It came from the East, so they say, a huge and mighty beast that breathed fire and destroyed all in front of it. Only the foolish resisted, those who would rather survive did the sensible thing and let it pass by.

Its flashing eyes, its bulky form, its rasping cry – all these things would pass into legend. They called the monster Godzilla, but it had another name too: the Nissan GT-R. Here is the story of how it came to be.

It came from the East, so they say, a huge and mighty beast that breathed fire and destroyed all in front of it. Only the foolish resisted, those who would rather survive did the sensible thing and let it pass by.2015 Nissan GT-R

It came from the East, so they say, a huge and mighty beast that breathed fire and destroyed all in front of it. Only the foolish resisted, those who would rather survive did the sensible thing and let it pass by.

Its flashing eyes, its bulky form, its rasping cry – all these things would pass into legend. They called the monster Godzilla, but it had another name too: the Nissan GT-R. Here is the story of how it came to be.2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo

Its flashing eyes, its bulky form, its rasping cry – all these things would pass into legend. They called the monster Godzilla, but it had another name too: the Nissan GT-R. Here is the story of how it came to be.

The Beginning

We begin our story in the 1950s with a rather unassuming blue sedan, the Prince Skyline 2000-GT. A small company with modest output, Prince was relatively sporting for a Japanese automaker, and in their Skyline – a small sedan named after Japan's winding mountain roads – they had a lively if slightly underpowered machine.1964 Prince Skyline 2000GT

We begin our story in the 1950s with a rather unassuming blue sedan, the Prince Skyline 2000-GT. A small company with modest output, Prince was relatively sporting for a Japanese automaker, and in their Skyline – a small sedan named after Japan's winding mountain roads – they had a lively if slightly underpowered machine.

What happened next is the same story that's been repeated over and over again throughout the history of the automobile. Prince also had a large luxury sedan called the Gloria, so they plucked the 2.0L straight-six out of it and stuffed it under the hood of the Prince. This more than doubled the output of this early Skyline racer, giving it enough steam that perhaps a little racing was in order.1967 Prince Gloria Super 6

What happened next is the same story that's been repeated over and over again throughout the history of the automobile. Prince also had a large luxury sedan called the Gloria, so they plucked the 2.0L straight-six out of it and stuffed it under the hood of the Prince. This more than doubled the output of this early Skyline racer, giving it enough steam that perhaps a little racing was in order.

Imagine the scene at the second-ever Japanese Grand Prix when the homely, boxy, humble little Skyline sedan managed to pass a sleek Porsche 904GTS to lead a lap. The crowd roared their approval – the legend was about to hatch.1966 Prince R380-I

Imagine the scene at the second-ever Japanese Grand Prix when the homely, boxy, humble little Skyline sedan managed to pass a sleek Porsche 904GTS to lead a lap. The crowd roared their approval – the legend was about to hatch.

The First of the Breed

Prince was soon swallowed up by Nissan in the mid-1960s, but the latter would keep the Skyline name in production as it was so popular. They also intended to continue racing, and the story of what happened next is roughly analogous to that of the first BMW M5. Not satisfied with a merely sporty sedan Nissan stole the engine out of a dedicated racecar and made one of the most victorious racing sedans ever built.1965 Prince Skyline 1500 Deluxe

Prince was soon swallowed up by Nissan in the mid-1960s, but the latter would keep the Skyline name in production as it was so popular. They also intended to continue racing, and the story of what happened next is roughly analogous to that of the first BMW M5. Not satisfied with a merely sporty sedan Nissan stole the engine out of a dedicated racecar and made one of the most victorious racing sedans ever built.

They called it <i>Hakosuka</i>, literally box Skyline. There's a pretty simplicity to its lines now, but back then the first GT-R didn't look like much. However, under those reserved four-door looks was a 2.0L 160 hp straight-six that was strong-running and tough enough to go the distance. 1969 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R

They called it Hakosuka, literally box Skyline. There's a pretty simplicity to its lines now, but back then the first GT-R didn't look like much. However, under those reserved four-door looks was a 2.0L 160 hp straight-six that was strong-running and tough enough to go the distance.

Nissan had purloined the motor out of their Prince R380 (the car that finally beat the Porsches at the track), and this first Skyline was soon on its way to establishing a dominating racing presence. It would score nearly fifty racing victories, becoming a coupe in the process.Nissan Skyline GT-R PCG10

Nissan had purloined the motor out of their Prince R380 (the car that finally beat the Porsches at the track), and this first Skyline was soon on its way to establishing a dominating racing presence. It would score nearly fifty racing victories, becoming a coupe in the process.

