It’s been a big week for Nissan here in New York, celebrating the 50th anniversaries of its two most revered nameplates, the Z and GT-R. Nissan hosted a reception to honor the two models, bringing art, artists, and actual cars to commemorate the occasion for one night. The shindig took place at an event space near Union Square, and for one night, the it was the closest thing you could get in the US to a GT-R and Z museum.
What made the event special was not the cars, nice as they may have been. We would see the crown jewels of Nissan’s GT-R collection at the Javits convention center the following day. Rather, Nissan proudly decorated the space with giant photos and artwork depicting their motorsports milestones.
As attendees imbibed cocktails and grazed on hors d’oeuvres, a pinstriper hand-painted a table with every generation of Skyline and Z. Behind him hung photos of PGC10 GT-R and BRE Datsun 240Z race cars.
Another art piece that took shape throughout the night paid homage to the 1971 livery of the Hakosuka Skyline GT-R race cars. The number 23, of course, is a pun in Japanese, as two is pronounced ni and three is pronounced san.
Open bars kept the alcohol flowing, and bartenders wore NISMO jumpsuits that resembled mechanics’ coveralls.
Artist Makoto Endo was present all night in his wooden geta creating brilliant works of cars like the Datsun 240Z using nothing but ink and chopsticks. You can see more of his amazing process at his YouTube channel.
As soon as he was finished with one car, he would move onto the next. Up close, the splatters and lines created by what seemed to be a very imprecise instrument actually made the cars look incredibly dynamic. Giant fans and an assistant with a blow dryer kept the ink from running.
A tastefully modified KGC10 Skyline wearing RS-Watanabes wowed the attendees, many of which had never seen a Hakosuka in person before.
It was absolutely fantastic to see photos of proper KPGC10 touring cars, but even more so to see one of Kunimitsu Takahashi and Motoharu Kurosawa. These Nissan works drivers were racing heroes in Japan, and this might just be the first time Nissan USA has recognized them officially.
Then Hiroshi Tamura, head of the Nissan GT-R program, took the stage to introduce the 50th anniversary edition cars, as well as the 2020 R35 NISMO (stay tuned for an interview with Tamura-san).
First up was the GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition. When we originally saw photos of the car, it looked dark blue. In person, the Bayside Blue paint — a tribute to the R34 and Tamura-san’s favorite color — is much closer to the the iconic hue of the fifth-gen GT-R.
As you may have noticed, the 50th Anniversary Editon’s pointed stripe references the Hakosuka GT-R’s livery. Blue highlights on the wheels might be another tribute to the wheels of the R33 GT-R LM.
Next came the 2020 GT-R NISMO, a car with a host of subtle improvements that make it a true 300 kph monster. Reduced weight, aerodynamic, and a suspension adjustments are just a few of the incremental advances that continue to make the GT-R a dominant supercar.
Along with the 50th anniversary came an expensive and exclusive watch. The Grand Seiko listed at $21,000, which may sound ludicrous until you remember that it’s peanuts compared to the $175,490 GT-R50 watch.
The 50th Anniversary 370Z made its official debut as well, as nearby tattoo artists provided temporary ink. Only 50 of the red and white models, inspired by the BRE Datsun 240Z, will be sold in the US.
There was even a throwback display of what Nissan imagined a fan’s room would look like back in the day. GT-R posters, a Tamiya model kit, magazines, and a Nissan jacket were just some of the items in this “room.” Perhaps the best touch was a genuine copy of the original 1998 Gran Turismo on a functioning PlayStation One and CRT television. Naturally, the two-player mode let you choose between an R33 and Z32.
We also caught up with friends like ItalDesign’s Andrea Porta and Nissan designer Marcus Quach, both of whom were instrumental in creating the amazing Nissan GT-R50.
It was an impressive setup, and a fitting tribute to two cars that have defined Nissan’s success and heritage. It was quite likely the hardest Nissan USA has ever gone in boasting about its racing prowess, especially when it comes to the GT-R. However, it was a little sad that the gallery-like venue would only exist for a few hours. After guests left, it was all taken down before the cars were shuffled off to the convention center, ready to be viewed the following morning. But at least each guest went home with a pair of little cars.