Amongst iconic Japanese machinery, nothing is more widely known or celebrated than the twin-turbo Skyline GT-R. But all this fame and focus means that the lesser performance models in the Skyline range haven’t always received the recognition they truly deserve over the years. Primarily I’m talking about the single-turbo R33 GTS-T and the R34 GT-T, but as this video proves, you can also make a pretty decent steer out of the naturally aspirated GTS models as well.
The Skyline GT legacy began with the original R32 model back in 1989 which featured a 2 litre turbocharged straight sixdeveloping 212bhp, itself a direct evolution of the L20A that powered Nissan’s other sports car bloodline – the Z car. This was replaced in the later R33 model with a 2.5 litre variant, the RB25DET, which made just 220bhp in standard trim, but has been well proven to make over 400bhp reliably on stock internals with just a few bolt-on mods. This engine was refined over the lifetime of the R33 before being mated to a new variable valve timing head, culminating in the 250bhp RB25 NEO engine that was used in the snappily titled ER34 25 GT-Turbo (often known simply as the GT-T).
Monster power GT-R’s might look great on drag strips or at the track, but it’s the GT models that are in many ways the better choice for having fun out on the public highway. Because they did without the ATTESA E-TS 4 wheel drive system, they were around 200kg lighter than the heavyweight GT-R, but retained some of its more interesting features such as the Super HICAS rear wheel steering and optional Active-LSD. Being rear wheel drive they are also hugely entertaining at sensible road speeds and still retain the fabulous creamy straight six howl of an RB engine.
It was this alluring combination of accessible performance and affordability that led Yuta to select the humble ER34 GT-T over its flashier GT-R cousin when searching for a daily driver on the streets of Tochigi Prefecture. Finished in the legendary hue of Bayside Blue that was very rarely seen on GT-T Skylines (allegedly only thirty ever left the factory in this colour), he’s spent the last 5 years transforming this car into a perfect blend of style and practicality.
Like many of the cars we choose to feature on Farm of Minds, Yuta’s spec sheet is one of balance in which all areas of the basic car have been enhanced or upratedwith subtle, tasteful mods to make for a better driving experience and enhance the OEM look of the car. This kind of sympathetic modification is often referred to as OEM+, and as anyone who has browsed the vast and often questionable range of standard GT-T trim parts will quickly realise, some serious thought has gone into cleverly transforming the bodywork from ugly duckling to street warrior without creating another GT-R clone.
Yuta’s made the most of what Nissan bestowed upon the ER34 from the factory, and that incredibly tough looking front end is actually an OEM bumper that was fitted to many late model GT-T’s, albeit with some judicious cutting and smoothing to create a more aftermarket look. The exterior’s one and only aftermarket part is a URAS GT lip spoiler that has been affixed below to help offset the standard bumper’s relative lack of depth.
Further down the sides of the car he’s fitted some tried and tested Nismo/Altia side skirts to continue the OEM+ vibe; they’re a popular item for this model that look more aggressive and aftermarket, but still sit firmly within the Nissan parts bin. But everywhere else he’s simply relied on the factory stock parts to pull off his look, even down to the rear bumper and wing. Rare as it is to see a GT-T on the roads outside of Japan, it’s even rarer to see one that isn’t sporting a GT-R wing, but Yuta has resisted the pressure to take parts from the bigger brother, and this Skyline looks all the better for sticking with the standard item in my eyes.
All this intelligent use of Nissan parts undoubtedly creates a clever illusion of extensive modification, but it would all be for nothing if it was still running on the stock factory rims. This is one area where Yuta has had to employ some aftermarket magic on his daily driver to achieve its gorgeous looks. If you know your wheels you’ll have correctly spotted that these are WORK Emotion CR Ultimate (“Kiwami” in Japan) rims, but unusually specced in 19×9.5J +25 up front and a chunky 19×10.5J +22 fitment at the rear, rather than sticking with the more traditional 18” fitment you see on many Skylines. Big rims of course need big brake discs to fill them, and the extra stopping power they afford certainly helps as well. In this instance the larger slotted discs are courtesy of Dixcel, and are clamped by pads from the same manufacturer using the OEM two-pot callipers. The whole arrangement sits on Tein Type Flex coilovers which are intentionally designed to provide the best compromise between performance and daily comfort, and allow the car to be sensibly lowered to navigate daily obstacles like speed humps whilst maintaining an aggressive stance.
The RB25 NEO sitting under the Mines liveried bonnet is pretty much in standard trim, as befits a daily driven machine that already has 250 horsepower straight out of the box. Yuta has wisely fitted a Blitz SUS intake and HKS Hi Power exhaust to give the engine a bit more of a voice whether he finds himself cruising to work or blasting down a back road, and as a result of their fitment he’s likely troubling the traction control with closer to 300bhp.
What really inspires me about this build is how with just a few choice parts from the Nissan factory storehouse and some sensible aftermarket purchases, this ER34 has completely left behind its awkward standard looks. It’s a valuable lesson that as with so many things, less is usually more when it comes to modifying, and that respecting the factory design while adding a few ideas of your own often yields the greatest rewards.
2001 Nissan Skyline 25GT-Turbo (ER34)
Work done by: Reverse, Tyre Garden Utsunomiya, Dr. Haneishi Garage
HKS Hi Power muffler
BLITZ SUS Power Core Type LM air filter
WORK Emotion CR Kiwami wheels(F/19×9.5J＋25, R/19×10.5J＋22)
Tires: Front-235/35/R19; Rear-245/35/R19
Tein Type Flex coilovers
DIXCEL SD Type brake disks
DIXCEL Extra Cruise brake pads
Momo Race steering wheel (350mm)
Nismo leather shift knob
facelift front bumper
URAS GT front lip
ALTIA side skirts