Despite the fact that the Nissan Skyline GT-R is one of the most popular Japanese sports cars among road racers, tuners, and lap attack specialists, it was never manufactured for exportation into the United States. It was designed primarily as a Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) vehicle, although it was exported to Hong Kong, Australia (where it was nicknamed “GODZILLA“), New Zealand, and briefly to the U.K. While the Skyline is considered among the elite performance machines in the world, it lacks certain qualifying characteristics regarding exhaust emissions and safety related components necessary for import and operation in the United States.
Many of today’s most innovative tuners are turning to JDM parts, and in rare cases whole cars or car sections. Typically JDM Nissan, Honda, Subaru, and Toyota vehicles feature more advanced turbochargers, less restrictive exhaust systems, and a fuel injection strategy that is suited more for performance then efficiency. As a result of the right hand drive design of JDM vehicles, and the manner in which turbocharged exhaust systems fit together with rack and pinion units and steering columns, using the entire JDM body or sub-section can become a necessary evil. Naturally, cars that operate on U.S. highways benefit greatly from having a U.S. serial number. Cars without U.S. vehicle identification numbers (V.I.N.) are not legal to operate on the street.
An auto importer out of Palm Harbor, Florida called Montu Motors is proud to announce that on August 2, 2014 they brought the first legal 1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R into the U.S. by using a stipulation to the U.S. Customs ordinance that has kept these JDM cars off American soil since their inception. The 25-year stipulation says that after a car reaches the age of 25-years it may be imported into the U.S. regardless of EPA, DOT, NHTSA, or FMVSS standing. As far as anyone knows, Montu Motors is the first importer to take advantage of the 25-year rule. They staged the car’s crossing of the U.S./Canadian border at 12-midnight so that it could cross exactly 25-years after its assembly in Japan.
The car is a 1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R R32. What makes it so special? Let’s begin with the engine. It is a twin turbocharged 2.6-liter inline-six-cylinder that produces 276-horsepower from the factory. It is widely accepted that it rates closer to 325-horsepower but according to the guidelines of a gentlemen’s agreement between Japanese automakers it remains under 300.These cars were known for their distinct lack of turbo-lag. It was avoided by utilizing hybrid turbochargers made of ceramic and steel. The lightweight ceramic exhaust wheel allowed the turbocharger to spool up quicker at lower RPMs to yield mind blowing acceleration.
It is also equipped with an electronically controlled all-wheel drive system called the ATTESA E-TS. This system, which was highly advanced for its time, places 2 G sensors underneath the center console. These sensors feed longitudinal and lateral inputs to the PCM which would in turn regulate the amount of power to be delivered to the front axle, via a torque splitter. This allowed the majority of the engine torque to be routed to the front wheels if the rear wheels broke traction, effectively pulling the car back into line and stability.
Montu Motors hopes to begin importing and selling the Nissan Skyline GT-R with some degree of regularity. It will be interesting to observe the coming months to see where the demand and price of these vehicles tops out.