sexta-feira, 21 de junho de 2024

Driven by passion: GT-R enthusiasts, journalists revisit heart-pounding R35 moments


The introduction of the R35 GT-ROpens in a new tab. stunned the world with its staggering performance, cutting-edge design and value in the supercar class. And while production of the current-generation GT-R (also known as R35Opens in a new tab.will soon end for the U.S. marketOpens in a new tab., it will continue to generate thrilling stories.

The nameplate earned countless new fans as it was sold in North America for the first time. After making its debut at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, U.S. sales began in 2008 for the 2009 model year.

The R35 has received consistent praise for its performance on and off the track, and the has been a benchmark for testing other high-performance vehicles.

"The Nissan's bite is every bit as angry as its visual bark," Autoblog notedOpens in a new tab. in its initial review. The R35 continued to receive accolades over the years, with Hagerty writingOpens in a new tab. in February 2024: "Then and now, the GT-R is a guided missile, a point-and-shoot car that works very hard to make you look good."

Nissan asked the people who know the car best – enthusiasts, automotive journalists and Nissan employees – to share their favorite memories of the R35. Read on for their stories:

Michael Harley, former automotive journalist, Autoblog

Flashback to the summer of 2008, when Nissan drops a brand-new "Solid Red" 2009 GT-R in my driveway for a long weekend. I was a contributing editor for Autoblog back then, tasked to cover the new Nissan, and the R35 was the hottest supercar on the market — it turned heads everywhere I drove. "We've never piloted another car, not even a bright-red Ferrari, that mesmerized as many sets of eyes. Scores of adults and teenagers waved and gave us thumbs-up while the smallest of children pointed in awe. Far from sleek and sexy, the angular GT-R evokes a Transformer-like aura that transcends ages," I wrote. It made me an instant celebrity.

In an era when most sports cars struggled to break the five-second sprint to 60 mph, the performance was equally mind-boggling. I recall my canyon drive, mesmerized by the grip from the ATTESA ET-S all-wheel-drive system and the rawness of the innovative dual-clutch gearbox. The R35 was brutally powerful and a beast when flogged hard in the canyons. "Nissan engineers have successfully delivered a nauseatingly fast vehicle that devours acceleration and track records. Its handling belies its weight, and its cabin is deceptively comfortable… the incessant feedback the GT-R offered to us was robot-like mechanized perfection." When it arrived, the R35 set a new benchmark for supercars.

John Davis, journalist, MotorWeek

The first time I ever drove the R35 GT-R at speed was at Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah, Georgia. It was a beast that made you smile from ear to ear. It was not an overly homogenized piece of engineering. It was a vehicle that was designed to go very fast and hold the track for a very long time at very high speeds, and bring you to a stop just as securely. And the R35 made all of these wonderful mechanical noises while it did it. And if you ask anybody that's ever driven the car – or any high-performance cars at speed – GT-R has to stand out as one of the most all-encompassing experiences of driving that you could possibly have and not be in a pure racecar. Indeed, at the time, it was the closest thing that I'd ever experienced in a production street machine to what you feel in a racecar.

Two Nissan GT-Rs parked near U.S. Highway 129

Nissan GT-Rs parked near U.S. Highway 129, also known as the “Tail of the Dragon,” during Jonathan Buhler’s trip in 2016.

Jonathan Buhler, manager, Nissan Corporate Planning

Jonathan Buhler is a Nissan employee and GT-R enthusiast. He previously led external communications for the brand's sports cars and sedans. Buhler owns an R34 GT-R.

My favorite memory behind the wheel of an R35 GT-R was taking our pre-production right-hand-drive (Japan spec) model from the Nissan Heritage Collection in Nashville, Tennessee, to Fontana Village, North Carolina to support the ZDayZ enthusiast event in 2016. To get to the event, you have to drive on the legendary "Tail of the Dragon," which is Highway 129 in between Tennessee and North Carolina. It has 318 turns in 11 miles and is regarded as one of the best driving roads in the U.S. Experiencing the turns and following other GT-R vehicles was amazing yet stressful, but will go down as the best driving memory in an R35.

