Most petrolheads will tell you there’s always been that one car they’ve owned which they regret selling to this very day. So what do you do to solve this? You go out and buy another one! At least that’s what this weeks Re:Fuelers Rides contributor, Rich, went and did. But who can blame him… it’s a Skyline!
I bought this car in the Spring of 2012 after regretting selling a black one I had a couple of years before. This one was bought as a non turbo GTS model in Nissan KH2 Gun Grey Metallic. The car had been imported to the UK in 1997, meaning it has now spent more time in the UK than it did in its home country. It had very low mileage and was relatively original, with the addition of Tein coilovers, some Rota wheels and a GTR front bumper, grill and aluminium bonnet. My previous Skyline was a turbo GTST model, but even without a turbo, this one was in great condition and, compared to current values, was an absolute steal!
I love a turbo so it didn’t stay naturally aspirated for long, and over the Christmas break of 2012 a turbo’d RB20DET was swapped in, along with a front mount intercooler and stainless steel exhaust.
The non-turbo model R32 comes with 4 stud hubs and tiny front brakes, so these were upgraded to 5 studs hubs and front discs and callipers from an R32 GTR, which also meant a new set of wheels, which were the same spec and model of Rota (Grid Drifts), but with an extra stud hole in them. An S13 limited slip diff also got fitted to replace the original open diff, although that one did get welded up at one point. The power increase was pretty significant and I was happy to be in, what was essentially, a GTST again.
The outside of the car was next in line for improvement, being many different shades of grey, although it would be a little while until this got dealt with. By summer 2014 I was ready to get started with making it look better. GTST Type M side skirts and a GTR foot spoiler had been added in the meantime, so all that was needed was some small repairs to the bodywork and some new paint. This is when it was decided to go red, Mazda True red. The car was painted over a month by a friend in his home garage, which is only a bit wider than a standard single garage. The results were amazing and I couldn’t have been happier. A lot of effort and money went into finding parts and replacing anything that needed to be – one extortionately expensive set of parts I remember was the front and rear windscreen rubbers, along with the door window trims, which had to be sourced from Japan.
The car was always used daily, summer and winter, until 2015 when a classic Mercedes took over the driving to work duties following a minor accident in traffic one morning. Things took a turn for the worse in 2017 when a failed MOT and subsequent investigation showed up a lot of rust. Daily driving it for so long had really taken its toll on the old Japanese steel. This started a year long restoration of the floor, sills and rear wheel arches and wells – which required fibreglass over fenders to be fitted as replacement steel panels were way beyond my reach at the time. All the work was carried out in spare time with lots of help from my soon to be father in law and brother in law. The car was back on the road in time to be at our wedding where I got married to Kim, in August 2018, which was always our deadline for getting it done.
The front inner wheel arches were restored by myself over the winter of 2019 and into 2020, these were nowhere near as bad as the rear half of the car, with this being finished at the beginning of lockdown, ready for some socially distanced drives over the summer.
Working in the aftermarket wheel industry, wheels have always been an important part of all of my cars. After the Rota’s I found a set of OZ Futuras in need of refurbishment. I rebuilt and resized these to 17”x10” which fitted perfectly. These ended up making their way to the States after a very good offer to sell them. Then some fifteen52 Tarmacs were fitted until recently when these were replaced with some custom split rims from Image Wheels, complete with centre lock adapters – centre locks being something I’ve wanted to have for a long time, this along with the white centres being a nod to the early 90’s Japanese Touring Cars.
Inside the car there are a few subtle changes too. Integra Type R Recaros have been installed on custom subframes along with a nicely worn Nardi steering wheel and period correct Alpine head unit. There are also some very rare original Nismo parts in there too – boost gauge, gear knob and horn button. Other Japan-only parts include the illuminated Carrozzeria rear speakers, the hard to find limited edition floor mats and the original Nissan optional air purifier. These took a long time to find at the right prices, but this the best part for me – the hunt.
That’s about it. This car will never be finished, and I can’t ever see it being sold. Some engine modifications will hopefully get sorted next year, but I’m not in any rush and it’s more than enough fun as it is. It’s been all over the country to show and on holiday, my boy Harry is obsessed with it and our 6 month old Charlie seems to like it too – the noise doesn’t make him cry at least!
To anyone looking to buy one, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it given the current prices, but 10 to 15 years ago I think you would struggle to find a better car of this type for the money. If you really, really want one, drive one and see if you feel the same way I do. I think they are great cars, way beyond any comparable cars from other manufacturers, outside of Japan anyway, from the same era. The sounds it makes and the overall feel on the road is so enjoyable to me, quick but not ridiculously fast, comfortable but not boring, good handling without being too harsh. It’s far from perfect, but it’s my version, and my vision, of what I want from a car.
But this is all just my opinion, I love this car and I am definitely biased towards it, it’s been a part of my life for some time now, and is now part of our family.
Thanks for reading, Rich.
Engine: 2 litre, turbocharged inline 6
Top Speed: 150ish?
0-62mph Time: 6secs maybe??
Weight: no idea!
Additional Mods: yeah, quite a few!