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It’s 20 years this October since Godzilla Wins Bathurst

The cover of Wheels Magazine that started it all

Twenty years ago this October the awesome Nissan GTR won Bathurst, the first of its two wins, before being banned.

The GTR was given a nickname by Wheels magazine in 1989 and it stuck and it went on to be the R32 GTR’s nickname used by the media to scare the other racers in the ATCC field.

Read on after the jump about Godzilla’s Australian Race history

The Nissan GT-R R32 made history 20 years ago in October 1991 when it became the first Japanese vehicle to win Bathurst.

But that was just the final blow in a sledgehammer year in which Nissan also finished 1-2 with Jim Richards and Mark Skaife in the Australian Touring Car Championship and two R32s tied for victory in the Australian Endurance Championship.

Nissan also won the 1990 ATC, with Jim Richards out-pointing Peter Brock and Dick Johnson (both in turbocharged Sierra RS500s), but the then-new R32 Skylines only appeared in the final clinching rounds to replace the team’s Skyline HR31 GTS-R race cars. 1991 was thus the R32’s first full racing season.

In 1992 the R32 repeated both its Bathurst and Australian Touring Car Championship successes, with the places reversed in the ATCC after the team’s ‘pupil’ Skaife, beat ‘the master’ Richards by 20 points to take the title.

However the most dramatic chapter in the R32’s relatively brief racing history remains its 1992 Bathurst victory, in which Jim Richards and Mark Skaife were declared the victors of the Tooheys 1000 after torrential rain and numerous crashes – including the GT-R of race leader Richards – caused the race to be stopped on the 145th lap.

As the leader on the thus-final (144th) lap, the Nissan duo was declared the winner, but apparently not understanding the rules, the assembled Ford and Holden fans vented their displeasure during the podium presentation, leading to Richards issuing his now infamous response on live television.

Nicknamed ‘Godzilla’ by WHEELS magazine in its July 1989 edition after a 1950s Japanese movie monster, the development plan on the racing R32 began in late 1988 under then-Nissan Managing Director Leon Daphne and Nissan Motorsport Manager Paul Beranger, with former Ford stalwart Fred Gibson heading the Nissan Motorsport race team.

Gibson Motorsport then built four racecars starting with road-going Japanese-spec GT-R Skyline models, three of which still survive.

Initially the cars ran under simple red, white and blue Nissan corporate colours, but after receiving sponsorship from Rothmans, they appeared as Winfield Team Nissan livery.

The racing GT-Rs not only ended the reign of the previously all-conquering Ford Sierra Cosworths in Australian touring car racing, but their incredible success ironically led to their demise. For 1993, the ATCC rules were changed to exclude four-wheel drive turbocharged cars, ushering in today’s two-make V8 Supercar series and closing a spectacular chapter in Australian motor sport history.

The success of the R32 racing program led Nissan Australia to market a fully imported limited edition Australian version of the GT-R in 1991.

Powered by a 2.6-litre straight six-cylinder engine with twin ceramic turbochargers, the car produced 223kW (300HP) at 6,800rpm.

All-wheel steering and electronically-controlled all wheel drive combined to deliver a serious supercar.

A total of 100 road-going cars were sold and they remain prized collectors’ cars today


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