Battle Of The 1990s Icons: BMW E39 M5 Drag Races a Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R

Both vehicles are automotive royalties from the 1990s and they have lined up for an epic drag battle

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As a car enthusiast, you will probably agree that the 1990s to early 2000s was one of the best periods for carmakers. While there are a few exceptions to that statement, CarWow has gathered two of the most iconic representatives of that period. Representing the German camp is the BMW M5 E39, and in the Japanese corner is the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34. Both performance vehicles came out at roughly the same time and represent the pinnacle of their respective manufacturer’s engineering. Naturally, we want to know which comes out on top.

BMW M5 vs. Nissan Skyline R34

Battle Of The 1990s Icons: BMW E39 M5 Drag Races a Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R
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The BMW M5 E39 came out for the 1998 model year and was produced until 2003. The R34 GT-R, meanwhile, came out for the 1999 model year and was manufactured until 2002. Both vehicles are finished in the appropriate color with the M5 E39 scoring a nice shade of Carbon Black (yes, it looks dark blue) while the R34 GT-R comes in the iconic, Bayside Blue exterior finish.

Looking at the engine outputs, there is an obvious gap between the two cars. The Skyline’s RB26, 2.6-liter, twin-turbo, inline-six was officially rated at 280 horsepower (206 kilowatts), but as we know that’s at the wheels. The actual figure is more like 327 horsepower (244 kilowatts) with peak torque being 289 pound-feet (392 Nm).The BMW’s S62B50 V-8 engine packs 4.9 liters of displacement and is rated at 400 horsepower (294 kilowatts) and 369 pound-feet (500 Nm). The 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) for both cars is around 5.0 seconds, but the GT-R has all-wheel drive and has over 440 pounds (200 kg) less weight to lug around.

Which Car is Actually Better?

As for which one is a better investment, the German performance sedan is the more affordable one, by a long shot. As for R34 GT-R prices, the majority of them are in the six-figure range, which is a real shame for most of us, looking for the next bargain performance car to add to our garage. There’s a lot to be said for both of these cars, but we’ll let you watch the video below to see who takes the overall win. We will say that both the M5 and the GT-R managed a quarter-mile time in the 13-second range.


Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Dim's fascination with cars began when he was just six. Born into a family of car enthusiasts and racing drivers, he started learning basic mechanics and driving from an early age. While he loves writing for any car, Dim is most interested in exploring obscure and forgotten cars as well as finding the best deals on the enthusiast car market. His passion took him to car restoration in the Malta Classic Car Museum, where he briefly worked on a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Junior. In Malta, he also graduated Media and Communications, which further improved his skills as an automotive journalist. Dim is always ready to get behind the wheel of any car and tell you all about it later.  Read full bio
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