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MotorTrend: How Godzilla Got It’s Name

February 14, 2009

This article originally appeared on the MotorTrend blogs website and we’ve decided to archive it here as well due to it’s historic importance:

2009 Nissan GT-R: How Godzilla got its name
Posted March 31 2008 10:38 AM by Angus MacKenzie
Filed under: Editorial, The Big Picture, Nissan, Sports Coupes, Nissan

I was working in the office of Australia’s Wheels magazine in mid-1989 when Nissan first revealed details of its all-new Skyline GT-R. Back then the car, now known mostly by its Nissan internal codename as the R32 GT-R, seemed like a high-tech road warrior from another dimension.

The R32 GT-R had a twin-turbo 2.6-liter inline six that Nissan claimed had 280hp, though everyone suspected it was actually punching out more than 300 (nothing has changed — see Frank Markus’ expose of the R35 GT-R’s little white horsepower lie: Dyno Test: 2009 Nissan GT-R Makes 507 Horsepower… at least! ). It had a four wheel drive system that was the first in the world to combine variable torque split with anti-lock braking. And it had four wheel steering.

Nissan quoted a quarter mile time in the high-13sec bracket. And that’s exactly what we got when we tested the car in Australia some months later, along with a 0-60mph of under 5.5sec. Back then, this was supercar stuff. Our Japanese correspondent of the time, Peter Nunn, noted in his story that the Japanese media had already christened the car Obakemono — a shape-shifting monster.

The GT-R was big news in Australia because Nissan was planning to homologate it for local Group A touring car racing so it could go wheel to wheel on the race track against the home-grown Holden Commodore V-8s, BMW M3s and Ford’s UK-built Sierra Cosworth (the cool, scary-fast version of the Merkur America never saw). It looked like Australia would be the only market in the world outside Japan where the R32 GT-R would be sold.

That made the GT-R cover material for the July 1989 issue of Wheels. I can remember sitting around with editor-in-chief Phil Scott and a couple of Wheels staffers as we kicked around cover lines. Obakemono came up in the discussion. Scott, a hard-nosed newspaper-trained editor with superb tabloid sensibilities, seized on it. He didn’t like the word — no-one would know what it meant on the cover — but he liked the Japanese monster idea.

It was a simple step from there to describing the GT-R as “Godzilla on wheels”. Which is exactly what we did. And a legend was born.

— Original URL: http://blogs.motortrend.com/6237869/editorial/2009-nissan-gt-r-how-godzilla-got-its-name/index.html

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