The lineage of the refreshed 2017 Nissan GT-R stretches back nearly 50 years. To celebrate the new model's announcement, the automaker brought an example of every major GT-R generation to the New York auto show.
The GT-R badge was first applied to the Nissan Skyline back in 1969.
The "GT-R" stands for "Grand Touring Racer." This hotted-up variant of the Skyline was built to celebrate and showcase the brand's recent racing victories.
But the GT-R was no mere showcase, it was a race car. The model won its debut appearance at the 1969 JAF Grand Prix -- this would be the first of many GT-R victories.
The PGC10 chassis was powered by a 2.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine.
Power is stated at 158 horsepower. The 130 pound-feet of torque reach the rear wheels via a five-speed transmission.
Back then, the Skyline GT-R was a relatively small car, measuring 173 inches from nose to tail and just over 63 inches wide.
A compact car is a light one. The 1969 Skyline 2000 GT-R weighs just 2,469 pounds.
I love the classic details on these older vehicles, such as the radio antenna mounted along the A pillar.
At first glance, the upright coupe looks like a brick on wheels, but closer inspection reveals a sharply styled and classic design.
This first GT-R had a top speed of 124 mph (200 km/h) and could run a standing 400m dash (about a quarter mile) in 16.1 seconds.
Aerodynamic touches, such as a rear wing spoiler and a front chin spoiler, help aid the coupe in cutting through the air and remaining stable at speed.
In 1973, the next generation of the Skyline GT-R burst onto the scene.
Internally known as the KPGC110, the new Skyline 2000 GT-R was both longer (175 inches) and wider (66.7 inches) than its predecessor.
Power for the S20 2.0-liter inline-six is unchanged for this generation, stated at 158 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque.
Curb weight goes up to 2,524 pounds, which is balanced by the addition of front and rear disc brakes. The KPGC110 was one of the first Japanese cars to feature this innovation.
The C110 is known colloquially as the "Kenmeri" after a series of advertisements that featured a couple named Ken and Mary.
The cabin is spartan by today's standards, but would have been well appointed in 1973.
Meaty 175mm-wide tires are wrapped around 14-inch wheels.
The Kenmeri marks the last time a GT-R would wear its side mirrors on the fenders.
That may seem like a small wheel-and-tire package by today's standards, but the C110 needed flared fenders to clear them.
Strict emissions standards halted production prematurely after just 200 examples were produced.
In 1989, after 16 years of dormancy, the very nature of the GT-R badge changed.
The R32 Skyline GT-R was the first GT-R model to feature turbocharging and all-wheel drive, features that are now intrinsically linked with the GT-R badge.
Under the hood the RB26DETT engine breathes. The 2.6-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six makes 276 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.
The coupe rides on a multilink suspension at all four corners.
Power from the turbocharged engine is split between the four wheels via Nissan's electronically controlled ATTESA E-TS (short for "Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain Electronic Torque Split") 4WD system.
Interestingly, in 1988 Japanese automakers all agreed to self-impose a 280 PS (276 hp) limit on their cars, which is why this GT-R and many that follow cap at that point.
The R32 has the distinction of not losing a single race in the All Japan Championships.
The rear end's quad-circle tail lights echo those of the first two generations.
The 1995 Skyline GT-R evolved from the R32.
Now known as the R33, the GT-R became again heavier (3,395 pounds) and larger, which Nissan claims made the car more stable and fun on the road.
The design continues to refine for this generation, but there are also performance gains to be had.
The 4WD system evolves into the ATTESA E-TS Pro, gaining active lateral control of torque on the rear axle via a limited-slip differential.
Power for the 2.6-liter RB26DETT engine is unchanged for this generation, still sitting at the self-imposed limit of 276 horsepower.
Torque is stated at 271 pound feet.
The interior continues to modernize for this generation with the addition of more creature comforts.
This example is also fitted with a full roll cage, which is fairly well hidden in the chassis.
The coupe also sees stiffening of the chassis. Around the Nurburgring Nordschleife, the heavier R33 was 21 seconds faster than its predecessor.
When most people think "Skyline GT-R," the car that comes to mind is the R34.
The R34 stepped onto the scene in 1999. This is actually a 2001 M-Spec Nür edition, a 1,000 unit limited edition named after the Nurburgring and tuned for endurance races.
The M-Spec Nür has a softer suspension tune and stabilizers that make it ideal for the at times rough surfaces of the Nurburgring's Nordschleife. The model also featured a special N1 tune of the turbocharged 2.6-liter engine.
The R34 was the first GT-R to feature digital instrumentation on its dashboard.
Relative to the R33, the R34 featured a shorter wheelbase, more compact dimensions and a significantly stiffer chassis.
The all-wheel drive RB26DETT powertrain gains intercooling, but retains the stated 276 horsepower cap. Torque grows to 289 pound-feet.
Rumor has it that Nissan may have bent the 280 PS "gentleman's agreement" and actually understated the R34 GT-R's power.
At 3,439 pounds, the R34 is lighter than its predecessor, but it's also more aerodynamic. Even the underpan contributes to downforce.
The wheels grow to 18-inch rollers and are now shod with 245mm-wide tires.
Brembo brakes fill the spaces behind the wheels.
In 2004, the self-imposed horsepower limit was lifted and things get very interesting for the next generation GT-R.
In 2007, Nissan unveiled the latest generation of the GT-R, now a standalone model separate from the Skyline.
Now free of the limit, stated power jumps to 478 horsepower. You can check out our full review of the car known as Godzilla here.