I don’t remember noticing Nissan Crossing – the Japanese carmaker’s brand showcase in Ginza – the previous time I was in Tokyo’s glitzy district, but it was impossible not to this time around. Walking from Tsukiji market towards the Imperial Palace, I passed the crossing where the famous Wako Building sits, and across the big Seiko clock sat a rare, red beast.
I had to rub my eyes because a Kenmeri GT-R is rare – it’s certainly harder to come by than a Hakosuka, the first Skyline GT-R, and many have only seen the fabled KPGC110 as a die-cast model.
The first time this writer saw a Kenmeri in the metal was when we visited Nissan’s Zama Heritage Collection in Kanagawa three years ago, but it was just that bit more awesome this time around – maybe because it was in red, or because it was in the city, or perhaps a combination or both.
The 1973 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R sitting in Nissan Crossing’s “Cylinder” storefront is one of just 197 units of the KPGC110 made and sold in Japan in four months from January 1973, giving it the nickname “the elusive GT-R”. Killed by strict exhaust emission regulations, the wrong time, wrong place Kenmeri GT-R was produced in silver, white and red – the latter is the most rare colour.
The C110 GT-R is powered by a 2.0 litre engine six-cylinder engine with 160 PS at 7,000 rpm and 177 Nm of torque at 5,600 rpm, and this S20 engine – with DOHC and three racing carbs – is what differentiates the elusive GT-R from lookalikes based on the regular Skyline C110 Coupe.
Besides this car, the S20 was ever only found in the Hakosuka (1,945 units in four- and two-door form) and 420 units of the Nissan Fairlady Z S30 432. Click on the links to see these S20-powered legends.
The 1,145 kg C110 GT-R sits on front struts and independent rear semi-trailing arms, while the brakes are all round discs. Visually, the way the coupe body with black overfenders sits on those skinny 14-inch wheels are rather odd (compared to modern cars), but they mark out a GT-R along with a mesh front grille and prominent ducktail rear spoiler. Of course, the GT-R badge in that iconic arrangement sits on both ends, which have four eyes each.
There would be no more GT-R after the Kenmeri, until the R32 resurrected the famous badge in 1989, starting another chapter of the GT-R story. For those wondering about the name, Kenmeri refers to Ken and Mary, a pair of lovers used by the carmaker in the marketing of the second-generation Nissan Skyline in Japan.
Working while on holiday? Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I enjoyed it. Also do check out a beautiful video of the Kenmeri (and Hakosuka) by Petrolicious and a cute compilation of Ken and Mary Skyline ads below.
GALLERY: 1973 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R KPGC110