Project Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 – Part 1: I finally have one!
I’ve been enjoying the GT-R since the late Summer. Nearly every time I went out in it, the car would get approached by Kansas youngsters who’d never seen a GT-R (but they knew what it was). It’s allowed me to meet a lot of new people. It amazes me how many of these teenagers know what it is—after all, this car is older than they are. I didn’t expect that.

Driving it has simply been a pleasure. I hadn’t driven an R33 GT-R since 2008 at a photoshoot I did (pics of that on the last page), so I didn’t have much to compare it to in my mind, now 12 years later. The transmission feel is something I didn’t anticipate being so smooth. I love the factory 5-speed on this GT-R. The clutch is a Nismo unit, and it provides just the right feel for street use. Everything about it is just seems solid.

The car’s interior was in seemingly great condition for its unknown mileage (the odometer read 48k km—or 30k mi—but it’s probably unlikely). I was pleasantly surprised, as most of the Skyline GT-Rs I’d come across at shows seemed fairly used up inside. The seats maintained their firmness, and are both uniquely comfortable for this 5-fooot-9-in, 170-lb frame, and also very sporty for stock seat.
Ah, the famous RB26 DETT 2.6-liter inline-six engine, with iron block, and aluminum head, and six throttle bodies. I knew I was going to eventually swap the OE twin turbo setup out so I didn’t mind this one being already equipped with a single turbo. But the Boost Logic 67mm is too big for my goals. To better compliment what I’m going for, we’ve already ordered one of the EFR units from Borg Warner! The previous owner reportedly had the engine resealed and—as we can see here—also the valve covers painted. I also liked that it came with a Koyorad radiator, which keeps my driving temps in the 150s. The R33 also has a factory solid strut tower bar with no hinges to stiffen the upper chassis (as well as a few underneath), and that’s the same, screw-together style bar that I’d only seen on a BMW M3 Lightweight (and those bars were expensive).
Upon receiving the GT-R, I wasted no time sending it to MKC Performance. While I was stoked on the fact this car was already equipped with an AEM Infinity Series 7 EMS, making it my fourth car now with an AEM EMS (and my third Infinity), we have to keep a stock ECU in the car if we’re to run it on a public highway, as all AEM EMS systems are for “off road use only”. At MKC, owner and tuner Chad Charlton got a couple of things working through the AEM EMS the prior owner’s tuner had left me without, mainly the AC and tachometer.
The wiring harness was a custom job and not a plug-and-play harness from AEM, unfortunately, and we didn’t have the schematics. At least Chad approved of the wiring job, but we’ll have our work cut out finding where various components are wired now before we go to real testing.


  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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