1987 Nissan HR31 Skyline GTS-R: Godzilla's precursor on road and track

Precursor to R32 GT-R not given the credit it deserves

Nissan HR31 Skyline GTS-R feature
Gallery3

If any car has ever hogged the limelight from another, it’s the GT-R taking attention away from the GTS-R. And we don’t mean the banana yellow Holden VS Commodore with the giant rear wing.

No, we mean the HR31 Skyline GTS-R, effectively the late-’80s, rear-drive, turbocharged straight-six precursor to the R32 GT-R. Made for the Japan market only, it has a special Aussie connection courtesy of Jim Richards, who raced one to win the 1990 Australian Touring Car Championship.

Nissan HR 31 Skyline GTS R Rear Jpg
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Motorsport is to thank for this car’s genesis. Nissan Australia had been campaigning its Skyline based on the Japan-only GTS and GTS-X Coupes, but in pursuit of more pace took advantage of the Group A homologation rules permitting lower-volume ‘evolution’ models for racing.

Enter the GTS-R. Power from a now six-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged engine was increased thanks to a larger throttle body, bigger Garrett turbocharger, larger intercooler and tweaked ECU. A lightened flywheel mated the ‘RB20DET-R’ inline-6 to a five-speed manual transmission and limited slip differential driving the rear wheels. There was also ‘HICAS’ all-wheel steering, as well as improved suspension geometry over its DR30 predecessor.

Nissan HR 31 Skyline GTS R Dashboard Jpg
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Production commenced in 1987. All were painted “Bluish Black” and came with fixed front and rear spoilers to overcome the DR30’s notorious aerodynamic instability at race speeds. BBS 15-inch wheels were available as an option, wearing 205/60 tyres.

Only 500 units had to be built to meet homologation requirements but 823 GTS-Rs ended up produced. All were sold on the first day of release. It is said the GTS-R contributed vitally to the R&D efforts of R32, the program that resurrected GT-R. And it’s in this car’s shadow the GTS-R continues to live, having never really outgrown its cult status, even though it more than deserves to.

1987 NISSAN HR31 SKYLINE GTS-R
Engine: 1998cc inline-6, 24v, turbo
Power: 154kW @ 6400rpm
Torque: 245Nm @ 4800rpm
0-100km/h: 5.8sec (est.)
Price: $40,000 (current value estimate)

 

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