I welcome the contemporary renaissance of love for Japanese cars. I’ve marveled at the engineering brilliance and mystique of that culture and its cars for my entire life, most of that being behind the 25-year import curtain imposed by United States federal regulations. That shade has lifted for much of the 1990s and some amazing cars are slipping through. Enter the Nismo 400R.

  • Car: 1997 Nissan Skyline GT-R Nismo 400R
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Photog: Chris Rosales (@chrishasacamera Twitter, Insta)

The 400R is a homologation special with comprehensive and desirable upgrades. It was made to commemorate the R33 Skyline GT-R Le Mans car and it is a no-BS race-derived car. It was built by Nismo, Nissan’s motorsport division, with an original production target of 100 cars., but only 44 were built.

The 400 in 400R is the horsepower output of the specially built 2.8-liter RB26-derived engine. A normal old R33 GT-R comes with a 2.6-liter inline-six called the RB26DETT that makes a reported 276 horsepower, but it’s rumored to be more. The 400R punched it out .2 more liters and used a variety of N1 parts, a strengthened crankshaft, forged pistons, rods, polished and ported cylinder head, camshafts with a higher lift, a different oil pump, and an increased redline to 9,000 rpm. 

The engine’s new name? RBX-GT2. Sounds scary.

Suspension and handling were quite a bit less extreme. Re-tuned Bilstein dampers made the ride firmer and sportier. The exterior had several Nismo aero parts that made the normally bulbous R33 more muscular, along with a set of highly desirable and rare Nismo LM-GT1 wheels. The 400R badging replaces some Nissan badges and a 400R side graphic completes the ‘90s looks.

It is seriously rare and an especially cool car. The GT-R is a legend of car culture. The 400R is that legend, focused.

As big as we could get it:

Chris Rosales