Welcome back to another edition of Car Facts, where we answer your car questions.
In today’s article, we are talking about the most popular car that we cover on this site – the Nissan Skyline GTR R34.
At the time of writing this piece there are almost 400 articles published on this site, and the top 10 most popular by views are all heavily dominated by Nissan Skyline GTR content, especially the R34 GTR.
One of the most common questions we see people ask is what engine is in a Nissan Skyline GTR R34, so in this short article we will answer that question for you.
Long-time Skyline enthusiasts will know the answer to this question already, but others may be keen to understand.
What Engine Does The R34 GTR Have?
The RB26DETT is a 2.6 litre (2568cc to be precise) twin-turbocharged inline-six engine.
The engine block is cast iron, with the cylinder head being aluminium alloy with 24 valves in total (DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder)
Turbocharging is covered by a set of parallel twin-turbos; T25 ceramic units.
When the RB26DETT was first released, it was rated at 276bhp – however, as you might be aware there was historically a “gentleman’s agreement” in the Japanese car industry that manufacturers would limit the stated output of their cars to 276bhp (sometimes the figure is reported as 280PS … the exact amount doesn’t matter so much as the fact that manufacturers did comply on paper with this limit).
However, the original RB26DETT is believed to have had a true output of closer to 316bhp; Nissan just understated the figure on technical and sales documentation to comply with the agreement.
By the time the R34 GTR finished production, the stated power output was the higher ~316bhp figure, although some contemporaneous reviews still talked of the 276bhp power output.
It is also worth noting that there was an RB26DETT N1 engine variant that was developed by Nismo for Group A and Group N racing. Differences included a crankshaft balanced to higher spec, upgraded pistons and piston rings, and upgraded camshafts and turbochargers (in particular, the turbine wheels in the Garrett GT25 turbochargers are made from steel as opposed to ceramic used in the regular engine).
It is possible – although fairly expensive – to purchase an upgraded N1 block to build your ultimate Skyline GTR.
In fact, if you Google ‘GTR N1 block’ you will see a lot of forum and blog results where GTR owners (both current and prospective) provide information and ask/answer questions about upgrading a standard RB26DETT to an N1 block.
Enthusiasts will often recommended using the uprated block as it is believed to have higher nickel content and thicker cylinder walls, basically making it more suitable for substantial power upgrades.
Depending on where you live, there are multiple potential ways to source an N1 block (or other N1 parts) upgrade e.g. via specialist importers and possibly even your local authorised Nissan agent. Do bear in mind that availability may be challenging, especially in the current Covid environment!
If you are interested in learning more about the RB26DETT N1 block and the different versions of the block that are available, then we suggest reading this very detailed (and slightly technical) resource: RB26DETT Building Blocks | Which Block is Right For You?
Special Mention: RB28DETT
There is a factory exception – ultra-rare R34 Z-Tune models featured the RB28DETT, which featured a strengthened engine block, stroked crank shaft and was bored out to a displacement of 2800cc.
The Z-Tune R34 GTR produced 493 bhp, and 540NM of torque. By this point, Nissan had well and truly abandoned any pretence of the old Japanese car industry “gentleman’s agreement” that cars could only produce 276bhp!
The GTR Nearly Had A Smaller Engine
Nissan had originally intended to fit the R32 GTR (the original ‘Godzilla’) with a 2.4 litre RB24DETT, in order to allow the car to compete in the 4000cc Group A class (turbocharged engine displacements are multiplied by 1.7 to give their approximate naturally-aspirated equivalent).
However, once the additional weight of the AWD system (read here whether all Skylines are AWD) was added in, the Nismo team felt this additional weight would make the car uncompetitive so decided to run with the 2.6 litre RB26DETT and enter the car in the 4500cc Group A class.
Thus the Skyline GTR we all know and love was born!
To recap this article, if you’re wondering what motor is in the Nissan Skyline GTR R34 (and also the R32 and R33) then it is the RB26DETT.
There are some urban myths/legends that the reason the Nissan skyline is illegal in the United States is because of the high power of the RB26DETT, making the car too quick for US highway patrols to be able to keep up with. However, this is simply incorrect – the real reason why the Nissan Skyline is illegal is because of safety compliance reasons; Nissan didn’t go through the rigmarole of modifying the car to be able to comply with import safety legislations.
This is one of the most legendary engines in Japanese performance vehicle history, with perhaps only the 2JZ-GTE from the Toyota Supra being more famous and desirable.
People love the RB26DETT for its excellent stock power, tuning potential, and great sound, and is a crucial part of the package that makes the Skyline GTR so popular and in-demand to this day.
And in case you want to make yourself feel sad about the fact that you “missed the boat” read our article here on how much R34 GTR Skylines cost when new.