February 6, 2023

You’re taking a look at a automotive that helped change motorsport in Japan ceaselessly. We stand up shut and private with ‘Godzilla’; the HKS Group A Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R that launched a legend and helped HKS construct a popularity as one of many best tuning specialists in Japan.

Phrases: Dan Goodyer. Pictures: Dan Sherwood.

When the Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R first shot to fame within the UK, it actually caught our eye. Right here was a automotive that was so quick there have been rumours it had been banned from motorsport as a result of it rendered its competitors out of date. A automotive nicknamed Godzilla. We liked the dual hind lights, the silky notice of its straight-six engine and marvelled on the traction. It appeared prefer it was from one other world. In efficiency phrases, the R32 GT-R highway automotive was forward of its time. What actually sparked our curiosity, nonetheless, was the impact tuning had on it.

The rewards had been big for whomever was intelligent or bonkers sufficient to fiddle with a automotive already thought-about quick sufficient. Tuning offered the important thing to unlock the R32 GT-R’s hidden persona. If the usual highway automotive could possibly be likened to Dr.Jekyll, then including a bigger exhaust, some extra increase, a set of brake pads and a few sticky tyres had been sufficient to unleash Mr Hyde. Going additional with solid engine internals, differentials and monitor suspension was akin to poking mentioned lunatic with a stick. In brief, it might destroy something it got here throughout.

Which is strictly what occurred on the racetracks of Japan. This precise automotive was constructed and raced by the well-known HKS tuning firm in Japan. On the time, they had been a comparatively small outfit with huge ambitions. This automotive represents their courageous first steps into the lion’s den. They determined to go head-to-head with factory-backed racing groups and established names from the motorsport world. This automotive entered a few races in 1992 as a take a look at. It then went onto compete for the Group A Touring Automotive Championship in 1993.

We’re launched to the HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 by HKS Europe Director, Masaya Yumeda. With some well-thumbed GT-R magazines from Japan and a few inside data from HKS, Maz helped us uncover some fascinating details about each this automotive and the GT-R on the whole. Together with the story behind that particular HKS colour-scheme. As wells as how the GT-R ended up with a 2.6-litre engine within the first place.

Side profile shot of HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

Let’s begin with how the GT-R was designed, as a result of it relates on to this automotive. In brief, Nissan designed the R32 GT-R highway automotive to finish up with the quickest Group A racecar potential.  Nissan ensured the GT-R would destroy every thing in its path in Group A and hopefully past. Which is strictly what it did. On the racetrack and on the road.

When the R32 GT-R hit Group A for the primary time in 1990, it gained. Extra particularly, a GT-R certified on pole place earlier than all-three podium locations had been stuffed by GT-Rs. The competing Sierra Cosworth RS500s and Mk3 Toyota Supras couldn’t get close to them.

In reality, between 1990 and 1993 each single Group A Touring Automotive race in Japan was gained by a an R32 GT-R. That’s a powerful run of 29 wins out of 29 races. Throughout 1993, this HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 took two pole positions and gained at Sugo in Spherical 3. It turned heads in its début season. This was a automotive primarily constructed by a novice racing crew with newbie drivers. How did they do it? How was the GT-R so dominant? Particularly in a subject that featured Sierra Cosworth RS500s and the like. Automobiles which had been having such success in different elements of the world.

RB26 engine in HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

The reply lies in Nissan’s methodical dedication to these rules. Take the tyre measurement for instance. Each picture or video you see of those Group A monsters is dominated by these chunky slick tyres. They barely squeeze underneath the GT-R’s swollen arches, that are notably wider than the usual Skyline’s to cater for them. Even the hefty slick tyres on the automotive in the present day look marginally smaller than the originals, as they’re not produced.

Nissan needed to make use of this big tyre for max grip across the bends and underneath braking. The rules on the time linked tyre measurement to engine capability, which means that to make use of the dimensions they needed, Nissan labored out the most important engine they might use could be a 2.6-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo. In order that’s what they constructed. The well-known RB26DETT engine geared up to each R32, R33 and R34 Skyline GT-R can hint its capability again to the tyre measurement used on this very automotive, and the others that shared that thrilling Group A grid.

