Every GT-R generation produced at least one incredible variant. We picked some of our favorites.
Earlier this month we learned that the ridiculously cool Nissan GT-R50 officially began production. Only 50 examples will be made at a price of $1.12 million each. Why only 50? To celebrate 50 years of the GT-R as well as 50 years of ItalDesign, who was responsible for the unique exterior styling. Although it’s based on the GT-R Nismo, the GT-R50 looks very different while remaining recognizable for what it is.
Many aftermarket tuners have taken a crack at modifying GT-Rs over the years, but we figured it was time to look back at some of the greatest GT-R special edition directly from Nissan, beginning in 1990, just one year after the R32 GT-R premiered.
All of the following GT-Rs, not necessarily today’s R35, were either built in-house by Nissan or Nismo, or were at least sanctioned by the automaker. Nothing was done without permission. All were built in limited numbers and are worth quite a lot today.
In 1989, the R32 Skyline GT-R entered the world. And as we all know it wasn’t sold in the US. You can import them today for reasonable prices, but if there’s one in particular to be looking out for it’s the Nismo variant. Launched in 1990, the R32 GT-R Nismo was limited to only 500 road cars and 60 racing versions. The road going versions, compared to the standard R32, featured extra air intakes and even the grille mesh was ripped out to improve airflow to the intercooler. There was also a hood lip spoiler that helped direct cool air into the engine bay, while a trunk spoiler helped with rear-end downforce.
Just before the R32 was retired, Nissan figured it was time to launch the ultimate variant. The GT-R V-Spec arrived in 1993 and production ceased the following year. What was different about it? It was somewhat of a departure from the typical R32’s wedge styling with more rounded styling cues. It also featured aggressive bumpers, a large rear wing, round taillights, and only seven paint options. Its interior was standard R32. Under its hood was the familiar twin-turbo 2.6-liter inline-six rated at 276 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. However, it has been unofficially rated at 316 hp.
Let’s jump ahead to 1996, the year when Nissan figured it’d be a good idea to launch a street-legal version of its GT-R Le Mans race car. Why? Because why the hell not? The R32 has since been replaced by the R33, and so the R33 Nismo 400R came to be. It was powered by a twin-turbo 2.8-liter straight-six with a total of 400 hp. That extra power came, in part, from two larger turbos. And because Nissan didn’t hold back with the build, the R300 Nismo 400R came with a motorsport-spec manual transmission, sending power to all four wheels. An exact total production run figure is not available. Some claim 99 examples were built, while other say just 44 rolled off the line. It was also for Japan only, but collectors across the world have surely snapped them up.
Looking for something totally different? Here it is. To help celebrate the Skyline’s (not the GT-R) 40th anniversary, Nissan figured a four-door GT-R would be appropriate. Interestingly, Nissan isn’t the one who built the R33-based sedan, but rather Autech, a Japanese tuner specializing in making Nissan vehicles even more powerful. Autech basically just took the engine, suspension, all-wheel drive system, and all other related components out of an R33 GT-R and installed them into the Skyline sedan. Imagine a head-to-head competition between this and, say, an E39 BMW M5.
Another anniversary celebration, this time to commemorate 20 years of Nismo tuning. Meet the 2003 R34 GT-R Nismo Z-Tune, limited to just 20 hand-built examples. Under the hood is a twin-turbo 2.8-liter (instead of the 2.6-liter) straight-six with 500 hp. Yes, that’s right. The regular R34 GT-R, to compare, has 276 hp. This engine was based on Nissan’s Le Mans GT2 and GT500 racing experiences. Performance? Try 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 203 mph. Not bad for 2003. Other upgrades include an aggressive suspension and unique Brembo brake system. At the time of its launch, the GT-R Nismo Z-Tune was the most expensive street-legal GT-R ever made, costing around $290,000.
In early 2002, Nissan knew the R34’s time was limited, so it wanted to make sure it went out with a bang. The solution was to build not one, but two special editions, each with the ‘Nur’, short for Nurburgring, moniker. Around 1,000 units were made in total. First up is the GT-R V-Spec II Nur, of which just 718 examples were made. The second was the M-Spec Nur, limited to 285 units. Both featured the same 2.6-liter inline-six equipped with upgraded turbochargers, unique interior trim stitching, a speedometer that went up to 186 mph, and gold valve covers instead of red. The V-Spec II Nur was based on the previous V-Spec II variant while the M-Spec Nur was an upgraded M-Spec. And in case you’re wondering, the ‘M’ from M-Spec came from Mizuno, the car’s engineering chief. Power was officially rated at 276 hp for both cars. In reality, this figure was closer to 330 hp.
By now we’ve entered into the era of the R35, today’s GT-R. How much longer will it remain in production? Only Nissan knows. But back in 2015, Nissan wanted to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the GT-R nameplate, so something special was needed. But instead of the making the R35 GT-R even more extreme, such as adding power and other motorsport-derived components, Nissan went with the opposite approach, focusing on ride quality with a toned-down suspension for a better around-town experience. The only other significant changes? The Champagne Gold exterior paint and an upgraded interior. No other mechanical or external modifications were made, meaning its 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 produced 542 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. Despite not being a power monster, the GT-R 45th anniversary edition was limited to 100 examples, making each one an instant collector’s item.
Yeah, we just had to include this one here. It’s just too beautiful. We first saw the R35 GT-R50 last summer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed when it was still just a one-off, though we knew even then production was likely. With its unique interior and exterior, the latter courtesy of ItalDesign, the GT-R’s signature round taillights have been reimagined and the headlights are now thinner. There’s also an adjustable rear wing. Nissan says the 50 select customers will be able to choose their preferred color combinations inside and out. Under the hood, the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V6 has been tuned to produce 710 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. Compared to the R35 GT-R Nismo, that’s an additional 110 hp and 94 lb-ft.