Welcome to Graded. Here we discuss legendary marques, models, or trim packages and affix a letter grade to a selection of vehicles falling under that topic. The grades mean nothing and are completely arbitrary. I fully encourage you to tell me what I got wrong and how you would grade them instead. Have some fun with it.
Are you team Skyline or team Z car? I am team Skyline. When it comes to Nissan, these are the two most storied, recognizable names in the brand’s history. Although the Skyline has never been sold in some places, like North America, its legendary performance (and a certain movie franchise) made it world famous.
Starting in 1957 under the Prince automotive brand, the Skyline is still going strong, now in its thirteenth generation of existence. But the last three generations of skyline have been close siblings to the Infiniti G35, G37 and Q50. What we are going to focus on for this edition of Graded are the first ten generations of the Skyline; the more JDM versions. For each of these first ten generations, we have picked one of the best models produced.
1962 Prince Skyline Sport
AutoLobotomy Grade: D+
The original Prince Skyline was more luxury sedan than performance car. Even with the introduction of the more powerful Skyline Sport coupe in 1962, the car looked sportier than it actually was.
1965 Prince Skyline 2000GT-B
AutoLobotomy Grade: C
The second-generation Skyline received a major bump in performance. The S54 models could be equipped with a 123 hp engine and were regulars in various racing series, including the Japanese Grand Prix. Styling was a bit conservative though.
1969 Nissan Skyline GT-R
AutoLobotomy Grade: B
The original car that introduced the icon name – Skyline GT-R. Powered by a 2.0-liter straight six-cylinder engine making 160 hp, the GT-R was a no compromise sports car devoid of any unnecessary equipment. The coupe body also looked sophisticated and sporty.
1973 Nissan Skyline GT-R
AutoLobotomy Grade: B+
The fourth-generation Skyline continued with a GT-R model, using the same engine as the previous generation. I personally prefer this generation’s mini-muscle car styling, especially the blacked-out wheels and fender flares. It is my favourite classic Skyline.
1980 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-ES
AutoLobotomy Grade: B-
With rising fuel prices and less interest in sports cars, the fifth-generation Skyline did not include a GT-R model. There was a turbocharged 143 hp engine available in the 2000 GT-EX and 2000 GT-ES, but this engine and vehicle set-up did not match the previous GT-R’s in terms of performance. The styling and paint options for the 1980 GT-ES were top notch though.
1985 Nissan Skyline 2000 Turbo Intercooler RS-X
AutoLobotomy Grade: B+
Performance found its way back into the Skyline in a big way for the sixth-generation car thanks to the RS models, specifically the Turbo Intercooled RS-X model. Power was up to 202 hp and the car had fantastic ‘80s styling complete with a two-tone exterior. I irrationally love this car.
1987 Nissan Skyline GTS-R
AutoLobotomy Grade: A-
Take everything that made the 2000 Turbo Intercooler RS-X great and make it even better. That is basically what Nissan did with the homologation special 1987 Skyline GTS-R. It was a one-year only special model and is the ultimate RWD Skyline in my opinion.
1994 Nissan GT-R V-spec II
AutoLobotomy Grade: A
Now we enter the modern era GT-R, and honestly, these are all great. But arguably the pinnacle of the R32 Skyline was the GT-R V-spec II with its larger brakes and wider tires. The R32 cemented the Skyline GT-R into that of a legend.
1997 Nissan Skyline GT-R NISMO 400R
AutoLobotomy Grade: A++
Picking a favourite between the R32, R33, and R34 is all about personal taste and preference. For me, the R33 with its aerodynamic nose is my pick. Many special edition models of the Skyline GT-R were created for this generation, including the race-car-in-street-car-clothes 1995 Nissan Skyline NISMO GT-R LM. But my favourite Skyline is the 394 hp GT-R NISMO 400R. Just look at that thing.
2001 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-spec II N1
AutoLobotomy Grade: A+
With the R34, there are plenty of special editions to choose from, but the GT-R V-spec II with the N1 engine is arguably the best. With a blueprinted engine, carbon fibre hood and NACA ducts, the car is devoid of any unnecessary weight like air conditioning, a radio, or various trim pieces. This was a purpose-built machine.