7 Secrets About the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34
Here are 7 things about the Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R you probably didn’t knowby Dim Angelov, on LISTEN 10:23
The Nissan GT-R boasts one of the biggest and most fanatic cult followings of any car, easily rivaling that of the Porsche 911. And just like Porsche 911 enthusiasts, the GT-R fan bae can be divided into people who enjoy the newer R35 GT-R that has nothing to do with the Skyline name and those who covet the older GT-Rs, based on the Nissan Skyline. When we talk about the latter, the ultimate embodiment of the Nissan Skyline is considered the GT-R R34, which was the final evolution of the R32 GT-R that earned the Godzilla nickname. Here are seven facts you may not know about the ultimate Skyline.
Not All Versions of the R34 GT-R Came With the RB26 DETT
One of the things, the Nissan Skyline GT-R is most praised for is the incredibly robust and capable RB26 DETT engine. With an official output of 276 horsepower (actual 327) and 289 pound-feet (392 Nm), from the factory, the 2.6-liter twin-turbo inline-six was the basis for many high-performance versions of not just the R34 Skyline, but the R32 and R33 models that came before it.
However, not all versions of the GT-R R34 came with the iconic straight-six. A few hardcore fans may know that, when the 2002 JGTC season hit, the RB26-powered Skyline GT-R R34 GT500 race car struggled to keep up with the competition. This prompted Nissan’s motorsports division, NISMO, to replace the RB26 DETT with a VQ30DETT (not to be mistaken for the VG30 DETT in the Nissan Z32), halfway through the racing season. Despite the mixed responses, the engine proved more capable, allowing Nissan’s GT500 racecar to win, in the 2003 season.
The Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R Was Not the Only R34 to Feature All-Wheel Drive
Another distinctive trait of the Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R is the ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive system, which features active torque vectoring and can distribute power between the two axles, as needed. That said, with the GT-R being so coveted, many forget that there is another Skyline R34 that features all-wheel drive – the Nissan Skyline 25GT-Four.
While the Skyline 25GT-Four shares the aesthetics of the R34 GT-T, it actually has an RB25 DE. This means no forced induction and output of 197 horsepower and 188 pound-feet (255 Nm). It comes with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Since the Skyline 25GT-Four comes with all-wheel drive as standard, it’s a good basis for many GT-R-inspired builds, and some fake GT-Rs – something to keep in mind if you are planning to buy an R34 GT-R.
The Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R Was Supposed To Be a Mid-Engine Sports Car
Like other manufacturers, Nissan also entertained the idea of a mid-engine, flagship sports car. Back in 1985, the Japanese carmaker came up with the Nissan MID4, and later the Nissan MID4 II, which would have made for an interesting rivalry with the Honda NSX, had Nissan made a production version. The two concept models shared the VG30 (DETT) engine with the Nissan Z32.
Since, at the time, Nissan was in a good place, financially, it was decided that the R34 would be a mid-engine sports car, powered by a newly-developed V-6 engine. However, the production of a high-performance, mid-engine sports car meant that Nissan would need to invest in a dedicated production line. Because of this, the mid-engine R34 Skyline was dropped, and instead, we got Godzilla in its ultimate, front-engine form.
Nissan Was Forced to Change Wangan Blue to Bayside Blue
Bayside Blue is one of the most iconic colors, offered on the R34 Skyline. The shade of blue is so associated with the Skyline GT-R that the 2020 Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition brought back the now-iconic color, and even 2009 Fast and Furious commemorated it, by giving Paul Walker’s character, a Bayside Blue R34 GT-R. But the GT-R-associated exterior finish, initially, was not supposed to be called Bayside Blue.
Tamara-San – Nissan’s Chief Product Specialist, at the time – wanted to call the color Wangan Blue. The name was inspired by the Wangan-sen (Bay Shore Route), which was a popular venue for street-racing. Nissan management, however, persuaded him to change it, to avoid affiliation with the Mid-Night Club, which was disbanded, following a multi-car wreck, right after the R34’s official debut.
