If you read our interview with Yoshikazu Sunako and found yourself itching for more of Japan’s racing heroes slinging Skylines around racetracks, you’re in luck. Back in 2001 Best Motoring produced a Skyline special reuniting three drivers with their respective cars, among the most famous racing Skylines in Japan’s motorsport history.
Motoharu Kurosawa was one of Nissan’s top factory drivers in the 1970s, With seven wins in the Skyline GT-R, Gan-san, as he is known, was so consistent in his driving that father of the Skyline Shinichiro Sakurai once called him “an instrument” with skills that ordinary measuring tools could not replicate. Kurosawa also had victories behind the wheel of the Nissan R382 at the 1969 Japan Grand Prix and a March-BMW 722 in the All-Japan Formula 2000 Championships, but the hakosuka GT-R remains his most iconic steed.
Though the particular KPGC10 GT-R that Kurosawa is reunited with in the episode is a replica, it is one of the most famous, prepped by RRR Factory. Back in 2001, it was the ultimate evolution of the tuned Hako, good for 270PS from its stroked 2.3-liter S20.
For those who need some translating, Kurosawa says that the car was more suited to the primitive tires of the early 1970s, as the new slicks provided too much grip and caused the Hako to lose its period racing character. However, he also said it felt great, and he felt like the young Gan-san again.
Next up was Masahiro Hasemi and his Tomica-sponsored DR30 Skyline. The fire-breathing racer not only won two Group 5 races in 1982 and five in 1983, but inspired a generation of bosozoku and basically became the most recognizable Super Silhouette racer of all time. It also launched and cemented Hasemi’s tuning business.
For this episode and the 20th anniversary of the car’s debut race in 1981, it was restored to run again after sitting virtually untouched for two decades after its last race. Hasemi says that the car was very tricky to drive, that it was either on or off. He had to baby it in the corners and just blast off and hold on for dear life in the straights. In other words, it drives exactly how it looks — bonkers. Hasemi even gets a little teary-eyed at the end, which made me wonder if someone was perhaps chopping onions nearby.
Last but not least, Keiichi Tsuchiya was strapped behind the wheel of his STP Taisan R32 GT-R and unleashed like a green-helmeted Kraken. As most readers know, the R32 won every single Group A race it competed in over the four years it was active.
A decade earlier, the Group A R32 was a fairy tale scenario for Tsuchiya. Growing up, the future Drift King’s idol was another hakosuka GT-R pilot, Kunimitsu Takahashi. As the young Tsuchiya climbed the ranks, his hero became first his mentor, and then his teammate behind the wheel of this very car.
Though he’s most well known for his hachiroku, Tsuchiya also owned a hakosuka sedan GT-X street car. Imagine racing with your idol and mentor as your teammate in a model of car that inspired you and the thing you are most known for — drifting. And then winning the most prestigious championship in the country with him. Seriously, what’s with all the onion-chopping in here?