Writing about Skylines is the worst. There’s so much you want to convey and speak about, all with the daunting task of not offending anybody in the process. Short of Mustangs, it is difficult to think of another universally loved and hated automobile. However, this car is different.
Photography by : Viet Nguyen
Video by : Matthewos Patroni
Words by : Rocky Pacifico
Purists and aficionados please have patience; even some of the most devoted Japanese car culture followers (in the states) have a difficult time explaining the Skyline’s colorful history. If this was a popular child’s TV show, then be prepared for some “The More You Know” informative commercials. The Skyline moniker didn’t start with a Nissan badge. The namesake started with a smaller Japanese brand known as Prince. Believe it or not, the platform/name is actually older than most vehicles still on the road. You’d be hard pressed to think of another car that’s been around longer. 1957 was the first year the Skyline name was introduced to the world, known as the Prince Skyline ALSI-1 series to be exact.
To create what we enthusiasts call an “original gangster” car is our Holy Grail. It’s something we all strive for. It usually means capitalizing on followed paths that have been executed before; ultimately putting our own clean spin on it. This is where we introduce Johnny Humphrey’s ’71 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-X. Many know this body style as the Hakosuka, which strikes terror in the hearts of other JDM heroes of the time. Realize its racing pedigree is often overshadowed by newer model Skylines (R32, R33, R34, GTR) but make no mistake, the C10 chassis Skyline was a workhorse in its own right.
Most of the Nissan enthusiasts looking at this article will start to note that Johnny’s car has that GT-R look. This old warbird is actually the civilized road-going car. Yes that means what you think it means: the once original Skyline you see here has seen some time under the knife. And by knife, we mean blade referencing katana. Johnny is actually the samurai to handle the task. Yes, the fenders were massaged by the gentleman who drives that car. This isn’t Johnny’s first go around with JDM greatness, so no reason to be alarmed for 45 year old Japanese steel. One of his other projects happens to be a vintage Z car with a serious engine transplant. Without giving too much away, we’re sure this next project will be just as astonishing as what you see here.
Johnny is actually a native Kiwi (New Zealander) spending time in California. While he may be foreign to the States and relatively newer to the California car scene, his builds will surely capture the hearts of many enthusiasts in this car culture. We spoke of period correct badges and how the internet has ruined car culture. The most interesting part of our conversation was how he acquired said car. This was an eBay purchase. Quite amazing how long the ad was up when you consider the exposure provided by the world’s largest market place. Johnny was actually on the hunt for an RC car of Hakosuka flavor when he stumbled across this old gal. The previous owner had listed it in the “Toys” section of eBay. On top of that, the photos provided were thumbnail-sized. After haggling and beating the previous owner up, Johnny had himself a GT-X. Sight unseen is usually a nerve racking situation. However, this particular car was restored by Rocky Auto in Japan. When the car arrived, it was better than pictured. As he half chokes the car, the minty fresh dual carb L20 rasped its way to life.
Fear not, for this tale of Hako Heroism isn’t finished yet. After all, Johnny’s got plenty more up his sleeves with two other JDM unicorns and a recently-acquired Mazda RX-2. It’s evident that he’s not limited to just one particular type of steel or another, which is what will make the sequel even more amazing.