The Iconic Series: BCNR33
Its time to address the elephant (or whale) in the room- the least popular generation of Skyline. Dubbed the “whale” for its bulky appearance and weight, around 100kgs heavier than it’s predecessor, many factors contributed to the lesser levels of enthusiasm for the R33. It’s often the forgotten model, the last one on the Skyline wishlist, but it is still a model that raced and won at the top. Today we touch on the race winning, JGTC championship winning and most badass looking of them all: the Pennzoil JGTC R33 GTR.
Produced from 1995 until 1998, Nissan went to town on experimenting with the R33. Releasing an array of special editions and packages, GTR aficionados interested in the R33 had a lot to consider. V-Specs, LMs, and even the four-door Autech GTRs were on offer and while they operated under compliance with the Japanese “gentleman’s agreeing” limiting horsepower, NISMO and REIMAX produced the road-legal 400hp 400R.
On racing circuits the R33 also went through seasons of development. In 1995, the then-GT1 class R33 proved dominant and took the championship on debut. But with competition on the rise, R33s found it hard in 1996 and 1997 as other manufacturers entered cars far superior in aerodynamics, reliability, chassis and drivetrain designs. the R33 still managed to win 5 races out of 25 throughout its presence in the series as race teams found other ways to the top step of the podium.
The Pennzoil team refused to give up and their car finished fourth in the overall standings as Supras finished first, second, third, and fifth in the 1997 season. After a rule changes in 1998, the Pennzoil car lead Nissan’s return to dominance and took the GT500 class title with Masahiko Kageyama and Eric Comas behind the wheel. One of the most notable changes to the car included a dual-element wing that was developed to solve the cars RWD traction issues. Other improvements to the car featured a revised steering system that allowed room for the RB26DETT to be mounted behind the front wheels for better weight distribution and a larger opening in the front bumper for improved cooling.
The R33 was retired after the 1998 season to make way for the R34. The Pennzoil R33 had finished its campaign on a high and cemented its status in the racing history books. Check back tomorrow for the final installment of the Iconic series.