Japanese cars have, for long, been a crucial part of performance car culture around the world. A solid determination to take on the European big-wigs needs to be acknowledged. And that’s exactly what the Japanese did. A few cars that proved to be cut from a different Komono, that we have adorned and kept close to our hearts, have histories too. Histories that might have been forgotten today. Such are the painful visuals that you see above.
What you see above are a number of Nissan Skyline R31s piled up on top of each other mimicking nothing less than a gruesome graveyard. But hold your breath that you took in to scream, SACRILEGE. The R31 is undoubtedly among the handful of cars that could not make it to the retro-glam market that the purists have gotten into in recent times. Well, not recent times as such. I mean, Takumi and Itsuki went crazy over a decade old Toyota Corolla AE86 right? If you’re hearing these names for the first time, I am afraid your education has been incomplete.
But moving on to the painful picture drawn above, it was the Top Gear team that dug to the core of it to figure out what the heck was going on. Turns out, you are NOT in for a disappointment. In its glorious days, back in the 80s, the R31 stepped out of the design ethos that its grandpa Hakosuka was based on.
Nissan took a drastic step with the car to make it more creature friendly and not just another car that was made to be fitted with roll cages and drift and or drag tyres. But little does everyone know that the car was no lemon. You see, the R31 is as much of a Skyline like its cooler siblings that came later. It might have not had rightfully won the ‘Godzilla’ badge, but it was something. This is not subjective for a plethora of reasons. The first one being its engine. The lesser-known R31 was the first model to be powered by the iconic and utterly flexible RB-series straight-six engines. You know, the one with the ‘Red Top’ cam covers? It was also the Nissan’s first car to feature the proprietary 4-wheel-drive system, HICAS.
But I’ll save the history lesson for later. The graveyard as it turns out was under the watch of Shibata San. And what he meant to do with the cars was something rather impressive in today’s time. Shibata San was among a handful of Nissan purists who foresaw the Skyline boom that happened after the R32. Nissan had turned the tables with an aim to bring back the ‘glory’ that the Skyline called for. The car improved on many fronts, which meant that the R31, which lit the spark in the first place had its days numbered. Hence, he bagged them all before all turned to dust. All of them indeed.
Speaking to TG, the rather witty godfather to all the R31s said that the cars that he bought back in the day for a price of as low as Rs 6.15 lakh are now worth more than Rs 1.3 crore. Now I don’t need an MBA to figure out, that’s good business. Shibata holds a customer base of more than 3000 which in the case of Japanese oldies translates to A LOT. The cars on top are for stripping parts, ones below are for mechanical components and the ones on the floor have good bodies and potential to be completely restored with over 2,000 parts that are made in-house.
The GTS-R, if you recall was the car that homologated the R31, which in simple terms translates to the R31 having traces of endurance racing in its DNA. Only 823 road cars were made and this great man aims at putting the same Group A racing sound in a road-going innocent-looking R31. And thanks to the manifolds and headers that have been made in-house, he’s nailing it. But the plans do not stop there.
Amazed by a town that was dedicated to Ferrari in Maranello, Shibata aims at building an ultimate go-to-space for all Skylines. In his mind is a perfect showroom with perfect examples of each generation Skyline, tables, drinks and stages for performers. However, at the end of the day, it’s the Japanese we are talking about. Which means a paradise of this sort opening in the future cannot be ruled out.