50 years of continual evolution and technical innovation

As we all know by now this year marks the 50th anniversary of the GTR. To celebrate Nissan made a number of exciting announcements. Namely see the New York Autoshow 2019 coverage where there was an amazing heritage display from Nissan for both the GTR ans also the Z which shares a birthday with the GTR.

The GTR since it's inception in 1969 always took the most curtting edge of Nissan's racing technology and put it into a road car. 50 years and 3 generations, S20, RB26 and VR38.

A car which has a more international history, the Fairlady Z. With a rich racing history both in and outside of Japan this year Nissan announced the above 50th Anniversary edition in a paint scheme which is a tribute to the racing livery of the original first generation Z car.

Some of the hardcore fans may have realised that these pictures are the slides taken from press launch event which Nissan held at their Ginza showroom. So I will be covering the content discussed in this launch event for the MY20 R35 GTR. The key changes introduced for both the standard model and the Nismo GTR was introduced by Tanuma-san who is head of vehicle R&D for the GTR. Tanuma-san as you can see from the above pics taken from his own family album was a car nut since young.

(The press release is in Japanese FYI)

The GTR legacy was has been discussed to death born from race car homologation for both the S20 engine cars and the BNR32. Then while keeping the race car connection from the BCNR33 onwards there was also increased focus on the consumer market where the GTR was positioned as a product which took this racing technology and using it to bring enjoyment to people like you and I.

Regarding the R35 this will be my first post on it and I really should start a separate series. There is alot of content to cover on the subject of the R35, I would say even maybe than the second generation (RB26) GTRs.

For the moment this post will just be covering the MY20 R35 exclusively as the changes, particularly on the Nismo version were quite significant so I felt the needed to cover this.

The R35 road car product concept was to provide the "the pursuit of the ultimate driving pleasure" to phrase Nissan directly.
There were 3 parts to the MY20 R35  press release. The MY20 Nismo GTR, the MY20 standard model and also the 50th anniversary model.

Firstly and also one of the many key pivotal moments in the R35s history. The introduction of the Nismo GTR back in 2014 saw a split in product positioning between the Nismo variant and the standard car. Where as before the introduction of a Nismo variant (the Mizuno era) the standard model was the most capable model. Now however the standard model is more tuned towards the as can be seen on the above slide, the GT direction and the the R for Racing will be covered by the Nismo variant.

MY20 Nismo GTR (R35)

The R35 since it's inception has seen many revisions for every model year as we are all very aquainted with by now. This is something that is quite unique to the GTR and was key to keeping the car up to speed (no pun intended). I may touch on each of the major revisions at a later date.

For the 2020 model year the Nismo version saw the more significant changes. The key areas where Nismo focused on for improvements were actually some of the key defining areas of the GTR of Acceleration, Braking, Handling and Aerodynamics.

A few additional more minor changes you will notice are the newer slightly lighter and more rigid wheels and updated Recaro seats.


For acceleration Nismo took the turbos from the latest generation GT3 race car which features a new compressor wheel design with one less blade from 11 of the MY17 turbos which are also GT3 turbos down to 10 blades. The new 10 blade design is of a more areodynamically efficient design which boosts acceleration speed by 20% from 80kph over the MY17 model with a significant increase in acceleration G.


The MY20 Nismo sees some major braking upgrades since the Spec V model back in 2009. The MY20 Nismo sees a return of a carbon ceramic braking system with 400mm front rotors and 390mm rears. This was a much needed upgrade to the standard 380mm steel brakes which for the standard model are alright but alittle lacking for the Nismo. The calipers are unique to this system as well however the piston count is unchanged to the standard brakes.

One final touch is a new colour to the calipers from the standard models orange-gold colour. The reason for this was that as many whom have heavily tracked their R35s found that the paint would discolour and turn towards a brown colour. This colour is one which though extensive high temperature testing is resistant to colour shift under heavy use.


There are significant changes were made for the handling of the MY20 Nismo in three key areas,  weight reduction, a revised tyre and revised suspension components and geometry.

