The different generations of the Nissan GT-R are some of the greatest cars to ever come out of Japan. They are regarded as performance car icons and have developed a cult like following.
The GT-R name stands for Gran Turismo Racing. Nissan’s cars aren’t the only ones to wear the GT-R/GTR badge, however, their cars are often synonymous with the name. Manufacturers such as BMW, McLaren, Mercedes, and even Isuzu have given their cars the “GTR” treatment.
What Does Gran Turismo Mean & Where Does it Come From?
The Gran Turismo name originates from the Italian language and became popular in the English language from the 1950s.
“Gran Turismo” and “Grand Tourer” are often mixed up and misused. The Gran Turismo designation generally means motoring enjoyment, excitement and comfort when open-road touring, while the Grand Touring designation usually means speed, style, safety and comfort.
The first car to wear a GT (Gran Turismo) badge was the 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Turismo. This Alfa was a sporting dual-purpose road/race chassis and engine specification that was available with a wide variety of body styles or “carrozzeria”.
A Brief History of the Nissan GT-R
Nissan’s first car to be given the “GT-R” treatment was the first generation PGC10 Skyline GT-R that made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1968. Production began early in February of the following year and two years later a coupe style car was introduced with the chassis code KPGC10.
Nissan equipped the first generation Skyline GT-R with a 2.0 L DOHC S20 Inline-six engine rated at 160 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 176 Nm of torque at 5,600 rpm. This made it one of the fastest Japanese cars around and showed the world what Nissan was capable of when it came to performance cars.
The next generation Skyline GT-R would appear at the 1972 Tokyo Motor show with sales beginning the next year. Unfortunately, Nissan would only produce a total of 197 cars and would end production the same year as it began. This was largely down to the oil crisis of the early 1970s that destroyed demand for high-performance sports cars.
Following this failure, the GT-R name was shelved for well over a decade until Nissan introduced the R32 GT-R in 1989. This car was an entirely different best to the first GT-R branded cars. It featured a powerful 2.6-litre twin-turbocharged I6 engine with as much as 276 hp at 6,800 rpm and 353 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm.
The real party piece, however, was the R32’s incredible all-wheel drive system that put it well above much of its competition. In race trim, the R32 GT-R dominated the field so much that it was banned from competing in Australian touring car racing.
Nissan’s next generation GT-R was more of an evolution rather than a revolution like the previous gen model. The 1995 R33 used the same RB26DETT I6 engine but with a few improvements and the styling was updated to be overall smoother and more modern.
In 1999 Nissan decided to introduce a fifth generation GT-R that was once again quite similar to the previous gen model. It used the same RB engine once again but with even more improvements and performance.
When Nissan ended production of the R34 GT-R in 2002, the GT-R name went on hiatus until 2007 when the R35 Nissan GT-R was introduced. For this car, the Japanese manufacturer dropped the Skyline name and simply called it the GT-R.
At launch, the new R35 GT-R was one of the most technologically advanced and impressive cars that money could buy, especially for the price. Nissan gave the car a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged VR38DETT V6 that was rated at around 479 hp at launch, however, over the years power has increased significantly with some models producing over 700 hp (GT-R50).