Latest Nissan Skyline Tuning options.

"The Skyline is the limit"

In this article we will take an overview of the Skyline range and look at the differences between them.

For specific tuning tips please join us in the forum and chat with our growing number of Skyline owners about the tuning potential for your model.

The R-series indicates generation, R32 was 1989-1994, R33 was 1994-1998 and R34 was 1998-2002.


The engine designations indicate the cc so the RB25 is 2500cc and the RB26 is 2600cc. With a stroker kit and a rebore you can increase the cylinder capacity of the engine.

All cars sporting the GTR badge are 4WD unless converted, including the R32.

There are many different models within each generation, the most common ones being:

Powered by a RB20DET (2.0-litres, 24V I6, single turbocharger) making 216 hp. 4WS and RWD with 5-speed manual gearbox.

R32 GTR ('89-'94), V-spec, V-spec II, V-spec N1
Powered by a RB26DETT (2.6-litres, 24V I6, twin turbochargers) making 280 hp. 4WS and 4WD with 5-speed manual gearbox.

R33 GTS-25T ('94-'98)
Powered by a RB25DET (2.5-litres, 24V I6, single turbocharger) making 250 hp. 4WS and RWD with 5-speed manual gearbox. See our R33 GTS Tuning project review.

R33 GTR ('95-'98), V-spec, V-spec N1
Powered by a RB26DETT (2.6-litres, 24V I6, twin turbochargers) making 302 hp. 4WS and 4WD with 5-speed manual gearbox.

R34 GTT ('98-02)
Powered by a RB25DET NEO (2.5-litres, 24V I6, single turbocharger) making 280 hp. 4WS and RWD with 5-speed automatic transmission.

R34 GTR ('99-'02), V-spec, V-spec II, V-spec II Nür, M-spec, M-spec Nür, V-spec N1
Powered by a RB26DETT (2.6-litres, 24V I6, twin turbochargers) making 320 hp. 4WS and 4WD with 6-speed manual gearbox.

The main differences between the generations are visual, although engine, drivetrain, suspension, interior, etc received updates as well.

In this article we will take an overview of the Skyline range and look at the differences between them. For specific tuning tips please join us in the forum and chat with our growing number of Skyline owners about the tuning potential.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Generally speaking the newer the model the greater the tuning potential.

Some of our members have added large turbos and used an RB30 block to achieve immense power figures.

Otherwise you can buy a 3.0-litre kit from OS Giken, or just satisfy yourself with a bore an stroke upgrade from either HKS (2.8), Tomei (2.8), JUN (2.7 ) or GReddy/Trust (2.7). Water injection will also keep the reliability of the engine in high boost applications.

When talking about the best best for your Skyline engine, we are going to focus on the modifications that give the best value for money.

Altering your Skyline cam profile will make a dramatic difference to the engine bhp. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the bhp accordingly.

Fast road cams commonly bump the performance throughout the rev range, you could drop a little bottom end power but the top end will be higher.

Competition cams, bump the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport and race cam won't do well if driving in heavy traffic.

You should ideally optimize your bhp range to your usage of the car so for a road car stick with a mild fast road Skyline cam

Each engine responds better to less aggressive cam durations than others.

The ECU mapping and fuel pump and injectors also have a large bearing on the power gains you'll hit.

Longer valve durations can alter the power band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Intake manifolds, Fast road camshaft, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Sports exhaust header/manifold, drilled & smoothed airboxPanel air filters.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: fuel pump upgrades, Fast road cam, high flow fuel injectors, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, Ported and polished head, induction kit.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancing & blueprinting, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Twin charging conversions, Competition cam, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression.

As far as Nissan Skyline tuning goes you really need to decide what you want from the car. Although it is possible to create an all rounder you will do better setting the car up for a specific situation. We have a stunning example of a stripped out Drag racing Skyline and another setup with track days in mind.

The Skyline is a well known tuner car and we have seen some stunning projects around. Versatile enough to be a drag car, drift car or track day car. It doubles up as a practical family car.

If you cut corners in your tuning project you will certainly regret it later. Over enthusiastic boost settings will often burn the piston rings and it is easy to forget how specialised these high performance engines are.

See our comprehensive guides on each generation, and please use the comments button to pass on a great tip.

All four generations have the circular tail lights. These are equal size on R32's and R33's, with the outer light being bigger on R34's. On the R32's the rear turning indicators are mounted between the tail lights in each pair, on the R33's they are mounted below and on R34's they are inside the inner tail lights.

Nissan supplied no new cars in the UK. An agent of theirs, Middlehurst, supplied 100 R33 GTR's and 80 R34 GTR's loaded with extra equipment such as leather interior, extra oil and fluid coolers, etc. All other cars are imports to the UK.