There’s A GT-R Z-Tune that’s More Exclusive than the Rest
After production of the R34 Skyline ended, Nissan’s motorsports division, NISMO, went on to buy 20 of the best R34 GT-R examples it could find and turn them into one of the most sought-after versions of the car, NISMO R34 GT-R Z-Tune. Being one of the best and rarest versions of iconic JDM cars, it deserves its own article, but we will say that all NISMO Z-Tune cars were painted in the special Z-Tune Silver (paint code KY0), except one.
Z-Tune car number 10 was left in its original color – Midnight Purple III (paint code LX0), per the owner’s request, who argued with NISMO for about a year, to leave the factory color, before the people at NISMO finally saw reason. Since then, the one-off Midnight Purple NISMO R34 Z-Tune has changed owner, twice.
It Is Not 100-Percent Illegal to Import an R34 GT-R into the United States
By now, you are probably familiar with the 25-year rule, which states that every car not intended for the US market needs to be 25 years old, in order to be legal to import into the US. Sadly, the R34 Skyline is still among these cars, as it was never crash-tested nor emissions-tested, according to the US federal standards. An important thing to note is that the cars, involved in the Motorex Scandal that were excused by the US government, do not count.
But the rule does not apply for all versions of the R34 GT-R, since limited editions that are excluded from the list can be imported under the “show and display” rules. Excluded from the 25-year rule are two of the limited-edition models. The first one is the 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 V-Spec Early Model Limited Edition, finished in Midnight Purple II, which was built in the early years of the Skyline R34. The second model, you can legally import is the 2002 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 M-Spec Nür, which was approved for import under “show and display”, in 2017, with only 253 examples, ever built.
The R34 Skyline GT-R has a First Gear Lockout
Those who have owned or have driven an R34 GT-R would know it, but it’s worth mentioning, for those that haven’t. In order to prevent drivers from accidentally shifting to first gear instead of third, the car requires you to pull the lockout ring, not just when shifting in reverse, but also when you want to engage first gear. Doug DeMuro demonstrated it in his quirks and features video, on the R34 Skyline, and now we are mentioning it because we wouldn’t want you to think that your dream JDM car has a gearbox issue.
Is the R34 legal in the US?
No. The R34 GT-R can only be legal to import into the US under the 25-year rule, which states that a car, originally not sold on the US market needs to be at least 25 years old.
How much is an R34 worth?
Prices for limited-edition R34 GT-Rs, like V Spec, M Spec, and NISMO are insane, with some breaking the $500,000 barrier. That said, good examples can still be found for under $60,000.
Are R34 still illegal?
Yes. Apart from two of the limited editions - 1999 V Spec and 2002 M Spec Nur, which can be imported under the "show and display" conditions, all other versions of the Skyline R34 are still illegal to import until they are 25 years old.
Why is it illegal to drive an R34?
The Nissan R34 was never sold on the US market. As such, it didn’t have to cover the US federal safety and emission standards, which is why it’s illegal.
What year will the R34 be legal in the US?
In January 2024, since production of the R34 GT-R started in January 1999. Keep in mind that the 25-year rule, states that the VIN number of the car must be 25 years old. This means that an R34 GT-R with a VIN number from June 2000 will be legal to import in June 2025.
How many R34 Skylines are in the US?
While the exact number is not clear, the latest reports indicate there are between 14 and 16 R34 GT-Rs, on US territory.
Are R34 Skylines legal in Canada?
Yes. Canada law has a similar rule, only it’s 15 years instead of 25. With that being said, you can legally import an R34 GT-R to Canada, since 2014.
How can I legally get an R34 in the US?
If you want to avoid spending between $180,00 and $550,000 for one of the limited editions, eligible for "show and display", you will have to wait until they are 25 years old. Or you can move to Canada, where they are legal for import since 2014.