Words by Barry Ives
GT-R ownership for me started with the R35. I have owned three R35s in succession. Through the GTR Owners Club forum (GTROC) I started to learn about the earlier versions of Godzilla. My first classic Skyline GT-R keys were for an R32 that was running 700bhp, however I did find it quite dated and quite quickly settled on the R34 which I found easier to live with. The R34 took me on a trip back towards my early car buying days where everything was more analogue and about the driver, car and conditions! The R34 blends the old and the new perfectly, with technology as well as manual input required.
I purchased the R34 Skyline GT-R in early 2015 and don’t profess to drive it a lot as it only goes out in dry weather, the fact we don’t have much helps keep the miles down to around 2,000 per annum. However most drives when they occur are quite spirited and certainly remind me of why I bought such a vehicle. My car is a 1999 model which is highly tuned by a well respected Japanese tuner that goes by the name of Hosaka Tuning Factory. The GT-R is finished in white with carbon bonnet, wings, splitter, boot and wing.
After researching online, I started to understand R34’s and the various specifications and modifications that make a good car. I decided that my R34 would need to be something special and out of the ordinary to float my boat, as they say. I took a trip to Harlow Jap Autos, who, despite their name, are not actually in Harlow! HJA always seem to have a great selection of R34’s in stock, as well as more on the way at any time. On my initial visit I didn’t find what I wanted, the cars were good but just not special enough for me, I was looking for more than a mildly tuned stock car. Ozz at HJA promised to update me with any special cars as they became available. One day a few months after my visit I received an email with the details of the Hosaka GT-R that I now own. Straight away I knew it was special, it looked menacing and aggressive compared to others I had seen. The specification sheet read like a dream wishlist from just about every top Japanese tuners parts bin. I believe the cost of the Hosaka build was 15 million Yen excluding the base car (~£90,000). The GT-R was in Japan, so I hastily sent a deposit by bank transfer to secure the car, unseen and untested.
It’s funny but as I approach my two GT-R’s I normally have both sets of keys, if I just want to drive for the sheer sake of driving it’s always the R34 that wins, generally a drive with no purpose other than to drive, says it all really. If I’m actually going somewhere then it’s normally the R35 that wins out. The Hosaka R34 is set up as a track car really but still remains very compliant and road useable. It’s the only road car I’ve owned that feels and handles like a lightweight slicks and wings car. The R35 just munches journeys and is easy to drive quite quickly whilst having all the modern toys. Across county I don’t think there is anything between them but one just does it and the other needs driving, I will let you work out which is which.
The noise at full chat is intoxicating
There is nothing special or complicated about starting an R34 GT-R, just turn the key and it erupts into life, catch the throttle and after a few gentle blips the car will idle like a stock BMW 3-Series. Once warm the car is not overly noisy on tick over, there’s just a constant pop from the exhaust to let everyone nearby know of the imminent departure. My R34 is built for quick response and once warm when you hit the throttle the rev counter will just fly round to near 9,000rpm in any gear, it’s just so flexible and without a hint of turbo lag, a testament to Hosaka tuning and the very expensive and prized V Cam system that is fitted.The noise at full chat is intoxicating from the inside so God knows what it’s like outside. I don’t let anyone else drive it so have never heard it from that perspective, I can only imagine it sounds like a jet fighter on a low pass. Handling wise it is like a go kart, every input is met with an immediate change in direction, increase or decrease in speed, there is no slack in any of the controls. It’s as if the car reacts instantly by telepathy. If you drive over a coin you can tell if it’s heads or tails up!
In simple terms nothing with number plates or anything this side of a top spec rally car would keep up with the Hosaka Skyline GT-R on a twisty road, nothing! Well maybe my Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 7 wide body that runs 722bhp… The R34 GT-R feels the same at all speeds and never intimidating, it’s just the same everywhere you drive. Even a 30mph bend feels exciting because of the feedback and connection the car gives. Although it’s very stiff due to the track focused set up it never feels nervous even when it starts to follow ruts and lines, although these do have an effect on it, its progressive and does not cause panic.
From the outside there are just so many interesting angles and features to look at on the R34 GT-R body. From the vented wings and bonnet to the functional cooling ducts in the bumper and front splitter. The mix of carbon and white paint is perfect, some don’t like the stickers but there removable so who cares? Sometimes it makes me feel like I am buttoned up the wrong way, a fifty-three year old in a twelve year old’s car but then why not, I couldn’t afford it when I was twelve!
The R34 Skyline GT-R car is always exciting, even when not moving or running, sometimes I open the garage door just to be excited then close it again. People walk into lampposts, fall off pavements and always want to talk to you no matter the age, a quick fill in the petrol station takes about thirty minutes every time. Since the death of Paul Walker, everyone now seems to know exactly what a Nissan Skyline GT-R is, as it was the Fast & Furious star’s car of choice, both on and off the big screen. I often get questions like I bet that’s quick, how much horsepower does it have and is it really yours! Other drivers constantly point camera phones out the window and gee you up for a little rev, it’s always in an appreciate way, never jealousy.
There is little to add to my Hosaka GT-R as the build in Japan was so extensive, I wasn’t left with much to improve. I have updated the front end to the Z Tune style, which I am now very happy with. The specialist I use are Kaizer in Kent and Exclusive Tuning in Herts, both these outfits are at the top of their game when it comes to the GT-R. Parts wise the big and highly regarded brands are NISMO, HKS, Narprec, Sard, Koyo, Hasemi, Kansai, Thrust, Voltex, Top Secret, Stoptech, Brembo, ARC, RAYS, Ikeya and F1 Carbon.
the finite supply of decent cars ensure that they won’t fall in value
At the moment everything with a GT-R badge on it just seems to be on the up, from the early R32 right up to the R35. In terms of everything before the current R35, the finite supply of decent cars ensure that they won’t fall in value significantly. I’ve already been offered over £50,000 for my one-off R34 GT-R and that’s not enough. There are more “older” R35 owners with disposable income that are seeking the thrills of the more analogue R34 whilst still keeping their R35, this is also keeping demand up.
At the time of writing, I own an R35 with 670bhp, a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 7 Wide Body with 722bhp, a slicks and wings Juno race car as well as the R34. I am constantly considering other cars to add to my collection. At the moment I have a deposit on a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera but will keep the R34 alongside it, so I will have the best of all worlds!