The Second Generation

As in the US, the Japanese motoring industry was hit hard by the fuel crisis of the 1970s. High-performance engines and their thirst for fuel fell out of favour almost overnight, and this next GT-R would be extremely rare, driven right to the edge of extinction.1973 Nissan Skyline H/T 2000GT-R

As in the US, the Japanese motoring industry was hit hard by the fuel crisis of the 1970s. High-performance engines and their thirst for fuel fell out of favour almost overnight, and this next GT-R would be extremely rare, driven right to the edge of extinction.

They called it the <i>Kenmeri</i>, a nickname taken from an ad campaign that featured the fictional Ken and Mary roaming around Japan having adventures in their regular Skyline sedan. Like many Japanese cars of the time, the <i>Kenmeri</i> somewhat resembled a shrunk down American fastback.Nissan Skyline GT-R C110 Kenmeri

They called it the Kenmeri, a nickname taken from an ad campaign that featured the fictional Ken and Mary roaming around Japan having adventures in their regular Skyline sedan. Like many Japanese cars of the time, the Kenmeri somewhat resembled a shrunk down American fastback.

It looked great and retained the same power as the <i>Hakosuka</i>, but it would have neither success on the track nor in the showroom. Just 197 of these cars were made in 1973, making it one of the rarest machines ever.Nissan Skyline GT-R C110 Kenmeri

It looked great and retained the same power as the Hakosuka, but it would have neither success on the track nor in the showroom. Just 197 of these cars were made in 1973, making it one of the rarest machines ever.

The Third-Generation Gap

In the 1980s, Datsun would go through a laborious process of changing its name to Nissan in North America, a period marked by mostly unremarkable products and some financial wobbliness. Globally, Nissan's racing results weren't much to write home about either.1983 Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette

In the 1980s, Datsun would go through a laborious process of changing its name to Nissan in North America, a period marked by mostly unremarkable products and some financial wobbliness. Globally, Nissan's racing results weren't much to write home about either.

While the GT-R name was officially in hibernation, there would be two cars of interest to Skyline fans. The first of these was the RS-X, a boxy coupe with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for around 200 hp. Not too shabby.Nissan Silvia Coupe RS-X

While the GT-R name was officially in hibernation, there would be two cars of interest to Skyline fans. The first of these was the RS-X, a boxy coupe with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for around 200 hp. Not too shabby.

The RS-X would give rise to a fictional version as well, a hero car from the wacky Japanese crime show <i>Seibu Keisatsu</i>. Fitted with all sorts of fancy-pants technology, this car at least preserved the Skyline's potential in the public imagination.1986 Nissan Silvia Coupe RS-X

The RS-X would give rise to a fictional version as well, a hero car from the wacky Japanese crime show Seibu Keisatsu. Fitted with all sorts of fancy-pants technology, this car at least preserved the Skyline's potential in the public imagination.

The Return of Godzilla

In 1989, Godzilla returned. Nissan fans in North America remember the end of the eighties and the beginning of the 1990s as the turnaround point for the company, particularly with the rebirth of the 300ZX as a twin-turbocharged rocket, and the situation abroad was no different.1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

In 1989, Godzilla returned. Nissan fans in North America remember the end of the eighties and the beginning of the 1990s as the turnaround point for the company, particularly with the rebirth of the 300ZX as a twin-turbocharged rocket, and the situation abroad was no different.

The R32-chassis Skyline GT-R (fans love to refer to GT-Rs by their chassis codes alone) was an absolute terror, bred for the racetrack. It had clever all-wheel-drive and a twin-turbocharged 2.6L engine making 278 hp. Wait, I tell a lie – or rather Nissan did. Power levels were a lot closer to 300hp stock, and the GT-R's engine was easily modifiable for between 600-800hp.1991 Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

The R32-chassis Skyline GT-R (fans love to refer to GT-Rs by their chassis codes alone) was an absolute terror, bred for the racetrack. It had clever all-wheel-drive and a twin-turbocharged 2.6L engine making 278 hp. Wait, I tell a lie – or rather Nissan did. Power levels were a lot closer to 300hp stock, and the GT-R's engine was easily modifiable for between 600-800hp.

This reborn GT-R burst onto the Japanese touring scene and simply tore the place up. It had the same effect in Australian touring car racing, and after running around saying “Strewth!” a lot, the Aussies dubbed the car Godzilla for the first time. Then they banned it.1993 Nissan Skyline GT-R R32

This reborn GT-R burst onto the Japanese touring scene and simply tore the place up. It had the same effect in Australian touring car racing, and after running around saying “Strewth!” a lot, the Aussies dubbed the car Godzilla for the first time. Then they banned it.

