It’s Monday morning at MotorTrend’s headquarters in El Segundo, California, and the Nissan R390 GT1 road car is rolling into the photo studio. There’s a strong emphasis on the Nissan because this car is one of one, and it’s here for a special gathering with MotorTrend video-on-demand subscribers and influencers. At the top of our guest list is Hiroshi Tamura, also known as “Mr. GT-R,” who’s here to talk about Nissan’s performance heritage and the GT-R’s 50th anniversary. But the party doesn’t stop there; just outside the photo studio there are about a dozen special Skyline GT-Rs—from R32s to a “Hakosuka”—brought out by our enthusiast friends and passionate subscribers.
Our guests not only got to ask Tamura-san all their burning questions about GT-Rs past and present, they also got to interact with American actor Sung Kang from the Fast and Furious franchise; Cody Walker, CEO of Reach out World Wide (ROWW); and Chilean Redbull BMX rider Coco Zurita. Car aficionado Sean Lee, who brought his unique R32-generation Nissan Skyline, shared his experience on Instagram, saying this was “Probably one of the coolest Mondays a car guy can ever have.” For a few hours, subscribers were able to ogle the R390 GT1 while sipping a cappuccino and talking to MotorTrend editors and car fanatics. The day concluded with a tour of the MotorTrend office and the laborious task of parking the R390 inside the office.
Having the Nissan R390 GT1 for one week in our office is as special as it gets. The car is visiting the U.S. and has been on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum, but made a quick trip down La Cienega Boulevard to visit our office before it goes back to its home at the Nissan Heritage Garage in Zama, Japan. With its 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, the R390 GT1 produces 550 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, enough to get from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds—which was insanely quick in 1998, when the car debuted.
Given those impressive numbers, you might be wondering why Nissan only built one R390 road car. Like many automakers involved in sports car racing in the mid- to late-’90s, Nissan exploited a loophole in the GT1-class regulations that essentially allowed it to compete with a purpose-built race car as long as it was based on a road-going “production” car. Thus, Nissan built one street-legal version of the R390 GT1 to satisfy homologation rules so that it could race the mechanically identical race car version at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997 and 1998. Today, the road car is in the care of the talented people and content creators at MotorTrend Group, sitting directly across from the Kurtis Sport Car that appeared on the cover of MotorTrend’s very first issue in September 1949.
Tamura-san’s visit couldn’t have been timed better. Last week, he revealed the new Nissan GT-R Nismo at the New York auto show, which was shown next to the GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition, celebrating the golden jubilee of the high-performance model. Although the chief product specialist of the GT-R, 370Z, and Nismo was tight-lipped about the next-generation GT-R, MotorTrend subscribers got to ask him questions and enjoyed hearing about his experiences developing Nissan’s performance models. Tamura-san also signed the center console of an R32 Skyline belonging to renowned car photographer Larry Chen.