Nissan Skyline R30
|1981 to 1985|
|Also called||Newman Skyline|
|Production||1981–1985 406,432 units sold|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan 2-door coupe 5-door hatchback 5-door station wagon|
|Related||Nissan Laurel Nissan Leopard|
|Engine||1,770 cc Z18S I4 1,809 cc CA18E I4 1,952 cc Z20E I4 1,990 cc FJ20E DOHC I4 1,990 cc FJ20ET DOHC turbo I4 1,998 cc L20E I6 1,998 cc L20ET turbo I6 2,393 cc L24E I6 2,753 cc L28E I6 2,792 cc LD28 diesel I6|
|Wheelbase||2,615 mm (103.0 in)|
|Length||4,620 mm (181.9 in)|
|Width||1,675 mm (65.9 in)|
|Height||1,385 mm (54.5 in)|
The names were brought into line with the home Japanese and worldwide markets with the launch of the R30 series in August 1981, which was built on a C31 Laurel platform. Unlike preceding generations, four- and six-cylinder versions now shared a front end of the same length. The R30 was available as a two-door hardtop coupe, a four-door sedan, a five-door hatchback (available only in the R30 generation), or a four-door station wagon. In all, there were 26 variations of the R30 Skyline available.
All versions with the exception of the wagon were usually fitted with the four round tail lights that had become a regular feature to the Skyline's design. The wagon had different tail lights, headlights, and no turbo or six-cylinder versions available. It more closely resembled a Nissan Sunny than a Skyline. The two-door coupé had a hardtop, pillarless design, and featured roll-down quarter windows for the rear seat passengers (a styling feature of the previous C10, C110, and C211 coupes), while four-door versions had a traditional sedan body style with framed windows.
Notably, configurations of the R30 sold in Australia and New Zealand were missing the traditional hotplate tail lights, instead opting for more conventional styling. Export markets also received some larger (albeit less powerful) engines, in the form of 2.4 and a 2.8 liter inline-sixes of 120 PS (88 kW) or 139 PS (102 kW). The 2.8 was added in September 1982.
Various engine configurations were available, initially ranging from the top of the line 103 kW SOHC 6-cylinder turbo L20ET to the 4-cylinder Z18S and 6-cylinder LD28 diesel versions at the other end of the scale. The all-new 16-valve DOHC FJ20 engine debuted in late 1981, and was the first four-cylinder engine from any Japanese manufacturer to employ more than two valves per cylinder (see below). Some of the top spec models featured adjustable suspension dampers that could be adjusted while driving, this was another first for mass-produced JDM vehicles. Nissan Glorias and Laurels also used the L series engines, as well as some diesel (Laurel only) variants.
The R30 range was facelifted in August 1983 with various changes across the board; for example four-wheel disc brakes were now standard issue, instead of being optional for lower-spec models. Trim specifications were revised and the 4-cylinder Z18S engine was replaced with the newer CA18E. Features included upgraded interior trim, new front and rear bumpers, door-mounted wing mirrors (replacing the old 'hockey stick' fender mirrors), and smoked tail lights.
Paul Newman Version
During 1983 the Paul Newman Version R30 was released to commemorate the association between Nissan and the actor Paul Newman, who used to appear in promotional material, as well as race for the company during the late-1970s and early-1980s. The Newman Skyline was simply a top spec GT-ES turbo with signature embroidery and decals.
Although making about the same power as the L20ET-powered GT-ES models, the version of the Skyline initially known as the 2000RS was released on October 2, 1981 as more of a stripped-down lightweight racer, without as many luxury extras included (quoted curb weight was only 1,130 kg (2,500 lb)). These were equipped with the naturally aspirated 4-valve-per-cylinder DOHC FJ20E engine generating 110 kW (150 PS; 148 hp) of power at 6,000 rpm and 181 N·m (133 lb·ft) of torque at 4,800 rpm. The official Nissan chassis designation for all FJ20-powered models was DR30.
In February 1983 the DR30 range received a significant boost in performance with the introduction of the turbocharged FJ20ET engine in the 2000RS-Turbo. Front brakes were also significantly upgraded to cope with the power increase. Now with 140 kW (190 PS; 188 hp) of power at 6,400 rpm and 225 N·m (166 lb·ft) of torque at 4,800 rpm on tap, the FJ20ET enjoyed new-found prestige as the most powerful Japanese production engine of its era.
Nissan sought to elevate the status of the DR30 Skyline as their new flagship model in light of this success, and it received a generous amount of changes to distinguish it from lesser Skyline models in August 1983. Interior equipment was significantly upgraded to now include electric windows, air conditioning and power steering as standard in the new RS-X model (for Extra) with an increased curb weight of around 1,235 kg (2,723 lb); gone were the days of the spartan, stripped-out race interior, although this could still be specified at time of purchase. But by far the most striking change to the RS was the new unique front end treatment, nicknamed Tekkamen (鉄仮面) 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 airdam.
Further changes were made in 1984, most notably the addition of an intercooler, revised compression ratios and turbocharger exhaust housing to the FJ20ET powered model, now known as the RS-Turbo C and increasing output to 205 PS (151 kW) of power at 6,400 rpm and 245 N·m (181 lb·ft) of torque at 4400 rpm. 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.
To this day the FJ20-powered R30 Skyline remains a cult car both at home and overseas (there are still dedicated "one make" drag racing events for this model in Japan), and is credited with rejuvenating the Skyline brand in the early 1980s. It also paved the way for the eventual re-introduction of the legendary GT-R badge, markedly absent since the end of C110 Skyline production in 1973.
The RS achieved moderate success in Australian Touring car racing in the mid-1980s with Nissan winning the 1986 Australian Manufacturers' Championship and sharing victory in the 1987 Australian Manufacturers' Championship with BMW
- 1800TI – 1.8 L Z18S SOHC I4, 105 PS (77 kW), later models 1.8 L CA18E SOHC I4, 115 PS (85 kW)
- 2000TI – 2.0 L CA20E SOHC I4
- 2000TI – 2.0 L Z20E SOHC I4
- 2000GT and Passage – 2.0 L L20E SOHC I6
- 2000GT Turbo, Passage and Paul Newman Version – 2.0 L L20ET turbo I6, 140 PS (103 kW, 206 N m)
- RS – 2.0 L FJ20E DOHC I4, 150 PS (110 kW, 181 N m)
- RS-X and RS-X Turbo C – 2.0 L FJ20ET DOHC turbo I4, 190 to 205 PS (140 to 151 kW, 225 to 245 N m)
- 280D GT – 2.8 L LD28 SOHC I6 Diesel