Born from a long line of Skyline GT-Rs 1969, this latest version — “R36″ equipped with turbocharged power, more all-wheel-drive technology and more sheer speed than any Japanese car ever to come to America.
For six years the 2009 Nissan Skyline GT-R has been the subject of intense rumors and frenzied speculation. It has appeared in more spy photos than Area 51; and Skyline prototypes are as familiar a sight on the Nürburgring as pine trees and pavement.
Why? Because the Skyline GT-R R36 is expected to be the ne plus ultra of Japanese performance machinery; and after 30 years of waiting, it’s finally America’s turn to officially take part in all the fun.
The original Nissan Skyline GT-R might have hit the street in 1969, but it wasn’t until 1990 that the GT-R legend would be solidified. That was the year the Skyline GT-R was introduced to an utterly stunned Japanese market. It was the first of three twin-turbocharged, all-wheel-drive and all-wheel-steering Skylines (R32, R33 and R34) and it’s the generation upon which the Skyline GT-R legend rests.
Though the R34 left production after the 2003 model year, it was so beloved that Nissan’s Nismo division actually bought 20 used Skyline GT-R R34 V-Spec models during 2005 and completely rebuilt them into what is currently considered the greatest GT-R of them all — the $170,000, 500-horsepower Skyline GT-R Z-Tune.
Although Nissan never imported the Skyline GT-R to the United States, the supercar still found its way into America’s automotive consciousness. In fact, buying one in the U.S. became relatively easy. By the dawn of the 21st century, several hundred had been imported.
So prominent had the Nissan Skyline GT-R become that in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, the film’s hero drove and raced one through the streets of Miami. And the actor Paul Walker, who played the role, bought his own and modified it.
At the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan showed the GT-R Concept as the prospective successor to the R34. By early 2005, modified G35 coupes with Infiniti badges, oversize wheels and tires, big rear wings, hood scoops and bodywork protrusions big enough to hide exotic exhaust systems in back or intercoolers up front were spied at the Nürburgring.
These weren’t just tuner cars, but full-fledged prototypes of the next GT-R.
Then in the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, another GT-R showcar appeared called the GT-R Proto; and the new, innovative shape of the next GT-R was apparent. Obviously based on Nissan’s FM-code front midengine chassis, this GT-R would apparently use a turbocharged version of the VQ V6 with a seven-speed transmission and all-wheel drive.
And at the 2006 New York Auto Show, Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn announced that, yes finally, the new Skyline GT-R R36 would be sold in the United States and it would be sold worldwide exclusively through Nissan, and not Infiniti. And apparently without the Skyline name.
That’s right, it’ll officially be called the Nissan GT-R. Yeah, right, just like the 2007 Mazda Miata is the MX-5.