Skip to Content

Why is the R34 so popular?

The Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 is one of the most iconic Japanese sports cars ever made. It has gained a massive cult following across the globe, especially among tuners and racing enthusiasts. But what exactly makes the R34 so popular and sought-after even today, nearly two decades after it went out of production?

In this article, we’ll explore the various factors that contribute to the legendary status of the R34 GT-R. We’ll look at its impressive performance credentials, stunning design, significance in tuner culture, success in motorsports, appearances in popular media, and more. By the end, you’ll understand why the Skyline GT-R R34 occupies such an important place in automotive history.

Key Reasons for the R34’s Popularity

Here are some of the main reasons why the R34 GT-R has such an enthusiastic fan following globally:

Raw Performance and Handling

The R34 GT-R was a dominant supercar slayer in its day, humiliation exotic cars that cost several times more. Its twin-turbo 2.6-liter inline 6-cylinder engine produced up to 280HP, enabling sub-5 second 0-60mph acceleration. The advanced ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system offered tenacious grip and handling abilities.

Timeless, Aggressive Design

With its wide stance, bulging fenders, large rear wing and round tail lights, the R34 has an unmistakably aggressive, almost malevolent, design that still turns heads today. It looked like nothing else on the road when launched.

Legendary Tuning Potential

The RB26 engine and drivetrain of the GT-R respond incredibly well to tuning, allowing people to extract ridiculous power. Tuned R34s making over 1,000hp are common. This huge modding potential is a large part of its appeal.

Motorsport Success

The R34 GT-R dominated the Japanese motorsports scene, winning four straight Super Taikyu championships from 1999 to 2002. It also had success globally, winning the Spa 24 Hours race in 2001. This racing pedigree boosted its reputation.

Pop Culture Appearances

The R34 has been featured prominently across various video games, movies and TV shows. Appearances in Gran Turismo, Fast and Furious 4, and more cemented its iconic status.

Rarity and Discontinuation

With Nissan discontinuing the GT-R in 2002 and tightly controlling exports, R34s were extremely rare outside Japan. This rarity and ‘forbidden fruit’ status added to the mystique. Prices predictably shot up.

Detailed Analysis

Now let’s take a deeper, more detailed look at each of these factors behind the R34 Skyline GT-R’s immense popularity.

Raw Performance

The R34 GT-R was a true giant slayer that could humble exotic supercars costing several times more. Under the hood was Nissan’s legendary RB26DETT twin-turbo 2.6 liter inline 6-cylinder engine, which produced up to 280 HP depending on the variant.

This enabled the R34 to hit 60 mph (97 km/h) from standstill in a blistering 4.6 seconds and achieve a top speed of over 155 mph (249 km/h). For a car that cost around $70,000 brand new, this level of performance was exceptional.

But it wasn’t just straight line speed where the R34 excelled – its advanced ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system enabled tenacious grip and handling abilities that few rivals could match. The GT-R had a magical ability to put its power down coming out of corners with almost no understeer or wheelspin.

Engine 2.6L Twin Turbo RB26DETT inline-6
Power 276-280 HP
0-60 mph 4.6 seconds
Top Speed 155+ mph

Coupled with an exceptionally rigid chassis, these performance attributes enabled the R34 GT-R to regularly humble exotic supercars on both road and track. Videos can be found online of R34s effortlessly overtaking Ferraris and Porsches on circuits. This giant slaying ability is a huge part of its appeal.

Timeless, Aggressive Design

The R34 GT-R has a distinctly aggressive, performance-oriented aesthetic that still holds up remarkably well almost 20 years later.

At the front, a large front grille opening with an elegant Nissan badge centerpiece is flanked by four circular headlamps. Angular bumper ducts channel air to cool the brakes. The bulging front fenders accentuate the wide stance, giving the car a muscular, domineering look.

In profile view, the low and wide body shape is embellished with distinctive racing car-inspired lines and curves. Flared rear fenders over the rear wheels communicate rear wheel drive power. The large rear wing enhances downforce and stability at speed.

At the rear, the four round taillights have become one of the most iconic automotive design features of the late 90s era. Overall, the R34’s exterior shape looks purposeful and bred for performance, unlike anything else on the road at the time.

Legendary Tuning Potential

The R34 GT-R’s RB26 twin turbo engine responds incredibly well to aftermarket tuning and modification thanks to its robust construction and turbocharged nature. It’s not uncommon to hear of R34 GT-Rs producing over 800-1000 horsepower with the right mods.

