1996 Nissan Skyline Reviews from Australia and New Zealand

1996 Nissan Skyline R33 GTS-T 2.5 turbo

Model year1996
Year of manufacture1996
First year of ownership2002
Most recent year of ownership2007
Engine and transmission 2.5 turbo Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired60000 kilometres
Most recent distance105000 kilometres
Previous carMitsubishi Cordia

Summary:

A turbo charged japanese allrounder

Faults:

90,000km an unknown hose carrying coolant needed to be refabricated at a cost of $200.

100,000km heater core sprung a leak. Very common and difficult problem to remedy as it is behind the dashboard. I have bypassed just bypassed the coolant and will get it fixed by a pro at a cost of $600 quoted.

3rd battery in 5 years.

General Comments:

From the moment I laid eyes on the skyline, I had to have one. At 21, my budget was either a clapped out R32 GTR or a decent R33 GTS-T series 2, so to avoid unaffordable insurance and possible future repairs, I chose the latter. A silver 1996 R33 GTS-T coupe.

I imported mine through a brokerage which turned out to be a lengthy and stressful experience. I did save about $5000 but whether it was worth it I was not entirely sure. That is until I received it.

It was probably the peak of the grey import times in Melbourne and the skyline was arguably one the best looking cars to come out. It was definitely the most popular. I remember driving through any town and people would be looking at its sleek, menacing body. Neighbourhood children would gather around it, telling me how they have one of these in their video game. Looks it had, but what was the performance like? Bloody fast.

With your foot flat to the floor the turbo will wind you up to 100km/h in under 7 seconds. 140 rwkw is easily boosted to 150-160 with some bolt on mods. Mine came with a 3 inch exhaust with Jasma 4 inch tip that sounded deep and would set off most car alarms in any given underground carpark. I also fitted a Greddy pod filter & fmic. If its going around corners that floats your boat (or sliding around corners) the factory suspension hugs the road beautifully with slight over-steer that is easily corrected, or abused. Mine came with Tein coil-overs that are ridiculously stiff, but simply brilliant. Its like driving a racecar. At 1360kg, these are not light, but they almost feel as nimble as their little brother, the 200sx, but with a lot more grunt.

If your using your skyline as a daily driver, don't go too crazy on the suspension. Stock is great. If you are driving on normally dodgey city roads the bumps will get annoying. Also watch lowering them as they already sit fairly low and you will be doing some damage to your front bumper as I have :(

If you have a big foot you will be knocking your foot on the panel under the dash as you move accelerator to brake. This gets annoying.

I won't name the compliance mechanic, but he was awful. He charged me $600 extra for changing braided brake hoses to standard, something he said needed to be done which is untrue. He also pocketed the solar battery charger. which may have led to my next issue.

I powered up the stereo system to 400wRMS and have chewed up 3 batteries. The battery is a pathetic size and in the boot, so I assume these factors are the reason. I have been lazy not to correct this yet with either a battery upgrade or a capacitor.

The rear indicators got a bit of moisture in them too. I got a panel beater to reseal the boot, but its back to leaky.

Japanese cars are limited to 180km/h and this is no exception. You need to replace the entire computer to raise it, and get some more power, as it is not programmable. I don't often need to go faster than this so never bothered.

The bang for your buck score would have to be 10/10 thanks to the Japanese used car market. Its easy to forget that this was a $55,000 car new. That's a Monaro or an XR8, but they have a compromised name for themselves due the the abuse that some receive. If you want one, get one with as little modifications as possible and only get your modifications done by GOOD mechanics. The engine is proven to be bulletproof the running gear hasn't missed a beat yet and it arguably is still a great looking car at for its age.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th July, 2007

25th Jul 2007, 22:32

Your review is very good, however I have to comment on two things:

1. Changing the brake hoses to standard is one of the compliance regulations as set by DOTRS. As it is a tricky job, requiring two people, and Nissan parts being expensive, 600 bucks is about right. (he didn't rip you off basically)

2. The batteries that come standard are of a gel cell type. So even though they look small, they pack a massive punch and have a 5 year lifespan as opposed to 2 for a normal 'wet' battery. I have to agree, the fact they are in the boot is a pain in the... BUT, it does free up a fair bit of space in the engine bay for access to the oil filter :)

With 400W, maybe you should have looked into buying a capacitor. They are not that expensive.

