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Battle of the Legends: Nissan Skyline GTR v/s Porsche 911

The Nissan

IN the closing days of World War II, two atomic bombs ruined the major industrial centers of Japan. A country torn apart by war and depression emerged from the ashes of this major conflict. To restore Japan's status in terms of industry and trade, the emperor and his advisors put forth a daring plan-to unify and revolutionise every industrial sector.

In 1966, one of the biggest Japanese automotive manufacturers, Nissan (known as Datsun at the time) merged with a niche manufacturer, Prince. A certain Prince Skyline (rebadged as a Nissan) went on to become one of the most iconic figures in motoring history.

Japan thrived on technological superiority over its western counterparts even before World War II. Innovation was encouraged and outrageous ideas were welcomed. So when the Nissan designers (formerly of Prince Auto) put up a daring plan to produce a sports car that could take the fight to the major European players like Porsche and Aston Martin, no one was fired for being too liberal. The Nissan Skyline GTR was born.

In 1964 the experimental Skyline S54 GTB came in second to the Porsche 904 in its debut race. Considering the Skyline was just a family sedan at the time, up against purpose built German racers, this result was astounding. This victory provided the stimulus for the development of the GTR. Launched in 1969, the first Nissan Skyline GTR (KPGC10) was a technological marvel that could kick Porsche 911's fat behind on the racetrack as well as on the road. On the track the GTR was the one to beat. It quickly gained cult status in Japan as well as abroad solely through its track performance.

The late 1980's was a good time for the Skyline lineup, after the GTR had been dropped in the mid 1970's due to the oil crisis. The R31 Skyline, while not as good as its illustrious predecessors, enjoyed good sales and had a strong fan base. In 1989 the R32 Skyline GTR was launched, featuring full time four-wheel drive and four wheel steering. This was a car of acronyms- ATTESA-ETS, Super-HICAS, and so on Journalists around the world labeled the R32 “Godzilla”. It practically ate up its competitors on track and it was so successful in the Japanese Touring Car Championship (winning every single race it entered) that it was subsequently banned from competing.

The R33 GTR followed in the R32's footsteps, but many complained about its gain in weight. It was also the first Skyline sold officially in the UK. The next generation R34 GTR was the most successful Skyline ever in terms of sales. Featured in numerous games like Gran Turismo, as well as movies like The Fast and the Furious, it gained a cult following that isn't likely to disappear soon. It became known as the PlayStation Exotic, referring to the average age of its fan base.

This Nissan holds a special place in our hearts not only because it is stupendously fast, but because it is a true underdog next to its venerable rivals like the Porsche 911. It has almost zero brand image, very obscure history and an almost geeky complexity. I think these give the Skyline one thing all sports cars should have: Soul. That is enough to make it a true legend.

By Shaer Duita Fish Reaz


The Porsche

True legends in motoring aren't always about brand image. The Nissan Skyline has motorsport heritage and has managed to capture the hearts of most car lovers around the world, while the Porsche 911 continues to inspire other major nameplates with its own legacy. That is enough to make it a true legend.

Of course, when you throw both legends headlong, you just can't expect to see sparks fly. You have to expect asphalt burning up in flames. There's a lot to notice, a lot to avoid and a lot to just simply gape at open-mouthed.

Take the 911 first. A multi-award winning nameplate, this is the car that befits Barney Stinson's catchphrase, 'LEGEN- wait for it- DARY, legendary!'.Until 1998, this was the only car that effectively used an air-cooled engine (drawing air instead of a liquid to cool stuff down) and still kicked good amounts of scrap metal. The aesthetics of the lightweight 911 is second to none and the guys at Porsche know that: why else would they inspire so much of the same design for the Boxster and Cayenne lines? Notice too, how the 911 has a body that is only centimeters above the ground, but hardly with the fine handling that the 911 is known for, scraping the body is hardly a concern. Being invisible is.

Compare that to the GTR's design line, and all you see is a bunch of rounded tail lights forever, trying to give an 'in your face' kind of message, but oh so wannabe. There, I said it.

You drive cars like these for of course, the speed. The adrenaline rush. Sometimes, it just isn't about how awesome your car looks or which damned innovation your car had when it first hit the market, it's just simply about reaching the finishing line first. People hardly into the technicalities behind a car would appreciate how fast really a car would go and remember their names for it.

Enter YouTube and its wealth of videos for the average petrolhead. Search for videos and you see the truth in all its low-resolution, pixelated glory. The Nissan Skyline R-34 GTR's engine reels in only 276 bhp to all its wheels while the Porsche 911 Turbo amasses 360 bhp to its rear wheels. Like a motor dream come true, the videos show how the 911 leaves the GTR behind, biting its dust. Yes, that all that extra zing adds to the 911's hefty price tag, but if you have to drive a car like this, you have to be worthy of it yourself.

Owning the 911 is not just owning a piece of really fast machinery. It's about owning a piece of undeniably the most important parts of racing history. Porsche has a theory that no matter how bad things get, it's the specialist sports car makers who will survive, not the manufacturers who turn out drab little boxes for something as mundane as personal transport. The German company believes that even if one day all cars are banned from the road, people will buy sports cars and drive them simply for pure pleasure. Fourty dead long years, and that still holds so true.

By Wahid T Khan


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