Possibly Your First Car in Gran Turismo 2 - Kyle’s 1989 Nissan R32 GTS-t Type M
Every time I get out of these feature cars and back into my Axia, it always surprises me how light the gear throws are and how light the clutch is in the Axia. Suddenly, driving a car just got a whole lot easier. And when I switch to my automatic Persona, you can imagine just how relaxing the drive is. I haven’t driven any luxury cars yet and I expect them to be even more of a relaxing driving experience.
At this stage in my reviewing experience, I have to admit that I find these feature cars to be harder to drive. They are loud, the throttle is super sensitive, and the gear shifters feel a little bit harder. Perhaps I’m just not used to the sports car setup. And perhaps having one of my own would help me familiarise with this category of cars (Financial priorities shift once you get married). I totally understand why most of these feature cars are usually weekend cars or track cars. They’re great fun, but driving in heavy traffic can be tiring and leaving the car parked in unfamiliar areas is always worrisome. And in the case of this R32, driving can get very uncomfortable due to the absence of air conditioning.
This whole endeavour of reviewing cars has certainly allowed me to drive cars I’ve only ever driven in Gran Turismo before. But more importantly, I have the opportunity of meeting many amazing yet humble people. It’s a very humbling experience for myself. And I can’t thank these guys enough for their time and for trusting me with their car. This time around, I have to thank Kyle who happens to be a driving instructor. And he’s not your average driving instructor. He teaches advanced driving and defensive driving to uniformed forces and supercar owners. It sure sounds like a dream job for some of us.
A Little Backstory on the R32 (And Some Modifications)
This started out as a father and son project. And the car was purchased in Melaka not long after seeing it online. They drove all the way down from Selangor to Melaka just to go get the car. They were lucky it wasn’t a scam. (I wish my dad loved cars, but he seems to be more interested in learning new languages). Kyle started driving at 16, which is a year earlier than the usual age in Malaysia. His car history includes a TE71 Levin Coupe and an Altezza. For more abusive track driving, he currently uses an S13 which is in a more battered condition than this R32.
This is a GTS-t Type-M. It’s a rear-wheel-drive, unlike the 4WD GT-R and it was originally fit with a turbocharged RB20DET. (That’s what the GTS-t Type-M comes with from the factory). This one, however, was already fit with a turbocharged RB25DET when purchased ten years ago. The Garrett GT35 turbine provides 1 bar of boost to the massive in-line 6 engine. If you look in the picture you’ll notice the turbine being hidden by a custom-made heat shield. When asked if the initial plan was to buy a GT-R, he said no. The GTS was preferred over the GTR because of the RWD drivetrain.
The vents you see in the front are Nismo aftermarket parts. The bumper had to be cut for this installation. Other exterior enhancements include streamlined side mirrors, TE37s, and a GTS-R emblem by East Bear (a company from Japan).
Looks wise Kyle is aiming for the GT-R look. It’s already got a R32 GTR front bumper and an R32 GTR fuel tank. The original GTS-t Type-M does look bland next to the GT-R. The GTR is also wider. A trained eye would notice a GTS converted to GTR by looking at the rear profile of the car. The GT-R has a more prominent widebody bulge near the taillights and the rear wheel arch. This car was also a different colour when purchased.
Kyle was kind enough to list the performance modifications done to the R32. I may have mentioned some in earlier paragraphs.
- Garrett GT35 Turbine (1 bar of boost. There is lag)
- R32 GTR Intercooler
- Greddy Grex Oil Cooler (positioned at the lower left bumper vent)
- Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 ECU
- Ogura Clutch (I assume this includes a lighter flywheel because the engine revs high even with the slightest touch of the throttle.)
- R32 GT-R Fuel Tank. (OEM Lightweight fiberglass GTR fuel tank, stores more fuel and better fuel baffling compared to original GTS fuel tank.) You can notice the huge fuel tank peeking out underneath the rear bumper
- R33 Brakes
You might notice the lacking of a muffler tip. That’s because he hasn’t managed to get an exhaust that goes around the R32 GTR Fuel Tank. Right now, the exhaust ends somewhere behind the fuel tank. A catalytic converter is absent.
What Is It Like to Drive?
Very uncomfortable (If you compare it with standard passenger cars). This R32 is very track oriented and it is evident with the lack of all passenger seats and the lack of a radio. The battery has also been repositioned in the trunk to give more space in the engine bay. The interior is virtually stripped down with the exception of the original dashboard and the door trims. The RB25DET with the aftermarket exhaust was very satisfying to hear. The throttle was super sensitive and the clutch was tall. The gear shifts were sharp (thanks to the Ogura clutch), and I took the liberty of stretching them which was way more satisfying than it usually is in my little Axia.
The hood is long since it houses a longitudinally mounted in-line 6 so estimating where the car ends is a bit tricky. This is my second time in a car with bucket seats and my advice for you, is don’t install bucket seats unless you’re going to track the car seriously. If you’re just doing it for the looks, don’t. They’re not great to get in and out of. Bucket seat covers also wear out more quickly because you chafe them on your way in & out. Get semi-bucket seats instead for more comfort.
