Two years ago, we caught a glimpse of this very car on a racing circuit in Melaka. Since then, it has gone under a massive makeover to its final form today. Back then, this R32 was a little more stealthy, with less pronounced bodywork and aero aids, but it still delivered quite a crushing performance on the track.
And that unmistakeable RB26 bellow. Oh glorious one…
The chance of finding a completely unmodified R32 GT-R today is basically naught. Not only is the Skyline wildly popular in tuner culture, it has since gone on to dominate the minds of the younger crowd in appearances in modern entertainment. Think Initial D and Wangan Midnight. Its successors saw more silver screen time as well, appearing in movies like the Fast and Furious franchise, as well as popular TV shows like Top Gear.
But we’ve had the honour of doing one thing that many will never get, and that is to get behind the wheel of the legendary beast. And the original Godzilla has touched us in many ways that we will never forget.
Firstly, would be the nostalgic cabin which we had to climb into. One seats lower than usual, owing to the car being lowered on MeisterR coilovers and the snug bucket seats. On a car that already has a natural slow slung to it, this further adds to the race car aura.
Firing up the monster immediately reminds us of what made the GT-R such a great car. On one end, you get an engine that can be built to destroy supercars, but at the back you get plenty of space for four (ok, two plus two), and a boot for all your stuff. And it doesn’t even bother to look different on the inside than a 90’s family sedan, with kid-friendly buttons to operate the HVAC and radio…
Wait, there is no radio. Remember what we said about stock GT-R’s today? Hardly one exists. And why would you need a radio when you can have the Nismo Triple Meter that shows you how much torque the ATTESA-ETS (which means Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-terrain with Electronic Torque Split, which means “Awesome System”) is sending to the front wheel, oil temperature as well as boost levels?
The characteristic bumble from the RB26 is boosted by the aftermarket intake as well as exhaust. A stock R32 wouldn’t even hold a candle to the noise this beast makes. Not forgetting the soft whine of the fuel pump.
Clutch in fully and suddenly the everyday Skyline smiles. Despite being rated for over 600hp, the clutch pedal doesn’t feel like a gym leg press machine, and the gear lever is almost unbearably comfortable to move about, but these are the only niggles in what we consider as a hot-tempered race car. Figuring out how to operate a 90’s air conditioning system wasn’t as difficult as we thought to.. One just has to figure the correct button to press (seriously, econ button?). Soon, we were shivering as much as the car was at the lights.
Driving one down the roads of Singapore makes you appreciate the Nissan Godzilla even more. There are less than 5 R32 GT-Rs in Singapore, with one R33 GT-R and a handful of R34s. But there is something special about having this compared to the hordes of R35 we’ve driven or sat in. This feels so raw and mechanical, unlike the R35 which laughs at most drivers for their inability to exceed the car’s limit.
This R32 reminds you all the time that it is not a computerized play thing with step-and-go technology. You work with the car, pushing the mechanical throttle to the right power band and then feeding in the clutch at the right point. Do it right, and you get a good heap of power pinning you to the back of the seat. Do it wrong, and this car will kick you relentlessly until you get it right.
On another note, the free-flowing intake setup delivered a boost that came so fast that it’s terrifying. The turbos wake up past 3,000 rpm, and by the time 4,000 rpm arrives, one better be clear what one will be doing as the car will not give you any moment for second thoughts. Our heart’s bpm rose as fast as the car’s rpm, and things disappear backwards so quickly, it’s impossible to take our eyes off the road.
Now we know how it feels like to be piloting this car through a twisty track like the MIMC. Unlike the little distant cousins like the WRX or Evo, the Skyline doesn’t run out of puff even when the going gets fast. Here, the power comes effortlessly through a chassis capable of handling much more, with more suspension enhancements that make this car handle like a giant turbo gokart. The small steering wheel was chosen due to the owner’s preference, and we can see why, it is definitely more chatty than the typical 350mm wheel, which on a heavy car with AWD, makes a logical choice.
Despite how it looks, this Skyline is surprisingly small when we stopped beside a blue taxi. But sadly, all we could do at the lights was to watch the world go by, as the Singapore traffic rushed past, with no inkling that anyone noticed this extremely rare example of the original Godzilla just chilling at a red light.
Pedestrians hurry across the street to beat the green blinking man. Maybe one or two whipped out their smartphones to snap this beast crawling past them – which probably will be posted as “omg, rare car” on social media. Our first experience in the R32 is a much-needed delightful breath of fresh air. Yes, a twin-turbo all-wheel-drive car today may seem modern but this was a car that first came to life in 1989. Let that sink in a little and perhaps, you may ponder if the world went backwards since the R32’s introduction…
Nissan Skyline GT-R
RIPS Surge Tank with 80mm TB
Sard 660cc Fuel Injectors
Sard Fuel Pressure Regulator
HKS 280lph Fuel Pump
HKS Fuel Rail
HKS F-CON V-Pro
HKS ECV 6
NGK Iritop 8
HKS Hi-Power Silent Muffler
Nismo N1 Water Pump
Nismo Low Temp Thermostat
Garage R Custom Oil Cooler
Garage R Custom Oil Catch Tank
Tomei Oil Pump
HKS Super Power Flow
Tomei HICAS Eliminator
Driftworks Lower Arm Kit
HKS Kansai Tower Brace
The Driveshaft Shop Carbon Prop
Nismo Coppermix Twin Plate Clutch
Enkei RPF1 18×9.5 +15
Dunlop Z2 Star Spec
Garage R Custom 6pot (F) Caliper
Dixcel 380mm 2-pc (F) 355mm 2-pc (R)
Dixcel Brake Pads
HEL Stainless Steel Braided Lines
Defi Advance ZD
Nismo 260km/h Cluster
Nismo Triple Meters
Nardi Steering Wheel
Chargespeed Carbon Dashboard
Grigio Telesto Colour
TBO Bumper (F)
Stout Type R Carbon Fibre
Kakimoto Rear Wing
Do Luck Bumper (R)