The Prince and Skyline Museum – Part V: The fruits of Project 901 

In the late 80s Nissan despite it’s initial success in the 70s with the Fairlady Z in the United States was still largely an emerging automotive manufacturer on a global scale.

Having proved that they could make a great sports car their next step was to take on the world on two fronts in addition to the domestic markets.

This was Project 901. It’s mission, to reach world leading levels of technical innovation by 1990.  In areas of chassis, suspension, handling and engine performance.

This covered three main product lines. The Skyline (R32), Primera and Fairlady Z (300ZX).

The Fairlady Z 300ZX would continue the successes of the 240Z for the North AMerican market.

While little known the Primera/Pulsar was designed to take on the VW Golf in the European market.

R32

FInally we come to the Skyline. Little known fact is that the Skyline team had a global business plan for this product however were disallowed to execute it due to budget constraints.

The Skyline GTR (R32) with the optional fog lamps carried over from the R31 Skyline.
Gotta love the period interior of the M20.

   The updates given to RB platform by way of the RB20, RB26 and following RB25 saw improvements in performance and durability.

This coupled with the new multi-link suspension system first developed and  introduced in the R32 did indeed bring the Skyline on equal footing with sports saloon rivals from Europe.

Another less applauded technical innovation was Nissans HICAS four wheel steering system which was one of the first to market.

The R32 Skyline saw the revival of the GTR name plate.

Group A wheels. Who would have thought Splitfire was a supplier of the Group A.
The Skyline GTR was very much a race on Sunday, sell on Monday vehicle.
One quote from a recent video on Tsuchiya Keiichi’s own Youtube channel on the Skyline GTR was that “Every girl knew what a GTR was and looked like.” What a time to be alive!
Group A legends.

There is a lot of back story with the development such as Nissan bought a Audi Quattro for research and benchmarking purposes, a Skyline R31 test mule was used to test the RB26 and a S13 Silvia was used to test the whole GTR drivetrain, the decision to go 4WD was based on a calculation that a single wheel/tyre could take a maximum of 150HP.

Leading to the R32 Skyline GTR winning every race it entered.

R33

Unfortunately there were no R33 Skylines which were not GTRs this time round. (Perhaps another visit is in order?)

Instead we have the Tokyo Motor Show Skyline GTR concept car.

GTR or not the R33 Skyline was always viewed as the awkward middle child of the Project 901 era cars.

I won’t get into this well worn discussion but will leave you with one point often mentioned by many Nissan and Omori techs/mechanics of the day.

The R33 was the perfecting of the suspension system introduced in the R32.

The official marketing content for the R33 Skyline positions it as “Japan’s grand touring car” which supports the longer wheelbase and greater levels of cabin comfort vs the R32 which was more of a sports car size.

This also explains the Super Taikyu endurance and GT1 class entries which were significantly longer races than the previous Group A.

The BNR32 Vspecs BBS wheels were used for the concept.

A curious race car.

This is perhaps the most interesting R33 JGTC race car. And not just because Tsuchiya was one of the drivers.

The standard widebody as was later used in the GT1 car.

This is a shot of the bonnet just aft of the radiator. You will notice the inlet piping is very close to the road car Nismo inlet piping in not just design but also location! Love the road car connection here.

Eagle eyed readers will have also realised that there is a cut out on the passenger side. There is a intake duct. I would love to see thes rest of the air intake solution.

This duct on the driver’s side headlight blank is for an oil cooler.

I really wish I was there to see these cars in action.

Magnesium wheels

Now we shall segway into the R34 with one such car.

R34

We begin the R34 Skyline story with a very special car. The R33 Stealth.

Note the BNR34 production BBS wheels on the R33 Stealth.
The original grime left on from it’s development.

This was the development mule for the BNR34 Skyline GTR. A modified BCNR33 Skyline GTR chassis designed to conduct R&D into aero, suspension and body rigidity changes for the BNR34 Skyline GTR.

Like mentioned earlier, the R33 was a complete form of the suspension system developed in the R32.

Leaving areas such as aero.

This is one part which did not make the production, front undercover made of carbon fiber composite instead of the plastic one in the production BNR34.

The rear diffuser was as was the production model BNR34 in carbo fiber composite but of course a prototype.

It is hard to get a good look at it. Will be back again for a second look.

Some future inspiration?

The final piece of aero planned for testing to accompany the reduced lift from the under floor effects was increased downforce. In the Stealth they were testing a elevated wing roughly the height of the one planned for the BNR34.

The second revision for the BNR34 over the BCNR33 would be body rigidity. These welds lines in the rear quarter panels are where additional reinforcement were added.

Last final touch was a the 3 spoke Nissan steering wheel shared with a number of Nissan sports models including the R34 Skyline and Silvia. A nice touch.

For us R33 owners this is perhaps the pinacle of R33 road cars asside from the R33 LM. Alot of inspiration here as this car is essentially a R33.5.

Once the production model of the BNR34 was ready. It was time for the R34 Stealth and testing on the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

Love this detail
Testig out an early carbon fiber composite bonnet?
The interior of the R34 Stealth. I wonder what that red leaver is.

A few other additions for the production model. Carbon fiber composite drive shaft and New ball bearing Garrett turbos.

INot the forget the R34 Skyline Standard model.

There was this beautifu 4 door GT-T in Bayside Blue example of the R34 Skyline standar model.
Some memorabilia from back in the day.

This specific Bayside Blue BNR34 Vspec II is special as it is the last GTR to roll off the line at the Murayama Plant before it’s closure. This is significant because the Murayama plant was the original home of the Skyline since the early days until the Zenki (series 1) R34 Skyline.

Bayside Blue never gets old.
This really takes anyones back to the day when these cars were in the showrooms.

The final section of the museum features a Skyline mini car and memorabilia section.

There was pages on the personal car of the project lead for the R33 later gen/R34, Watanabe Kozou.

and his BCNR33 which is featured as GTR Magazine’s resident R33.

The Prince and Skyline Museum is definately highly recommended to all as even I didn’t know the full Skyline story before visiting. The Skyline is definately a car which requires greater recogntion than they are given.

Once this pandemic settles down it should be on your to visit list too!

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