Skyline Week 2018: The R That Sailed to the ‘Ring
The R33 is often considered as the black sheep of the GT-R family. Even in popular car culture, the “San-San” is usually shunned compared to other generations of the GT-R. It was mostly known for being bigger, heavier and sluggish compared to its brethren - and it’s true. The R33 is indeed larger, heavier and a definitely a lot longer compared to the R32, R34, and even the R35. Thanks to these traits, the R33 has since been known as the ‘boat’.
However despite being bigger and heavier, the R33 GT-R became the first-ever production vehicle to officially break the 8-minute mark at the Nurburgring. Back in the 90’s, a sub-8 minute time at the Nordschliefe was benchmark material. Come to think of it, Nissan never released an official time for the R34 GT-R when it first came out in 1999. Hmm.
To continue our GT-R samplings for Skyline Week, today we’re looking at this immaculate 1996 Skyline GT-R. As you can see, not much has been changed to the R’s exterior save for some 18-inch BBS wheels and a drop courtesy of BC Racing coilovers.
Often though, looks can be deceiving. And as with a good number of GT-Rs out there, most of the modifications on this 33 are found under the hood. Pop the bonnet and the clear timing belt cover and Tomei camgears give a proper indication that this RB26 is packing more punch than usual.
It now uses a plethora of aftermarket parts such as forged internals, Tomei camshafts, and a Tomei fuel system. To up the power, Nismo N1 turbines were fitted replacing the ceramic twins. A Mishimoto radiator then helps keeps operating temps cool be it in traffic or on spirited runs.
For the shoot, the car ran using its factory ECU in order for it to make the daytrip from Dagupan to Metro Manila and back. Soon, an A’Pexi Power FC will be fitted to dial in the final numbers.
In the search for more power and reliability, creature comforts have not been sacrificed in the car. The stock seats together with the interior have been retained. The owner has only upgraded the cabin with a white-face Nismo gauge cluster, Nismo din-gauge, and pillar mounted AEM boost and AFR gauges for good measure. What really makes this GT-R stand out though is the conversion of the dashboard to left-hand drive, which is probably as clean as it could get.
With all the negativity surrounding the R33 GT-R, truth be told it shouldn’t be any less of an R in anyone’s eyes. Its chassis lends itself well to being more planted than most R32s out of the box. In fact, the owner of this 33 also has two R32 GT-Rs in his stable. In his words, the 33 felt more stable, planted and easier to drive over the more tail-happy R32. As a proposition from someone who’s come all the way from Dagupan to have his car featured, that seems pretty convincing that the R33 GT-R has its own merits.
Perhaps the R33 is something we should embrace as a different GT-R in its own right - sails, masts, and all.
Special thanks to Lj Duque for driving all the way from Dagupan to join us for this Skyline Week 2018 shoot.
Words by Jose Altoveros
Photos by Jose Altoveros, Jaime Miguel Echavez
Nissan Skyline GT-R (R33)
Engine and Driveline
- Tomei Camshafts
- Nismo N1 Turbos
- CP Carillo Forged Pistons
- Eagle Connecting Rods
- Tomei Expreme Exhaust Manifold
- Tomei Downpipe
- Tomei Cam Gears
- Tomei Fuel Rail
- Tomei Fuel Regulator
- Tomei Fuel Pump
- Nitto Clear Timing Belt Cover
- Cometic Head Gasket
- ARP Head Bolts
- ARP Exhaust Bolts
- Mishimoto Aluminum Radiator
- Fluid Damper
- Under Drive Aluminum Pulley
- Silicone Hoses
- A’Pexi Power FC
- AEM AFR and boost gauge
Brakes, Wheels, and Suspension
- BC Coilovers
- 18-inch BBS wheels
- Nismo Gauge Cluster
- Nismo Din Meter