(UPDATE: This is actually not a GT-R, so oops, and title fixed. Please play along with me. – jd) Waiting at bus stops has afforded me some of my richest adventures in car-spotting, and this particular Saturday evening was no exception. While taking a train and a couple of buses to get to a friend’s art exhibition, I had seen a ’69 Chevelle wagon, a ’77 International Scout II (which deserves its own feature), and this R33-generation (1995 – ’98) Nissan Skyline GT-R. According to Car And Driver, not even 17,000 of these were produced over its four-year run, and none of them were sold as new cars in the United States. This GT-R must be from one of the first three years of this generation, with the age 25 being the magic number at which they may legally be imported.
I saw this car coming and was intrigued by its paint scheme, large wing, and the roar of its exhaust. I thought it might have been a concurrent, second generation, U.S.-market Nissan 240SX with a body kit and a zealous owner. I was too busy snapping photos of the car while it passed the bus stop where I was waiting to notice that it was the driver, and not a passenger, who was in the seat closest to where I stood. Once I caught a glimpse of those four, round taillamps as the car zoomed northwest on Clybourn near Ashland, I knew I had just spotted a rare and special beast in the urban wilderness of Chicago’s West DePaul district. As I flipped through the pictures using the LCD screen on my camera, it occurred to me how much practice I would need to shift gears with my left hand before I felt comfortable taking a powerful car like this out on the road.
The R33 originally came in three states of trim and tune which included the base GT-R, the more advanced V-Spec, and the racing-oriented N1 which featured a stiffer suspension and was stripped of key features (air conditioning, antilock brakes, sound system, and the rear wiper and hardware) to make it lighter. An R33 in any form was a beast. Try 276 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged, 2.6 liter V6, and 271 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. With its standard five-speed manual transmission, it was capable of doing 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds, also according to a period test from Car And Driver. It could also get to the century mark at just under thirteen seconds, a time at which my old, four cylinder-equipped ’88 Mustang would have still been struggling to get to sixty, with no other passengers and the air off.
By its appearance and by dint of its age and exclusivity, there’s no telling how this example might have been modified or how many horses are under the hood. A car like this is just outside the orbit of what normally captures my attention, but as I had mentioned in my first, new essay of 2022, I have my cousin to thank for putting certain JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) models on my radar, which includes the Nissan Skyline. Trust me when I tell you that if he was writing the accompanying text, this piece might have been three times as long. All of us, including me, will just have to be satisfied with these few snaps and words about one of my more exotic automotive finds spotted in motion so far this year.
Bucktown, Chicago, Illinois.
Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Click here for related reading from Tatra87 about this car’s four-door relative.