Nis­san GT-R50

Yak­isoba Bolog­nese might not ap­peal, but this Ital­ian-Ja­panese dish has our taste­buds tin­gling

Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Contents - WORDS: JA­SON BAR­LOW / PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: MARK RIC­CIONI

Nis­san teams up with Italde­sign to de­velop a GT-R fit to hon­our the orig­i­nal Hako­suka which is about to turn 50

Some years are big­ger than oth­ers. On cur­rent form, 2018 is shap­ing up to be one that’ll linger longer in the me­mory. But it still has some way to go if it’s to beat 1968. Jour­nal­ist Mark Kurlan­sky man­aged to get a weighty, bril­liant book out of it, 1968: The Year That Shook The World. The Paris ri­ots, the Prague Spring, the Tet of­fen­sive, the as­sas­si­na­tion of Mar­tin Luther King… the Six­ties dream was un­der at­tack, the mood febrile. Cul­tur­ally, it was sig­nif­i­cant too: Stan­ley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey blew minds, The Bea­tles’ White Al­bum was re­leased, Led Zep­pelin formed.

On op­po­site sides of the world, the car world also felt a no­table rip­ple in the Force. In Turin, the prodi­giously ta­lented Gior­getto Gi­u­giaro and his busi­ness part­ner Aldo Man­to­vani formed Italde­sign. In Tokyo, Nis­san showed the first GT-R, a po­tent reimag­in­ing of the Sky­line sa­loon that had be­gun life as a model made by the Prince com­pany (now a foot­note, it merged with Nis­san in 1966).

Italde­sign would go on to cre­ate the VW Golf, Fiat Panda and

Fiat Uno, among countless other far-reach­ing cars and con­cepts. The GT-R, mean­while, would trans­mo­grify across six gen­er­a­tions, los­ing the Sky­line name but be­com­ing one of the pil­lars of a thrilling and oc­ca­sion­ally ab­stract Ja­panese au­to­mo­tive subculture. Now they meet, and how. This is the GT-R50 by Italde­sign. Nis­san’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent for global de­sign, Al­fonso Al­baisa, takes up the story. “We were ap­proached by Italde­sign just be­fore the Geneva Mo­tor show in 2017 with a pro­posal to make ‘some­thing spe­cial’. They showed us their cre­ation Zer­ouno [the first Italde­sign Au­to­mo­bili branded car] at the Geneva show, and walked us through the busi­ness of mak­ing a lim­ited series and how it could work for some of our iconic cars. We thought about it a bit and they came to Tokyo some months later. The idea to make 50 lim­ited ve­hi­cles cel­e­brat­ing

50 years of both the GT-R and Italde­sign came from that meet­ing.”

We like those kinds of meet­ings. Italde­sign, of course, is now wholly owned by the Volk­swa­gen Group, Gi­u­giaro hav­ing re­lin­quished his re­main­ing 10 per cent in 2015. Its head of de­sign is for­mer Lam­borgh­ini man Filippo Perini, al­though it’s im­por­tant to note that its en­gi­neer­ing ca­pa­bil­ity is just as rel­e­vant here. In fact, while Italde­sign de­vel­oped, en­gi­neered and built the car, the GT-R50’s ex­tra­or­di­nary vi­su­als are the work of Nis­san’s Lon­don Padding­ton and San Diego de­sign out­posts. It made its de­but at the Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed in July (it­self cel­e­brat­ing its 25th an­niver­sary), and was one of the first cars I spot­ted when I ar­rived on site. Well, you couldn’t miss it.

“In 1968, Gior­getto Gi­u­giaro and Aldo Man­to­vani formed Italde­sign. In Tokyo, Nis­san showed the first GT-R”

Gold. Gold is def­i­nitely a thing on the GT-R50. There’s an ex­panse of it on the car’s nose, ex­e­cuted in such a way that it looks as though it be­longs to an­other car al­to­gether that’s try­ing to push its way through. It’s there in the ‘samu­rai blade’ cool­ing out­lets be­hind the front wheels, and again in the rear of the car, to such an ex­tent, says Nis­san, that it ap­pears as a sep­a­rate mo­du­lar el­e­ment in the struc­ture.

