CC Twofer: 1987 Nissan Skyline (R31) Excel Saloon & 1994 Ford Mustang Convertible – Beauty And The Beast, But Which Is Which?

Now that’s a two-car garage I’m sure many at CC would approve of! Perhaps neither car would be anyone’s first choice – Mustangs of this era are a bit blobby for some, and this version of the R31 is not the sexiest, but still, taken as a twosome, this is a fine selection of late 20th Century sporty-ish RWD steeds. So fancy the Musline or the Skytang?

Both of these are still sporting their original license plates, too. The Nissan, as per JDM habits, was calculated to fit exactly within the “5 category” (the lower tax band), with its width just under 170cm and its RB20 straight-6 a few ccs shy of the 2-litre limit.

None of that malarkey for the Mustang, of course. It would seem to be a V6 model, as if this was a 5.0 GT, that fact would probably be advertised somewhere on the car. (I may be very wrong about this as I have no experience with these Mustangs – CC will know and correct me if I’m wrong, I’m sure). Still, the Essex V6 weighed in at 3.8 litres, so way beyond the Japanese taxman’s tolerances.

And never mind that, feel the width (as the bishop said to the actress): that was also well above “normal” – so the Mustang had to be in the high tax band, just like Jaguars, Cadillacs and Ferraris. At least, this gave the Mustang the sort of company it could only dream to aspire to at home.

It’s amazing how much of a difference a decade used to make. The Skyline is pure, unadulterated ‘80s origami, even though this later model does sport somewhat softened headlight contours, as opposed to the early ones’ Lego-block items.

The greenhouse is still steeped in the pre-Audi 100 era – an aerodynamic nightmare. Even the quad round taillights, which were a Skyline trademark throughout the ‘70s, went away for the pillared saloon and the wagon of this 7th generation. The hardtops kept them, thankfully, but still. How enamoured of the quadrangle must one be to do away with a feature so iconic as this? Strictly no thinking outside the box.

For their part, Ford were pretty ahead of the game in rounding the squares back in the ‘80s, at least on some models, e.g. the Sierra in Europe, the Taurus in the US and so on. But it took a while for that philosophy to reach the Mustang, which kept its straight-edged ‘79 Fox shell for 14 years. But when the time finally came for Ford’s two-door to get a long-overdue makeover, rulers must have been banned from the design studios. Incidentally, the fact that this is a JDM car is evidenced by the amber turn signals, as I’m sure you and Daniel Stern will agree.

The same rounded design is evident in the cabin, naturally. This car’s soft top has seen better days, but the interior looks incredibly good, for a nearly 30-year-old US-made Ford. Of course, it helps that this Mustang is a rare car here, whereas these are probably still on the slippery slope to the salvage yard in their native land.

Aaaaand it’s back to the rigorous realm of the right angle in the Skyline. Think of car interiors of the late ‘00s / early ‘10s and the ones we see in the newest cars – there are a few differences, sure. But nothing this drastic.

Interestingly enough, the Skyline’s IRS and DOHC engine make the older of these two cars the more advanced one from a purely technical standpoint. But that blocky shape does make for a more outdated look, compared to the curvaceous Ford. Call me beastly, but I think the Mustang is the beautiful one in this duo.


Related posts:


Curbside Classic: 1988 Nissan Skyline (R31) GTS Turbo Hardtop – At Least, It’s Not A Pintara, by T87

Curbside Classic: 1994 Mustang – The Car That Almost Wasn’t, by Greg Beckenbaugh

Curbside Classic: 1996 Ford Mustang Convertible – It Still Is What It Was, To Me, by Joseph Dennis