Godzilla Goes to Finishing School

The R32 was built until 1994, and the car that replaced it was not quite as fierce at first. The R33 GT-R was a smoothing of the breed, slightly heavier, a little better equipped, and easier to drive.Nissan Skyline GT-R R33

The R32 was built until 1994, and the car that replaced it was not quite as fierce at first. The R33 GT-R was a smoothing of the breed, slightly heavier, a little better equipped, and easier to drive.

However, Nissan motorsports division (NISMO) soon fixed that problem. A specially tuned version called the Nismo 400R was quickly released, now with a 2.8L engine tuned up to 400 hp. Another 100 hp required little more than cranking up the boost a bit, and the 400R had the aerodynamics and brakes to handle the extra power.1997 Nismo 400R

However, Nissan motorsports division (NISMO) soon fixed that problem. A specially tuned version called the Nismo 400R was quickly released, now with a 2.8L engine tuned up to 400 hp. Another 100 hp required little more than cranking up the boost a bit, and the 400R had the aerodynamics and brakes to handle the extra power.

Last of the Analog GT-Rs

At the turn of the decade, the last of the great analog GT-Rs was built, the R34. For a generation that grew up racing these cars virtually with the <i>Gran Turismo</i> series of games, the R34 represents a holy grail of sorts, not least because it was also the car driven by the late Paul Walker in the <i>Fast and Furious</i> films.Nissan Skyline GT-R R34

At the turn of the decade, the last of the great analog GT-Rs was built, the R34. For a generation that grew up racing these cars virtually with the Gran Turismo series of games, the R34 represents a holy grail of sorts, not least because it was also the car driven by the late Paul Walker in the Fast & Furious films.

R34s are now importable into Canada under grey market rules, so you might see the odd one around – there aren't that many full-blooded GT-R versions to be found yet, as they were quite expensive. However, when discussing the R34, we of course have to talk about the best one ever made, the extremely rare Nismo Z-tune.2000 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-spec II

R34s are now importable into Canada under grey market rules, so you might see the odd one around – there aren't that many full-blooded GT-R versions to be found yet, as they were quite expensive. However, when discussing the R34, we of course have to talk about the best one ever made, the extremely rare Nismo Z-tune.

Tuned to within an inch of its life, the Z-tune's 2.8L straight six is built to rev and can turn at 8,000 rpm. Total power output is north of 500 hp, and the car is capable of speeds above 320km, as much as a McLaren F1. It was entirely handbuilt with specialized aero, and they only ever made 20 of them.2007 Nismo Z-tune

Tuned to within an inch of its life, the Z-tune's 2.8L straight six is built to rev and can turn at 8,000 rpm. Total power output is north of 500 hp, and the car is capable of speeds above 320km, as much as a McLaren F1. It was entirely handbuilt with specialized aero, and they only ever made 20 of them.

Mecha-Godzilla!

The GT-R returned as a global powerhouse in 2009, much to the delight of fans around the world. While much larger than previous iterations, it was immediately heralded as a world beater, with crazy tech like a rear-mounted dual-clutch transmission and twin driveshafts to handle all the power.2012 Nissan GT-R

The GT-R returned as a global powerhouse in 2009, much to the delight of fans around the world. While much larger than previous iterations, it was immediately heralded as a world beater, with crazy tech like a rear-mounted dual-clutch transmission and twin driveshafts to handle all the power.

The current king of the hill is the Nismo GT-R, a car that can sprint to 100km/h in a scarcely-believable 2.1 seconds. If you see one bearing down in your rear-view, better leave it a little extra room as it might drive right over you.2015 Nismo GT-R

The current king of the hill is the Nismo GT-R, a car that can sprint to 100km/h in a scarcely-believable 2.1 seconds. If you see one bearing down in your rear-view, better leave it a little extra room as it might drive right over you.

What's next for the GT-R? With Nissan's new LeMans program and its ongoing dedication to Japanese touring car racing, we know Godzilla's here to stay. Will the next one be lighter? Hybridized? Equipped with atomic breath? The rumours are endless, but one thing's for sure: best to stay on this beast's good side.Nissan GT-R Racecar

What's next for the GT-R? With Nissan's new LeMans program and its ongoing dedication to Japanese touring car racing, we know Godzilla's here to stay. Will the next one be lighter? Hybridized? Equipped with atomic breath? The rumours are endless, but one thing's for sure: best to stay on this beast's good side.