces with it are refreshingly mechanical and analogue too. The shifter has a firm, positive action, the steering is weighty but full of feel and surprising delicacy and everything has a deliberate sense of purpose.

Broad spread
The engine is gorgeous too, brimming with character and sensation. At lower revs there's a gruff hint of old-school M BMW about it, but then that's not so surprising really. There's a degree of softness to the initial power delivery too that can lull you into a false sense of security because as the revs build and the turbos start spinning it begins to take on a very different character indeed. Whooshes and gurgles emanate from under the bonnet, the exhaust note hardens and then plays second fiddle to the roar of forced induction as things really pick up. It's a lot revvier than you'd expect of a relatively big lump and really hangs on too, spinning up to the mid sevens with real ferocity. Even in this standard form it feels hugely potent and very, very rapid. It's not a savage wallop of power like you might get from some boosted cars, more a rush of power and, with it, adrenaline that builds and builds.

Feels a lot more potent than the numbers suggest
Feels a lot more potent than the numbers suggest
You sense it's a car that could easily run away with you and even with all that clever stuff to keep you on the straight and narrow one that needs a firm hand to really exploit fully. Chris Harris was less won over by the R34's eccentricities in extremis and, indeed, was moved to write about it in a Tell Me I'm Wrong not so long ago. At a slightly more relaxed pace the surprising delicacy to the controls means there's real satisfaction in keeping things neat, tidy and precise. For a car that looks like such a bully it's actually got real finesse.

Favours the brave
You've got to drive it proactively and hold your nerve though. An easy car to drive at eight tenths, it's one that makes bigger and bigger demands of you the further you're willing to push it.

A true hero car in the real and virtual world
A true hero car in the real and virtual world
And that's what makes it so compelling. It's not a car you master on first acquaintance. Or even second or third. You keep learning with it, always aware it's got a whole lot more to give if you've got the balls. And a karate kick to them if you haven't and try and back out, as both Harris and your humble correspondent can attest.

There are 'better' cars out there, for sure. There are prettier ones. But heroes aren't always good looking or without flaws. Indeed, that's often what makes them interesting. And for a generation of gamers turned drivers there'll always be a place for this car in the hall of the greats.



NISSAN SKYLINE GT-R (R34)
Engine:
2,568cc 6-cyl, twin-turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 280@6,800rpm*
Torque (lb ft): 289@4,400rpm*
0-62mph: 5.2 sec*
Top speed: 155mph*
Weight: 1,666kg
MPG: N/A (NEDC combined)
CO2: N/A
Price: £54,000 (new)

*Official figures as quoted by Nissan

Dan Trent
2 3 ... 6 7
Reply to Topic
Author Discussion

Blukoo

Original Poster:

3,718 posts

82 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
I'm hoping everyone will forget about them, and they'll drop in price...

tr7v8

4,658 posts

113 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Never appealled.

mackie1

7,271 posts

118 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
I prefer the looks of the R34 but most of the stuff I've read (Mr Harris included) reckons the R33 is a better car.

el romeral

137 posts

22 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
I expected this to be an MX5 thread for some reason wink.

J4CKO

11,011 posts

85 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
I think they haven't aged well from their heyday, the new GTR makes them look a bit feeble (sure they are not, still 280 bhp, usually more) in the power department, in fact a BMW 135i has more power, they are at a point where they arent new and arent a classic, they look a bit showy next to an R32, I am sure they are very capable and always a pleasure to spot one but not on my list (yet)
Advertisement

neema_T

216 posts

91 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
The R32's my favourite, the R34 just looks a bit fat to me.



Yes please!

RacingBlue

939 posts

49 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
tr7v8 said:
Never appealled.
Agreed - they've just always left me cold.

MGZRod

6,372 posts

61 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
I know a couple folk with R34 GTRs and another with a GTST.

The R34 really is a stunning car, looks a class above the 32 and 33 (though i'd have a R33 personally!), take well to mods and does not look like they came out in 98/99!

I love them, especially in bayside blue wink

Spiritual_Beggar

4,685 posts

79 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Hakosuka Skyline for me thanks.

Shame they are nigh on impossible to get hold of.....and not cheap either biggrin

Silverbullet767

8,445 posts

91 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
It must be a certain generation that loved these cars.

As I was growing up, Gran Turismo was the game of choice, and in that game, nothing was better than the R34 Skyline GTR

It was my hero. And still is, I'd sell my gran to get one.

Not the R32, R33 or the new GTR compares IMO!

Chicane-UK

3,449 posts

70 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Always wanted to drive one of these.

Back when I was in college in 1998, I used to walk home past a house had an immaculate one of these in bright blue parked outside - I used to admire it every day, and it was right when Gran Turismo was getting popular. Always swore one day I'd own one.. never gonna happen now I don't think frown

Benjaminbopper

136 posts

54 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Nicely written, I am that person you write about and Jap 4wd turbo power wil always pull the heart strings.

alistair267

33 posts

33 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
I first saw my uncle's R32 (in a mild state of tune - 350 hp) when he turned to to my grandmother's funeral in it and was blown away. I was 11, mind. A few years later was a passenger in it around Silverstone, also epic. I love all the Skyline GTRs but I am the right generation...

exceed

261 posts

61 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Series of events follows:

- eXceed loads up Pistonheads website.

- Mandatorily clicks on the classified section.

- See's R34 in an article title, mad clicking of STOP.

- Boss and other office workers look on as he pretends to have found some information relevant to work.


In all seriousness, will always hold a soft spot in my heart for the R34.

Time has been VERY kind to it!

havoc

21,148 posts

120 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Always had a soft spot for these - visually the Bayside Blue R34 does it for me, but as a couple of others above I'd happily take a nice R33 instead.

"Ugly but well hung" is the correct vernacular, I believe... hehe

Fittster

15,967 posts

98 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Love 'em. The best anti-badge snob car ever.

stew-S160

6,528 posts

123 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
The R34 is a big deal for me. I love them with a true passion. What some of the tuners have created out of them are nothing short of staggering(MINE's, MCR, Jun, Top Secret).

liner33

4,076 posts

87 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
I loved my old 33 but prefer my new 34 GTT , generally a much nicer drive and more up-to-date inside


I'd love a 34 GTR especially a NUR spec not driven one but bet they are a nicer motorway car than the 33

Its true they are a big car though , bit of a barge really but check these pics out , talking of big cars






Rochellc01

800 posts

26 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
This car has been my dream car ever since i was a small boy.

I used to play Gran Turismo 3 and there was a license test on there where you had to go round the first corner of Laguna Seca and a R34 GTR in Bayside Blue. i could never do it, it was too hard, ever since then the car has fascinated me.

Sadly i probably will never own one, however if someone does and would like to met me have a drive, it will make my day.

DanielSan

8,689 posts

52 months

[news] 
Friday 25th January 2013 quote quote all
Bayside Blue or Jade Green for me please. One of my favourite cars ever, partly for it's noise, partly for it's ability, mostly because it just looks bad ass.
2 3 ... 6 7
Reply to Topic