Overshadowed by nearly every other generation of Skyline and frankly forgotten about, the R30 Skyline deserves some time in the spotlight.
Welcome to “That’s me in the Spotlight” – a section where we talk about cars that we love and that we feel need a moment in the spotlight.
The Nissan Skyline is a car that will forever be remembered by car enthusiasts the world over. Decades of media exposure through video games, film and TV have meant that “Skyline” and “GT-R” have become more than just a sports car from the 90s and 2000s – they’re now a household name. However, like a partner talking about an argument you had weeks ago, people only seem to remember what they want to remember. In the case of the Skyline, there are two periods that people consider to be the “golden age” – the early 70s, and the early 90s. (Yes, the R32 was technically introduced in 1989, but that’s nitpicking.)
However, outside of these periods, the Skyline name did in fact live on. In fact, the Skyline namesake was originally introduced as far back as 1957 – although a lot of people forget about this time period, and instead consider the C10 model – also known as the “Hakosuka” – to be the first bearer of the namesake. Perhaps this is due to it being the first GT-R, or perhaps it’s due to it being the first world renowned Skyline. Anyway, I digress.
The Skyline generations that most people know and love – R32 through to the R35 – spawned in 1989 with the creation of the R32 GT-R. If all of this number denoting and date listing is getting confusing, I promise there won’t be much more. I can understand why most people think this way, after all, the legendary R32 will go down in history as the creator of the “Godzilla” nickname that Skylines are known for, after destroying the competition in nearly every single race it entered.
Sadly however, the R30 never really got that shot at world domination on the track, and perhaps that’s why it’s mainly forgotten about these days. But anyway, let’s actually talk about the car itself, instead of comparing it to it’s siblings like an unloved middle child.
The Nissan Skyline R30 – 1981-1985
Released initially in 1981, the R30 Skyline was a victim of 1980s car design. That is, it’s boxy. Very boxy. Like, designed in a dark airing cupboard with a ruler and a pencil boxy. If the wheels could be square, they probably would be too. To some (like me), this is all part of it’s charm, as frankly anything 80s lowered slightly on nice wheels can look cool as all hell, but some prefer the slightly curvier boxy design (is that even a thing?) of the later R32. However, it still maintained the iconic Skyline styling feature – those round tail lights.
Fairly well specced, they came with air conditioning as standard in some markets – and, you’ll never believe it – a digital clock. Don’t say Nissan didn’t spoil you.
However, there was no “hot” version of this Skyline. There was a lukewarm version yes, in the guise of the RS Turbo, which sported a rather fetching red and black or white and black colour scheme, and “RS TURBO” on the side in big letters so everybody knew that you were king of the castle. But much to the dismay of many who longed for a return of the Skylines of the 70s, the GT-R sadly didn’t make a return.
In 1983, the R30 was spoiled to a facelift. This is actually rather significant in the Skyline timeline, as no other model had received a major facelift like this. (“That’s because they got it right the first time on the rest of them” I can hear you saying. Don’t be so mean.) Some people prefer it, some people don’t, personally I prefer it. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have the earlier one, but given the choice I definitely have the later one.
This version of the R30 is affectionately known as the “Iron Mask” model, to all three of you who have any feeling of affection towards them. It was a rather drastic change for a car that only really had about two years left in it, but Nissan went for it anyway. Not even encouragement from heartthrob Paul Newman could save the road car – but racing could. And that’s where the R30 starts to shine – not from countless victories or interesting stories, but just in how damn cool this thing looked as a racing car.
Take a good look at the images that you’ve seen so far in this article. Take some time, and soak in how the R30 Skyline looks.
Got it? Good.
Now look at this.
How absolutely insanely awesome do they look?!
This was during a racing series known as the “Super Silhouette”, which really needs a write-up all in itself. This was a time when racing cars had to resemble the “same silhouette” as the road car, and not much else. The Nissan R30 was good at this – very good – and the car was featured in the video game Gran Turismo 2, where most of you probably remember it from.
Through this batshit insane version of the R30, the road car slowly became more popular. And these days, they’re slowly creeping up in popularity, and people are starting to notice them more – maybe this is due to the increasing price of it’s siblings whilst it remains around the same, maybe it’s due to people just gaining more of an interest in 80s JDM cars as a whole – who knows.
But I’m glad that the poor R30 is finally getting a chance to shine, and escaping it’s poor case of middle child syndrome.