1996 Nissan Skyline GTS25 Series II 2.5L petrol (non-turbo)

Year of manufacture1996
First year of ownership2002
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 2.5L petrol (non-turbo) Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.3 / 10
Distance when acquired52000 kilometres
Most recent distance64000 kilometres
Previous carHolden Commodore

Summary:

An absolute bargain for the insurance-challenged

Faults:

The input shaft bearing on the gearbox was somewhat whiny when I got the car. Since then, all gearbox bearings have been replaced (under warranty) and the noise is still there. It seems that this is an inherent, but totally benign issue (a number of other Skylines I have been in have the same noise). It is not a reliability issue.

Rear spoiler-mounted brake light does not work.

General Comments:

Handling is THE major strong point of this car. It has a very neutral turn-in and LOADS of grip. You can keep your foot buried almost all the way through the corner and still stick to the road, with mild oversteer on the corner exit. When the tail does break loose, it is extremely forgiving and progressive, and can be brought back into line (if you really want to) very easily. Body roll is minimal, even with stock-standard suspension and bump absorption is actually better than my last car, a VR Commodore with standard suspension.

The motor is an absolute jewel, but it needs at least 4000rpm on board to be in the least bit interesting. Low-down torque it does not have. Still, it is more than willing to rev to the 7000rpm redline/cut-out and sounds brilliant all the way (I have a 2.5" aftermarket exhaust fitted). You will need to make good use of the somewhat notchy gearbox to wring the best out of this motor. I would not call it a quick car. The bottom line: it needs a turbo. However, if your insurance company says that you can't have a turbo, this is still a very nice motor.

Apart from the noisy gearbox (only really apparent at standstill in neutral with the clutch out) and the non-functional spoiler-mounted brake light (due to a blown LED), this car has had no problems whatsoever. I would still recommend replacing the camshaft belt if you are at all unsure of when it has last been changed. Don't forget that many (most?) privately-imported cars have had the odometers wound back... possibly several times.

The interior is a little dark, but the updated Series II dash has aged gracefully. The climate-control air-conditioning is magnificent! The driver's seat is quite supportive, and the width is adjustable to cater for a range of drivers.

Fuel consumption is around 11-12L/100km, but then I tend to rev the sweet-singing motor out rather a lot :) Expect better consumption with a lighter foot. 98-octane premium unleaded petrol is highly recommended.

Overall, for the price I paid (AU$20,000), it is still unbeatable value; unless you look at the GTS25 turbo...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th March, 2003

21st Mar 2004, 02:57

I have a 1997 Skyline GTST Series II and reading your comment on your fuel economy makes me think that the turbo is worth the extra couple of litres/100kms. I get about 13-15L/100kms. I agree with everything in your review, especially the use of 98-octane premium unleaded petrol, not the 95-octane premium unleaded petrol used in the cheaper petrol stations.

13th Apr 2004, 05:03

I'm another GTS-T Series II owner from the UK.

All the comments above, I do agree with, though I would say to keep your foot buried on corners in the turbo version is a little dangerous, as I found out to my expense. Saying that, the handling of the car is outstanding, the GTS-T is a quick car in it's standard form, but what makes it a great car is the fact it is tune-able to stupid amounts of horsepower if you wish, though I recommend only taking it to 400 BHP if you want your engine to remain bulletproof i.e. not have engine issues.

16th Jun 2007, 23:18

Hi I have a R33 97 Skyline Series 2 in regards to your fuel consumption comment my car is approximately doing 17 - 20 L/ 100kms is that normal? how can you guys get very good fuel economy, should I get it checked out?

14th Nov 2008, 15:21

I was looking through all of your comments. I really want to get an R33 series 2 turbo, but am very conscious about the whole petrol consumption.

Average review marks: 8.0 / 10, based on 2 reviews