This week marks the 30th anniversary of Nissan’s Nismo performance tuning arm.
However, the brand's roots can be traced back a further decade to 1964, when Prince Motor Company launched a Skyline into which engineers had installed the 2.0-litre engine from a much larger luxury saloon. The result was a performance car with a vastly improved power-to-weight ratio, called the Prince Skyline 2000GT.
Just 100 examples owere made in order to meet motorsport homologation rules. The car was officially launched on 1 May 1964, and a number of examples made their racing debuts at Suzuka two days later – taking second to sixth places behind a Porsche 904.
Prince was bought by Nissan in 1966 – and in the following year the Skyline S57 was launched. Power came from a 1.5-litre engine producing 87bhp.
In 1969 the first Skyline GT-R emerged from the firm, the KPGC-10. Powered by a 158bhp 2.0-litre engine, both road-going versions and stripped-out race cars were produced. The GT-R racked up 50 racing victories between 1969 and 1972.
Up until now, Nissan’s motorsport activities had been split in two, with one division taking on work for the factory teams and the other dedicated to privateer outfits. In 1984 the two sides were merged, creating Nissan Motorsports International Company – or Nismo for short.
After focusing primarily on racing in the early years – it created the Saurus sports racer and entered Le Mans for the first time with its R85V Group C prototype in 1986 – Nismo was charged with developing the Skyline R32 for both the race track and road.
The car gained a cult following as it dominated touring car racing in the Far East and Australia, where the nickname 'Godzilla' was first coined. Its successor, the Skyline R33, was the first production-based car to lap the Nürburgring in less than eight minutes.