The Skyline GT-R and Toyota Supra have always fought each other for the JDM throne of greatness. But which one was actually the better car?
Both of these cars are without a doubt some of the best JDM cars to have come out of Japan. And maybe it’s not a coincidence that they both share a lot of similarities between each other.
Both are two-door sports cars that both utilize a twin-turbocharged straight-six engine that can hold a ridiculous amount of power, even in stock form. And while the engines are still praised to this day, it was not the only feature that made these cars great.
So, the question leads, if they were so similar, what made them different from each other?
While these two cars looked extremely similar on paper, the reality was something completely different.
Ever since 1969 with the release of the first Nissan Skyline GT-R, Nissan has always been extremely successful in Motorsports. Most people could recognize that the 1969 GT-R’s sole purpose was to be the fastest and most advanced racing car to have ever been developed in Japan, and that it was.
The racing version of the 1969 Skyline GT-R became an unstoppable force in the Japanese National Touring Car Racing series with a miraculous 49 winning streak and a total of 52 wins in less than three years of racing. Those facts speak for themselves.
Two decades later Nissan introduced the R32 Skyline GT-R which unsurprisingly also demolished its competition with its 600 bhp RB26DETT engine and extremely advanced AWD (ATTESA) system.
Almost winning every race in the Australian Touring Car Championship against cars such as the BMW M3 Evo, Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500, and Holden V8 it got named ‘Godzilla’ by the Australian Motor Press which became a worldwide title for the R32 GT-R. Considering this was before the era of the internet, the R32 had to be really good for it to spread that far.
However, its success inevitably led to its own demise. Because of the GT-R clearly superior AWD-system it eventually got banned from the category, which now only allowed two-wheel-drive layout.
And although the street version of the R32 GT-R may not have been as powerful and fast, it still shared the majority of its parts with the racing version, along with the RB26 engine. Now you might have some idea where the popularity of the GT-R came from.
The Toyota Supra has been around ever since 1978, but for the sake of argument, we’ll compare the Skyline GT-R with the fourth generation Supra (A80).
While the Skylines popularity was heavily impacted by its Motorsports heritage, the Toyota Supra had quite a different approach.
Up until the release of the A80 Supra, Toyota hadn’t really been sure what to do with it. Previously the Supra had not really been particularly great at anything. It was mostly sought as a ‘middle-in-the-class’ type of car. But with the A80 Toyota finally seemed to have figured it out.
They put it on a weight-loss program and completely redesigned the exterior and interior. But most importantly of all, it received a completely new engine, which ironically was inspired by Nissan’s RB26DETT. This engine was known as the 2JZ-GTE.
The A80 Supra with the 2JZ engine quickly got renowned as extremely reliable and capable as even a 2JZ with stock internals could handle power upwards of 800 bhp before having to worry about any reliability issues.
Toyota knew people would tune the 2JZ engine and make it faster so they fitted it with a brand-new braking system that was inspired by Formula One. That made the A80 Supra the best braking production car in 1997 and would hold that title for 7 years until eventually getting beat in 2004 by the much more expensive Porsche Carrera GT.
Also, thanks to the extremely popular movie franchise Fast and the Furious the A80 Supra was furthermore displayed as a ‘tuners car’. Back then, people couldn’t believe how Toyota had just produced a sports car that could beat Ferrari’s, it blew people’s minds. Funnily enough, the Fast and the Furious probably changed the way a lot of young people growing up were to view Japanese sports cars going forward.
And really ever since, the Toyota Supra has been known as one of the greatest tuners cars to have ever existed.
It’s almost safe to say that majority of these cars left on the road are modified to some extent. It would almost be a crime to compare these two cars to how they came from the factory. Without any modifications, their cars were very evenly paced. But their true colors get revealed once you start to dabble with aftermarket tuning.
By the time these cars arrived there had already been multiple established tuner shops around Japan for about two decades. With the increasing demand and great tuning potential, these tuning shops started to manufacture aftermarket parts for both the Toyota Supra and Skyline GT-R.
Tuner shops like HKS had already experimented with the A60 Supra and managed to be the first Japanese tuner-shop/automaker to surpass the magical 300 km/h top speed barrier. Mine’s for example built themselves a heavily modified 500h hp R32 GT-R known as the Mine’s R32 Skyline GT-R.
With the introduction of aftermarket tuning and modification, it started becoming clear what the purpose of these cars was.
The Toyota Supra with its legendary 2JZ engine was mostly modified for acceleration and top speed. Tuners such as Top Secret arrived with their V12-powered Supra with the intention to break top-speed records. Over in the U.S. the Toyota Supra started to be used for drag-racing. Can you imagine the faces when a six-cylinder Toyota beats some of the highest-regarded V8 drag cars?
People were for the most part not interested in making the Toyota Supra handle well. Although there was the occasional Supra modified for Touring races for the most part people only wanted speed, acceleration, and sound.
The Skyline GT-R for the most part kept to its roots. While the RB26DETT also was capable of high horsepower numbers it couldn’t handle nearly as much power with stock internals as the 2JZ. But it certainly got the Supra beat in terms of agility and grip.
Tuning companies recognized the GT-R as the ultimate foundation in order to create an outstanding race-car. The R32 GT-R was the choice of weapon for the renowned tire manufacturer Falken. HKS even stripped an R32 GT-R and rebuilt everything, including the engine which got known as the BNR32 GT-R.
The Toyota Supra and Skyline GT-R are often mentioned and measured up against each other as if they are competitors. The truth is, that while both of these cars offer incredible aftermarket performance they do so in different ways.
The Skyline GT-R has had an immaculate racing history. The Skyline has always seemed to find the balance between power and agility. And with the introduction of their advanced ATTESA AWD-system they could now put more power to the ground, thus, the initiation of the RB26 engine.
The GT-R has always been involved in Motorsport whether it be the Japanese Touring Car Championship during the 90s or more recently Cup Grand Touring Cars (GT-3) with the R35.
In the case of the Toyota Supra it’s a different story. The Supra was never developed with the intention of racing. It was developed to be a fast grand tourer and eventually became known as perhaps the best tuner car in the entire world. The Supra has one thing that makes it very special, the 2JZ engine.
The 2JZ allowed tuners to make the Supra extremely fast. Even a 2JZ-GTE with stock internals can handle power upwards of 800 hp before needing any internal work, which clearly got the RB26 beat. It’s often easy to forget that an engine that was developed during the 90s is still regarded as one of the best engines to use in order to go fast.
In terms of acceleration, top-speed, and braking performance the Toyota Supra got the Nissan Skyline GT-R beat. But when it comes to handling, putting the power down, and achieving the fastest lap times the Skyline GT-R is the clear winner.
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