“It is the dream of Nissan,” says Hiroshi Tamura, product chief of Nissan’s sports cars and NISMO head honcho, about his GT-R. The automaker is in New York to debut an update of the halo car of not just the company itself, but all of Japan. That’s why the storied company has brought together all generations of their homeland’s most beloved car.
It’s probably safe to say that this is the first time all six generations of the GT-R have been displayed at a major international auto show outside of Japan. Long-time JNC readers need no introduction to Tom Knudsen’s hakosuka and and kenmeri GT-Rs. Both are genuine S20-powered cars with proper KPGC10 and KPGC110 chassis codes, and if you will permit a bit of giddiness, both are wearing the JNC inkan. At the official Nissan booth. At an international motor show!(!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
In addition to the Showa Era Skylines, Nissan also flew examples of the three Bubble Era generations from their Zama Heritage Collection to New York. These include a gunmetal R32 GT-R, a silver R33 GT-R, and a very rare R34 GT-R M-Spec Nür. Built to honor the end of R34 production and the GT-R’s association with the famed Nürburgring, there were a claimed 250 made, but going by VINs there could be as many as 285.
Lastly, Nissan flew in from Europe the very R35 GT-R NISMO that set the production car Nürburgring record on September 30, 2013. It still wears the camouflage that it had when it lapped the Green Hell in 7:08.69.
The 2017 GT-R’s most noticeable change is its new face, which adopts the V-motion grille, hood, and subtle refinements to its aerodynamic shape.
Nissan’s official statement says “A freshly designed front spoiler lip and front bumpers with finishers situated immediately below the headlamps give the new GT-R the look of a pure-bred race car,” but Tamura-san, who worked on the R34, the concepts that previewed the R35 and the R35 itself, tells us that the new face was inspired by the cars both he and GT-R enthusiasts loved — the 2001 GT-R Concept and 2005 GT-R Proto.
The large, squared off grille now also reminds us more of the yawning lower intakes of its predecessors, the R34 and R33 GT-R.
While the 2017 receives wider side sills and new cooling vents around the exhaust and a spiffed up rear, the GT-R’s trademark quad taillights have been preserved. It’s a trademark design that is perhaps best known for gracing the rear of the C110 kenmeri Skyline, but can be traced back to the Prince Skyline GT-B. Tamura, who owned both a kenmeri and GT-B in his youth, describes it thusly: “Even though the Skyline and GT-R are no longer linked, the quad round taillights are the heart and soul of the GT-R design.”
Inside, the cabin receives a sweeping new Takumi-stitched dash while reducing the number of buttons from 27 to 11. The idea was to give the GT-R a more premium feel, but another great upgrade are paddle shifters that are mounted to steering wheel rather than the column, giving drivers the ability to shift mid-turn.
From the moment the R35 debuted, Nissan has never rested. Despite a burly 480 horsepower right at the beginning, engineers continued to bump up its limits. By December 2008 it was up to 485, November 2010 saw 530, November 2011 reached 545, and in November 2013 a NISMO version with 600 horses had emerged. And in a fine display of superiority, each change led to a new lap record at the Nürburgring, a tradition that traced back to the R33. Today the 2017 GT-R gets another 20 horsepower in non-NISMO guise, up to 565 hp.
There are only five Takumi craftsmen allowed to hand-assemble the GT-R’s twin-turbo 3.8-liter V6. Four of them have been flown from Japan to New York, and they’ll be assembling a VR38DETT before showgoers very eyes. We’ll have more behind-the-scenes stories coming up, but for now it’s a fantastic international celebration of the GT-R, and we at JNC are honored to be a part of it.