Whether you drive a 240SX, Honda Civic or any other Japanese tuner car, it's impossible to deny the allure of a GT-R. For almost all of us the Skyline is the holy grail of all automobiles; the holiest of which is undoubtedly the granddaddy Hakosuka. Tracing Godzilla's lineage all the way back to the start, we were blown away by BIKO Works' shop full of, among others, box Skylines.
GC10s are a very rare find here in the States with only a handful of examples resting on our shores and most, if not all, aren't real GT-Rs. In Japan they are almost equally as scarce, that is unless you know where to look. That's where shops like BIKO Works come into play. They specialize in the sales and modification of vintage Japanese cars, namely the Hakosuka. Upon arriving at the shop it takes everything you've got to avoid heart attack. Nestled just off the expressway in Chiba prefecture, BIKO Works stands proudly with three triple-wide bays displaying awe-inspiring classic j-tin.
They've been in business for over thirteen years and a quick look at their inventory explains why. Want a S30 Z car? No problem. How about a Kenmeri? You're in luck! DR30? Of course. Almost any old school sled you would ever want to drive they have on hand, and if they don't, they can find it. Looking for parts to complete your car? They most likely have it, for a small (no, make that big) fee. Unfortunately even a GT-R clone is going to be pricey - about two-million yen ($22,000) to get a foot in the door. They even have an authentic first-series PGC10 GT-R sedan for sale as you read this, but you're looking at an invoice of $77,500 before you get it out of the parking lot!
The business is the brainchild of a man who wishes to remain nameless. The shop is run by the owner and his daughter. His interest in cars, like many of us, stemmed from his youth when he was in junior high school. "I had begun to be interested in cars, naturally" he explains. Although there weren't any on site, the owner says his favorite car is actually a B110 Sunny Coupe (Datsun 1200 in the US) because it's "lightweight and the steering response is very good."
So why would a man with a limitless supply of cars decide to build a Hakosuka instead of virtually any other car? Without thinking twice he said "because Hakosuka GT-R is my hero!" Although very short, that sentence pretty much sums up the general Japanese feeling towards the car. This is their Camaro, their Corvette or their Mustang. Even the general public is not only aware of these cars but they respect them. It never became clearer to me than this year at TAS when I noticed young and old would stop in their tracks to be close and admire these machines while ignoring other tuner mobiles. Understanding this aspect of the car and the street-cred it emanates makes it even more desirable. It also helps you understand exactly why it's so difficult to get these vehicles out of Japan.
But what did this little car do to elevate its status from a humble driving machine into one of the most well-known cars of all time? It all goes back to technology and racing. The S20 engine (only found in Hakosuka GT-Rs, the über-rare Kenmeri GT-R and S30ZG "432") was a masterpiece of engineering in its day. A dual-overhead cam, six-cylinder engine with 24 valves was unheard of in the 1960s. The design was so good that it shares many similarities down the bloodline with the RB26 that would make the GT-R a household name.
With this new powerplant, the Nissan/Prince GT-R would go to battle with Mazda's Savanna RX-3, which had dominated Japan's race circuits of the day. With the introduction of the GT-R into the JAF racing series in 1969 the game was about to change. The GT-R won its first race on May 5th of 1969 and would continue to win almost every race thereafter, quickly tallying 50 wins in just less than three years.