The Nissan Skyline is one of the most legendary names in Japanese performance motoring history.
Despite being basically illegal in America (read our article here on why the Nissan Skyline is illegal in the USA), it has even managed to gain a cult-like following in a market where it wasn’t available new, and the steering wheel never came on the correct side for local conditions.
The big driver of the Skyline’s popularity is the infamous “GT-R”, also known as the Godzilla.
We all know that the R32/R33/R34 GT-R Skylines came with All Wheel Drive (AWD). This is part of what helped make these cars such incredibly strong performers on the track and on the road, helping to contribute to almost supernatural levels of grip.
But what about more humble Skyline models? While the GT-R was always the “headline act” there were plenty of more basic spec models available – did they also all come with AWD systems?
Let’s dig deeper and find out!
Do All Nissan Skylines Come With AWD?
No, they do not. In fact, only a small percentage of Skyline models from the R32/R33/R34 generations come with AWD.
A common misconception is that all Skylines are AWD, but this is mistaken.
In the R32/R33/R34 Skyline generations, only a select few models came with AWD.
The GT-R variants are the most well-known, but there were also some “GTS-4” models in these generations that featured AWD systems, and could even be purchased in four door sedan shape.
How cool is this AWD “Baby GT-R” – an R32 GTS-4 sedan!
The R32 GTS-4 is probably the most desirable of the 4WD non-GT-Rs in the sense that it comes with a turbocharged engine and is highly tuneable, whereas the R33/R34 GTS-4s (also know as the GT-FOUR in the R34 generation) came with naturally aspirated motors.
Why Does Everyone Seem To Think All Skylines Are AWD?
In our view the belief that all Skylines are AWD is a more common belief in the American market, because the GT-R Skylines are what most enthusiasts in America know of and what people tend to import (because they are the most desirable and highest performance models).
In New Zealand – where the Garage Dreams editorial team is based – the Nissan Skyline is a fairly ubiquitous sight because we have a great number of used Japanese imports on the road.
Although age is starting to take its toll on the number of examples – especially in earlier generations – left in the nationwide fleet, it is still not uncommon to see RWD Skylines on the road. For example, the R32 GTS-T has been a popular “boy racer” car for a long time in NZ, due to the fact it can easily be tweaked to generate a lot of power and has the ability to do burnouts/donuts easily.
Conclusion – Are All Nissan Skylines AWD?
No, not all Skylines are AWD.
In fact, far more are RWD than AWD.
The only AWD models were the GT-Rs and GTS-4 (on the R32/R33/R34 generations – the R32 was the first generation to get AWD in the original ‘Godzilla’).
Due to the fact that the GT-R is the only model generally imported into the United States (because import laws make it fairly uneconomical and challenging to bring them in – read more here about why Skylines aren’t legal in America) many American enthusiasts are aware only of the AWD GT-Rs. However, as we demonstrated in this article the majority of the R32/R33/R34 Skylines that weren’t GT-Rs are actually RWD!
Would you consider buying a Skyline that isn’t AWD? If so, what model would you pick? We would love to hear from you, so leave a comment below.