Why Is The GTR Called ‘Godzilla’?

The Nissan GTR is one of the most celebrated, coveted, and legendary names in performance motoring history.

In fact, on this website many of our most popular articles relate to the Nissan GTR and its various generations.

From the R32 through to the current R35, the Nissan GTR has developed a cult following across multiple generations. It has featured in video games such as Gran Turismo, as well as in Fast & Furious movies.

Many of us dream to own a vehicle with the iconic GTR badge one day, as this superb Nissan ad encapsulates so well:

Many people have taken to referring to the GTR as ‘Godzilla’. It’s a name that seems to suit the vehicle so well.

Much like the name “Batmobile” came to refer to the RX7 FD (at least in our part of the world) the name ‘Godzilla’ is closely associated with the Nissan GTR.

But why is the GTR Godzilla? In this edition of Car Facts, we take a look at where the Skyline GTR earned the Godzilla name.

R32 GTR Destroys The Competition

One of the key reasons that the GTR came to be known as Godzilla is due to the fact that it was so dominant in Motorsport, particularly the R32 generation.

The R32 GTR won races all around the world, and put on incredible displays of power, performance and precision in championships in Asia, Europe, and Australasia.

For example, the R32 GTR was virtually unbeatable in the Japanese Touring Car Championship (JTCC) winning 29 races from 29 starts in its first season. It also took the JTCC series title from 1989-1993.

In fact, the R32 GTR was so successful in Motorsport that it was even banned from some competitions in Australia, such as the Australian Touring Car championships (where it was banned at the end of 1992).

Interestingly, it was this banning of the R32 GTR in Australia that ultimately led to what we now know as the “V8 Supercars” championship in Australia (non-Australian/Kiwi readers may be most familiar with the Bathurst 1000 race, the pinnacle of Australian motorsport). As it became clear that the R32 would no longer be eligible to compete, plans were drawn up for a V8 only racing series that would pitch Holden against Ford. This – for those who don’t know about V8 Supercars – is one of the biggest motorsport rivalries in the world, and in both Australia and New Zealand you will often be asked if you are a Holden or Ford supporter.

OG Godzilla

Because of the R32 GTR’s simply incredible motorsport performance in the late 80s and early 90s, it earned the name Godzilla because of the way it smashed up everything in its path.

Why is the Nissan GTR called Godzilla? Because in its motorsport heyday, it was as destructive as the real creature!

Wheels Introduces The GTR As Godzilla

Another reason why the Nissan GTR is called Godzilla is due to an edition of Wheels magazine (published in Australia) in 1989.

One of the reasons why the GTR is now known as Godzilla

As far as we are aware, this was the first time that the GTR was actually referred to as Godzilla in any credible/mainstream print publication.

This helped to reinforce the name in the marketplace. Being called something in a credible publication does help to make a name stick!

Conclusion – Why Is The GTR Called Godzilla?

To recap, there are two main reasons why the GTR earned the Godzilla nickname.

Firstly, when the R32 was launched it was introduced as “Godzilla” by an edition of the Australian Wheels magazine, and the name stuck from there.

Secondly, the R32 was so dominant in Motorsport that it destroyed everything in its path (a bit like the fictional Godzilla).

Because of these two reasons, the name Godzilla has stuck for the GTR.

What do you think of the GTR? Which is your favourite generation? Maybe you even own one and you have ownership experiences to share!?


  • Sam

    Sam focuses mainly on researching and writing the growing database of Car Facts articles on Garage Dreams, as well as creating interesting list content. He is particularly enthusiastic about JDM cars, although has also owned numerous European vehicles in the past. Currently drives a 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, and a Volkswagen Touareg (mainly kept for taking his border collie out to the hills to go walking)

    View all posts

8 thoughts on “Why Is The GTR Called ‘Godzilla’?”

  1. Actually, the name ‘Godzilla’ came from the commentary team of 7 Motorsport in Australia. They’d dubbed it as Godzilla before it made its race debut here. The term was 100% Australian and had nothing to do with racing in Japan.

    • Hi Matt, good info – we will add that into the article as we didn’t see that when researching. Thanks for commenting.

      • I always thought it may have been due to a Nissan Skyline being featured in at least one of the Godzilla movie franchises. The first I noticed that featured a Skyline was a movie from the mid 70’s which I belileve was Mechagodzilla.

    • It was called Godzilla by wheels magazine before the gtr came to Australia after their foreign correspondent said the Japanese called it Obakemono (the monster) in Japanese racing circles, and then the wheels editor said “what, like Godzilla?” They then published the July 1989 issue calling skyline godzilla. The r32 gtr didn’t debut for the Gibson Motorsport team until June 1990, so it couldn’t have been said by the 7 commentary team first.

  2. Interesting read! I had no idea that the GTR was called ‘Godzilla’ due to its size and power. Thanks for sharing this information with us.


Leave a Comment