For our third episode of SentiMETAL we travelled to Bothaville in the Free State to uncover the crowning jewel in one of the world's largest Nissan/Datsun collections, an all-original "Hakosuka" Skyline GT-R.
It must take everything; Every fibre, every compulsion... to go from a humble die-cast Datsun 510 model car, to possessing almost every full-scale Datsun ever created in your collection. And that’s precisely what Freek De Kock has done, a Bothaville resident who has amassed what is possibly the largest private collection of Nissans and Datsuns in the world. But we’re more than happy to bypass it all with little more than a cursory glance on this occasion, because as is often the case in situations like these, there is a treasured jewel in this ensemble – a bona fide centrepiece. Meet the "Hakosuka". Directly translated from Japanese it means box-shaped Skyline and for obvious reasons. It also goes by the moniker KPGC10 and you’ll respect it for being the inception point of the beloved Nissan Skyline GT-R. This is where it all began. Not just the GT-R legend, but the Japanese sportscar as an icon.
The legend that is the KPGC10 Nissan Skyline GT-R coupe
In the late 60s and early 70s, the Nissan GT-R notched up more than 1 000 racing victories.
You got them in 2 flavours, the 3-box 4-door saloon to which the Hakosuka title more appropriately refers and then this, the far more desirable and rare coupe – a slippery shade of silver finished off in period-correct RS Watanabe wheels. Born in the Far East in 1969 at a time when Japanese cars were slowly making a name for themselves as reliable transport, Nissan produced a fire breather decades before its famous successor, the BNR32 would be dubbed Godzilla.
But to appreciate the GT-R’s outputs from its inline-six you need to dial your senses and expectations back to the era of disco. From that 2.0-litre straight-6 Nissan extracted 118 kW and 180 Nm with which to battle rival race cars of the day – think Porsche 911s and Mazda rotaries. Its performance was brisk, and the noise it emitted was evocative but guttural, its petrol-swilling heart a welcome reminder of how the pursuit of speed was once a wholly mechanical undertaking before electronic witchcraft and aerodynamics would enter the fray.
As Freek swings the Hakosuka’s ignition into life on this cold Bothaville morning, the resultant noise shakes the pigeons from the trees overhead. Warm yellow headlamps light up the dark asphalt ahead of it, while the tailpipes emit a smoky screen and, in that moment, we’re reminded why cars like this GT-R seem to have an aura all their own. In fact, it’s why we get sentimental over metal. But don’t just take our word for it – meet Freek.
Which famous, classic or iconic car would you like to us to feature next? Let us know in the comments section below.