Is living with an 833bhp R34 GT-R Skyline a bad idea? | Top Gear
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Saturday 23rd September
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Is living with an 833bhp R34 GT-R Skyline a bad idea?

How many horses can you fit in a Skyline GT-R? Always more...

Internationally renowned photographer Mark has been working with TG for many, many years. When not taking photos he’s buying inappropriate cars. Here he shares his addiction with the world…

I remember seeing a copy of Top Gear magazine in 2002 which had the tiniest snippet on Nissan’s Skyline GT-R ending production.

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This made me quite sad. As a 14-year-old who hadn’t yet discovered girls, I’d already decided the R34 GT-R was the best car in the world. Way cooler than any Ferrari or Porsche. And, seemingly unaware that cars could be picked up second hand, I assumed I’d never get the chance to own one as an adult.

Obviously, I’d already bought fifteen of them – virtually – within Gran Turismo 3. Each tuned to a ridiculous level and sitting on textbook Volk TE37s. But it was the first car I properly wanted to own when I got older. That and a 1992 Dodge Viper, but even 14-year-old me knew that prospect would be a bit silly.

The first website I ever built was dedicated to Skyline GT-Rs. The first feature car I wrote on Max Power, a Skyline GT-R. The first thing I bought from eBay wasn’t a model, but an R34 GT-R sales brochure. Unsurprisingly, I still didn’t have a girlfriend at this point.

Being able to introduce my very own R34 GT-R to Top Gear magazine must be the perfect fairy tale ending. Apart from the reality is more like a Saw film than something from Disney. In fact, if you press the ‘reset’ button on the dash you can just about hear a Japanese woman say, ‘Mark-san, do you want to play a little game?’

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This is actually my third GT-R, which is also on its third engine rebuild. It’s chewed through three head gaskets, two cylinder heads, three ECUs and even an engine block in the process. Oh, and three new fuel pumps.

Not that any of this is a particular surprise; it’s currently producing 844bhp, which is three times the standard power. I’m fantastically unreasonable at the best of times, but you can’t push an engine that far and assume it’ll behave like a normal Skyline.

Because with these cars, chasing power gets properly addictive, and that’s always been the Skyline’s party piece. With basic breathing mods the stock power (276bhp) can jump to 400bhp. Swap out the turbos and add more fuel you’ll be knocking on for 500bhp. But what about going beyond 600bhp?

That’s where I’m at currently. After the second engine ruined a valve while on track, I decided to throw everything in the bin and start afresh, to do it once more, but without cutting corners. The goal was to build it for four-figure horsepower, but anything north of 800bhp would be pretty good.

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I drove the Skyline three times in 2020, which is two more than usual. And I think that best sums up Skyline ownership once you’ve got a bit carried away, which does seem to be my default setting for every car I own. But if we all took the easy route in life, it would get a bit boring wouldn’t it? Maybe it’s better to ask that question again once it’s been back on the dyno.

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