The Nissan Skyline C211 series was released in August 1977 and came in sedan, coupe and station wagon bodystyles. In 1979, the front mask was revised. Due to the fuel crisis and emissions regulations, the Nissan Skyline GT-R was missing and replaced by the turbocharged 2000 GT-EX (KGC211).
The basic versions were called 1600 TI and 1800 TI and featured the L16T with 95 hp and L18T engine with 115 hp respectively, instead of the preceding "G" engines. The Nissan Skyline 2000 GT came powered by the inline-6 L20 engine producing 115 hp. The 2000 GT-EL shared its L20E engine with the former GT-X model and had 125 hp.
The Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-EX was introduced in April 1980 and was powered by a new turbocharged-version of the L20, called the L20ET, with 145 hp. This engine might have been less powerful than the GT-R's, but in contrast to the S20 obeyed to emissions regulations and marked a new milestone in Skyline history: For the first time a turbo engine powered a Skyline.
With the R30 series, Nissan started to change the nomenclature of the Skyline. For the rest of the century, all Nissan Skyline generations would use the R3X designation.
This model was publicized using the actor Paul Newman, well-known in racing circles, in a series of TV commercials. As a result, the car was affectionately called the "Newman Skyline".
The new lineup was released in August 1981 and came in 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback bodystyles, while the wagon was dropped. Dramatically different in design from its predecessors, this new Skyline looked very boxy in shape and much more like an ordinary sedan than earlier Skylines. The round tail lights were retained, however. The coupe featured a pillarless design with roll-down quarter windows for the rear seat passengers
The R30 marked a step back to the sporty roots of the Skyline. Earlier versions had constantly been gaining weight, which consequently slowed them down and made them less agile. This was changed with the new generation, although it was not until 1982 that a really sporty Skyline hit the road again.
Overall, 26 versions of the R30 Nissan Skyline were available. For the basic versions, the L16 engine was dropped, so the lineup started with the 1800 TI powered by the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder Z18 with 105 hp and the 2.0-liter Z20 engine in the 2000 TI. Also available for the launch of the vehicle was the 2.8l LD28 diesel with 91 hp on the 280D GT.
The Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-E, GT-EL and GT-EX were powered by the 2-liter 6-cylinder L20E featuring an electronic fuel injection system to produce 125 hp. Among the GT-E/X’s standard features were a driver’s seat with stepless adjustment, variable power steering that automatically adjusts to suit engine rpm, and a tilting/telescopic steering column. The top-of-the-line Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-ES was powered a turbocharged version of the L20E, the L20ET, with 145 hp.
In August 1983, a facelift brought new front and rear bumpers, door-mounted wing mirrors, and upgraded interiors. Four-wheel disc brakes were now standard for all models. The 4-cylinder Z18 engine was replaced by the newer CA18E with 100 hp.
Paul Newman Version
In 1983 the Paul Newman Version version was released to commemorate the association between Nissan and the actor Paul Newman. The Newman Skyline a top spec GT-ES turbo with signature embroidery and decals.
DR30 Nissan Skyline 2000 RS
After Nissan had dropped the GT-R, there had been no DOHC engine in the Skyline lineup anymore. Since the oil-crisis, the turbo had emerged, but a DOHC was still missing. The introduction of the Skyline RS was to change this condition on October 21, 1981.
The Nissan Skyline 2000 RS came in coupe and sedan bodystyles and was powered by the new FJ20E engine, a newly developed 2-liter 4-cylinder high-performance engine with a 4-valve DOHC design and pent-roof combustion chamber, common on racing car engines. It delivered a maximum output of 150 hp at 6,000 rpm and 133 lb-ft (181 Nm) at 4,800 rpm. The official Nissan chassis designation for all FJ20-powered models was DR30.
In order to distinguish the DR30 from the lesser Skyline models, Nissan made various changes to the RS-models, including the new unique front end treatment, nicknamed Tekkamen or Iron Mask by fans for its distinctive look. The headlights were considerably slimmer, and instead of a conventional grille the bonnet now sloped down to two narrow slits above a facelifted front bumper and air dam. The interior equipment was significantly upgraded to now include electric windows and air conditioning.
In 1983 the FJ20's performance was improved by a turbo. The resulting FJ20ET (T standing for turbo) now produced 190 hp on the RS Turbo and RS-X, which was boosted to an astonishing 205 hp by the addition of an intercooler on the RS Turbo-C in 1984. This Skyline was the strongest Japanese production car of its era. An automatic transmission option was also added at this time, and changes to the "PLASMA Spark" ignition system followed in early 1985 towards the end of R30 production.
The DR30 Nissan Skyline competed in Australian Touring Car Racing and shared the 1987 Australian Manufacturer's Championship with BMW.
Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette
Races in the Super Silhouette series started in 1979. Masahiro Hasemi competed in the 1982 and 1983 seasons driving the KDR30 Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette powered by the 2,082 cc inline-4 LZ20B turbo producing 570 hp at 7,600 rpm and 398 lb-ft (539 Nm) at 6,400 rpm.
The category allowed heavy modifications and the Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette, although reminiscent of the production car on the outside, with a curb weight of 2,215 lbs. (1,005 kg) was the equivalent of a Formula racing car on the inside. After its race debut in May 1982 it did extremely well, chalking up two victories in 1982 and five victories in 1983.