NY Auto Show: 2017 Nissan GT-R brings all generations together at last

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“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.

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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!(!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The large, squared off grille now also reminds us more of the yawning lower intakes of its predecessors, the R34 and R33 GT-R.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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26 Responses to NY Auto Show: 2017 Nissan GT-R brings all generations together at last

  1. Eric said:

    Wow, 2 fine examples straight from Zama. I’m also pleasantly surprised to see Watanabes and semi-slicks as opposed to the original steel wheels on something straight from Nissan. In my personal opinion, these cars on the steel wheels just makes them un-proportionate and kills the design. Skinny steelies are for museum collectors, Wats are for drivers 🙂

  2. Steve said:

    It’s got enough power; the engineers need to focus on a 3-pedal MT next!

  3. Bob said:

    Were the earlier cars flown over from Japan, are they from a Nissan collection in the US, or were they privately held examples here? Just curious. I had thought the Zama C10 and C110 were bone stock ones.

    (I kinda like the steel wheels, haha)

  4. dickie said:

    Nissan showcasing a line of vehicles that the average enthusiast will never be able to own.

    “Look at our sporting heritage. Now go buy a CVT crossover.”

  5. Steve said:

    Great article, thank you. I’ll look forward to the upcoming behind-the-scenes stories.

  6. Michael said:

    Look at the subtle, tough colors on all the previous models. Then look at the grotesque orange exterior and sickly brownish tan of the latest one. Yuck! It feels very tacky and very 15 years ago. Bring back Midnight Purple and Silica Breath etc, not in your face, lairy rubbish like that, and don’t do such gaudy, try hard interior colors either. Give me a 32, 33 or 34 any day!

  7. Jim Daniels said:

    Ben,
    Nice lines on the black tights, I am glad you were able to get the angles right, I mean the Kenmeri GT-R. Thanks for the coverage.

  8. RainMeister said:

    The R35 has not aged well. That’s what happens when you assign a transformers fan to design a sports car. By contrast, the C10, C110 and R32 models still look great. I hope the next generation R looks as good as the GT-R Concept, which is what the R35 should have been. At the price point of the GT-R, design matters.

  9. Ant said:

    Are you there for the second day of the show, Ben? Would be good to meet you.

    • Ben Hsu said:

      Hi Ant,

      Sorry, I was there, but I completely missed this message! After arriving in NY by redeye on Monday morning I went straight to a photo shoot and haven’t stopped since. Aside from the shows, I had a string of meetings and had to squeeze in time to write and edit photos in between. I seriously think I slept no more than three hours a night this entire week. I would have loved to meet up but unfortunately I’m on a plane back to LA right now. Next time!

      Ben

  10. Nigel said:

    That is the dream Granturismo lineup right there !!

  11. Censport said:

    What an awesome event. So glad you got to be there and cover it. Great closeup shot of the new GT-R’s rear lighting.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll scroll back up to that stunning Kenmeri and stare at it for a while.

    Someday…

  12. Jim Daniels said:

    I am glad to see that Nissan has decided to step up their game by putting on a more impressive showing. This is a great step in the right direction for them. marketing is a big part of sales. By showing off the little know history the way they did will open peoples eyes to the great secret Japan has kept mostly to them selves.

    As great as the GT-R is and has been, it is not attainable to the masses as was the 240Z. As Nissan is awakening the world to their halo product, I hope there is a plan for a more affordable fun car. They need to get the attention of the young college age people by a stylish performance car that a person could strive for and reach. Get the youth hooked and you will continue to have sales for decades. You already have the GT-R for the very successful graduate but there is a gap in the product line. Bring back the thinking behind the original Z.

  13. Mark said:

    Nice photos. There’s actually 285 M-Spec nur, of which 144 were Millennium Jade. More info at GTR-Registry.com.

  14. Kuroneko said:

    Now, if only the show car was in gray / silver too. Regardless, a great effort from Nissan US.

  15. I was lucky enough to own a Nissan Skyline Kenmeri…..and I import it to the states…..

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