Review coming soon!
Author’s Note: Credit for the night pictures goes to my friend Ben Husband.
Behold the mighty GT-R. This isn’t just any Nissan. It’s a Nissan GT-R! If you ever watch Fast and Furious or play Gran Turismo video games, then you probably have heard of the Nissan Skyline GT-R. The Skyline GT-R was the sporty and top of the line version of the Skyline range which consisted of mostly four door sedans and coupes. It all started with the first Nissan Skyline GT-R that debuted in 1969. These GT-Rs were known for their success in Japanese motorsports. However, the second generation was not as successful as the first because it arrived in 1973 just in time for the global gasoline crisis After just one year, Nissan canceled the Skyline GT-R. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Skyline GT-R reappeared. This generation was the first to utilize all wheel drive as well as four wheel steering and a turbocharged inline six engine. These features made it the most successful GT-R of all time with more than 40,000 units sold. By then, the Skyline GT-R had become Nissan’s flagship in terms of status and performance. The 1995 redesign elevated it in power and performance, but never reached the same sales as the previous generation. Then came the fifth generation Skyline GT-R which debuted in 1999. If you play the Gran Turismo Series or watch Fast and Furious, you would recognize this generation. We all know that was Paul Walker’s favorite car in the franchise. This generation (codenamed the R34) reached supercar levels of speed and handling, and it is known for its tuning potential. The R34 was a popular car for Japanese tuners as they were able to get as much as 800 horsepower from its engine. Sadly, none of these Skyline GT-Rs were ever sold in North America. However, the Infiniti G sedan and coupe and the EX crossover are Skylines brought from Japan and rebadged as Infinitis (Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury division). As the R34 stopped production in 2002, Nissan announced that it would separate its next GT-R from the Skyline lineup. Nissan launched the GT-R in 2007, and for the first time, it was sold in North America. Continue reading
For years, the Germans have ruled the luxury market in the U.S. However, in the late 1980s’, the Japanese created luxury divisions to take on the Germans. Toyota had Lexus, Honda had Acura, and Nissan had Infiniti. However, Lexus is the only automaker that took the U.S by surprise when it debuted the LS400 in 1989. Whereas German luxury cars were notorious for their poor reliability and were expensive to buy, the LS400 represented a change from the norm by providing excellent reliability and luxury with a starting price that undercut the Germans. As a result, the LS400 was a runaway success. Building on the success of the LS sedan, Lexus saw fit to expand its lineup. Seeing that the ES and LS sedans rivaled compact and large executive sedans, Lexus felt the need for a midsize sedan to rival the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Lexus hired the Italian design firm, Italdesign Guigiaro (a designer who is known for designing Italian cars such as Ferrari and Lamborghini) to design the GS. Sold as a Toyota Aristo in Japan and as a Lexus in the U.S., sales were nowhere near that of the Germans. This can be attributed to its underpowered engine, high price, and weird styling. The GS was redesigned in 1997 as a 1998 model. This time, it had both a V6 and a V8, and its styling was more conventional, and it also placed more emphasis on its driving dynamics. This generation was also sold as a Toyota Aristo in Japan.
In the eighties, Toyota wanted to replicate the success of its Land Cruiser SUV but in a smaller and more affordable package. Cue the 4Runner which debuted in mid-1984 as a 1985 model. Instead of developing an entirely new model like the Land Cruiser, Toyota used the Hilux chassis to create the 4Runner (sold as the Hilux Surf in other countries). The first generation was nothing more than a pickup truck with a roof over the bed. The purpose of the 4Runner was to provide the versatility and the go anywhere ability of the Hilux truck while giving the comfort and utility expected of an SUV. I reviewed a third generation, a 1997 4Runner which was the first generation to be built as a separate model, not sharing any body parts or frames with the Hilux. I liked it very much, but I never really thought of reviewing the original 4Runner at all. I asked my friend if I could review his old Volvo 242 or something like that. It was a really cool old Volvo in burgundy and with a manual transmission. However, when I contacted him, he sold it and got this 4Runner. How could I say no to reviewing the original 4Runner with only two doors and a manual transmission?
There are many things that I do not understand about the world: the existence of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the difference between turtles and turquoises, and why everybody is obsessed with the Jeep Wrangler. Don’t get me wrong; the Wrangler’s cool factor is sky high, and there’s no manlier car than a Wrangler. But what perplexes me is why everybody has to have one. The Wrangler has a long history that dates back to the 1940s, but it wasn’t till the later generations that the Wrangler became popular. The 1997-2006 TJ generation (Wranglers’ generations are classified by code names) that I reviewed back in December was a fun and supremely capable off roading machine, but as a SUV overall, it was way too compromised to make me want one. The TJ was loved by only the diehard off roading enthusiasts and some individuals of the general population. But when the redesigned Wrangler debuted in 2007 (code named JK), all of a sudden everybody wanted one. The JK generation featured many new firsts that were not previously available with the previous generations. This generation offered a four door body style dubbed “Unlimited”, its first ever navigation option, power windows, and remote locks. Despite its popularity in my hometown, I never got the chance to review this generation. The reason being is that if I am going to review a Wrangler, it better be a two door and a manual. Sadly, the increase in the Wrangler’s popularity also correlates to more consumers buying the Unlimited with an automatic transmission. But this summer, I finally got the chance to review a proper Wrangler in two door configuration with a stick.