Sean Lee, GT-R owner

Sean Lee is the founder of the Purist GroupOpens in a new tab., an organization for automotive enthusiasts. He has owned several GT-Rs and Skylines, including an R31 wagon, R32, R34 and R35.
Three simple letters – GT-R – have enormous meaning in the automotive world.

Throughout my life, I have owned several variations of the GT-R and Skyline, from the R31 and R32 all the way up to my 2010 R35. Every time I buy a car, I want to see how the automaker honors its heritage, so I am very glad to know that Nissan continues to do so through racing.

The R35's engine is one of the most robust powertrains to ever come out of Japan. I often see tuned variations boasting more than 2,000 horsepower.

I currently have about 35,000 miles on my R35, which are mostly canyon and track miles. I have had the honor to meet a few extraordinary people within the GT-R development team. They have taught me many things about my R35 that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

The R35 isn't just a car – it's an icon that will live on the road forever. I have owned nearly every brand of car out there, but nothing makes me more proud than calling myself a Nissan GT-R owner.

Frank Markus, journalist, MotorTrend

I vividly remember the awe and incredulity my fellow judges experienced while evaluating the R35 GT-R before crowning it MotorTrend's 2009 Car of the YearOpens in a new tab.. The fact that its performance shamed supercars costing three times as much prompted the test team to put our investigative-reporter hats on and determine exactly how this two-ton V6 four-seater was generating such incredible numbers.

We strapped it to a dyno and even did an on-road fourth-gear "dyno pull," all of which suggested the power and torque specifications were largely accurate. The magic was a combination of savvy launch control plus all-wheel traction, assisted by extra-short gearing, and twin-clutch transmission shifts that never interrupted the torque delivery. These tricks allow the R35 to crush the supercars down at the speeds mere mortals drive every day.

Right rear 3/4 image of an R35 GT-R parked on top of a building with a crouched photographer capturing a picture from behind.

Raphael Orlove, Matt Hardigree’s colleague, taking a photo of the R35. Credit: Matt Hardigree.

Matt Hardigree, journalist, The Autopian

I debuted in the automotive world in 2007, right around the same time as the Nissan GT-R, though the R35 did it to far more fanfare and acclaim. It's almost impossible to convey in words how much the R35 dominated the attention of car fans back in the early blog era. It wasn't a car, it was the car. If we were having a slow news day, we always knew that publishing anything with a GT-R in it was a guaranteed hit.

How could it not be? The GT-R had concept car looks, stats to rival the best supercars of the day and was initially offered at a surprisingly achievable price. In spite of writing about it from the beginning, I didn't get a chance to put real miles on one until years later. Somehow, after years of hype, the R35 Nissan GT-R managed to exceed my impossibly lofty expectations.

Front right 3/4 image of a silver R35 GT-R on an auto showroom floor.

Brian and his daughter, Grace, spotted an R35 at the 2024 New York International Auto Show. Credit: Grace Moody

Brian Moody, journalist, Cox Automotive, Autotrader, Kelly Blue Book

One of my fondest memories of the R35 was from a few years ago. I was driving a white one on an interchange near the 710 freeway in Los Angeles. It was a Saturday morning, and I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, the freeway transitioned into another highway, and I could tell the direction I was headed was clear. So, I waited patiently.

As I crawled along in the GT-R, a carload of kids -- barely driving age -- pulled up next to me and were yelling and pumping their fist. I put my window down. "Light ‘em up," one kid said. "Rev it!!" several others were chanting. This was a borrowed car, so I was trying to baby it a little. "I can't, it's not mine," I replied. Several kids booed. One guy gave me the thumbs down. Then, one kid yells, "C'mon mister, this might be our only chance to see and hear car like this in action. You owe it to us!" They were joking but also really wanted to hear the GT-R's angry exhaust. I remember being impressed by the level of enthusiasm these kids had for this car. Just then, I could see that all the other cars were exiting to the right while I was going straight – all that traffic was headed in the same direction, but not me.

As soon as the car ahead of me slowly veered to the right, I stomped the accelerator. Both windows were down now, I could hear the hand-built, twin-turbo V6 revving wildly, massive rear tires griping the hard interstate surface. By the time I clicked into third gear, I glanced in the rearview mirror and all I could see was that old ‘90s Cavalier full of kids cheering and waving and pumping their fists in the air. What else could I do? I owed it to them.

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