SCREAMING SKYLINE: THE ORIGINAL HR-31s HISTORY

Now for sale, this piece of Bathurst history forms a special part of Nissan racing history …

CAREY McMahon has a new toy – the 1991 Bathurst 1000-winning Nissan GT-R – and it’s due to hit the track again very soon.

So that means he is selling his Skyline GTS-R (HR-31) that he’s been racing in Heritage Touring Cars for some time.

It’s advertised here on the V8 Sleuth websiteand we thought we’d take the time to recount its history for those interested.

This car is one of four, six-cylinder Skylines – often also known as HR-31s – in existence and one that has regularly run at the front of the HTC field.

In fact, it was the first of the GTS-R Skylines built by Gibson Motorsport in 1988 and is distinguishable from its sister cars by its black interior.

“When they got it, it was an existing road car or one that came from the factory,” says current owner McMahon.

“It’s the only one of the four that remains black on the inside so it has its own identity from that. The later ones came from Nissan Motorsport and were specially pressed bodyshells, about 40 to 60 kilograms lighter.”

George Fury first raced the car in 1988 at the Adelaide International Raceway round of the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship after a range of delays that had put back its debut.

Glenn Seton and Mark Skaife raced it in later rounds of the ATCC before it became the #30 Fury/Skaife car for the Sandown and Bathurst endurance races. The car failed to finish in either of the enduro classics. It became the spare chassis in 1989 when Jim Richards joined the team and re-appeared as the #12 car for Skaife to drive in selected rounds of the championship from Mallala onwards.

The car would be an important one in Skaife’s ATCC/V8 Supercars Championship career given he used it to collect his first podium finish – third at Winton behind Fury and Peter Brock’s Sierra – later that season.

It was not used in the endurance races, however was raced – and crashed! – by Skaife at the Adelaide Grand Prix. Repaired, it was taken to New Zealand for the end-of-season Nissan Mobil 500 races as a display car.

However, when Win Percy crashed the #3 car he shared with George Fury in Wellington, the display car was pressed into action for the Pukekohe event the weekend after. The race parts were transferred across from the crashed car and the duo finished sixth in the car’s final appearance with the factory team.

Privateer Chris Lambden purchased the car for the next season and he ran it in Beaurepaires colours in the 1990 ATCC and then in the endurance races with Greg Crick as co-driver. They finished ninth at both Sandown and Bathurst with the car making its last appearance in Lambden’s hands in Group A racing at the Nissan 500 at Eastern Creek. He and co-driver Des Wall were one of the early retirements of the inaugural race at the venue.

The recession hit touring car privateers hard in 1991 and the Skyline did not take to the track. The same was the case in 1992, with a lack of sponsorship scuttling plans made by Lambden for Formula Ford hot shoes Stephen White and a very young Craig Lowndes to drive the car in that year’s Bathurst 1000.

Lambden placed the car up for sale, however given the demise of Group A and arrival of new five-litre and two-litre touring cars, it proved difficult to sell. He raced it at Winton in 1993 as a Sports Sedans and it was eventually sold to Terry Ashwood, who raced it prior to purchasing the Gibson Motorsport car collection.

It then found a new home with Rod Markland for approximately five years before current owner Carey McMahon purchased it in 2010.

“It was the only car I saw on the market at the time that had an unbroken history, it looked kind of cute and it was something I could maintain myself,” says McMahon.

“Half the reason for me was that I enjoy the engineering side of things. I wanted something I could maintain myself. I never really set out to buy a Nissan at all. It was clean, simple and came with a massive list of spares.

“On the first day I took it out to Eastern Creek and John Bowe came out and taught me a few things. I was stunned by how difficult it was to drive. It had no horsepower below 5000rpm and then the thing would go off like a grenade! “I thought it was going to be impossibly difficult to drive, but I persevered and went around and got back into things and started to learn by the end of the first year.

“I changed my driving style so I was braking far earlier than I would have and getting on the throttle way earlier so by the time you got to the apex, the power was coming in.

“It really is an underrated car. For a little six cylinder, it’s just phenomenal. The times were did at Phillip Island in 2014 were just amazing!”