Dreaming Of JDM: A 1983 Nissan Skyline RS-Turbo Living Abroad
Photography by Daniel Piker
The Iron Mask. Also known as Tekkamen in Japanese, the Nissan R30 Skyline will always be known for its distinctive front-end look. As part of a very impressive lineage and often overlooked when compared with its younger and far faster siblings, the R30-generation of Nissan’s beloved Skyline is still special in its own right. Winding back the clock 40-odd years, and we are looking at the first introduction of the FJ20 engine, the beginning of the modern Japanese performance vehicle.
While this four-cylinder may not look like anything exceptional, the motor was the first of its kind. It was the first from a Japanese manufacturer to introduce two more valves per cylinder in a four-banger. Along with this, the higher-spec versions of the R30 (like this one) had adjustable suspension dampers that could be changed on the go, another first for mass-produced Japanese cars.
This specific RS-Turbo model houses the FJ20ET engine to be more precise, which brought the power up from the regular 148 to an impressive 188hp, which in its time was the most powerful Japanese production engine ever created. This car is also a rare example of the 50th Anniversary Edition, which featured a two tone red and black interior with red moquette door inserts, chrome mirror caps, and rain sensing wipers. It is one of only 400 produced, and just think, how many have survived in this condition?
In 2013, the current owner, Martin, first came across this 1983 RS-Turbo while randomly browsing local Craigslist ads in Seattle. The car at the time was owned by Ishii Motors in Bellevue and had originally been ordered for import by a customer in late-2010. Upon arriving in the US, the original customer changed his mind and decided to purchase a modern R35 GT-R instead, leaving the R30 somewhat homeless. Over the next two years, the car stayed in the possession of Ishii until Martin stumbled across their ad. He had never seen this type of Skyline before and was immediately drawn by its quirky yet appealing, very quintessentially-‘80s design.
It was an extremely original and unmolested example for its age, with only 92,344km on the clock (just about 57,380mi). After an extremely joyous and convincing test drive, Martin drove the car home the very next day and has been smitten with the car ever since.
After purchasing the car, Martin has tried to keep it as original as possible, and when he has modified it he’s made sure to only do reversible upgrades. He has added the Rays TE37V wheels (an appropriate choice), lowering springs, and a front strut tower bar made by Jenesis (a DR30 specialist shop in Japan). The interior is mostly untouched with the exception of a head unit and a six-disc CD changer located in the trunk, and while we might not like the added weight of such things, they were all previously installed by its prior owner in Japan. To complete the nostalgic JDM driving experience, it even came with the previous owner’s selection of Japanese mid-90’s music! So, not so bad if you think about it.
One of the more interesting details about the car is that it is a lucky survivor of the Fukushima Nuclear disaster, which was a part of the aftermath of the devastating tsunami and earthquake that shocked Japan in 2011. If the car hadn’t been imported a couple months prior, it would most likely be rotting away in the depths of the Pacific Ocean given where it was located back then. Martin says: “I feel somewhat of a duty to ensure that it continues to survive into the future,” and fittingly, he plans on keeping the car for life.