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Updated on October 26, 2009
Nissan Skyline R33 GTR
Nissan Skyline R33 GTR

 The whale generation. That is how most remember the R33 GTR. For those fortinute enough to live in Japan or Australia at the time of the R33 GTR's release, the car was a huge dissapointment cosmetically. While the R32 GTR had been a brutish, squared off, muscular looking car, the R33 GTR had opted for soft, smooth lines. The end result was what most felt to be a far less aggressive stance.

Reguardless of cosmetic concerns, the Nissan Skyline R33 GTR was a monstrous performer. Unstoppable in a straight line, and too-fast-for-physics around corners, the R33 GTR found itself at the top of the leader board. In what is still an incredible feat by any standards, the R33 GTR was the first production car in history to lap the Nurburgring Nordschliefe in less than eight minutes. Despite being down on power compared to European and American competiton, the R33 GTR's perfect blende of technological wizardry meant that it was capable of cornering speeds never before seen in a road car.

R33 GTR Nurburgring Time Attack

Despite the factory rated 276 horsepower output, most agree that the in reality, the R33 GTR produced closer to 310 horsepower. With a short-stroke design, the R33 GTR's updated RB26DETT engine was built to rev. With an 8000RPM redline and incredible throttle response for a turbocharged vehicle, the R33 GTR impressed all who drove it. While the car certainly had the handling prowess to make it a world beater, most owners were more enamoured by it's power out. Whereas a 300 horsepower rear wheel drive car would struggle with wheelspin due to the tire technology of the time, the R33 GTR's incredible ATESSA all wheel drive system allowed the car to accelerate savagely in first gear. Launching the R33 GTR was as simple as holding the engine within a few hundred RPM of redline and dropping the clutch. The launch G's were so significant that the driver would percieve the world rotating underneath them, rather than forward acceleration. It was this incredible drivetrain that made the GTR popular with drag racer's.

Despite Nissan's best efforts to sell the GTR as a "handling" car, it was the drag racers that ate the car up. While there are stories of magical horsepower hacks that would unleash 1000 horsepower, that is nonsense. At best, a well tuned car could produce five or six hundred horsepower before things would start to break. Beyond those power levels, the owner would nearly always be forced to replace internal engine components with strengthened aftermarket parts. The 1000 horsepower modification is one that will go down as one of the worst myth's to ever grip auto enthusiasts.

Without much issue, the car would perform incredibly well on a racetrack. Many assumed that the car drove itself, making poor driver's great, but that is simply not that case. The R33 GTR is a drivers car, that begs to be driven hard by an adept driver. The R33 GTR simply served to make a great driver even better. A poor driver would quickly find themselves in trouble while driving the car hard, as it is not the most forgiving car to ever have been built. Despite being able to transfer as much as 50% of available power to the front wheels, the R33 GTR is an oversteering monster, capable of sliding from corner to corner in a continual four-wheel drift. Suffice to say, driving an R33 GTR in poor weather, or even snow, was lots of fun. Capable of doing donuts within its own wheelbase at incredibly high speeds meant that it was very easy to drive any passengers to vomiting from dizzyness. There's a good chance the driver would join in on that reflux action as well.

When the R33 GTR was released in 1995, it was arguably the best sports car the world have ever seen. Capable of incredible acceleration, late braking, and incredible handling maneuvers, the car was unbeatable. 14 years on, however, the car is showing its age. It's no longer the only car capable of running less than eight minutes around the Nurburgring, it's no longer the fastest car in a straight line, and it no longer has the massive advantage it had around a racetrack. With modern sports cars developing more and more horsepower, the R33 GTR is falling behind. But there's no question that in its heyday, the R33 GTR was in fact the king of the road. Reguardless if they were available in your country or not.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have owned the 32,33,34 GT-R's and now the 35 i have to say that the R33 educated me the most about driving. These cars adapt a very unique driving style to maximize their potential and hit their limits. Although my opinion is i love them all. These vehicles are still ahead of there time and ahead of our time their potential proves that when it comes to engineering and development. Although these vehicles never saw the real respect they deserve due to ignorant ''enthusiasts'' and media favoritism. As a Test driver for the last 17 years and going on to retire after some really close calls, i tell People this- The GT-R is a drivers car if you want to learn and understand the core definition of developing second nature driver skills and understand not power but trust and balance within a car that sings as the speedometer gets higher

      and your left foot doesn't act in conjunction with your Ego but works in conjunction with your true self and soul and re-defines your views and troubles on everyday matters, take time to get into one of these vehicles and embrace it and learn what the legacy of the GT-R is really about. To that, its about coming First every-time and bringing something to the table that will remain first for a long time in many ways. It is the Core Definition a True Racer.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I also have a R33 gtr Vspec. All stock (-BUT MAINTAINED-)and to be honest very few new performance vehicles even come close.

      I hear many people rave on about the new series Turbo Fords are good competition against us Godzilla Drivers, from my experience this is not the case, anly dramas I have had is against 32&34 GTR's. Not lucky enough to have raced a R35 yet but I think we all know what the result of that will be.

      Nice article.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I just love them

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I purchased my 1995 R33 GTR V-Spec a year ago and it has made my long daily commute to work a lot more enjoyable, not the most efficient car to drive I know.

      Although it's 16 years old, it is still a very fast car compared to sports cars of today. I do agree with Kai that the R34 GTR is a stunner, and nissan once again showed its technological mastery with the R35 GTR, it really astounds people how fast it goes around a track, beating cars that are more than 5X its price.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      awesome to read... convinced me to finally buy one

    • kai101 profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent hub the r33 gtr was an amazing car when new but my personally favourite is the r34 gtr another stunner.


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