Imagine that you grow up admiring something that you are unsure even exists. You eventually learn the object of your desire does exist in real life, but it is very far away in a place you may never be able to go to. Then that impossibly far away thing lands in your backyard.
Its been a long time Oppo, and I come back to you now because I felt compelled to write about the car you see above. As you may know, the R33 GT-R LM is a 1 of 1 silver bullet built for the sole purpose of making much faster versions of itself legal to race at Le Mans in the 90's. My introduction to the car was not from television footage or a magazine though, but from a video game that had a huge impact on my youth.
When you play the first Gran Turismo, this is the first car you see. There is no explanation as to what it is as its released from its trailer in the intro video. From context you can guess its a Skyline, but its not in the Arcade Mode or in the Nissan Dealership in Simulation Mode. This racked my adolescent brain, wondering why the very first car seen in the game is such a damn mystery. You play though the game, knowing it could be one of many bonus cars. Then, finally, after every license test, after every championship, and after one of the last endurance events, the mystery is solved.
The R33 GT-R LM was such a tease and getting to it was an adventure. I learned so much about how cars handle, how to set them up and how too much power can ruin even the best sports car platforms. I learned how to enter corners, how to exit them and how to not hit the wall. And I learned a lot more about cars that I would never see on American television or in American magazines. And it was all in pursuit of this silver homologation machine of mystery.
But because I only knew the car from a video game, I wasn’t even sure if the thing was real. For all I knew, this was a fantasy car the developers threw in, a “what if” scenario of an ultimate road going GT-R. The internet would later confirm the car was real... and was kept in the very, very far away from me Nissan DNA Garage in Japan. And I said to myself “one day... I’ll make the trip to go see it.”
So... you can imagine my shock when I learned that the GT-R LM, along with a couple of other Nissan legends, would be at the 2019 New York Auto Show.
I get a hold of a friend of mine who also worships Gran Turismo as well as old Nissans and we make a plan in haste. He got the tickets, I met him at his house and we rode up 95 to go fulfill a dream. We get to the show, we haphazardly run circles around the building, we briskly walk by multi million dollar hypercars that we would normally stop and drool over. And then we come upon the best display of the whole show.
Stunned. Shocked. In awe. There it was, before my own two eyes. And as an amazing bonus, the R32 Calsonic Race Car was right behind it! Now I must admit, I was worried about whether the car would look good in person. I had only seen it on a screen, and I did wonder if the proportions would look odd in the flesh. Well, I can tell you that pictures do not do it justice. It looks amazing in person.
The bulging fenders, the impossibly low side skirts, it all looks perfect. Sure the fit and finish is a bit rough in areas, but the package as a whole is enough to make you wonder how you could operate the lift, lower the car and drive it out of Manhattan.
Then we found out we could go underneath of it.
To be this close to the car did not seem real.
To see little details that would never be rendered in the game made me feel like I had such exclusive access.
To be this close after being so far away from it did not feel real.
For our time underneath of the car, we were given little golden Godzillas in honor of the GT-R’s 50th anniversary. The Ford Lego-man was nervous about his new swagbag mate.
Because the LM was on a lift, you could see it from many other parts of the convention center. We couldn’t get away from it. Every time we glanced at it by accident, we would be lured back like moths to a flame.
As we took one last look at it, my friend contemplated whether he could live underneath of it, set up a fridge, put in a couch and pay rent. I reminded him the display was temporary. It was tough to walk away from the one thing you’ve always wanted, but we knew Nissan was not going to accept the lint from our pockets as a legitimate offer for the car.
However I do have my 1/18 scale version of the car and though I can’t drive it, the model does make a good friend for my new little golden buddy. Still, I may not remain satisfied with just having a 1/18 version of the LM. Seeing the car in person has made me think very hard about how I could build my own LM from an R33 GTS-T. Until I can muster the resources to build my own though, the R33 GT-R LM will once again remain just a dream.