Skyline: The Beast from the East


Dave Vitty experienced the Skyline in full beast mode...

There are times when I genuinely have to pinch myself.

I like cars and bikes. I’ve always liked cars and bikes, and so to be in a position where my job is to go off with one of my best mates of 25 years, and make lovely little films about cars and bikes for the nice people at Influx, is pretty good really.

Our latest automotive adventure saw us focus our attentions towards the Far East. Not King’s Lynn, which is the home of this publication, but even further east beyond the Norfolk shores to a land of rising suns and mythical legends, more commonly known as Japan. When you think of Japan and their cars, you tend to associate them with practicality and reliability, which is why you’ll often see grey hair piloting the Jazz or Micra in front you doing 27 miles per hour. They’re the sensible option, and as such have been the geriatrics cars of choice for many years. However, not everything that comes out of Japan is sensible. There lurks beneath their mild mannered exterior, a darker side. A side somewhere between madness and carmageddon, which is where you’ll find the Nissan Skyline.

Skyline Nissan

First launched in 1957, the Nissan Skyline is 60 years old! I know, I too was surprised when I found out it was the same age as Eric Bristow. It’s a car with real legacy that started to show early signs of madness in the late 60s with the introduction of the first Skylines to carry the GT-R badge. The Skyline GT-R was first manufactured from 1969 until 1972 when the oil crisis started to really bite and demand for performance cars, like the oil supply, began to dry up. Production ceased and a 16 year hiatus began for the GT-R badge, before the touch paper was relit in 1989 with the launch of the R32 model. I must point out that there’s a load more history and detail that I’ve totally skimmed over and make no apology for, but for me it’s all about 1989 onwards when the land of the riotous fun gave us the R32 and things went to next level silly.

Nicknamed ‘Godzilla’ and being 1000 HP tuneable, it’s all to do with the RB26 engine. The same block that you’ll find in the R32, R33 and R34 models which is what we associate with the Nissan Skyline GT-R badge and those iconic rear lights. When we were wondering what to include in our four and a half minute Skyline film, we thought lots of sideways, a bit of calm to provide a breather, and then a load more sideways and finish. If you’re looking for a historical documentary that meticulously charts the car’s 60 year legacy then you’ve come to the wrong place. However, if you like to watch Skylines doing what they do best and creating a tonne of smoke in the process, then this could be right up your street!

Nissan drift

We were very kindly invited up to Round 4 of Drift Cup at the Teesside Autodrome by Mark Buckle who runs the event there. Mark or ‘Sweeps’ as he’s better known, couldn’t have done more for us, granting us ‘access all areas’ to the track, the garages, the drivers, the coffee machine, everything. We spent the weekend in Middlesbrough filming lots of Skylines, doing lots of sideways, and creating lots of smoke, and even managed to get ourselves in for a couple of passenger laps at the end, courtesy of ‘Sweeps’ of course.

It was a great couple of days, and while we were there, Danny Grundy, one of the drivers that we met and filmed with, told us that he worked for Julian Smith at Garage-D in Watford who is quite simply ‘Mr Skyline’ in the UK. What Julian doesn’t know about the Nissan Skyline GT-R isn’t worth knowing, and if there’s one place that you’d take your GT-R to have it tuned properly it’s Garage-D, so we gratefully accepted Danny’s offer of popping down for a visit and went to find out first hand what it is that makes the cars so special.

Last on our wish list and missing from our shoot schedule, we wanted to speak to one of Julian’s regular customers to find our what it is that makes you choose this kind of far eastern automotive exotica, over a ‘straight out of the box’ Porsche or an R8 or whatever. We wanted somebody as obsessed with the Skyline as Julian is, and somebody for whom it’s a total love affair, and so the kind introductions continued, as we met Alex Theodossi, the proud owner of a heavily modified and highly tuned R33 based in West London.

I don’t want to tell you anymore otherwise I’ll spoil the film for you, but in essence, there you have it. Four and a half minutes of unadulterated car porn starring the delectable and ferociously seductive threesome that are the R32, R33 and R34 models. If you enjoy watching it even half as much as we enjoyed making it, then you’re in for a treat, which I know sounds really cheesy, but it’s the truth.

Ladies and Gentlemen, sit back, relax and turn the volume to the max…. as we bring you…..the beast from the east!