Nissan's iconic GT-R nameplate turned 50 years old recently and to celebrate, Nissan South Africa brought together most of the current car's predecessors. And, of course, there's that special 50th anniversary edition we recently drove, too!
We can perhaps thank Sony and its smash-hit Gran Turismo series of console games for the worldwide fame that the GT-R continues to enjoy. Of course, appearances in cult films such as those of the Fast 'n Furious franchise have helped too, but above all the GT-R's iconic status was born on the racetracks of Japan.
The GT-R arrived in 1968, when the so-called PGC10 version made its first debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, originally as a 4-door sedan. The more famous KPGC10 (2-door coupe), followed in March 1971. It is the latter that featured in Episode 3 of our SentiMETAL video series, with Freek de Kock from Bothaville being the proud owner (see the video below).
The next variant arrived at the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show, dubbed the C110, but it was doomed, like many sportscars, by the international fuel crisis and resultant dip in demand for high-performance sports machines. Consequently, only 197 C110s were built.
The R34 was an icon for a completely new generation of petrolheads brought up on Playstation games and Fast 'n Furious movies.
The GT-R experienced a rebirth with the arrival of the R32 in 1989. This Nismo-designed car featured a new 2.6L twin-turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive. Critically acclaimed by the press (and enthusiastic owners), the R32 claimed 5 consecutive Japanese Touring Car championships and over 200 race wins. It also took the Australian Touring Car championship in 1991 and 1992, and it's here where it earned the nickname "Godzilla"... the "Monster from Japan."
Following in the R32's footsteps was never going to be easy, but Nissan did just that with the R33 which arrived in 1995. Mechanically similar to the R32, but with worthwhile detail improvements all-round, the GT-R R33 took the production car lap record at the Nürburgring, just like its predecessor did.
And then came the iconic R34, darling of the Playstation generation. Launched in 1999 and often seen in computer games and movies in its trademark Bayside Blue colour, the R34 was a technological marvel. It featured a 5.8-inch LCD multifunction display that gave the driver access to mind-boggling performance data. CAR magazine tested an R34 V-Spec in its October 2000 issue, and it achieved a 0-100kph time of 5.22 seconds. Again featuring a twin-turbo 2.6L engine, this car boasted outputs of 240kW and 420Nm of torque.
The current car
The sixth generation GT-R (R35) is the car that you can still buy today. It was originally launched at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, but has been continually fettled by the Japanese marque, to the point that it remains one of the most capable high-performance cars on the market today.