Lake Tahoe, Nevada - In 1969 my family and I moved from South Carolina to Tokyo, Japan. The same year, the Nissan Gran Tourismo racecar (GT-R) was introduced as a trimline on the Skyline in Japan. I was in Junior high school when Nissan put the GT-R on their coupe. I stayed in Japan for four years, graduating from Chofu high school. It would over 30 years before the GT-R finally migrated to the United States.
The GT-R made its name in 1989 when it got its very own badging, the Nissan Skyline GT-R, twin turbo, all-wheel drive. The three models that followed, the R32, R33 and R34 won all the Japanese races they entered. The car was dubbed the Godzilla, because it crushed the other cars in those races.
Nissan has done a great job with their continuously variable transmission (CVT), especially on the larger engines. On th GT-R, even though it is an all-wheel drive, the power is in the rear. The GT-R showcases the all-new Premium Midship package. Nissan has placed the engine behind the front axle. This platform enables the use of the world's first independent rear transaxle all-wheel drive system. The power - the transmission, transfer case and final drive are all located at the rear of the vehicle. The CVT has sensors that know when to shift at least 50 % power to all the wheels, which is good since there is downforce at every corner. The weight distribution on the GT-R is 53% front/47% rear.
The suspension is a Bilstein DampTronic suspension system with a double-wishbone up front, and a multi-link in the rear. The body is in Tochigi, Japan where there is a lot of hand-tuning done to ensure complete welding, says Peter Bedrosian, Nissan's North America product manager
The 3.8-liter twin turbo V-6, VR-series engine is handbuilt in a clean room in Yokohama, Japan.
You know this is a serious sportscar because it has three modes: normal, sports car and race car, or godzillaaaaaa. With that much testosterone running through it's hairy veins it needs the 15-inch slotted brembo brakes Nissan gave it. There are radial-mounted Brembo mono block six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers with full-floating 15 inch, 2-piece, cross-drilled rotors and low-steel high stiffness brake pads on the GT-R.
We stopped into the Reno Fernley racetrack for a couple of hotlaps with Steve Millen. The tires are GT-R-specific lightweight forged aluminum 20-inch wheels, with special bead knurling GT-R specific Nitrogen-filled Bridgestone high-performance summer run-flat tires, 255/40ZRF20 front, 285/35ZRF20 rear; Dunlop all-season tires are available, but why use them when you can get the full racing effect with the tires made for a car.
When we were in Cascais, Portugal with Nissan I met Kazutoshi Mizuno, chief engineer for the Nissan GT-R. Mizuno "We are in the presence of a legend" is how one Nissan representative introduced Kazutoshi Mizuno. Mizuno is said to have picked the team to help him design and manufacture the Nissan GT-R.
Mizuno took pride in the new carbon fiber piece that was produced by Toray company. Toray produces sixty percent of the carbon fiber in the world, and has an agreement with Nissan to start producing carbon fiber pieces for their cars. The piece is lightweight, but sturdy, in case of an accident, something Mizuno says he has not experienced in the car as of yet.
Mizuno took me through the entire car, highlighting the difference in the two compartments: the driver's racing cockpit and the luxury of the passenger seating, with "handbag or leather coat" feel.
What was the most difficult part of building this car for Mizuno? The mind set, the thought process of the developers. It was easy to get the people to change car parts, but it was more difficult to get them to understand that this was a totally different car.
Welcome to America Godzilla - the legend lives.