For many, it’s the king of all JDM import cars. Here’s five of the best modified Nissan Skyline GT-R builds from our archives.
Before we get into the thick of it, feel free to check out our ultimate guide to every generation of the Nissan Skyline GT-R, if you feel you need a bit more context.
Up to speed already? Great! Let’s begin…
Mine’s Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 demo car
If you’re a fan of Japanese car culture, Mine’s is a name that you’ll have heard of before. One of the key ’90s tuning houses, the Yokosuka-based firm is well known for its range of aftermarket parts, presence in Gran Turismo, and modified Nissan Skyline GT-R demo cars… like this one.
Mine’s only ever built three R34 demo cars, and just one was intended for street use. That unicorn now lives in Australia with a company called V-Spec Performance, which is where we were lucky enough to set our eyes upon it.
Simon Ong is the manager there, meaning that he’s driven a fair few JDM classics in his time – particularly of the Skyline variety. So, when he claims that he “hasn’t driven anything (street-legal) that’s better than the Mine’s Skyline GT-R R34,” you know that this car is a serious bit of kit. “If you thought about building an ultimate car for the road, that’s this car,” he says.
So, what is it that makes the Mine’s R34 such a desirable vehicle? Well, true to the Mine’s philosophy, the sum of this Skyline’s parts is far greater than what its restrained exterior may lead you to believe. Indeed, underneath the super-clean bodywork, you’ll find a set of internals blessed with a much more devilish persona.
The trick here isn’t so much about bolting on as many new parts as possible, but instead working with what the R34 was already born with. The RB26 in its engine bay has been comprehensively overhauled: everything from cylinder boring, to block, head & cam lobe shaving, and whatever else the Mine’s engineers could think of. There’s not an inch of this power unit that hasn’t been optimized, and as a result, it now outputs 600hp and 433lb ft of torque!
Check-out this must-see feature in its full glory by clicking here. Or, if you fancy finding out what a stock R34 is like to drive to begin with, head over to our hands-on review.
Pandem-kitted Modified Nissan Skyline GT-R R32
All-wheel drive is something that’s synonymous with the Skyline GT-R. After all, it’s that party trick which allowed the car to dominate as it did in world motorsport, sparking its mythical ‘Godzilla’ status.
However, Finnish car modifier Tony Hakku decided that the R32’s drivetrain could still be improved upon. “How?”, you may ask. Well, as the smoky burnout shot above suggests, this R32 is able to switch between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. So, when you want to tackle backroads at pace you can still depend on the GT-R’s four wheels to grip their way around the bends. But, when things are a bit less serious, and when grip is the enemy rather than an ally, that switchable rear-wheel drive opens up a whole new world of fun.
When Tony first picked up this R32, the previous owner had already strapped a single turbo conversion into the engine bay, but Tony was keen to make his own mark on the car.
The first thing on his to-do-list was the exterior. Rust in the arches came as the best possible justification for a widebody, but at the time, there was little choice when it came to affordable off-the-shelf R32 kits. Instead, Tony has had to wrestle Pandem arches intended for a Nissan S13 into place. As you can imagine, that was a rather nerve-wracking process, but we think it paid off well in the end!
For the full run-down of the work Tony has put into his modified Nissan Skyline GT-R R32, give the full feature a read here. We’ve also got dedicated buying and tuning guides for the R32, just incase one happens to be on your shopping list.
Father & Son’s Nissan Skyline GT-R R33
Leon Chan’s love for Japanese performance cars is something which has stood the test of decades. Back in 2004, he left the comfort of working for his family’s restaurant to set up EP Racing – an independent aftermarket parts supplier, designed to cater to all the cars that Leon aspired to own himself.
Happily, the car-loving genes have been passed down to Leon’s son, Cody. Whether that was nature, nurture, or something in between, we’ll let you decide for yourself. Either way, fast-forward 20-odd years, and Cody is now at an age where he can get stuck into project cars too, much to his dad’s delight.
The initial plan was for the pair of them to build an S13 together – Cody is an S-Chassis fan at heart. However, when that didn’t pan out, they ended up with an R34 GT-T. Long story short, that R34 was traded for a friend’s R33 GT-R – which is the car you see here.
