There are Skylines and then there are Skylines. Oh sure, the R33 and R34 GT-Rs get all the glory, but some other cars wearing this exalted badge slip under the radar. Here's one. It's a '90 R32 GTS-t Type M coupe: one of the less-celebrated Skylines that Japanese tuning shop Sun Line Racing must have acquired for a song. Right before the tech monkeys started to make sweet music with it.
Okayama's finest has done it again. And not in the most obvious way. The GTS left the Tochigi factory with a venerable 2.0-liter RB20DET inline-six in its engine bay, good for around 212 hp and 194 lb-ft of torque. An unimaginative tuner might have decided to keep the silken power delivery that comes with a straight-six and just upgrade its components. Or maybe slap a GT-R-derived RB26DETT in there. The Sun Line operation might be called many things, but unimaginative isn't one of them.
Here's an example of less being more. Out went the RB, and in came an SR20DET-which is, of course, a four-cylinder powerplant. Two less cylinders mean less mass. And naturally, a lighter nose means livelier steering and a more advantageous weight distribution throughout the whole car (the R32 has a reputation for being smaller and more nimble than its successors, anyway).
This 2.0-liter gem didn't escape some serious attention before taking its rightful place, however. Let's start with the sexy stuff: the forced-induction system. At its heart is an HKS GT2853R ball-bearing turbocharger, perched on a Sun Line Racing manifold. HKS is also the name on the stainless steel wastegate, while the trusty Trust company is responsible for the blow-off valve. A Blitz Dual Solenoid Boost Controller (DSBC) holds the electronic reins, and temperatures are kept in check through the services of an intercooler and pipes from ARC.
Spinning in the head are Tomei Poncam intake and exhaust bumpsticks (with 11.5 mm lift and 256 degrees of duration), Tomei cam gears, and Tomei valve springs holding the remaining componentry together. Spark is handled by an HKS F-Con V Pro stand-alone engine management unit and NGK Racing plugs. Delicious, nutritious petrol comes up through a Tomei 255lph fuel pump, into a Nismo fuel pressure regulator and mists up the combustion chambers via Sard 600cc/minute injectors. Sun Line produced the radiator and the diversion panels, calling on Samco Sport for the hoses. A Sun Line-fabricated titanium exhaust system carries spent gases through a Sard catalytic converter. Meanwhile, down by the sump is an ARC oil pan.
Sun Line's ministrations have resulted in a claimed 400 ps (which converts to about 405.5 hp). And since this car has been developed for both street and track, the tuner claims a lap time of one minute, 41 seconds at the Okayama National Circuit-a little off from the lap record of 1:14:23 held by one Michael Schumacher in a Benetton Formula One car (this track was the venue for his '94 and '95 Pacific Grand Prix wins), but still quite respectable for covering the 2.3-mile course.
Type M models are rear-wheel drive and this one's back axles receive torque from an OS Giken five-speed transmission and cross gear set. Just before the 'box is an Exedy twin-plate carbon clutch, paired with an Exedy flywheel; at the other end is an ATS two-way limited-slip differential.
After the locomotion comes the motion. A Crux suspension joins Sun Line pillow-ball mounts and rear suspension members from an S15 to hold this Skyline in shape. And tracking the racing line are Buddy Club P1 Racing wheels, sized 17x9 and running a plus-20mm offset at each corner. When it's time to call a halt, a set of Brembo front brakes from an R34 GT-R snaps into action, biting 300mm rotors with four-piston calipers, fed by Sun Line's own braided stainless steel brake lines.
There's a nice and simple, almost classic look to the exterior. But the whole story is more complex. The body is reinforced with rivets. Sun Line has been known to apply about 2,000 of them in similar applications, so that would be a good ballpark here. Other bodywork includes Nismo side skirts and front bumper, and a C-West GT rear wing fashioned from carbon fiber. The cabin is a cool place to be, especially in those ultra-snug Bride Zeta II bucket seats, and the wheel is from the iconic Nardi brand-all this car needs is a cassette player to really kick it old school.
Sun Line's reason for building this car is to see how an SR engine would feel in an R32 body. That's it. And from what they tell us, it feels pretty damn good. A few unanswered questions remain: what about the gauges, the front strut brace, tires, etc? Sadly, they'll have to stay that way. Just think of it as contributing to the combined aura of a 20th-century Skyline and Sun Line Racing.
Behind The Build
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SR20DET swap; HKS F-Con V Pro ECU, GT2853R turbocharger, wastegate; Tomei Poncam camshafts, cam gears, fuel pump; Trust blow-off valve; Nismo fuel pressure regulator; ARC intercooler, pipes, oil pan; Blitz DSBC boost controller; NGK spark plugs; SLR manifold, radiator, radiator diversion panels, titanium exhaust; Samco Sport hoses; Sard 600cc/min. fuel injectors, catalytic converter
OS Giken five-speed transmission with cross gear set; Exedy twin-plate carbon clutch, flywheel
Crux coilovers; S15 rear suspension members; SLR pillow-ball mounts
17x9 +20 offset Buddy Club P1 Racing wheels
R34 GT-R Brembo four-piston calipers, 300mm rotors (front)
Nismo front bumper, side skirts; C-West GT carbon wing
Bride Zeta II seats; Nardi steering wheel
Sun Line Racing
Don't worry about it, junior
Tuners, race prep
Kicking ass, chewing gum
Deep, dark secret
"Hey corrmann-san, aren't we out of gum?"