The WRX and Evo have their legions of fans, and the Supra and NSX have also garnered a strong following in Japan and around the world. But when it comes to Japanese high-performance tarmac gobblers, and the highest of automotive technology, the Nissan Skyline GT-R has no equal.
Everyone who knows anything about the “Godzilla” hopes to one day own one. And everyone who owns one can count himself lucky to have in his possession a fantastic car. Like Fong and Philip, the lucky lads that get to drive the two grey beauties featured here every day.
Fong’s ride, the R34 GT-R, is one of a few left here (they were rare to begin with) and is almost 10 years old. Philip’s spanking new R35 GT-R, on the other hand, like all the R35s on our roads, is barely a year old. Looking at their condition, you would have been hard pressed to tell that they are almost a decade apart in age.
The R34 has, obviously, been cared for a great deal, as it is in fine fettle. The seats and plastics do show obvious signs of wear and tear but there are many “younger” cars out there that look much worse.
Design-wise, the R34 and R35 are worlds apart. The R34 is boxy-looking, but its fenders flare out more exaggeratedly than on the Skyline coupe and sedan that it’s based. The R35 is designed from the ground up as a stand-alone model (it’s no longer part of the Skyline family) and does not look like anything Nissan has ever made.
Both GT-Rs have benefited from an extensive list of styling add-ons. The R34 has been enhanced with a mixture of Z-Tune and Nismo aero components, while the R35 has gone the Auto Select, Zele and Password JDM route with its exterior mods.
Visually, the new components on the R34 have a greater impact, as they help to break up its angular lines and flat surfaces while endowing it with a great deal more road presence. The R35, on the other hand, does not need such mod jobs. Instead, the mods on Philip’s car serve to complement its muscular profile rather than transform it.
Wheel-wise, Fong opted for a new set of “shoes” for his R34: 19-inch Volk Racing TE37 forged alloy wheels, which are not only lightweight but also very strong. The chunky and aggressive design of the 20-inch wheels that comes standard on the R35 matches perfectly, so Philip opted for a new coat of matt black paint, finished off with yellow time attack-style rings instead of new wheels.
In stock form, the famous RB26, 2.6-litre twin-turbocharged engine of the R34 makes a “measly” 280bhp and 392Nm of torque, and it is clearly outclassed by the 480bhp and 583Nm of torque churned out by the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 residing in the R35.
However, this is not the case here, as the older car puts out more “horses” than the newer one.
The RB26DETT in Fong’s R34 has benefited from a Tomei Neokit comprising larger turbochargers and new engine internals such as camshafts and pistons, and a full Nismo exhaust system. Engine and boost management is now handled by an A’pexi Power FC and HKS EVC. Collectively, these mods brings the power output to 550bhp, almost double that of the original rating.
Not to be left out, Philip has not left the prodigious VR38DETT in his R35 alone either. Although the internals are still in standard trim, a Cobb AccessPort piggyback ECU, Fujitsubo titanium exhaust system, complete with Esprit mid Y-pipe joint and a BMC full carbon airbox have been added to bring power to a healthy 530bhp.
In the braking department, Fong’s R34 has benefited greatly from the addition of a six-piston racing brake system, complete with 360mm disc rotors from AP Racing. The R35 retains the services of its already excellent Brembo six- and four-piston callipers, with 380mm brake disc rotors from the factory.
Both GT-Rs are great handlers, courtesy of Nissan’s famed ATTESA ET-S all-wheel drive system.
The R34 has been installed with Ohlins Flag-R coilovers to replace the original ones, as they were getting old. And its owner wanted even better ride and damping performance. The Bilstein dampers in Philip’s R35 has been left untouched. But the springs have been discarded for a set of RSR titanium springs, and these have lowered the car a little.
In a full-bore, straight-line drag, these two cars are literally neck and neck. The R34 has a decided weight advantage but this is negated by turbo lag – a consequence of its larger turbochargers. The R35 is heftier and suffers a 20bhp disadvantage, but its super-fast shifting dual-clutch, 6-speed transmission ensures that it is never outshone by the sprightlier R34.
Show these two cars a curve-laden stretch of tarmac and you would still be hard-pressed to pick a winner. The R34 feels lighter on its feet and the steering feels alive, chatting constantly with the driver. The R35, with its newer and more evolved suspension, is definitely less stressful to drive, even when it’s seemingly going at near supersonic speeds.
The R34 or R35, it really does not matter at the end of the day. Both cars cost around 250 big ones when new, which makes them a helluva cheaper than Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis. And they can run rings around those supercars as well.
Picking one over the other is like a watch aficionado choosing between a Patek Philippe and a Breguet, or an art collector deciding between a Van Gogh and a Picasso. They are equally iconic, worth every cent you pay, and are on everyone’s wish list. From a driving and ownership perspective, things can’t get any better than this.
The List – Nissan GT-R (R35)
COBB Accessport piggyback ECU
BMC dynamic carbon airbox
ESPRIT mid Y-pipe
FUJITSUBO super titanium exhaust system
AUTO SELECT Carbon Devil front lip
AUTO SELECT carbon carnards
ZELE carbon fender ducts
ZELE carbon front grille
ZELE carbon rear valance
ZELE carbon side skirts
PASSWORD JDM dry carbon ducts
KNIGHTRACER carbon rear wing
PASSWORD tail light conversion
RSR Ti2000 springs
EIBACH 15mm spacers
GOODRIDGE stainless steel-braided hoses
The List – Nissan GT-R (R34)
TOMEI Neokit (550bhp)
A’PEXI Power FC ECU
HKS EVC boost controller
NISMO twin-plate clutch
NISMO downpipes NISMO exhaust system
ARC oil catch tank
ARC cooling with surge tank
Z TUNE dry carbon front bonnet with air ducts
Z TUNE dry carbon rear wing lip
Z TUNE front fender flares
Z TUNE front bumper
NISMO side skirts
NISMO fender flares
NISMO LED lights
OHLINS Flag-R coilovers
CARBING strut bar
VOLK Racing TE37 19-inch forged alloy wheels
AP RACING 6-pot brake system
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