I’ve been driving R31 Skylines since they first came out in the mid ’80s, and have had a few in my day, but I had always aspired to own one of the two limited-build GTS versions made by SVD (Special Vehicles Division). They built 200 white units in 1988 based on the series-two body shape and 200 red units in 1989 on the series three.
A friend of mine’s father had a GTS 1 back in 1988, and when I drove it I was hooked, and said from that day I would own one of these cars. I finally tracked down a well looked after example in 2001 and still own it today, probably never to be sold again.
My GTS came out of the Nissan factory as a mid-spec 3.0-litre GXE manual, then into the SVD factory where they added all the SVD equipment such as uprated springs, Bilstein shocks, 27mm swaybars, super-comfy Scheel seats and Momo steering wheel. Engine mods included modifying the exhaust port, bigger camshaft, stainless steel extractors and 2.25-inch exhaust and an oil cooler. The front brakes were off the Japanese Group A race cars and are phenomenal.
All up, the car has 140kW of power, which back in 1989 was a good chunk of power compared to the 3.8-litre VN (125kW) and 3.9-litre EA Falcon with 139kW, and most four-cylinder buzz boxes of the day with about 80kW if you were lucky.
It doesn’t have any airbags, power windows or ABS etc, but it does have oodles of rail-like grip and handling with those fantastic brakes to pull you up. All the journos of the day raved about it as one of the best drivers’ cars of its day with good power to weight. The Jatco five-speed is smooth and slots in nice and easy, even after nearly 30 years.
Over the years, she has been pretty reliable with just a couple of issues – replacing the distributor when the crank-angle sensor died and the common dodgy Skyline diff that I’ve had refurbished.
Overall, even though the Skyline is a boxy shape, I still think SVD did a commendable job smoothing this one out, and yes, the white wheels are a standard feature.