Let's see how the power they make has changed over the years.
As you may have already seen, we recently had a brand-new Nissan R35 GT-R Nismo come through the garage. We had the car for a week, so, of course, we had to figure out a few interesting things to do with it.
We've always wanted to line up every generation of GT-R for a photoshoot, so we started reaching out to local GT-R owners in Queensland. This, it turned out, was easier said than done.
Finding stock GT-Rs is far trickier than you might imagine, so we started calling out to our contacts in the hope we could get the cars we wanted. And, instead of seeking just the three cars we needed (white R32, R33 and R34), we decided we may as well make a little meet out of it.
With every call and every Facebook post we made seeking the hero cars for the shoot, our collection of interested GT-R owners grew. In the end, we managed to attract around 30 GT-Rs to a Tuesday-night gathering, which is a fair effort when you consider we only gave three days notice.
Our Tuesday meet attracted everything from legendary R32s and R33s, right through to a very rare R34 V-Spec II NUR (the last of the R34's main run), and of course our own R35 GT-R Nismo Edition.
Some of the cars in attendance boasted insane power levels, especially a few of the R32s, which ranged up to a ridiculous 1000+hp - proving just how much potential the GT-R platform has.
Above: The selection of vehicles made for a very colourful car park.
Above: We filled the Audi Centre car park with GT-Rs. (Photo credit: Jon Pumfrey)
Above: This is the end of the car that most other drivers will see. It's no wonder Nissan made them look so good from behind. (Photo credit: Jon Pumfrey)
Above: Everything from R32s to R35s showed up to our impromptu gathering. (Photo credit: Tessa Whyte)
Back in the '90s, the GT-R's factory-claimed power figure of 280hp was considered impressive, but fast-forward 20 years and even a humble Toyota Aurion makes around 300hp from its 3.5L donk.
You may even question why we would need to dyno them, considering we already know the factory power figures. Well, I'm glad you asked!
Nissan, just like every other Japanese manufacturer, used to adhere to a "gentlemen's agreement" that they would not produce vehicles that exceeded 280hp. We can only speculate that this was to increase safety by stopping people from getting themselves into too much trouble, just like they restricted the top speed by means of an electronic limiter to 180kph.
Above: The majority of the cars were unfortunately not stock, which would make our ability to get a base line figure for each vehicle difficult.
The majority of the cars on show were far from stock, so they would be no good for our dyno comparison, but thankfully we were able to locate at least one stock (or close to stock) GT-R from each generation.
While we were at it, we organised a stock standard 2017 GT-R (non Nismo edition) so we could compare the base model to the Nismo. This brought us to a total of five cars to test. R32, R33, R34, R35 and R35 Nismo.
Above: All the models in one place. (Pic credit: Toby Leung)
For those unfamiliar with dynos, they measure the power at the wheels, whereas manufacturers quote power at the flywheel. So, regardless of what you read in the brochure for the car, the "wheel horsepower" is generally substantially less than the quoted factory "flywheel horsepower". The dyno (or dynamometer) is used to measure the power at the wheels (or in this case, the hubs).
The video of all the runs mentioned below is at the top of this article.
Above: Lining up the cars to get run on the dyno at GT Auto Garage.
Most R32s went through a period where they were very cheap, and since they are so easily modified to make power, not many people had the forethought to leave them stock. Thankfully for us, though, this example was perfect for our purposes.
Above: Loading up the R32 onto the dyno.
That being said, the power was already starting to drop away at the higher revs anyway, so it should not have impacted our max-power reading.
Above: Dyno graph for the R32 GT-R.
This particular vehicle was a customer of GT Auto Garages, and even though it was bought as "stock" from Japan, it has always been considered a "freak" with higher than usual power outputs, even before the air filters were added.
Above: The R33 on the dyno.
Above: Dyno graph for the R33 GT-R.
This was the last of the Skyline GT-Rs ever produced, with the R35s losing the "Skyline" badge. Being the "Nur", it was the most powerful production car Nissan had produced at that point in time.
It comes with an "N1" block, N1 oil pump and N1 turbochargers. They are substantially larger than the base model units, and would have been comparable to the current "Nismo" edition when it was released.
Above: The R34 Nur on the dyno.
Above: Dyno graph for the R34 GT-R Vspec II Nur.
The new generation of GT-R is the first to be powered by a twin-turbo V6 VR38-DETT engine, a vastly different power plant to the old faithful straight-six RB26-DETT as seen in the previous model GT-Rs from 1989 to 2002.
They displace 3.8L compared to the RB26's 2.6L, and like their predecessors are extremely strong and easy to make big power from with relative ease.
Above: The standard 2017 R35 on the dyno.hugedouble
It becomes very easy to see why the old straight six was retired in favour of this powerhouse.
Above: Dyno graph for the 2017 R35 GT-R.
With a factory-claimed power of 591hp, we were interested to see exactly how much power the creme de la creme of Nissans would produce.
Above: The 2017 R35 Nismo on the dyno.
With this much power and over 600Nm of torque, it's no wonder the heavy thing gets up and boogies. Though we have to admit it feels substantially laggier than the standard 2017 version, due to the much larger turbos that are rumoured to be the same as those found on Porsche's GT2 RS.
Above: Dyno graph for the 2017 R35 GT-R Nismo Edition.
There we have it, every generation of AWD GT-R tested on the same dyno, under the same conditions.
Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, some of the vehicles tested had minor modifications like intake and exhaust. On top of this, since the vehicles range around 20 years it is impossible to get factory showroom power figures, so there will no doubt be some variation in results compared to what we would have seen had we managed to get a time machine back to 1989 and wait to grab one GT-R from each generation over the subsequent 13 years.
So, until we get access to that time machine, this is about as good as it's going to get for now.
Many thanks to the owners of the cars who came to the meet, those who took time out of their day to let us run them on the dyno, and of course GT Auto Garage and Nissan.