Some of the most popular mods include:

– Upgraded turbochargers
– Performance air intakes
– High flow exhaust systems
– Engine management chips/ECUs
– Lower compression pistons
– Upgraded fuel injectors
– Front mounted intercoolers

The sturdy ATTESA E-TS AWD drivetrain and chassis also handle huge power levels quite well. Given enough mods, R34s can achieve sub 10 second quarter mile times – a phenomenal feat.

This legendary tuning potential is a large part of what has made the R34 a tuner/modder’s dream machine and kept it relevant even today. It also enables owners to create R34s customized to their exact preferences.

Motorsport Success

The R34 GT-R continued its predecessors’ success in motorsports with victories in various championships, building its credibility as a potent track machine.

In the Japanese racing scene, the R34 was utterly dominant, claiming four straight Super Taikyu championships from 1999 to 2002. It defeated rivals easily on home soil.

Internationally, the R34 also had success. In 2001, a near production GT-R raced by NISMO won the grueling Spa 24 Hours endurance race outright, beating rivals including Porsche 911 GT3s. This was an epic achievement that highlighted its capabilities.

The R34 GT-R also competed in the Australian Touring Car Championship in 2001, placing 3rd in the standings. Other racing victories and strong results followed over the next few years before its discontinuation in 2002.

This motorsport pedigree was critical in establishing the R34’s credentials as a potent track weapon. It showed the GT-R could compete and win against rivals costing multiples more.

Pop Culture Appearances

The R34 Skyline GT-R has gained immense exposure and recognition globally thanks to prominent appearances across various mediums including video games, Hollywood movies and TV shows.

Some notable appearances include:

Video Games

– Gran Turismo Series – this massively popular racing sim featured the R34 extensively.
– Need for Speed Underground – the R34 was on the cover and lead car.
– Forza Motorsport – the GT-R was playable in many titles.


– 2 Fast 2 Furious – used as Paul Walker’s hero car.
– Fast and Furious 4 – Sean Boswell races an R34.
– The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift – R34 has cameo appearance.

TV Shows

– Top Gear – featured in challenges and track reviews.
– The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift
– Initial D – used by the Akagi RedSuns team.

By being immortalized across games, movies and shows seen by millions, the R34 cemented its place as an automotive icon and dream car for younger generations. This pop culture presence continues to drive demand today.

Rarity and Discontinuation

With the launch of the R35 GT-R in 2007, Nissan officially discontinued the R34 Skyline GT-R in 2002. Additionally, Nissan had tightly controlled R34 exports outside Japan meaning supply was extremely scarce.

In the United States in particular, importing an R34 was illegal until 2015 under the 25 years import rule. This ‘forbidden fruit’ status with low supply drove R34 prices into the stratosphere, reaching up to $100,000 for a clean, low mileage car.

Even today with legal US imports, finding an unmolested R34 is extremely difficult. There are likely less than 1,000 examples worldwide. This rarity has kept prices high and added greatly to the car’s mythical reputation.

Why Prices Remain Strong

Given the R34 GT-R’s discontinuation in 2002, many would expect prices to have peaked and tapered off by now. However, clean, low mileage examples remain very valuable and sought after.

Here are some reasons why R34 values haven’t really dropped:

  • Nostalgia – The R34 represents an iconic golden era for Japanese sports cars. Nostalgia keeps demand strong.
  • Collectibility – As a rare Japanese icon not officially sold in the US, R34s are extremely collectible.
  • Condition Rarity – Clean, unmolested examples are exceptionally hard to find.
  • Cultural Significance – The R34 is woven into car culture and still adored by new generations.
  • Strong Fanbase – The GT-R has a large, devoted fanbase globally that cherishes the R34.

As long as these factors remain true, the R34 will likely hold its value well as a coveted collectible. Values may even gradually appreciate over time as condition R34s become increasingly scarce.

The Ultimate Japanese Icon

In summary, the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 is considered one of the definitive Japanese sports cars for multiple reasons:

  • Dominant performance that could humble exotic supercars.
  • Timelessly aggressive exterior visual design.
  • Legendary tuning potential to produce 1000hp+ monsters.
  • Motorsport success beating European rivals.
  • Star of blockbuster video games and Hollywood movies.
  • Rarity and forbidden fruit status driving desirability.

The R34 GT-R perfectly embodied and exceeded the ethos of what a Japanese halo sports car should be. It was the last hurrah of an analog, turbocharged era before increasingly stringent emissions regulations and advancement of hybrid technology.

Even today in the age of electric and autonomous cars, the R34’s magnetic appeal hasn’t diminished. This enduring popularity is the mark of a true automotive icon whose legend will live on for generations to come. For many enthusiasts worldwide, the R34 GT-R remains the ultimate dream car from the land of the rising sun.