Four turbochargers in three cars—and the Honda NSX doesn’t have any of them. So the other two have two cars each: the Toyota Supra and the Nissan Skyline R34. The three Japanese are very different but closely related to all the synthesis fans and millennials who grew up with the “Fast and Furious” movies and Need for Speed games. Nissan Skyline, Toyota Supra and Honda NSX: The three cars represented the holy trinity of Japanese sports car development, contenders against established European sports car manufacturers and somewhat dusty and overpriced. That is why it turned out to be an ingenious paradox, because in fact not all of them were particularly sporty, and not all were particularly cheap, and although they were and still are an example of tuning, today everyone wants as untouched original models as possible.
But European manufacturers ran into a problem at the turn of the millennium. Porsche replaced the wonderful 993 with the unpopular 996 and at the same time launched the first generation of the Boxster. Ferrari lacked the flagship model after discontinuing production of the F50, Mercedes had no sports car on offer except for the old SL, and BMW was still working on the E36 M3 successor. Excited by the series “Fast and Furious”, young people suddenly looked at Japan, at the engines of which there are legends of 1,000 horsepower and more. When “The Fast and the Furious” drew millions of young adults to movie theaters in 2001, the Supra, Skyline, and NSX era nearly ended, and production ceased in 2002. The NSX received a facelift without pop-up headlights, which continued in production until 2004 , but hardly anyone remembers it today.
Japan domestic market
The Nissan Skylines R34 was built by Marco Fanconi in 2002, making it one of the last Skylines built. It’s the name that made the kids of the ’90s, i.e. junior boys, dream and have burned themselves in the brain of quite a few as a synonym for JDM. Japan Domestic Market: These cars were never intended for export. The term comes from the USA, where, thanks to protective laws, it was almost impossible to import foreign products less than 25 years old. There are only a few R34s in the US, which added a touch of illegality to the legend and also eliminated the perception in Europe. The Skyline pearl white from Fanconi is also imported from Japan. Since the model was never intended for export, it is only available as a right-side drive.
And anyone who has ever sat on the wrong side of the car will immediately notice the next unique feature. At a time when monochrome screens were usually in this country and the first color screen navigation systems were in the upper tier, Skyline already had a full Playstation installed. A huge range of values, from the exhaust gas temperature to the injection time, can be displayed on the central display, which does not matter to anyone who has not made it a hobby of showing off the maximum charging pressure to his friends. But in fact, the mere fact that a car can do such a thing is enough reason to be proud of it. With cloth-covered seats and door panels direct from Nissan Sunny and a state-of-the-art infotainment system, the Skyline’s cabin is a mixture of different eras and different demands.
The RB26DETT engine is no less legendary than the car. This is also a combination of numbers and letters with a special meaning: a displacement of approximately 2.6 liters, as well as two overhead camshafts (D), an intake manifold injection (E) and a twin turbocharger (TT). Due to a noble agreement, the unit generates only 280 horsepower. But with Skyline’s 1,000-horsepower stories in mind, every fan knows there’s still a lot to come. This was also proved by Marco Fanconi, the author of this example. The engine compartment looks like it was part of the Fast and the Furious movie. Longitudinally installed straight six cylinders fill the space under the hood, and two turbochargers are stuffed next to them. Marco Fanconi also has two open air filters and a jet valve in the intake duct. “I’ll get into that next, along with tuning the slide,” he says — hopefully.
talk 30 years ago
Ten years separate NSX from Skyline. Honda was first registered in 1992, of which Joseph “Joe” Seitz and Martin Marthaler were initially among the first models delivered to Switzerland. You don’t see or notice the car’s age, not just because it’s so well maintained. With a naturally aspirated three-liter engine, Honda used a VTEC system with twin camshafts outside of Japan for the first time in 30 years. The V6 mid-transverse engine ensured control that was in no way inferior to a Porsche of the time. And not inferior today either. With the 274 horsepower that the NSX raised when it launched more than 30 years ago, the Japanese coupe has taken a place in the sports car league, even if that’s value that every reasonably compact sports car also provides. At that time, the NSX – for Honda – was not only expensive, but also modern. There was air conditioning and even an electric seat adjustment. This also affected pricing. With a starting price that could easily rival those of a Porsche, NSX sales were limited. Honda has also been very selective when it comes to supplying dealers. Today that means higher prices for anyone looking for NSX.
These are hard numbers to put into context. Joe Seitz and Martin Marthaler are in a car from the showroom. “A customer’s car we’ve never been able to sell before.” And that’s 80,000 kilometers for 80,000 francs. Meanwhile, the car has found a buyer, says Setz. No wonder, given the almost perfect condition, the lifespan of the seat leather only appears to be more than 30 years. “The exhaust system is not the original, but the Remus system from then on,” otherwise the car presents itself as new from the factory. It’s a little surprising that NSX does not belong to Joe Setz himself. Seitz, who had never trained as a mechanic but had been working on cars since childhood, worked in a garage during school as a vacation job and drove his first quarter-mile race at age 15, preferring Americans. Displacement before speed — not even the unbelievable 9,000 rpm that an NSX V6 could change.
First and last for a long time
“Unlike the NSX and Skyline, the Supra is a couch,” Uli Meyer says with a laugh. He bought his Mk IV, as the fourth-generation Supra is called, last summer as a very personal counterweight to close, so to speak. With comfortable seats, a leisurely four-speed automatic transmission and a curb weight of 1.6 tons, which was high back then, it might look like that today. But in the mid-nineties, when Toyota launched the fourth generation of the Supra, it was a true sports car – the first and for a long time from Toyota. While NSX and Skyline were always exclusives that weren’t readily available in every dealer’s showroom, the Supra was not limited. However, sales were limited, because more than 70,000 francs was a proud price for Toyota cars. While the Targa was only offered in Europe, in Switzerland it was also available – or primarily – as a coupe. The Swiss version came with another peculiarity: the impressive rear spoiler, the trademark of the Supra, so to speak, is not allowed in Switzerland. The active front spoiler was also missing. The connoisseur can also see the difference from the original wing by looking at the front, because the extendable front spoiler is not normally modified. By the way, 19-inch rims are the next thing Olly wants to tackle. It looks very large compared to the original 17 inches.
Because the Supra’s rough version was made expressly for export, the 280-horsepower agreement wasn’t felt binding. This makes the Supra the most powerful of the three Japanese legends, because the straight-six – six-liter engine with two turbochargers delivers 330 hp at 5600 rpm and a torque of 441 Nm. As an alternative to the automatic transmission, Toyota offered a six-speed gearbox, which was more popular with customers because it better suited the sports car’s personality. Prices for fine manual transmissions have increased significantly in recent years more than the Supras in general.
It’s been 20 years since production of The Three Japanese Legends ended. In the meantime, all three manufacturers tried again. It would be wrong to claim that this was an unsuccessful endeavor, after all, all three successors were or are great cars. But the aura that surrounded its ancestors from the ’90s remains unparalleled.