The Nismo version introduced a carbon fiber boot/trunk, front and rear bumpers. In addition to this the MY20 model brings a carbon fiber roof, bonnet and front fenders. I must say the roof was an area that I hand be hoping Nismo would replace in carbon fiber as it is the highest point of inertia. This is also the reason behind the increase in carbon fiber body panels, to remove weight from the heighest points of the car in order to lower the car's center of gravity.

All these changes lead to as shown in the graph in the above slide a higher average cornering G.


You will have already noticed the new vents on the front fenders. A design directly take from the GT3 race car the decision to implement these for the MY20 Nismo was not simply for the sake that the race car has them but for 2 practical reasons the first being the obvious benefit they give of venting air pressure in the wheel well in order to increase front down force without increasing drag.

However a second reason as explained by Tanuma-san was due to the weight reduction achieved by the frontal carbon fiber body panels at speed the car has less mechanical grip. As we know one of the party pieces of the R35 is actually it's weight which it uses to it's advantage to press it's tyres into the ground. So these vents, by venting the air in the wheel arches helps to regain some of the mechanical grip lost through the weight reduction of the carbon body panels.

MY20 R35 (Standard model)

There are also a few revisions to the base model MY20 GTR. The biggest recent change was with the MY17 model when there was a significant increase in body rigidity and of course the obvious styling and interior changes. Compared to this for the base model MY20 the changes are more minor however still worth mentioning.

Following the ethos of the changes made to the Nismo the changes made on the base model also followed in the acceleration, braking and braking.

Acceleration: Inside the turbo compressor housing there is a new abradable seal added to reduce the clearance between the compressor blades and the housing to increase turbo response.

Braking: There have been some adjustments made to the brake booster to offer better brake feel and control

Handling: There have been some adjustments made to the dampening in R-Mode in order to improve steering response.

The biggest change however is the addition or rather the return of one of the most iconic GTR colours, the famed Bayside Blue of the BNR34. This time called Wangan Blue, it is Tamura-san's (current GTR Chief Product Specialist) most favourite colour and a colour which both on this car and the BNR34 he designed. Furthermore Wangan Blue is not simply a reissue of the original TV2 paint code but actually it has been redesigned with it's own unique metal fleck and slight variation in colour mixtures so it does look different to the original Bayside Blue.

Lastly in celebration of the GTRs 50th birthday Nissan have released globally a limited edition 50th Anniversary Edition adorned with livery which takes its inspiration from racing livery of the Hakosuka GTRs. This Anniversary Edition is available in 3 flavours as can be seen above including in the new Wangan Blue colour.

It has become common practice for many magazines and online articles to mention how the R35 is getting quite long in the tooth and it is time for the R36.

This is a subject which I have explored myself at length. However Nissan is not the only automaker who is sand bagging at present if you look at the likes of Ferrari and Porsche for example with the 458 platform which still is in use today under the 488 moniker. Then recently Aston Martin announced their new mid-engine range of cars such as the upcoming Valkyrie and Vanquish and 003 concepts. These will be all next generation carbon fiber chassis mid-engined cars.

These are signs that the next generation of super-sports cars will be a huge leap forward both technically and in performance. I believe that this is why most companies are sand bagging at the moment as if they were release a new model now it would be relevant for perhaps 2 years before becoming rendered obsolete by this up coming next generation of cars.

This is the reason why I believe it is in Nissan's interest to stretch the R35 a little longer and what a way they have with the MY20 Nismo in particular.

There was always some small changes i wanted to make to the R35 until now whether it be adding a aftermarket carbon roof or tighter Nismo suspension. The MY20 Nismo in my eyes is the R35, perfected. Don't get be wrong the R35 has always been near close to the perfection in what i look for in a car however after 12 years of continuous development the MY20 Nismo GTR is the first car I would change nothing on at all. Nissan I believe is amongst a select few automakers which truly listens to the true enthusiasts and gives us what we really need.

In a world where enthusiast cars which are relevant to the majority of us are being killed off left right and center it is companies such as Nissan which continues to a wide enthusiast audience. Thank you again Nissan for sticking with us through thick and thin.