Perhaps one of very few times you’ll see it at full chat.
50 years has passed since we first saw the ‘GT-R’ badge placed on the back of a Nissan, and it’s sort of just written history since then. Its latest iteration, affectionally referred to as ‘Godzilla’ by many, has come to be seen as a contemporary example of Japanese engineering and automotive ideologies pushed to the extreme.
Coincidentally, it is also the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Italdesign, the fabled Italian design firm that has lent its expertise to companies like Alfa Romeo, BMW, and Lamborghini over the years to create some truly stunning motorcars (namely the Brera, the M1, and the Gallardo respectively). Seeing the opportunity, in July, Nissan & Italdesign unveiled the GT-R50 by Italdesign, a jointly-developed birthday present to celebrate the great successes that both the GT-R and Italdesign have achieved in the last five decades.
Later, they took the gorgeous one-off car to Spa-Francorchamps. And floored it. On film.
The GT-R50 features extensive aesthetic revisions sitting atop of what is essentially a 2018 Nissan GT-R Nismo, but look past the obvious bits and there’s little of the donor car left. There are gold elements everywhere, signifying the golden jubilee of Nissan & Italdesign, contrast beautifully against the Liquid Kinetic Grey paint. The shiny stuff surrounds the grille and appears almost like a separated element, flanked by slim LED headlights that are underscored by vertical front cooling intakes.
The roofline’s been lowered some 54mm over the standard car, with an even lower central portion denoting a very modern take on the classic ‘double bubble’ roofs of old racing cars. That roof touches down in a widened, beefy rear that makes the car look squat and taut, while the GT-R’s “Samurai sword” air vents sitting behind the front wheels have been lengthened and painted in gold, with a GT-R50 badge sitting below it.
Coming round the rear, the GT-R50’s most striking elements show themselves. Designed to look somewhat modular, the rear windscreen has been made longer than the standard car, and the taillights have received a reimagination by hollowing out the quad-round units and giving them a ‘halo’ look that appear to float, almost. Above those sit an active rear spoiler which, when retracted, looks unbelievably sleek.
While the exterior has been heavily revised and pushed far away from the donor car, the cabin’s changes were slightly less outlandish and feature more familiar elements. There’s plenty of gold abound, while the dash has been given a race-inspired revision. The dash and steering wheel have been upholstered in Alcantara, while the seats receive smatterings of black Italian leather.
The GT-R50 is more than just an (extensive) aesthetic exercise, though. Under the bonnet, the boffins at Nissan’s motorsports division have made merry with the venerable 3.8-litre biturbo V6 mill, and have extracted from it some 530KW and 780Nm, signifying a jump of 88kW and 128Nm. GT3-spec turbos, engorged intercoolers, and heavy-revisions to just-about-everything else contributed to that power & torque bump, in case you’re wondering.
Additionally, there’s also things like Bilstein DampTronic continuously-adjustable dampers, Brembo disc brakes (six piston callipers up front, and four piston callipers at the rear), all of which hide behind unique 21-inch allow wheels. There are also special Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres front and rear, ensuring grip.
It’s very rare to see a one-off commemorative car like this get thrashed round a circuit, though it most certainly won’t be its last go. The GT-R50 by Italdesign is set to head to the Laguna Sea Raceway in Monterey at the end of the month, with rumours of other appearances after that.
While it remains a concept at this stage, it’s rumoured that the GT-R50 could reach production, albeit in very, very small quantities. No official decisions have been made by either Nissan or Italdesign, but a cap of just 50 cars and a price tag of over €900,000 (or over $1.4-million) has been pushed around. We’ll have to wait and see on that, though.