The Lost Decade of a Dynasty: JDM’s Dark Horse, The Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R

Part Two in our Skyline GT-R Series

The 1990’s era in Japan will infamously be remembered as the start of what is now known as “The Lost Decade”; a wicked combination of the once-formidable Asian nation’s financial bubble bursting, economic problems mounting, and the disillusionment of the country as a whole.  While this period would threaten to overshadow all of the glory and accomplishments that were due to them the decade before, the Japanese motor sport scene would continue to adapt, evolve and further the technological feats it had accomplished with calculated precision in the years past.

Enter the second JDM coming of Godzilla:  The Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R.

Saying that this sequel to the “modern-era GT-R” Skylines had to live up to the monumental achievements its predecessor had managed is the JDM understatement of the century.  Introduced, developed and launched in 1995, it was the heir apparent and designated successor to the rich lineage and impressive history that GT-R Skylines already had.   Initially upon release, local Japanese skeptics were very critical of the changes made to the model and design; feeling that the R33 model would not be par with the R32 Godzilla in performance.  On the other hand, there are documented Skyline specialists (yes, Daisuke-san, you’re one of them) who brand the R33 as the best GT-R for them overall in the JDM lineup from Nissan during the late 80’s to mid 2000’s.

The R33 GT-R was similar engine-wise to the R32; the gearbox installed and turbo units were nearly identical as well.  It was also a heavier car than the previous performance Skyline from Nissan; with the base model weighing in at 3,400 lbs, as opposed to the 3,140 lbs of the R32 GT-R.  With the VSPEC (Victory Specifications) unit released at the same time as the base grade R33 GT-R, the VSPEC variant was blessed with better specs and features such as a new anti-lock braking system and a more developed version of the Nissan electronic enigma, the ATTESA E-TS AWD system, which was first included on the R33’s predecessor with wondrous results on the GT-R experience for both normal and Motorsport driving.

A cult following of R33 GT-R fanatics, both in Japan and internationally, are now currently on the hunt for the limited edition models that were produced by (drum rolls please) none other than the legendary Motorsport division of Nissan: the one and only NISMO.  Only two types of the NISMO R33 GT-R’s were released; the (1) 1996 NISMO LM (Le Mans) Limited that commemorated Nissan’s endeavors in the much-beloved 24-hours of Le Mans, and the “Dark Horse” of them all: the much sought after (2) 1997 NISMO 400R: the specialized reincarnation of the Godzilla GT-R that was equipped with a modified and better developed exhaust, higher-performance turbos, upgraded systems for oil management and the newly-included intercooler, twin plate clutch, and a bevy of other goodies ranging from optimized modifications on the R33’s base aerodynamics to the customized RB26DETT bored and stroked engine.  Produced by the fabled engineering team in Japan called REIMAX, it was developed with having the best of what the wizards at NISMO could offer at that time.

The actual number of manufactured R33 Skyline GT-R’s also marked a turning point in production numbers for this Performance beast of a vehicle; while the R32 had a factual total of 43,934 units produced, The Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R’s total number of cars produced was a shocking 16,520 units globally (Japan and UK markets only).
Unfortunately, the 25-year old import rule is still in effect at the United States, pitifully barring the american market access to this particular Skyline for now.  Not so for CANADA!  With the country’s regulations having a 15-year old regulation rather than 25, the R33 GT-R is eligible to be imported to Canadian JDM petrol and motorheads!
To know more of Japan Partner’s stock of eligible R33 GT-R Skyline for Canada, click here.

While appearing to not have been much of a starting favorite with Japanese performance car enthusiasts when it first came out, it has nonetheless developed its own, “sleeper-hit” mythos in the wild and wonderful world of fast cars.  Here in Japan Partner, we view the Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R as the true and proven successor to the one and future King of JDM.

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