The Skyline GT-R.
Rear view
Interior of the Skyline GT-R.
Cross-section view of the GT-R.

IF you believe the heading above, then I also have a bridge to sell.

They say, if someone offers to sell you a genuine KPGC10 Nissan Skyline GT-R, offer to buy the bridge off of them as well because chances are both are going to be con jobs.

The original Nissan Skyline GT-R, based on the C10, has achieved national treasure status in Japan and anyone caught tampering with the original would likely have their car taken away from them by the Yakuza, who would then restore the car back to the original form.

Legend has it, the secretive Yakuza organisation is so protective of this car that none, that we know of, has left the country, anything you see outside is likely to be a replica.

Obviously if you are really committed, you can smuggle anything in and out of any country. But, for the average keen collector, the option of finding an original is similar to coming across an original working sketch of the Mona Lisa.

While the GT-R with an S20 heart is write-protected, in millennial speak, the other hot and warm variants such as the GT-X and 2000 GT are fair game for modders and restomodders and these can be found on the open market. But, if you think you are likely to score one on the cheap, think again.

If you scour the Internet, even those that openly claim to be GTX-GTR replica are coming onto the market with an asking price that starts at around US$70,000 (RM300,000) and can run all the way past US$100,000.

I spotted a very clean four-door 2000GT being offered for US$99,000 while one seller claims he has an original GT-R, with a replaced bumper and Recaro seats, that’s right go ahead and cringe, for US$177,000.

He will ship the car with the original Hakosuka seats if you want, as if the question even warrants asking. So alarm bells immediately ring, but then again it is a very nice looking car and even looked like it had the original spare tyre in the boot.

So, if I had the money, and I really want a Hakosuka, I would buy it and just believe that it is real. After all what is real anyway?

Many of these cars, whether they are replicas or claimed to be the genuine article, come onto the market with no asking price, which means buyers will have to open their mouths and start a silent bidding process, and here is where it can get very interesting.

Cars are also starting to appear at auction houses, and with the current bullish classic car market, it would be no surprise if these cars start to trade north of US$500,000 and start nudging to the million dollar mark.

So what is the real appeal of this car? Is it the performance? The looks? The engine sound? Or the idea of an unlikely hero?

I think it’s all of the above. The car came out in 1971 and 1972, at a time when Japanese cars commanded very little respect and it was everything they could do just to get people to buy their saloon and not snort in derision.

Now, the name Skyline is legendary. In those days, they were just funny names for a boxy Japanese sedan, which people would buy if they cannot afford European ones.

In a flash of sheer, well I would like to say brilliance, but actually, it could have just been a flash in the pan for the Skyline GT-R, as it turned out, the Hako or Box-Skyline has developed a very dedicated religious following and this columnist is at risk of being harangued by devotees for any misquotes and, as such, you will find no specific technical details that can incite anger and rage in this article.

As you may have read here before, the Skyline name originated with the Prince car company, which was bought over by Nissan. These large sedans were quite interesting in design and featured rather advanced technical specifications but they were hardly the darling of the IT crowd.

That is until one day, in 1964, a Prince Skyline S54 went racing in the Japanese GT-II class and almost wiped the entire field by taking the top six spots, except for the top spot. The fly in the ointment was a Porsche 904, which insisted on winning.

The moment that created the legend was when driver Tetsu Isukawa managed to overtake the winning 904 in an overtaking manoeuvre that is described as epic and led the race for one lap. Imagine the relatively unsporting large sedan from the Prince auto company giving that 904 a b**ch-slap.

The S54 was never a GT-R. It was just a GT, but that fantastic performance meant that when Nissan bought over the Prince company in 1966, they couldn’t very well kill the Skyline badge even after they killed the Prince name.

The 1968 C10 was the last Skyline developed by the Prince research and development (R&D) office and the first to be sold with a Nissan badge and a year later the four-door GT-R was born, the PGC-10 was sent out to battle almost immediately. It brought home enough silverware for a party of 33 within two years and when the two-door KPGC-10 GT-R came out, the trophy cabinet went the full half century.

By any measure, 50 wins in three years is a lot of chequered flag and the fact that the car was developed in the last days of the Prince R&D team kind of hits home hard and added to the legend.

It was as if the Prince company, although it may have suffered commercial failure, wanted to show the world that it could still get its cars right. Obviously, the S20 engine was a key ingredient in the success, but the chassis certainly brought lightweight and rigidity to the table.

The thing is, even if the Box had never won so many races, I still think that it would be a desirable car because it looked so right. And, if it hadn’t won so many cars, then maybe there is a chance that ordinary people can afford to own one.

3,650 reads

Related Articles

Most Read Stories by