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After all Nissan’s four-wheel drive system; Superior Complete Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain (ATTESA), was made much more efficient within the GT-R with the addition of Digital Torque Break up (E-TS). In brief, the ATTESA E-TS gave energy continually to the rear wheels. A pc then took data from varied sensors to ship among the engine energy to the entrance wheels when the rears had been struggling. It was this mixture of grip and energy that made the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R such a formidable highway automotive, and an unbelievable base for tuning. Including mechanical differentials, an E-TS controller and slick tyres to the combination took this automotive’s efficiency capabilities to locations its rear-wheel drive competitors merely couldn’t comply with.

Rear 3/4 driving shot of HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

In the course of the Group A period, all modifications needed to be signed off by the FIA. Throughout 1990 and 1991, all of the automobiles had been very related in specification. They featured these mechanical Nismo differentials, equivalent H-pattern straight-cut gearboxes and both Bridgestone or Dunlop tyres. Competitors amongst the GT-R groups was fierce.

Every crew had one automotive shared by two drivers, and among the many stars of the All Japan sequence was the STP Taisan crew of their purple and black GT-R. They’d the well-known Kunimitsu Takahashi mentoring a younger Keiichi ‘Drift King’ Tsuchiya. Whereas the blue automotive, usually described because the ‘Calsonic’ automotive, was really entered by the Impul race crew, created by ex-System One driver Kazuyoshi Hoshino. Hoshino shared the driving and gained the primary Group A title in 1990, whereas System Two Champion Masahiro Hasemi gained the 1991 Group A title in his personal Hasemi Motorsport crew, sponsored by Unisia JECS.

Stripped interior of Group A R32 Skyline

Hasemi had additionally competed in a single System One race, and it’s value declaring the younger expertise the sequence was attracting too. In 1992 a younger Tom Kristensen co-drove the Trampio automotive, initially sponsored by Axia after which later by BP. Danish driver Kristensen would go on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans a file 9 occasions! As we are saying, the All Japan Group A Touring Automotive Championship at the moment attracted the perfect drivers and engineers in Japan and past. Crowds of as much as 50,000 followers cheered on the drivers at each race. This was a golden period of motorsport and places HKS’s courageous determination to enter a race in 1992 into context. This was a high-profile gamble.

Though HKS had been a profitable engine specialist since 1973, and would later go on to all method of motorsport achievements, most notably on the earth of drag racing, this was arguably the second these three letters turned well-known. These couple of races in 1992 had been a take a look at, to collect data for a full yr in 1993. The automotive featured a wierd color scheme of inexperienced and orange with blue highlights. It was rapidly obvious that the competitors had been extraordinarily quick. The HKS automotive was not embarrassed, but it surely was marginally off the tempo of the front-runners, which is comprehensible when you think about these groups had a few years’ growth underneath their belts and former F1 drivers behind the wheel. HKS set to work.

Boot in Group A R32 Skyline

Again at their headquarters, the work actually started. Nissan GT-R engines had been tuned and examined to destruction, within the goal of constructing each final drop of horsepower potential. The rules said some a lot of the unique engine elements needed to be retained, together with the engine block, crankshaft, connecting-rods, cylinder head and turbochargers. Doesn’t seem to depart a lot room for tuning, does it?

Which in all probability explains why each automotive within the subject used a Nismo-spec engine constructed by Reinik, an organization with shut hyperlinks to Nismo. Reinik went on to construct the two.8-litre RB-X GT2 engine within the R33 Nismo 400R for instance. Nonetheless, in Group A in 1993, all of the manufacturing facility engine elements could possibly be machined. Whereas the camshafts could possibly be changed and the unique ECU could possibly be re-flashed. With the rules so tight elsewhere, engine tuning was the principle means groups might acquire a bonus over their rivals. The factor is, the grid was filled with motorsport groups shopping for Reinik engines, not engine builders. This gave HKS a possibility to display their engine tuning abilities to a wider viewers.