When they picked it up, the poor thing was in need of a bit of TLC. It had spent the past nine years off the road, but after a full service, it wasn’t long before the Chan family began to work their magic on it.
Carbon body styling is obviously a big new feature of the car, including a set of front wings (inspired by the Nismo R34 Z-Tune) that have been custom-fabricated just for this build! The Chans have also added, 18-inch Work alloys, TEIN Flex Z coilovers, and a load of goodies under the hood. However, if you want to read more about that, you’ll have to check out the full feature…
Feeling inspired? Check out our R33 buying and tuning guides.
Modified Nissan Skyline By Liberty Walk
One of the crowd favourites from the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon, this modified Skyline is a throwback to heroic racecars of the past. The Silhouette Works Liberty Walk ER34, to give it its proper name, is a heavily modified Skyline featuring a bodykit sculpted to look like the old FIA Group 5 race cars of the ’80s.
In particular, the inspiration for this build was the outlandish KDR30 Skyline silhouette car driven by renowned racer, Masahiro Hasemi. Even the red and black Tomica livery has been replicated, albeit without the associated branding. Instead, that white print spells out the letters, LBWK – just in case you forgot who built this wild ride.
Anyway, now that we’ve got your attention, we’ve got a small confession to make. This isn’t actually a modified Nissan Skyline GT-R. It’s a GT-T…
But hold on, before you shrug it aside as some sort of rear-wheel drive wannabe, hear us out. Wataru Kato – the brains behind the Liberty Walk company – refused to cut up a legendary GT-R. So, a less heralded GT-T went under the knife instead.
On the plus side, this meant that when Kato-san pressed on with his eyebrow-raising engine plans, it wasn’t an RB26 that he’d have to cast aside. Instead, the GT-T’s 2.5-litre block has been swapped out for an L28 – an old school straight-six found in retro motors like the 280ZX or Cedric saloon, which was a tuner’s favourite in the earliest days of Japanese custom builds. It’s not just any old L28 either, having been bored out to 3.1 litres rather than 2.8.
As you probably guessed from its stance, Kato-san opted for an air ride suspension set-up when designing this showstopper. However, if you peek through the car’s windows, you’ll notice a full-on competition roll cage. Contradictions like that can be found all around this project, with the car seemingly straddling the balance between racecar and showcar. For that reason, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but what can’t be denied is that it’s got buckets of personality as a result.
If you’re more of a purist that Kato-san, that lack of ‘GT-R’ badge might be a deal-breaker. So, if you’d rather your own project car to be a ‘proper’ R34 (expensive as that may prove to be), don’t worry – we’ve got some dedicated buying and tuning guides for you to check out.
Top Secret Nissan GT-R R35
Those of you well-versed in aftermarket tuning companies will have immediately clocked that iconic gold livery – paintwork which denotes this as a car built by the near-mythical Top Secret crew.
Even if you haven’t heard of Top Secret, you might have heard of their head honcho – Smokey Nagata. He’s the guy that attempted to do 200mph on the A1 in a modified Supra, which earned him a visit to one of Britain’s murky jail cells. Happily, Smokey wasn’t locked up for long, and didn’t let the experience stop him from creating more modified masterpieces such as this high-velocity GT-R.
These days, a British bloke called Lewis Petrie owns the car. However, getting his hands on Smokey’s R35 wasn’t as simple as just offering the right amount of cash. Instead, he had to prove his worth, which he did by paying multiple personal visits to Japan and building a highly modified R34 GT-R (complete with Top Secret parts).
Of course, being a Top Secret car, we aren’t privy to its full specs – even now it’s long since left home. What we can tell you though is that prior to being *detuned* to 900hp, this wild GT-R was recorded hitting speeds of more than 230mph!
Naturally, that suggests some pretty major engine upgrades, and as a result, the transmission had to be completely overhauled too. Aesthetically speaking, the aero changes that have been made to the car are contrastingly understated, and it’s got an unexpectedly comfortable cabin.
Check out the full feature here, and while you’re at it, have a read of our R35 buying and tuning guides incase you fancy unleashing your inner Smokey.