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Jul 7, 2020

How Fast Does It Go? Nissan Skyline GT-R

NISMO 320 km/hr speedometer (198 mph) These were not factory installed

When I was a kid, I would always look at the speedometer of a car, and use that to determine how cool a car was. A higher top speed on the speedometer, had to mean that the car was faster.  Then the 80's came, and for a little while, it seemed that putting too high of a speed on the speedometer was something that wasn't cool anymore. The national speed limit was 55 mph, and the speedometers stopped at 85 mph.  

In Japan, the R32 version of the Nissan Skyline GT-R came with a 180 km/hr speedometer or 112 mph speedo.  All the R32 GT-R, got 180 km/hr speedometers, even the 560 Nismo versions.  I have had this discussion with a lot of people, and from the factory, just the 180 km/hr.  The R32 also had the ding, ding, dinger when you went above 100 km/hr. 

An R32 GT-R speedometer cluster. Notice the front torque meter, 10k rpm tach.

However there were other speedometer clusters that were sold, even some through the Nissan dealers. 260 km/hr (160 mph) were first available, then later 320 km/hr were available.  That 320 km/hr speedo puts the car right at that sweet spot of a number.  200 mph or actually 198 mph, but lets just say its close enough to 200 mph.  In real life most speedos read high, so even at 320 km/hr indicated, you would have probably only been about 188-190 mph actual. 

Since top speed was sort of a taboo subject in 1989 when the R32 GT-R was released, there is not a lot of hard information about the unrestricted top speed. The ECU cut the fun at 180 km/hr or 112 mph.  However it was common for people to retune the ECU, add a defeat device, or even cut the input into the ECU. The R32 GT-R has the aerodynamics of a brick. Most information you will find, will say the R32, R33, and R34 all do around 155 mph unrestricted.  This is a fairly believable number, but not that satisfying to the fanbois. 

It takes about 600 horsepower to get an R32 GT-R to around 200 mph.  An R33, and R34 will do it with less.  The R34 has some gearing advantages, and a little over 400 hp will do nearly 320 km/hr indicated(professional driver, closed course, of course). 

Whenever we were racing cars professionally, people would always come up, and ask us "how fast is the car,truck,van."    Since absolute top speed is not something we really care much about in road racing, the actual answer we would give people, generally wasn't very satisfying for them.  You would throw some realistic answer at them - 145 mph on the straight here at Willow Springs, or "we saw 138 at the end of the straight", they seemed to walk away unhappy. If we said - it did a 1:27 at Streets of Willow, another look of confusion.  1:59 at Buttonwillow, nope doesn't do any good. Most non hardcore car people can't relate to those numbers.  Do you know what makes most people happy, and they walk away with a smile on their face, even if it isn't at all true?

200 miles per hour. 

So when they ask, I just say - 200mph. They are satisfied, they generally find that answer agreeable.  It is a nice round number. If anyone calls BS, we give them the other numbers, but 200 mph is an easy answer.  Try it one day, you might like it. 

White face Nismo 320 km/hr speedometer cluster. 11k tach

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