Plan your options and then find your upgrades and set yourself a power target to void expensive mistakes.

Mapping helps release the full potential of all the tuning parts you've fitted to your Skyline.

(In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

It will usually give you around 25% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but power output may depend much on the tuning parts you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

Getting air into your Skyline is vital to any engine modification job.

Air Intake manifolds carry the air from the filter and allow it to be pulled into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Design and flow rate of the Intake manifold can make a big difference to fuel engine efficiency on the Skyline.

Fitting big valve kits, getting 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also improve bhp and torque, the fantastic side effect is it will give you a greater bhp and torque increase on other parts.

Skyline model spec history

The Nur Spec models have forged pistons and are considered the ultimate Skyline for tuning up.

The N1's are basically the pure racing versions, and the Nür-models basically inherited their engines. This means uprated oil pump, water pump, engine block, pistons, conrods, crankshaft and turbochargers.

The N1 engines are basically more efficient and reliable than the regular engines, but they can take about the same power - except the turbochargers (which have steel internals instead of ceramic) and the block itself.

The Nür ones are the ones usually considered the most desirable since they have better spec in standard version and they were manufactured in limited series (750 examples of V-spec II Nür and 250 examples of M-spec Nür). No wonder, they're also the most expensive examples and hardest to come across.

There are other characteristics that differ between the various models of the R34 GTR, but one could say that the Nürs are basically regular V-spec II's and M-spec's equipped with N1 engines.

When buying a Skyline beware of molested examples. Sadly many are badly modified and sold just before major work is required. If well looked after, the Skyline is very reliable and can tolerate extensive tuning before you need to upgrade the internals.

The range of tuning parts is phenomenal. Focus first of all on the handling and braking. Then research the turbo upgrade options, internal engine mods like porting, gas flowing etc. Fast road cams, induction kits and sports exhaust all add to the power gain and the final step should be a tune/remap with a boost controller and uprated diverter/wastegate control.

So which are the best models for tuning?

First off, TorqueCars wouldn't consider any other model than a GTR if we wanted to do some serious tuning to the engine. As for generation it's a little bit trickier... Many consider the R34 GTR the best car to start with, but with an engine from a R32 GTR.

The engine blocks used in the R32 are stronger than the ones in the two latter models. It is worth noting that the R34's have a better base engine, but if you're going to tune it you'll replace all the updated parts sooner or later in any case.

Turbo Upgrades

Big capacity turbo chargers commonly experience low end lag, and low capacity turbo chargers spool up quickly but don't have the peak end power band gains.

We are pleased that the range of turbo units is always evolving and we commonly find variable vane turbo units, allowing the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust flow into 2 channels and flow these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo charger. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

You'll commonly see there's a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAP on these engines when considerably more air is being sucked into the engine.

We see 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped power at a much lower level.

The RB26DETT have very strong internals, and usually it's not power that kills them. The engine is quite sensitive to vibrations, which cause the oil pump to malfunction and you will be looking at replacing your bearings before long. Another weak point is the bolts for conrods and pistons.

A Danish guy ran an excess of 700 PS @ flywheel with redline at 9.000 rpm during a whole season - including track days and drag strip events - with basically standard internals. He had just upgraded bolts, bearings and crank damper pulley.

Now were just talking about a fairly reliable engine here. There are rumours about some crazy Australians running more than 800 PS @ flywheel with completely standard bottom end, but then the engine will not last long, especially if it is driven hard.

Most people satisfy themselves with 550-600 PS @ flywheel, and as long as the tune is good and you're somewhat moderate with revs, it should hold pretty good. One of our members told us about a guy who ran his R32 GTR three seasons with 550 PS, and when something finally broke, it wasn't the engine internals but the gearbox!

For a fast road car TorqueCars would suggest you keep the power figure to around 550 bhp. We know some of our members have switchable tunes or remaps allowing them a fast road and track day settings and this seems to work very well indeed.

Join us in our Nissan Skyline forum to discuss tuning options in more detail.

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2 Responses to “Tuning the Skyline – modified R32 R33 R34 and R35 projects”

  1. stewart eke says:

    i wonder if you can advise ,i am converting a gtst to 4wd i have gear box driveshafts hubs and rear diff prop shafts etc ,do you know if front subframe is the same , or do i need one from a gtr,any info will help , i can fabricate and weld anything ,do you think it possible anty help welcome thanks , the reason for using a gtst its a good car and highly tuned ,olus i have power fc and tuning bits so didnt want to start again

  2. RemzRR says:

    You forgot to mention the notorious oil issues with the Skyline motors. Most modified engines use oil restrictors in the block to prevent from too much oil getting into the cylinder head

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