The Nissan Skyline is one of Japan’s most beloved automotive creations.
Despite being relatively challenging to buy in the United States (due to its legal status) the Skyline is considered to be one of the most desirable “JDM” cars.
Most of us know the Skyline for the GT-R model – the ‘Godzilla’. With its combination of powerful turbocharged engine, strong AWD system and manual gearbox, the Skyline GT-R is a true JDM hero across the R32/R33/R34 generations.
But are all Nissan Skylines manual?
In this short edition of Car Facts we look at the gearbox options on Nissan Skylines. We will be answering some common questions and dispelling some common myths about the transmissions in this legendary Japanese car.
Please note that we are looking at the R32/R33/R34 generations here – the “classic” Nissan Skylines (not the later JDM version of the Infiniti G35/G37).
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Nissan Skylines Came In Manual And Automatic
The truth is that there were automatic Nissan Skyline variants produced across the R32/R33/R34 generations.
This can come as a surprise to some (generally those in America who are accustomed to seeing only the GT-R Skylines) but it is definitely true.
For example, here is the stock interior of an R33 generation Skyline sporting an automatic transmission:
While the Nissan Skyline is most famed for the GT-R variants, there were many more “mundane” models available across each generation.
We’ve touched on this in the past in our article about whether or not all Skylines have AWD – most Skylines produced (generally for the Japanese Domestic Market and not for export) were actually RWD, with AWD reserved for the GT-R and GTS-4 models.
Just as there were many RWD Skylines, there were numerous spec levels available with automatic transmissions as factory options; either four or five speed autos depending on the car. In our experience it is more common to find automatic transmissions in non-turbo Skylines, although this is not always the case.
For example, in this video you can see a walkaround review of a 1990 Nissan Skyline R32 GTS-T sedan – so a four door, RWD Skyline with a turbocharged engine and automatic gearbox:
If you want more specific information about different Skyline spec levels and what cars were available with automatic transmissions, the Wikipedia page on the Skyline here has some good information.
One thing to note is that it’s more common to automatic Skyline running gear (engine and transmission) in Nissan Stageas – at least in markets where these are available as used Japanese imports. Perhaps this is because an automatic transmission better suits the family car nature of the Stagea.
Do All Skyline GT-Rs Have Manual Transmissions?
Yes, all R32/R33/R34 GT-Rs have manual transmissions.
The R32 and R33 GT-Rs featured five-speed manual transmissions – essentially the same units as the Nissan 300ZX – whereas the R34 came with a six-speed Getrag transmission.
As far as we are aware, there are no automatic Nissan Skyline GT-Rs – auto transmissions were a feature on lesser-specced models.
Recap – Are All Nissan Skylines Manual?
No, not all Nissan Skylines feature manual gearboxes.
While the “famous” Skylines (the GT-Rs) are all manual, there were a number of less powerful Skyline variants, some of which had automatic transmissions as options.
Here in New Zealand it used to be a fairly common sight to see automatic Nissan Skylines on the road – thanks to the large number of imported Japanese cars on the car – although this has become increasingly rare as age and mileage have taken their toll on the fleet. It also wasn’t uncommon to see a Skyline that was once an automatic that had been converted to manual (as it was generally cheaper to buy an automatic Skyline and convert the transmission than it was to buy a manual one in the first place)
Have you ever seen an automatic Skyline in the wild? Maybe you’ve even owned one! If so, share your experience in the comments below.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Nissan Skyline GT-R, then you can read our buyer’s guides and model histories below: