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Skyline Drive


Hello again, dear readers! Quarantine has given me lots of time to reminisce on past glories. About three years ago, I had the opportunity to turn a long-shot failure into present-day victory. It all centered around a 1999 Nissan Skyline R34 GTR.

During my youth, I was a hardcore boy racer. My friends and I all tuned and modded our cars in the quest to squeeze whatever additional horsepower we could out of our mostly pedestrian rides. Some of us were fortunate enough to get our hands on Bimmers, Mazda RXs, Subarus WRXs, and quite a few Honda Civic Type-Rs and Acura Integras. The holy grail, however, was the NISMO Skyline GTR.

One friend had successfully imported a right-hand-drive 1996 R33 that was the envy of everyone, but the R34 that was released in 1999 was the absolute coolest thing on four wheels. Fast forward to 2006, when most of us had graduated college and finally had big-boy jobs and a little money in our pockets, and we mostly also graduated to much nicer rides. Several friends purchased Infiniti G35s and Cadillac CTSs, along with some much newer Bimmers and at least one Porsche Boxster. I was still rocking my 1996 Ford Taurus SHO from high school, but the transmission was starting to go, and I was looking at WRXs in the hopes of creating an AWD monster.

During my pursuits, I came across a dealer that specialized in more exotic imports and custom cars, and he had several business contacts in Japan who could get their hands on cars that were never produced for the US market. One such car was a pristine 1999 Skyline R34 with only around 30,000 miles. It was even the iconic bright blue that always lit up the pages of my favorite tuner magazines back in high school. Unfortunately, I was timid about jumping through the hoops of importing and modifying a car to fit current US safety and emissions standards, and by the time I decided to follow through, the car was sold, and I was left heartbroken.

Fast forward one more time to 2017 at a local cars and coffee event here in Richmond, VA, and I stumbled upon that holiest of grails - a 2003 R34 GTR, bright blue, and modded to around 1,000hp. I hung around with the owner for almost half an hour and told him my sob story about the one that got away. I moved on to a few other vehicles and took a few laps around the venue, and just as the event was wrapping up, the guy with the Skyline approached me and asked if I wanted to go for a drive.

Of course, I was gobsmacked. I jumped at the chance, and before I knew it, I was behind the wheel of the all-wheel-drive Godzilla. I was very timid and didn’t dare to open it up, but once I finished driving, the owner took over and absolutely ripped around the interstate while I tried to keep my guts from coming out of my throat. By the time we got back to the lot, I must have been a little pale because he asked me if I needed to sit for a minute before I got out. As I watched him tear out of the lot and disappear into the city traffic, I checked an item off my bucket list. Needless to say, this was a dream come true and an opportunity that I’ll never forget.

-Trey Fennell

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