“Not only is it a 50th an­niver­sary colour, gold is used in F1 and other per­for­mance ma­chines due to its heat-de­flect­ing prop­er­ties,” Al­baisa says. “We played with this and used it to rep­re­sent the in­ner struc­ture of the car. It is a kind of car within a car.”

The ef­fect is set off in dra­matic fash­ion by twin rear lights that re­ally do look like they’re float­ing free. A huge rear wing and dif­fuser an­chor the GT-R50 in aero­dy­namic re­al­ity, but in ev­ery other sense this is a ge­nius mash-up of Euro­pean sen­si­bil­i­ties and Ja­panese anti-de­sign. Wasn’t that kind of the point of all those Sky­lines?

“Ac­tu­ally my for­mer boss, Naka­mura-san, men­tioned to me dur­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the cur­rent GT-R that if some­one com­pli­mented him on the car’s beauty, he’d failed. What he meant was that the GT-R’s mys­tique and its very DNA is that of a beast. It’s bru­tal in ap­pear­ance but science-like in its pre­ci­sion. Of course, I find this to be es­sen­tial as well, and there is a Ja­panese aes­thetic that is a must. That said, it must come nat­u­rally, be­cause the GT-R is an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of many nec­es­sary things. How­ever, in­te­gra­tion and re­fine­ment are not al­ways con­scious parts of the de­sign process.

“There is some­thing unique and sur­pris­ing about liv­ing in Ja­pan,” Al­baisa con­tin­ues. “The sources of in­spi­ra­tion for de­sign­ers of ev­ery­thing from fash­ion, to au­to­mo­biles, to build­ings are some­how iso­lated from the rest of the world. That said, the world re­ceives and em­braces these de­signs with great cu­rios­ity.”

Very true. And now en­hances it. Like ev­ery car de­signer who breathes air, Italde­sign is a lodestar for Nis­san’s Cuban-born Amer­i­can de­sign boss. “My gen­er­a­tion of de­sign­ers grew up with Italde­sign de­sign books and Gi­u­giaro as our iconic hero,” he says. “His abil­ity to touch and shape so many as­pects of de­sign is a con­tin­ued source of in­spi­ra­tion for me. Lately, the Maserati Boomerang is on my mind all the time. But frankly there are too many to men­tion.”

The GT-R50 is fur­ther proof that the world’s HNWs’ hunger for in­di­vid­u­al­ity is driv­ing a new era of au­to­mo­tive ‘be­spoke’, one that

“The GT-R’s mys­tique and its very DNA is that of a beast. It’s bru­tal in ap­pear­ance

but science-like in its pre­ci­sion”

has echoes in the Ital­ian car­rozze­ria tra­di­tion that partly in­spired Gi­u­giaro in the first place. “Yes, I fully agree,” Al­baisa says. “I be­lieve as great things be­come more and more at­tain­able, rar­ity or ob­jects with a nar­row story are the ex­pres­sion of to­day. When Italde­sign came to us, I was aware and frankly lov­ing watch­ing this re­turn to be­spoke around the world. But I never thought about our role in this re­turn to the coach­builder genre.”

It’s still a GT-R, though. Pretty much the ul­ti­mate one, as you’d hope for a car whose start­ing price, if (when) it goes into lim­ited pro­duc­tion is ap­prox­i­mately £800k. This is a full-blown Nismo ma­chine, with a hand-made 3.8-litre V6 mak­ing 712bhp and

779Nm, fea­tur­ing high-flow, large-di­am­e­ter GT3 comp-spec twin tur­bos, en­larged in­ter­cool­ers, heavy-duty crank­shaft, pis­tons, con­nect­ing rods, re­worked in­take and ex­haust, beefed-up du­al­clutch gear­box and a re­in­forced dif­fer­en­tial. The rear sus­pen­sion uses Bil­stein con­tin­u­ously vari­able dampers, there are huge Brembo brakes, and Miche­lin Pilot Su­per Sport rub­ber wrapped around 21-inch car­bon-fi­bre wheels.

The GT-R50 may not be ‘pretty’. But it’s pretty mag­nif­i­cent.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.