In 1994 I lived in Surry Hills, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. Back then, Surry Hills was artsy, edgy, and most important, cheap. One day I looked out my bedroom window and saw, parked in front of an office, a dark gray coupe. This lead-hued peril lurked behind a passing stream of subcompacts, utes, and round-edged Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons like a barracuda among the cast of “Finding Nemo.” I had no idea what it was. I called my Australian roommate over to make a positive ID. He chuckled and said, “That? That’s Godzilla,” then walked away. I’d met the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R — “Gran Turismo Racer.”
Australia’s Wheels magazine had christened the Skyline GT-R “Godzilla” in the July 1989 issue, after the Japanese had already taken to calling the car obakemono, meaning “monster.” In 1990, Nissan Motorsport Australia (NMA) entered one of the all-wheel-drive, twin-turbo howlers in the Australian Touring Car Championship. The R32 won one race.
Rip through a roundabout and the whole back end doesn’t stutter. Rather, it feels like the outside rear tire takes all responsibility for maintaining the coupe’s attitude. And I’ve never driven a car with such abrupt corner response to more throttle. When the backside starts to slip, a harder go on the accelerator twists the whole vehicle, snapping the rear around.
The 592-hp R35 GT-R Nismo demolishes the R32 in every measurable and perceived metric. It’s so quick, fast, big and capable that you’ll break every law of the road and challenge several laws of physics before the end of third gear. As with the modern movie Godzilla, the R35 Nismo has outgrown our surface streets. Forget about a casual frolic, because you won’t have real fun in the R35 Nismo until you’re afraid of it. By the time you get the R35 to roar, you’ve astral-projected.
I really liked both GT-Rs, but I’ll take too much fun over too much thunder. If I’m adopting a Godzilla at the stray monster shelter, give me the little guy. He breathes the perfect kind of four-wheeled fire.