You hear or read "Nissan Skyline" and you can't help but to visualize an R32 or 34 draped in the requisite JDM aero and packing a powerful RB under a vented hood just begging to pound the concrete through all four wheels. And, if you don't immediately conjure up the thoughts listed above, you might automatically turn to the cuter, slightly more boxy, yet legitimately legendary Hakosuka. It's completely natural—we get it. However, it's the often forgotten, quirky, '70s-era Skyline that Nissan found great retail success with that's rarely regarded.
Television commercials in the '70s and '80s were by far the most effective form of moving product. Long before paid social media ads, awkward podcast script reads, and digital influencers, bombarding viewers with imagery and a strategic narrative were the keys to success. Coming off of a very successful motorsport effort with the Hakosuka, Nissan's next generation Skyline ad campaign was to be based on an American (at least in appearance) couple named Ken and Mary who, in the series of commercials, appeared to be enjoying the countryside, taking in some fresh air and doing a bit of exploring. While it doesn't sound like much in terms of selling a then new Skyline, the idea proved to be right on target as the C110 Skyline was a huge seller for the brand and inherited the nickname "KenMeri," after the ads seemed to take on a life of their own.
The GT-R version of the KenMeri chassis was extremely short-lived (just over six months in production), being that it came into play during a tumultuous time in global history due to an oil crisis and stricter emissions standards that followed had people leaning toward gas economy rather than performance offerings. The result, less than 200 GT-R models ever sold. Today, the lower tier models are what you'll typically find under a series of restomod updates that will often include GT-R-esque bits as an ode to the ultra-limited flagship of that era.
Noriaki Miyamoto of Common Snapper and Barramundi Wheels fame wasn't at all in search of any level of the '70s icon. In fact, he was quite content scooting around in his nicely built S30 Z-car 8 years ago when a good friend of his who actually owned a Kenmeri offered to let him take it for a spin. Call it love at first drive, purely impulsive, or just plain converted, Noriaki was hooked and knew right away that he'd be a Kenmeri owner before too long.
The aftermath of that joyride is what you see pictured, after years of tinkering, restoring and tastefully modding. More often than not, restoring an older car like this means replacing gaskets and seals under the hood in an attempt to keep it roadworthy. In Noriaki's case, it meant ditching the factory pistons for high-compression slugs to work with new H-beam rods and up top, titanium retainers and a new cam were added to the list of items you can't see. What you can see, once the hood's been popped, are the Jenvey individual throttle bodies that cast a shadow over a custom exhaust manifold on one side and Ignition Projects coils on the other. All of this is controlled by Motec management and surrounded by far more visible sheet metal than Nissan intended as anything deemed unnecessary has been deleted or relocated and old, weathered hardware has been updated after the fresh paint dried for a clean finish.
The expertly laid paint continues on the car's exterior, highlighted by restored headlights and factory chrome pieces, offset only by black fender flares that cover the wheel and tire package. Speaking of the rolling attire, being that Noriaki has his own wheel brand, it was only right that he fit his Skyline with Barramundi Design "Bester" style wheels in matte bronze—a step away from the machined look that the Barramundi line is synonymous with.
A look inside the cabin reveals a classic brown and black theme that suits the car's birth era and, like most cars from this time, wires in the dash sit proudly in plain sight. Being a car that gets driven regularly, a selection of gauges on a switch panel mounted to the center console help keep tabs on the built mill.
Noriaki Miyamoto never intended to own a KenMeri of his own, but a quick encounter in the driver's seat was all it took for him to change direction. Eight years later, his version of Nissan's 40-plus year old television commercial success is a prime example of just how good an often-overlooked chassis can be when in the right hands.