Admittingly, I was sweating balls at traffic lights because the air conditioning has been removed. Kyle is very particular about the weight of the car so he chucked the air-cond out. Removing the air-conditioning system saves about 20kg and the removing the air-cond fan allows for better airflow to the radiator. I’m not sure how much weight has been reduced by removing the seats. His next target area for weight reduction is the sun-roof, which isn’t a feature in the GT-R R32.
Talking about the interior, this 1989 car certainly offers some quirky controls. The wiper stalk and headlight stalk are non-existent. Instead, these are integrated into the dash as knobs. The possible reason behind this being to give more clearance for the driver at the steering wheel area. There still is an indicator stalk, but it’s very minimalist. Some radio controls are integrated with the dash although the radio is non-existent.
The doors slam with a loud ‘bang’ just like any other older car instead of the soft ‘thud’ in modern cars. There’s no soft touch plastic whatsoever, no place to charge your phone, no cruise control, no ABS, no traction control, no parking sensor, and no cupholders. But it doesn’t matter… because it’s a track car, and more importantly, it bears the famous Skyline name even when it’s not the GT-R.
The Nissan Skyline R32 GTS-t Type-M was my first car in Gran Turismo 2.
What was yours?
The Skyline R32 has Many Variants…
…and so did many other older cars. Things just aren’t packaged the same way anymore. Cars used to have various engine options. Remember our own humble Wira? There was a 1.3, 1.5, and even a 1.8 version if you were a real Wiralution enthusiast at heart. Nowadays there’s usually only one engine option, with varying levels of luxury, or feature options. This modern way is of course, more cost effective for car manufacturers because of economics of scale. And the fact that normal people tend to buy cars for their features instead of performance figures supports that business decision. The R32 itself has 14 variants and I shall share them here with you… (Obviously, these were sourced from Wikipedia)
- GXi Coupe
- GXi Sedan
- GTE Coupe
- GTE Sedan
- GTS Type-X
- GTS Type-J
- GTS-25 Type-X
- GTS-25 Type-S
- GTS-25 Type-XG
- GTS-t Type-M
- Autech GTS-4
- Nismo S-Tune
- 1.8L CA18i I4
- 2.0L RB20DE I6
- 2.5L RB25DE I6
- 2.6L RB26DE I6
- 2.0L RB20DET I6 Turbocharged
- 2.6 RB26DETT I6 Twin Turbocharged
A wild guess tells me the RB25DET in Kyle’s R32 was sourced from an R33 Skyline.
Some Notes from the Owner
In his own words…
“I had a fascination with cars ever since I was young, was exposed to Initial D at a very early age and the rest was history.
(Used to own a TE71 Levin Coupe with complete AE86 running gear and an Altezza but those are done and dusted and now left with an R32 and S13.)
I had the car when I was 16, it was a father and son project. And I’m very fortunate to have a father that shares the same hobby and passion as me.
It’s not a hardparker, gets utilized, driven hard and goes sideways when given the opportunity.
R32 GT-S Yes, and honestly initially the GTS was my preferred choice over the GTR. Mainly because it is rear wheel driven, lighter in weight, less wear and tear compared to the GTR, doesn’t need 500hp+ to make it feel "alive" because the lack of 4wd system, and comes with better steering angle and caster geometry from factory due to the lack of front driveshafts.
And after owning an R32 and S13 it made me realize that although both of the cars share a lot of things especially in the rear suspension/subframe assembly, both of the cars feel completely different from each other. The R32 chassis feels more premium, more GT-esque, which makes it an awesome car to cruise and drive around with, as compared to the S13 which feels more raw and rough around the edges but still a very capable and a competitive car.
And of course, the Skyline’s unmistakable RB Inline-6 sound is a joyous soundtrack to cruise around with.
What I'd like to add is that simplicity is key, especially with cars like these. Less headache and dramas too.”
JDM Cars from the 90s have a huge fan base. And the kids who used to look at these cars in awe can now afford them. The NSX, Supra, and 3000Gt are just a few to name. I don’t see them as daily drivers in this day and age. But my gut feeling tells me these cars will appreciate in value. As prices rise for premium classics such as an original GT-R R32, the price for other variants of the R32 (or Skyline) will follow. You can flip this in the future.
As for ride experience, I can’t judge the R32 just by driving this one. It’s been track prepped. I imagine a stock R32 (GTS) would feel a bit more like a grand tourer with the massive inline 6 in front.
Does it matter that it’s not a GT-R?
No. People can hardly tell anyway when you zoom past them.
Should you buy an R32?
If you’re a hardcore R32 enthusiast, go ahead. If you’re looking for a drift car, Sylvias seem to be the more popular choice.
Will it give you massive street cred?
Yes. The R32 GT-R was the pioneer of the Godzilla nickname. And a car that looks like it emits a similar aura.
Thanks again to Kyle for the opportunity with the R32 GTS-t Type-M.
Featuring yours truly in the background.