“The HR31 didn’t have the biggest horsepower, it didn’t have anything special really, but it was just incredibly consistent,” said Fred Gibson reflecting on the car that played a decisive role in claiming Nissan’s first Australian Touring Car Championship in 1990 after nearly a decade of trying.
‘Whatever we qualified at and whatever time the car would do on the first lap it would do on the last lap and that’s where the HR31 was a real hero act. When the other cars particularly the Ford Sierras started to destroy their rear tyres and fall away, our cars just kept hanging in there.”
The HR31 GTS-R Skyline was Nissan’s second Group A warrior, which in 1988 had replaced the DR30 Skyline that Gibson Motor Sport had campaigned with considerable success since 1986.
Although the turbocharged 2.0 litre DOHC four cylinder DR30 (a hot coupe derivative of the R30 sedan) had been in contention to win the ATCC in 1986 and ‘87, it had narrowly missed out on both occasions.
The HR31 GTS-R with its purposeful-looking front and rear spoilers was a hot coupe derivative of the then latest R31 sedan. Launched in August 1987, it was built primarily as a homologation special to qualify for Group A racing with only 800 being produced.
The HR31 was powered by Nissan’s RB20DET-R turbocharged 2.0 litre DOHC in-line six. Equipped with a five-speed gearbox, it shared similar chassis architecture to the DR30 with MacPherson strut front and semi-trailing arm rear suspension.