1995 Nissan Skyling R33 GT-R V-spec Review

Some people say that you should never meet your heroes, or that you should never own your dream car. They say this because, most of the time, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

I wouldn't know about the meeting your heroes part, but this is what I can offer you on owning your dream car. It's not always true. Sometimes, you aren't disappointed.

My fascination with the BCNR33 Skyline GT-R goes back about 11 years when I was stationed at Command Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan. I was in the Navy, still fairly new, and now living in another country, very, very far from home. I had a few friends that were into the car scene, so I got to keep my passion for cars alive, living vicariously through them. One guy, in particular, had a car that caught my eye the first time I saw it, a 1998 BCNR33 GT-R in Super Black. It was at that point I fell in love with that car, and I told myself that someday I would own a car just like it.

I knew a little about the Skyline from a few friends, and of course because of Gran Turismo. But, I didn't really know about its history. During the course of the next 10 years, I started studying up on the Skyline and GT-R's history. Which brings us to today.

I bought my BCNR33 GT-R last October, and to be honest, I still get thrilled every time I look at my car. Not a day goes by that I don't look at it and think, "Man, my car looks beautiful."

First off, let's start on its appearance.

The wide flared fenders up front, the long sloping bonnet, the gaping mouth holding the stock front mount intercooler, the front lower lip with ports to direct airflow to the large diameter Brembo brakes. The sleek, curved lines that flow to the back to a narrowed rear deck with an adjustable rear spoiler to increase or
decrease downforce. The slightly bulged rear fenders and lower side skirts. And of course, the Midnight Purple color scheme. This gives the car an appearance of a wolf in sheepís clothing.

Although the R33's younger and older brother seem to command more respect in the visual department, the BCNR does have its fans. Its looks do not always appeal to most of the tuner world, and because of its longer wheelbase for increased interior room, it tends to be on the heavier side. But over all, I think that the
BCNR33 GT-R is the better looking of the three. (BNR32, BCNR33, BNR34). It looks like a more sophisticated car over the other two's brutal looks.

Now, let's talk about the interior.

There is nothing that is unneeded in this car. The dash is a simple analog layout that displays your engine revs and speed in large gauges. Also included in the dash is your engine temp, fuel and oil pressure. On the center console, just below the HVAC controls, are three auxiliary gauges for front torque, oil temperature, and boost. Very simple layout, and the most essential gauges you would need...for a stock car, that is.

The HVAC controls are pretty straightforward with push buttons to control the temp, fan and fan locations for ventilation. A digital display tells you the settings of the above options in a clear, easy to see green display.

On the steering column, you have your turn signal stalk which is also the control for your headlights and hi/low beams. Simple, nothing fancy. The other side has your wiper control stalk with three settings; intermittent, low, high. There is a turn knob on the end to control the speed for the intermittent setting. Pulling the stalk towards you activates the wiper fluid jets on the hood. Just behind that is a knob for controlling the rear wiper (as a side note, I have never understood having a rear wiper on a sports car), also with three settings, but with an unadjustable intermittent setting. Turning the dial all the way towards you is what activates the wiper fluid spray. Again, simplicity.

Moving through the cockpit layout, there is a switch right about where your left knee would reside that operates your rear antenna. It is used to raise the antenna to full height, or to lower to half height. Mine doesn't work as I have an aftermarket radio and have no use for the antenna, so I didn't hook it up.

Move to the driverís door, and the power window control panel is, again, simple. There are only a few switches to concern yourself with. Driver and passenger windows, power window lock, and door lock/unlock switch. Notice a pattern here? Simple!

Just above that switch panel, on the right side of the dash pad, is the final set of switches. The ones for your mirrors. Power folding mirrors are one of the neatest things on cars, but some cars have a switch system that is a bit confusing. On the GT-R, it's a simple 4 way toggle for adjusting up and down and left to right. There is a three position switch for left mirror adjustment, center for no adjustment, and right for right mirror adjustment. Just to the right of that is the switch for folding the mirrors in or out. It should only be a two position switch, but strangely enough, it has a three position switch. Full left is mirrors in, center position is a neutral position, but it can also be used to stop the mirrors in mid fold. Full right is mirrors out. Simple, yet effective.

Now, let's talk comfort.

The BCNR33's seats aren't the most comfortable seats to ever grace a sports car, but they aren't the worst. They offer great side bolster support for medium G cornering, but I don't honestly think they could keep you firmly planted in your seat under hard lateral Gs.