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Instrument dials on HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

They blew an engine or two on the dyno, testing the place the protection margins had been. They experimented with machining the engine block, lightening and balancing the bottom-end, reducing the blades on the turbochargers. The one factor these HKS engines shared with the Reinik engines was the Nismo pistons. HKS even developed a particular oil for the automotive. Masaya explains: ‘It was very skinny, like a vegetable oil. It was a one-race oil that had to get replaced each time the automotive ran, it was known as 087. HKS has at all times thought-about engine oil to be a tuning half. Much less friction offers you higher energy. Our philosophy is that the oil is as a lot an engine tuning half as a crankshaft or piston. If you happen to’re going to tune the engine, tune the oil as nicely.’

Masaya continues: ‘Throughout testing, the engineers claimed to see an enchancment of three or 4 horsepower with the oil. Which may not sound loads but it surely was defending the engine correctly too, and in a category when tuning is restricted on this means, the crew felt that additional few horsepower made a distinction.’ In recognition of the oil, each HKS racing automotive has carried the quantity 87 ever since. The well-known colour-scheme on this automotive was initially copied from the design on the 087 oil cans and is often known as ‘the oil colors.’

Rear lights on HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

It wasn’t simply the oil that wanted altering after each run both. These had been highly-strung automobiles being pushed to the very edge. Nissan had designed the highway automotive to go well with the Group A regs, the groups had been then pushing the modified variations to absolutely the limits, within the battle to be quickest. After every run the HKS automotive was stripped of its engine, gearbox, entrance and rear diffs, uprights and driveshafts. The speed at which these small groups of males had been capable of rebuild and refresh these automobiles was as spectacular because the driving on the monitor.

When the 1993 season started, the HKS automotive was prepared. It rapidly earned a popularity for having a powerful engine. Rumours surfaced that Nismo even requested HKS to relax on the tuning, though that is one thing that HKS boss on the time, Akihito Mochizuki, denied in public. The HKS automotive was instantly on the tempo but it surely wasn’t till Sugo in Spherical 3 that it actually shone. The lengthy straights at Sportsland Sugo allowed the HKS automotive to essentially stretch its legs. The crew certified in pole place and set a brand new lap file by 0.7 seconds. Then went on to win the race. An unbelievable achievement for a comparatively novice crew up towards an all-star subject.

Front 3/4 driving shot of HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

There was additional success too, proving HKS might additionally tune the automotive for brief tracks, as this automotive certified on pole place at Tsukuba in Spherical 6. A monitor the place years later the HKS CT230R Lancer Evolution would maintain the Time Assault lap file for a few years. Sadly, when the race started, the HKS GT-R was taken out by the Impul machine on the primary lap. Later within the yr at Spherical 7, the HKS automotive got here by way of the sphere to complete on the rostrum. A feat it repeated in Spherical 8, the place it completed in second place.

By the top of 1993, the All Japan Group A Championship was sadly delivered to an finish, ultimately changed by the Japan Touring Automotive Championship utilizing the FIA ‘Tremendous Tourer’ regs as a substitute, which left the R32 not eligible to compete. It was a tragic second in historical past, however HKS had already proved their level. They’d demonstrated they had been able to taking over Nismo and Reinik head-on, in addition to the established huge names in Japanese motorsport. They’d opened the eyes of all these hundreds of followers to the three letters H, Ok, S. The remaining, as they are saying, is historical past.

R32 GT-R on air strip

HKS Group A Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 pictures

Group A (All Japan Class 1) Specs

The Group A GT-R was primarily a stripped-down and boosted-up model of the highway automotive. With no aero to talk of, weighing 1260kg and with 600-650bhp to play with relying on the increase setting, they had been animals to drive. The tyres and suspension had been so stiff these automobiles would bounce across the monitor, usually solely millimetres aside. What made the duty much more troublesome was the large 120-litre gas tank within the boot. When this was full it made up round 10% of the automotive’s total weight, which means there was an enormous shift within the steadiness of the automotive all through the race, because the grasping engine gulped it down.

