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Friday, April 7, 2017

Matchbox 1971 Nissan Skyline 2000GTX and Hot Wheels Nissan 2020 Vision Concept

One of the biggest turn-arounds for popular diecast in recent has to be the Nissan GTR.  Before all the hype only a certain few would know about the car and would lust over the casting, yet there was not that high of a demand to warrant countless replica's of the GTR's in various generations.  Now that the JDM bug has hit the diecast world GTR's are now a common sight and despite being common some of them command a higher price, not to mention being hard-to-find in retail stores.  Matchbox is one of the latest companies to get in on the GTR hype with the classy 1971 Skyline 2000 GTX, while Hot Wheels jumped in on the popularity early (and most likely started the JDM craze) and now has decided to look into the future of the GTR with the 2020 Vision concept.

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The two Skylines

The Instagram page #Matchboxworld started to finally address the issue with Matchbox not giving the collector community a heads up on what's coming up.  Since then they have not only released the exciting images but also listened to collector's requests.  One of them is doing a Nissan Skyline that would not impede on any Hot Wheels toolings.  Thankfully for this 1971 model Hot Wheels has the track version that lacks front headlights, bumper, and grille, so Matchbox did the stock version.  The Skyline was Nissan/Datsun's mid-size rear wheel drive car line that offered two-door, four-door, and station wagon variations in the native homeland of Japan.  Nissan then was known more as a performance brand to the more conservative Datsun, so it was no surprise that Nissan was more akin to bare cars on the track and use the results in production vehicles.  The GT-R was one of the first taking a typical Skyline and transforming it into a powerful track beast.  While the outside was typical Skyline, under the hood was a powerful motor: a 2.0L DOHC I-6 that produced 160 horsepower through a 5-speed manual transmission.  The lighter size of the car meant that it not only had the power but handled well, too.  For those who wanted something a bit tame and more easier to find the 2000 GT-X was the next tier down using the same 2.0L I-6 as the GT-R but with a single overhead cam to produce 130 horsepower.  The U.S. never got to taste the fierce of the Skyline until the G35 arrived in 2002 and the GT-R until the current generation in 2009.

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From start to finish Matchbox has documented the process of the Skyline casting, and even presented ten for customization from fellow customizers.  The end result is this light blue beauty with black bumpers that are part of the base (proper chrome was offered on the flat light blue (a shade darker than 2016) for 2017), taller stance with hubcap wheels, and even the classy fender-mounted mirrors.  The front has the aggressive bend of the split grille with integrated quad headlights that sit just above the signal lights, and every texture is properly detailed.  The hood design matches the shape of the front grille which then leads to the sides where the classic lower beltline sweep is properly done around the rear wheels.  1971 was the first year for the two-door bodystyle and the roof here is properly done right down to the side badges.  At the rear are the quad taillights that are square rather than round, Skyline badge on the trunklid, and 1971 license plate.

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Inside the interior has a proper four-person layout with all the creature comforts that the Hot Wheels track version lacks.  The bucket seats are nicely done, the dashboard layout has centrally-mounted auxiliary gauges, the shifter for the 5-speed manual, and the 3-spoke steering wheel.  This car even has a trunk large enough for four people's worth of luggage (I might be overhyping this).  The base underneath shows the rear-wheel drivetrain with upper/lower A-arm front and live axle with leaf springs rear suspension.  Now while this car would seem to handle quite well with its narrow width, the higher stance and wheels tucked up into the fenders created lots of body roll and that roll also contributed to some oversteer!  Brakes are disc front drums rear and stop this car quite well for its age range.  Of course, the positive is the performance as this Skyline has no problems getting up to speed.  Just wish the rest of the car match the great acceleration.  If that's not enough Skyline for you look close and you can spot a sleeper:  If it has a racing 5-point harness in the driver's seat then it is the GTR Skyline; if you drill out the rivets and take the car apart you can see the differences more clearly under the hood with the GT-R having a larger valve cover and more plumbing than the 2000 GT-X.  Sadly most of us would rather keep the car as-is so the only way to tell the two apart is to try and see through the small (at this scale) side windows to locate the harness on the driver's seat.

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The future GT-R

The most common GT-R is obviously the current-generation now sold as a GT-R without relation to the Skyline model line.  As the car is getting older, and more variants appear with the updated 2017 coming soon from a few diecast makers, its time to look into the future and one of those concepts that predict the future of the GT-R is the 2020 Vision.  What this concept really means is not about how the GT-R would look if redesigned by year 2020 but for the popular Gran Turismo game that is a favorite to those who like cars and video games.  Of course Hot Wheels has presented several Gran Turismo series based on the game and this 2020 concept is one of them.  The look of this silver car has the GT-R cues with most of them from the current-generation and look quite nice alongside the first-generation GT-R's from Matchbox despite the vastly different bodywork.

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The front has a lower air splitter where the center V-shaped Nissan grille meet and are flanked by side scoops with integral blade wing that sit below the vertical-slot LED headlights.  The GT-R's wraparound windshield carries on here with more narrower sides and of course the Gran Turismo advertisement window banner on top.  The sides look angular and flat until you get to the rear trianglar decals that match up to the new multi-spoke wheels with rubber tires.  The base underneath is super smooth and lacks details for the sake of aerodynamics.  The rear is the best part of the car with quad round taillight rings with a black rear spoiler and if the front isn't aggressive enough the center exhaust bucks up the center spine and makes with the rear spoiler and taillights for one aggressive-looking face!  Now the interior and powertrains are not presented here since this is after all a car in a VR environment, but the interior will have the same seating for four with a dashboard layout with more digital gauges and infortainment, yet the driving position and steering wheel will be catered to the driver.  As for the powertrain expect the twin-turbo 3.8L DOHC V6 and all-wheel-drive to continue, as is the rear-mounted transaxle with seven gears, but the biggest change will be the adaption of an electric motor for a hybrid layout that can make the GT-R run full-electric at city speeds or use that electric assist to boost the V6's already monsterous power output.

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These two show the beginning and the future of the Nissan GT-R's with plenty of room in between for other diecast makers to get their share of the GT-R's pie.

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