There is good adjustment as far as front to back, but the seatback adjustment can get quite cumbersome. There are only two positions. Up and reclined. To adjust the seatback height, you have knob on the right side that turns clockwise to go forward and counter clockwise to go backward. It does have very fine adjustment, so you can set it just perfectly to fit your desires. The only drawback I find with this system is that after a few weeks of getting in and out, sometimes the seatback will shift backwards, so I have to make a small adjustment to get it back where I like it. Same goes for the passenger seat, as the GT-R has the exact same setup on the other side.

Now, the most interesting thing about the interior comfort of the BCNR33 GT-R is its rear seating. There is more room in the back seat of a BCNR33 GT-R than any of its predecessors or successors. I am two inches shy of 6' and I fit nicely in the back and have plenty of leg room, and this is without sacrificing the front passengerís comfort. I have never seen any other sports car or GT car with rear seats that have that much room and comfort. Overall, it's actually one of the most comfortable cars I have ever owned/driven, considering what its intended purpose is.


The BCNR33 GT-R was the first GT-R to offer Brembo brake rotors and calipers as standard equipment. In the BNR32, you could only get Brembos with the Nismo or V-Spec / V-Spec II option. Engineers at Nissan thought that in order to keep up with the Jones', they had to be able to stop with them as well, so the Brembos became standard. They do a good job of stopping you at highway speeds, but I am sure, just like any non-racing brake setup, after hard use, you could start to experience brake fade.

Suspension is firm, but not unbearable, although the V-Spec is a bit more harsh than the standard BCNR GT-R. The spring rates are a little heavier and the ride height is about an inch lower than standard. But, the BCNR33 does a good job of staying glued to the corners while keeping body roll to a minimum, but that could also be helped by standard front and rear strut tower braces, as well as a rear body brace in the trunk.

The standard tire size for a normal BCNR33 was 235/45/17 on 17"X8" wheels. Mine currently runs 265/35/18 at all four corners on Yokohama AVS VS5 wheels in 18"X9.5". Sticking to the road is pretty much the goal here, and mine does a damned fine job of it.

Another point of sticking to the road is the BCNR33 GT-Rs ATESSA E-TS system. In the standard GT-R, it's the same system as the BNR32 and BNR34, but in the V-Spec model, it's an upgraded version; ATESSA E-TS Pro, the main difference being an Active LSD in the rear. It also uses a 4 wheel independent channel ABS system to make sure hard stops are straight and true.

I really don't drive too frantically in my car, but the few times of spirited driving through the mountains or on the highways, the BCNR33 GT-R V-Spec is a quite capable car in terms of stock suspension handling Ė Itís a car that is very confident for its weight.

The ATESSA E-TS Pro system is also a great system, with sensors monitoring all four wheels in rapid time. When it engages on hard launches or in cornering, it will take you wherever you point the front of the car with your steering wheel, and it does it so smoothly, that when the front wheels do actively engage, you hardly notice.

Now, on to the most important part. PERFORMANCE!

The RB26DETT isn't the best motor in the world, but it's right up there with the best. Its power comes on strong at around 2500RPM and pulls most all the way to redline at 8000RPM. When the twins come on to full boost at 0.8KG, you can feel the power pull you back into the seat. Acceleration under full throttle is incredible, especially for a car that weighs in at a little over 3600LBS.

The parallel turbos make power smoothly from start to finish and seem to do so effortlessly. Even in stock form, the RB26 is a motor that will surprise you if you aren't accustomed to it. It took me a few months before I was really pushing the motor past what I was used to with my former car. I still haven't really taken it to the edge, but that's partly because I don't want to have something break then be stuck footing the bill for expensive repairs.

The GT-R is a car that really is a joy to drive. Every time I get behind the wheel, I feel like I did the first time. Not many cars can make you feel that way, even almost a year later.

Now, here's my rating on the car to date. I will judge things on a scale from 1 to 5, 5 being the best.

Exerior appearance: 5 (Hey, it's my car, I am biased!)
Interior appearance: 4 (While simple, it's almost too plain looking.)
Interior comfort; front: 4 (Long drives are kind of tiresome. Short trips around Tokyo are good.)
Interior comfort; rear: 5 (The back seat is actually very comfy and roomy.)
Handeling: 4 (The car is heavy, and under hard cornering, it shows. The suspension is good, but not that good.)
Performance: 4 (The engine is quite powerful, but in the hands of the wrong people, it could be a dangerous combination.)

Overall the car scores a 26/30. Pretty decent in my book.

I plan on keeping the car for quite a while, so I'll be sure to keep you all updated on how things go in the future.

Written by Neal Hartman (Gold Digger)

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