Godzilla roars!

One dominating a part of this GT-R’s character is the straight-through, side-exit exhaust. With a pipe for every turbo, it’s loud and obnoxious and sometimes popped big flames when altering gear, as unburned gas shot out of the exhaust valves and ignited towards the new steel inside of the pipes. Initially believed to have had a titanium system in the identical design, chrome steel pipes had been used with HKS elbows and downpipes throughout the rebuild. At a latest noise take a look at, it made an ear-splitting 122dB whereas stationary at 6,000rpm. Simply think about how loud it’s at full increase and over 8,000rpm!

Front wheels on HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

Tyres and Drivers

All HKS competitors and demo automobiles put on Yokohama Advan tyres the place potential. Initially Group A groups had a selection of Bridgestone and Dunlop slicks, with Toyo getting into shortly after, however when HKS entered the sequence, they used Yokohama tyres as did a few of their rivals. Consequently, Yokohama-shod automobiles certified on pole and took the win on the first three rounds of the 1993 season. One of many HKS drivers was Osamu Hagiwara. He labored for Yokohama on the time, and was a eager newbie slightly than knowledgeable racing driver. His racing profession started in System 3 in 1990 and ended with the ’93 season within the GT-R. Curiously, he went on to change into a wheel designer for Advan, his first creation being the Tremendous Advan Racing wheel in 1995.

Tech Spec: HKS Nissan Skyline GT-R R32


2,568cc, 6-cyl, 24v twin-turbo RB26DETT, 86mm bore x 73.7mm stroke, 8.5:1 compression ratio, machined block, lightened and balanced OEM bottom-end by HKS, Nismo solid pistons, HKS customized camshafts, re-flashed OEM ECU by HKS, OEM turbochargers machined by HKS, HKS turbo elbows and downpipes into side-exit straight-through Titanium exhaust, 120-litre gas tank mounted in boot, 4x Bosch 044 gas pumps, Earl’s gas strains, chrome steel mesh air filter, OEM spec front-mounted intercooler, Calsonic radiator, engine oil cooler (After 2010 Rebuild) HKS F-Con V Professional ECU, HKS EVC V increase controller, HKS billet crankshaft, HKS con-rods, HKS solid pistons, prototype cams and turbos designed to duplicate the efficiency of the time, HKS turbos, HKS turbo elbows and downpipes into straight-through stainless-steel side-exit exhaust, HKS Superpowerflow air filter, HKS intercooler and pipework, TRAD radiator, HKS oil cooler


Hollinger 6-speed H-pattern straight-cut gearbox, (In 1993) Tilton triple-plate clutch, (After 2010 rebuild) HKS triple-plate clutch, Nismo mechanical differentials, digital ATTESA E-TS controller, Nismo gearbox and differential oil coolers (in 1993 – now eliminated) Group A driveshafts changed with OEM gadgets


(In 1993) Obligatory KYB damper with varied spring charges, Nismo rose-jointed arms, Nismo strengthened subframes, Group A anti-roll bars, (After 2010 Rebuild) HKS Hipermax III coilovers valved to match KYB damper, trendy Nismo arms


(In 1993) Alcon 6-pot brakes on entrance, AP Racing 4-pot brakes on rear

(After 2010 Rebuild) AP 4-pot brakes all spherical with 355mm discs

Wheels & Tyres:

(In 1993) Centre-lock 18in Advan break up rims, (After 2010 Rebuild) Enkei centre-lock wheels to match originals wrapped in Yokohama Advan A005 slick tyres


OEM R32 GT-R bodykit, Nismo bonnet and boot lips, aero door mirrors, polycarbonate aspect and rear home windows, HKS ‘Oil Colors’ race livery


Private steering wheel, bucket seats, rollcage, varied gauges together with increase strain, oil strain and oil temperature, customized dashboard insert with gas and ignition cut-off switches, E-TS adjuster, inside door panels modified to non-GT-R mannequin


HKS Europe

(01480) 431604