Since the R30 was very successful, Nissan did not change much of the outward appearance of its successor, the R31 series. At its debut in 1985, the "Seven, as it was commonly referred to, was introduced in 4-door sedan and 4-door hardtop bodystyles, the hardtop not having B-pillars. Due to the popularity of luxury cars, this Skyline was aimed at the luxury department and seemed to have lost its focus on sportiness. The base model was the 1800I, powered by the CA18S with 100 hp.
But the R31 also saw the introduction of a new engine family, the RB20 engines. Available in naturally aspirated and turbo versions, the 2-liter RB20 engines produced at least 155 hp. Especially the RB20DET, a DOHC turbo with 180 hp - 210 hp stood out here as a very potent machine. It was the first in a great family of engines that would later spawn the GT-R's RB26DETT and other Skyline engines up to the R34 series.
The R31 was also produced in Australia from 1986 to 1990. Powered by the 3-liter RB30E inline-6 with 157 hp, the R31 was available in sedan or station wagon bodystyles. The wagon featured the same front style as the coupe and sedan, but did not share the four round brake lights that had been a consistent element of Skyline design. The higher-powered GTS was available only in sedan bodystyle and also came powered by the RB30E, which produced 176 hp in the GTS1 and 190 hp in the GTS2. Only 200 examples of the GTS1 were produced in 1988, all in white. The GTS that followed in 1989 was limited to 200 examples and came in red only.
Between 1987 and 1992, R31 sedans were also manufactured in South Africa, powered by CA20S, RB20E and RB30E engines.
From 1986, the R31 Skyline GT competed in the All Japan Championship, in which driver Aguri Suzuki won the Constructor and Driver categories.
R31 Nissan Skyline GTS
People had to wait for a two-door until the GTS hit the showrooms in May 1986. In Base form, this coupe featured the RB20DE with 155 hp, while the GTS Turbo came powered by the RB20DET with 180 hp. A GTS 4-door hardtop was available, as well.
The GTS Turbo was renamed GTS-X in 1988 when it received an improved version of the RB20DET with 190 hp. The R31 GTS-X was equipped with the HICAS (High Capacity Active Steering) all-wheel-steer system for the first time in Skyline history.
The most famous of the GTS models was the GTS-R, which was developed specifically for Group A racing. The 180 hp in the standard model may not have been bad, but were still short of the 205 hp featured in the R30 RS Turbo-C. This is why Nissan introduced the R31 Skyline GTS-R on August 21, 1987 with an RB20DET engine tuned to 210 hp thanks to a Garrett high-caliber turbocharger and stainless-steel exhaust manifold. The engine tuning was supported by an improved suspension and tuning on many other parts of the car, to give the GTS-R a sportier overall character.
In race trim, the R31 GTS-R's 2,029 cc RB20DET-R produced over 400 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. With only 800 built examples, the R31 Nissan Skyline GTS-R is still a highly desired car today.
The 1989 R32 was the resurrection of old Skyline virtues, in that each of its many versions were very sporty and balanced in handling. The R32 Nissan Skyline came in sedan and coupe bodystyles and for the first time in history, was available with rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive.
The old engine line-up was mostly dropped and apart from the base CA18i engine, all versions - sedans and coupes - got the RB20DE engine, a normally aspirated 2-liter inline-6 with 155 hp. Stronger models like the GTS-t came with the RB20DET engine, already known from the R31 GTS Turbo, but with an increased output of 215 hp. Later versions got the normally aspirated RB25DE engine, a 2.5l DOHC inline-6 with 180 hp.
R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R
Over a decade after the last GT-R had been dropped, a new R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R finally saw the light of day in 1989. Of course, expectations for the new top-performer were high due to the heritage it could look back upon. But this new version was more than worth the GT-R badge in any way.
At that time it may have seemed impossible for any car to resemble the PGC10’s success on and off the track - that was, until the new R32 GT-R came along, which soon earned the nickname Godzilla. The Skyline GT-R was available only in coupe form and featured high-tech in perfection, high-tech that in this case was used to support the driving experience, rather than hinder it.
It came with ATTESA-ETS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All - Electronic Torque Split), an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system that usually delivers the power to the rear-wheels, but can send up to 50% of the torque to the front wheels. Thus even drifts are possible with this car, which is usually very difficult with AWD. The handling was further enhanced by Super-HICAS, an improved system of the R31 GTS-X’s all-wheel-steering, to make this car one of the best, if not THE best handling car in the world.
The R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R did not only have excellent handling characteristics, but also featured one of the best production engines of all times, the RB26DETT, a 2.6l DOHC inline-6 twin-turbo with 280 hp at 6,800 rpm and 260 lb-ft (353 Nm) at 4,400 rpm. The RB26DETT is a pure racing engine, derived directly from Group A racing, which was despec’ed to fit the maximum 280 hp allowed by Japanese regulations. Tuned (newer) versions of this engine, however, have been seen to reach up to 1,300 hp, so make sure to check out the Tuning section of this site, because tuning is what the Skyline GT-R is all about. Still, the standard version makes the 0-60mph sprint in 4.8 seconds, putting it on a par with a Ferrari 355.
But the R32 GT-R was not only a great street rocket. Designed to fit Japanese Group A racing standards, it won so many races (i.e. it 29 out of 29 races) in Group A that this class was discontinued because nobody wanted to compete with Nissan's flagship anymore.
In Group A race-spec, the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R featured 550 hp at 7,600 rpm and 362 lb-ft (490 Nm) at 6,000 rpm, while Group N racecars had 400 hp at 7,200 rpm and 326 lb-ft (441 Nm) at 4,800 rpm.