Project Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 – Part 1: I finally have one!
The long awaited R33 Skyline GT-R. To me, looking at it never gets old. I don’t know what it is, but the R33 GT-R’s lines has always just fit my “car mold”.

I’m going to tell you a story—a story about a 46–year-old boy who never grew up and now (whether fortunately or unfortunately is up for debate) will never have to. It involves a 25-year-old dream to one day own an R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R.

In the spring of 1995, Pablito was 20 years old and in the prime of his life, when the March edition of Road & Track showed up in his mailbox. Therein was an article called “Distant Thunder – Altered States”.

This R&T article showcased a handful of overdone tuner cars from Japan, including a Supra, a couple of RX-7s, but also a subtle looking…wait…what is that? “What’s a Skyline GT-R?” he wondered. Having never heard of one, it looked super intriguing to him, especially since he was into “sleepers” back then. Pablito loved the looks of this thing, and his jaw started to slowly open in anticipation as he read on.
A few paragraphs into the article, R&T author Sam Mitani introduced the HKS-built “Zero R” Skyline. Pablito thought, “Is this the back end of another one? And what’s HKS? Look at that back end!” Until then, the Ferrari F40 was R&T’s King of the Hill, with a 0-60 and quarter-mile of 3.8 and 11.8 seconds, respectively (but it also looked the part). Conversely, to read about a tuned/sleeper four-seater Nissan that was doing those runs in 3.0 and 11.0 seconds, respectively…Pablito’s jaw dropped to the floor.
Two pages later, the author talked about the blue car from the two-page spread–a Greddy-built Skyline GT-R R32 “RX”, which reportedly hit 60 in 2.9 seconds, and rocketed down the quarter in 9.7 seconds—this was a street car…and in 1995! Poor Pablito was losing his mind!

You see, Pablito was already as excited as anyone could be with the recent arrival of the E36 BMW M3, but we’re also talkin’ 240 bhp here, and quarter-mile times in 14 seconds flat, at best. These Godzilla numbers messed with Pablito’s already swimming head. To top it off, it was only a few months later that he was further tortured with the learning of the next generation Skyline GT-R being released that year, the R33. The fact that everything he read meant these cars would never hit Stateside was simply, well, depressing.

He’d fallen for this next-generation R33, even more than the R32; just everything about it. The updated look seemed just right. He’d give anything to see his future with a “real” job and garage with this over-the-top sleeper tucked safely inside. Sadly, it was so far-fetched it was impossible to even perceive the vision. As far as he knew, he’d never be able to own an R33 Skyline—or any Skyline—for that matter.

[you can’t have it…you can’t have it…]

21 comments

  1. This was a really cool start to the project, looking forward to more updates. I don’t think I’ve seen an R33 in person yet, a couple guys in our area have R32s that made the trip overseas.

    Loved seeing all the old photos and magazine articles. A fun blast from the past, just like your last article on the Fikse wheels for Project Supra.

  2. In the last four-or-so years I’d only done 1 article (Nitto tires on Supra), and that was 2 years ago. These last four articles I worked on (Supra P19, and now GTR P1-3 articles) have happened in the the span of three weeks, and boy have I enjoyed doing them. The Nostalgia has made them extra special to me (and yes of course these are some awesome parts too!). So I thank you very much for your feedback, Andy! As you can see, I am far from exaggerating the excitement I have conveyed. Shoot, I even just got back from a little errand in the R33–maybe that’s why I’m rambling. 😊

  3. Have always a soft spot for R33’s over the others, I think it may be because of the original Gran Turismo. Just an amazing machine, back when Nissan was actually cool. Accidently found that color too when we did a quick respray of my stepdaughters old B14 5 years ago , was going for the R32 gunmetal and ended up with that one.

    1. Yes the original Gran Turismo games–the R33 400R was a special-win kind of car, if I recall. Not for certain. That was my fav. That’s a cool way to find that color, too. Yeah I didn’t know it had purple/blue in it until I got touch up paint here in KC, as that’s what it was called. Then it made sense when I saw it in the sunlight. I had it sitting next to a GM grey/anthracite and, yeah, they were nothing alike. Cool daughter-in-law 😉

  4. I am also looking for a R33. I remember going to Motorex back in the day and seeing Big Bird while it was still white with HKS logos and thinking it was the coolest car I have ever seen. I’ve had a 1990 R32 10 years ago, but dodging questions about the quasi legality of the car got old and I sold it.

    I have R35 now, but R33 need is Strong!

    1. I know that feeling! Fortunately, now you’ve got a lot of more reputable importers to choose from. If you’re in Cali, of course you’ve got Top Rank. Otherwise I enjoyed my dealings with SDR as well, who can also have a car imported for pick-up in TX in order to save a customer on shipping.

  5. Great read, thanks for sharing your enthusiasm and I’m looking forward to following the journey of the R33! Hope to see the car in person soon!

  6. My screen name has been nlzmo400r on every forum since forums were a thing. I thoroughly approve of this purchase.

  7. Congratulations! I feel like the R33 is the sweet spot between the old-school R32 and the forcefully-modernized R34.
    It’s the only one of the three that looks most like an actual coupe not a 2-door sedan.

  8. I am very jealous. As a GranTurismo fan boy growing up. It was all about the Skylines. And the r33 has always been my favorite looking. Them hips, the curves…it could weight 10,000lbs and have a 3cyl diesel wouldn’t care. I wanted one and was saving up to buy one then well…got married…started a family, bought a house and well now I play with $300 cars. Such is life.

    1. Agreed and, while we feel your pain, that part of life will always be more important (as you surely already know). Thanks for chiming in!

    1. thanks Joe. Yes in the next piece we discuss the Falken tires. they’ve been awesome. Actually, just checked and it’s live today!

    1. Thanks for the compliments, Kevin. If you’re referring to the two suspension pics on the bottom of Page4, actually that is the front and rear, respectively (notice in the bottom pic you can just start to see the exhaust pipe on the lower right). And if I misread your comment, apologies.

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