Nismo is to Nissan what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz or M division for BMW. It is the laboratory where the highest-performance Nissans for street and track are prepared. And because Nismo is officially coming to Europe, take a peek into the history of this Nissan division in a complete article that will take you from 1964 to 2013.
Nismo is an exotic sounding name for European car enthusiasts. We speak of a name found especially in the area of those interested in tuning and Japanese cars. In its home country, though, Nismo already has some history. Nismo is the abbreviation of Nissan Motorsport International Limited. Founded on September 17, 1984, Nismo was born from the merger of two internal divisions within Nissan.
PRINCE MOTOR COMPANY
But to go deeper into the origins of the sport Nissan division, we must go even further back in time. The year is 1964. A local company called Prince Motor Company realized that it can attract more customers by using a motorsport-style approach. To create a sporty model, Prince’s engineers have used the 2.0-liter engines used by the Gloria model and have grafted the smaller Skyline model.
With a power / weight ratio significantly higher the model created would be named Prince Skyline 2000 GT (S54). The success was instant and Prince workers worked almost non-stop to create 100 copies of this model for clients who wanted to take this model on the circuit. The deadline was reached just hours before. The model was officially launched on May 1, 1964 and ran its first race a few days later.
The result brought mixed emotions for the model’s creators. The race was won by a Porsche 904, but Skyline was to obtain all the places from two to six. Without realizing it, the group of engineers from Prince Motor Company gave rise to a brand with a sporting pedigree. The Nismo spirit appeared for the first time and Prince Motor Company was to be absorbed two years later by Nissan.
The Skyline model was subsequently embedded in the Nissan lineup in 1966 when Prince merged with the Japanese brand. A new generation of Skyline (S57) was launched with the most powerful 1.5 liter engine of its era. In 1969 the legendary GT-R logo appeared on a sedan, followed by a powerful coupe called Nissan KPGC-10.
NISMO IS OFFICIALLY BORN
The official birthday date of the Nismo division is 1984. The motorsports activity in the area was divided between two internal Nissan offices. One handled factory teams, the other the private ones. In September 1984 it was decided to merge the two divisions.
The new department was named Nissan Motorsport International Ltd., i.e. Nismo. Nismo became a separate company, but totally affiliated with Nissan. Two years later, Nismo debuted in the most famous endurance race in the world: Le Mans 24 Hours. It was the beginning of a lasting relationship, over the years, because many cars prepared by Nismo were put to the test on the circuit in the Sarthe department.
NISSAN SKYLINE R32
1989 is the year when Nismo launches the legendary Nissan Skyline R32. It is the model that started a true cult around this name which would become legend. Firstly in Japan, and then around the world, Skyline is revered, tuned, abused by enthusiasts. Nissan Skyline R32 had integrated traction and steering and was about to make a career in the legal and illegal racing.
In the legal area, Nissan Skyline R32 got 29 wins in 29 starts in the national championship, becoming the champion model for four consecutive years in the Japanese GT Championship Group A. The same model dominated the Australian Touring Car Championship, which is where he received his famous nickname: local journalist called it “Godzilla”, evoking the monstrous character from Japanese films.
The name remained afterwards as the “nickname” for all generations of Skyline. His successor, Nissan Skyline R33, amazed again in that it was the first series car that toured the old Nurburgring in less than eight minutes.
NISSAN SKYLINE R34
Nissan Skyline R34 followed and the V-Spec Z-Tune version was extremely rare and exclusive. With a 500 hp developed by a 2.8 liter engine, this model has become extremely desirable among the tuning enthusiasts. Only 20 models were built. Or, rather, converted by Nismo from V-Spec models with very few miles on.
In the 90s, the Nismo motorsport involvement increased, along with the image of the brand in Europe. A Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R wins the 24 Hours race in Spa in 1991, and a Nismo R33 GT-R LM finished 10th at Le Mans in 1995. In 1998, a Nissan R390 GT1 finished third in the same 24 Hours race in Le Mans.
In 2004, Nissan launched the Fairlady Z model, prepared by Nismo. In Europe, this model was sold under the name Nissan 350Z and became an instant hit of the brand. The model debuted in the racing world, earning the title in its first year in the Super GT championship.
Nismo engaged in the off-road racing as well, preparing the Nissan Raid Truck for the Dakar rally-raid. In the 2004 edition, this model was driven by Colin McRae and achieved two wins in the special tests.
Nismo never gave up the aftermarket segments, developing in Japan an industry of components for automotive enthusiasts. Those who wanted to customize their cars had access to a wide range of genuine Nismo parts and accessories.
NISSAN GT-R R35
In 2008, Nissan launched the current GT-R. A high-performance car, but much more accessible than a classic supercar, GT-R instantly created a huge group of fans and enthusiasts. Of course, the model was used extensively on the circuit as well.
Nissan and Nismo launched along with Sony the Nissan GT Academy project. The idea seemed bold at the beginning: to take an avid cars video games enthusiast and put them, after taking dedicated courses, in the cockpit of a racing Nissan. Lucas Ordonez was the first gamer turned pilot and Nissan Academy became a success with franchises in many countries worldwide.
This year, a car driven by Nissan GT Academy graduates have won second place in the 24 race in Dubai, and two of them were juniors. The story promises to go even further.
2013: NISMO COMES TO EUROPE
After making history in Asia and the United States, Nismo is attacking the Europeans who, until now, were deprived of Nismo’s official presence on the continent. In 2013, Nismo will make its official entry into Europe with a model. And the first car that will get the Nismo treatment is none other than the Juke. Nissan wants to make of Nismo what RenaultSport is for Renault.
Nismo will create sport versions of Nissan models hopes this will please the European public. As Juke is already a success thanks to its bold design, a 200 hp version has no way to fail. Additionally, there will be an upgraded version of this, a supersport Juke that will be close to 250 hp and will thus address the ones who want a truly sporty nonconformist model.
THE FIRST TEST WITH JUKE NISMO
And this is just the beginning. The next model dedicated to the European market which will benefit from the Nismo treatment will be the 370Z roadster which will be released in the second half of 2013. As the surprises continue, Car-Addicts will keep an eye on the Nismo models for you to get acquainted with the sport versions of the Nissan models.