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Reader test: Nissan Skyline

2010-05-11 06:51

Johan Maree, Secunda

First off, I want to apologise for being completely biased in writing this reader test!

This car has been my pride and joy since 1996 when it was still owned by my dad. I took it over from him in 2002 as my first car and it gave me plenty of entertainment during varsity! So obviously the Skyline carries endless memories with it! I got it with just about 160 000 km on the odo. It's currently at 213 000 km and has been running faultlessly no matter what has been thrown at it!

My shape Skyline is known as the "facelift New Era Skyline" in South Africa. However, it is actually the R31 model Skyline. The Skyline has a long and largely unknown (to the normal South African at least) heritage that spans back to 1957.

And no, this is not the two-door GTX with the hotplate taillights. It's the one your granddad or uncle owned somewhere during the late 80s or early 90s!


Performance-wise the Skyline was pretty good in its day. The straight-six RB30E motor was praised for its smooth running – still remember the old television ad of the filled wineglass on the valve cover of a revving engine? Compared to the latest technology though, it's nothing to write home about.

During my varsity years I installed a branch exhaust manifold, free flow exhaust and different air filter and it made 125 kW and 273 Nm at the flywheel, which was enough to scare the guys with their RSis and 200STis down at the coast. And dare I mention the sound of that straight-six at full throttle! It's still enough to make my spine tingle when I need to get away from it all

The only problem is its weight… At 1 440kg it is not a light car. And the standard brakes are not all that good… But what makes it so special, is the rawness of the whole package. There are no electronic nannies like ABS, EBD, ESP or whatever you want to call it. It's just you, your skills and the machine. And when you take it to a race track, it gives you something to smile about.

The track experience

I've done about 70 laps of the Killarney circuit in Cape Town during two separate open track days with the Skyline. Both times, the brakes showed up as the weakest link. Otherwise, they was experiences I would never forget!

The handling is good and predictable once you get over the weird feeling of lots of body roll in corners due to the softish standard suspension. This however helped in the longer sweeping corners (Shell Sweep and the double-apex Malmesbury corner) where the Skyline was all over the back of an Alfa 155, which is supposed to have better handling than the mothership Skyline!

The motor never gave any signs of strain or being worked too hard with even the temperature staying 100% normal during my "seven laps at a time" outings, which is about all the brakes would allow before starting to fade.

The rest

Being an 80s Japanese car, the interior is not big and spacious and it's dominated by straight lines and sharp angles. But it has leather, air conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, cruise control, power steering (with speed sensitive assistance), central locking and a couple of other goodies.

Maintenance costs on it are pretty low, although parts are becoming more and more difficult to get hold of – especially replacement front brake discs…

Many people don't like the boxy looks and square angles of the car, but to me it's just so perfectly straight out of the 80s! And it does manage to look pretty good from the right vantage point!


I love my Skyline. It's now my weekend toy, my "get away from it all" escape, and my little sideline project. At this stage, I'll probably never sell or swap it for anything else. It just puts a smile on my face whenever I drive it! Oh and did I mention that I love my Skyline?

Share your own Skyline memories here!


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