My Japanese Carventure Special:Classic Car Heaven! Pt.2 Early Skyline Edition!
There were tons of Skylines at this year's Sakura Nouen Old Car Festival and I was able to scratch off the entire Skyline generation off my spotting bucket list. Now, let's go in order.
Unfortunately, no first generation Prince Skylines showed up at the festival, but at while I have seen a couple of first generation Prince Skylines, I have never seen one of these even more iconic beauties, the S54 2000GT Skyline.
Featuring a 2000cc straight six from the Nissan Gloria, the S54 pushed out 125 bhp making it quite the tough customer. Developed to take on the Porsche 904 in the GT II class in the Japanese Grand Prix, the S54 actually had its bonnet extended to give room for the bigger six cylinder engine to make it competitive.
Here you see how simply they fixed that problem. They literally added length to the front in the most DIY way I can think of.
The car was so capable, it was able to overtake the Porsche 904 for a brief while, wowing and surprising crowds. Imagine that, a slightly more powerful family sedan being able to keep up to a purpose built racing car.
While this car persevered to try and beat the Porsche, it missed its mark and ended up second in four out of six races, losing out to the Porsche.
While most S54's you see at shows and even in museums are replicas, this one has been a one owner 2000GT from all the way back in the 1960's. And that makes this car just a bit more special.
What more is that the owner was nice enough to let me sit in this iconic, historic, and rare beast.
Now that we know a bit more about the 2000GT, let us take a look at a car we all know and love, the PGC-10 Skyline 2000GT-R.
Now before I dive into this red Kouki (late) GT-R, let me start with the pre-facelift models.
Dubbed the Hakosuka (Box Skyline) by fans due to its boxy shape, the world's first Nissan GT-R was introduced in 1969 and was developed alongside Prince's first true purpose built racecar, the R380.
Originally sold as a sedan, the PGC-10 Skyline GT-R is the only* GT-R to have a four door variant. (footnote: the R33 had a 40th anniversary Autech four door limited edition variant). Funny thing is that even early models have an early and late version. Can you see the difference?
Well the easiest way to tell the difference is through the subtle size difference between the reverse light sizes, with the early model going all the way down the light while the late model rounds off in a square. Yes, a subtle difference.
The car also has a gigantic fuel tank. (scroll through the gallery for picture) Developing 160bhp from a new S20 2.0L engine, the Hakosuka won 33 straight victories within two years of its debut and was one fast sedan.
Then in 1970, the lighter coupe version of the GT-R debuted and brought the victory streak to 50 before the little rotary RX-3 broke it in 1971.
Introduced as a Kouki (late) model, the coupe featured a different four square tail light. Just one more step before the evolution to the iconic four circles.
I have been dying to see one of these in real life and there were literally tons of Hakosukas at the show. Needless to say I was incredibly happy.
After the icon known as the Hakosuka, Nissan decided to continue the GT-R line with my favorite GT-R, the KPGC-110
Introduced in 1972, the next generation Skyline, the KPGC-110, or more affectionately named Kenmeri (for the Ken and Mary ad campaign) was Nissan's response to the muscle car trend in the US.
While most people know about the GT-R, not many people know about the GT-X. Comes in both four and two door variants.
I personally like the four door version as well as the two door GT-R.
In late September 1972, the Kenmeri GT-R finally hit markets. Built in the same style as classic American muscle cars, the Kenmeri was aimed at the youth at the time, who were mesmerized by the great ol' Mustang.
The Kenmeri featured the same engine as the previous Hakosuka GT-R, with the main difference between the two cars being the radically different styling. It might be the bit of American in me, but I really love how the Kenmeri looks.
What more, this is the first GT-R to feature the iconic four circles that I have fallen in love with. So beautiful.
The GT-R may win many races, but unfortunately, it could not win against OPEC and once the oil crisis hit in 1973, the GT-R was cut from the lineup.
Only being in production for less than a year, only 197 Kenmeri GT-R's made it to the world making it one of the rarest cars in the world. Luckily, the Skyline persevered with Kenmeri GT-X's and GT's keeping the spirit alive.
In fact, there are many Kenmeri "GT-R's" out there that are replicas made from GT-X's. There were a few of those at this event. Now enjoy some more pics of my favorite Skyline.