As North American automotive enthusiasts, there are few cars that carry the allure of the Nissan Skyline. Perhaps one of the all-time greatest series of vehicles, not only are these cars (namely GT-R models) fantastic examples of engineering and mechanical mastery, but until very recently, those of us on this side of the Pacific were tortuously denied access to them.
There is much debate surrounding the reason as to why Nissan decided to deny sales of the Skyline to the U.S. and Canada, but regardless of the judgment, the fact remains that we got screwed. So what’s a boy to do if he must simply have a Skyline? You can attempt to import a car (older than 15 years in Canada and older than 25 years in the U.S. is legal) or you can go another route — move to Japan.
Richard Payne is an expat living in Yokosuka, Japan. As active military, he knows that he’ll be there for a couple years, and because he has been a car nut for quite some time, the new realm of possibilities had him giggling at the idea of what to do when he first arrived. “I have been modifying and working on cars since I was a kid, but got ‘serious’ about it in about 2001,” Richard says. “My now brother-in-law was a huge influence on this Detroit-born-and-raised boy getting into imports at that time — I learned a lot from him. I even became a Subaru technician at one point during a break in military service from how much he taught me.” After owning several notable cars, including a ’04 Subaru STI, ’01 Honda Prelude and Sportcar Motion–built K-swapped Integra (which Richard still has stored in a garage back at home in the U.S.) Richard knew he wanted something different. Something that he could not easily get back home, so the GT-R was an easy choice.
“I chose this car since it was one of my dream cars, and it was a good price; I would have got an R34, but with my limited time here, I decided to keep it ‘cheap’” Richard says with a laugh. Richard’s R32 GT-R is a good example of how you can build a car for what some might call temporary enjoyment. Because he has to leave Japan in a couple years, he doesn’t want to get too invested in the build, both financially and emotionally. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring, though — Richard has kept his GT-R very simple and performance based. The only exterior signs that this car is anything other than stock are the SSR wheels and a few small Nismo body pieces. That’s just fine, though, because the bodylines are so good that not much is needed. The passenger cabin is minimalistic and functional as well, with a Bride Zeta 3 seat holding Richard in place on track and through the back roads. A Momo steering wheel, a couple of gauges and a nicely upgraded stereo finish off the interior treatment.
On the performance side of things, Richard has kept the engine stock internally, again a result of not being able to own the car forever. A fully cat-less HKS exhaust and Tomei exhaust manifold improve flow drastically compared to stock, and with a few fuel and cooling modifications, the Mine’s tuned ECU really makes this car scream.
“My future plans with this GT-R are to clean it up some more (it was really rough before) by repainting the front end, more new interior bits and major detail in the engine bay,” Richard tells us. “As far as power goes, I’m going to keep it pretty mild since I only have a short time with this car anyway. If I upgrade the turbochargers I will keep it twin-turbo and go the N1 turbo (or similar) route.
“For now, I just enjoy the car as my daily driver. I will be getting out on Fuji Speedway when it gets a little warmer out for some real fun!” Must be nice, Richard — we’re officially jealous. Enjoy the car as much as you can, and maybe in a few short years you can bring another one here to the U.S.
Why We Picked It
With what essentially equates to a stock body, there are certainly more eye-catching GT-Rs out there. However, we care more about the performance modifications, and we like that Richard kept it simple on the outside. Plus, as natives of the “other” side of the Pacific, we are GT-R deprived; there’s a soft spot for a clean R32 in all of our hearts here in the office.
Specs & Details
'90 Nissan Skyline GT-R
Engine Nissan RB26DETT twin-turbocharged inline-6
Engine Modifications HKS intakes, after-cat exhaust, cat-less downpipes & spark plugs; Tomei exhaust manifolds; Nismo timing belt; Koyo radiator; Samco hoses; Billion radiator cap; Nismo fuel injectors; Splitfire coil packs
Engine Management Mines tuned ECU
Drivetrain Rebuilt rear differential
Suspension Bilstein shocks; Mines springs; Cusco sway bars (f/r); Nismo strut tower bars (f/r); new front wheel bearings
Interior Bride Zeta 3 seat, low rail, knee pads; Momo wheel; Nismo horn button, boost gauge, titanium GT shift knob; Works Bell quick release hub; blue-stitched e-brake boot; Assura mirror w/ built-in police/hazards detector; Alpine head unit, speakers, 10" subwoofer
Exterior Nismo air ducts, side & rear spats; carbon-fiber rain guards
Wheels, Tires & Brakes SSR Type C RS wheels 17x9.5" +22mm; Advan AD08 tires 255/45R17; Desmond Regamaster wheels 17x9.5" +22