The legendary Rb26 straight-six powertrain. ATTESA all-wheel-drive. A redline past 8000 rpm and at least 300whp. And hey, room for your dog!
As mentioned in the RS2/Alpina piece, Canada has somewhat more lax grey market importation rules than the US. As a result, we’ve been up to our toques in R32 Nissan Skylines for the past ten years, and nobody gives a crap about them any more. There are something like 2000 Delicas in my home province of British Columbia, I once interviewed a guy who owns five Nissan Figaros, my neighbour has a Pao, and when I parked this thing on the Georgia viaduct’s shoulder to grab a picture a Suzuki Alto RS-R immediately drove by. Short of an Autozam AZ-1 (and stay tuned), you really have to have an interesting JDM car to attract any attention around here.
Well here’s this thing, a Nissan Stagea wagon with the running gear out of an R33 GT-R. Basically, it’s Godzilla in cargo shorts.
You can find the full writeup here, on one of my regular outlets, with a few more pictures, etc. Suffice to say that it’s somewhat surreal to be driving around in a frickin’ wagon that pulls hard all the way past 8000rpm with a somewhat excited dog in the back seat.
The car belongs to Chris Luehmann, a friend from the local Subaru club. Like many of you, he grew up racing JDM machinery on Gran Turismo, and fell in love with the Stagea 260RS after winning one in a wagon challenge race, and then modifying and racing it in-game. When he figured out he could actually import one in real life, the hunt was on.
It’s a pretty uncommon machine, and certainly so in North America (there’re probably fewer than five in the country at present). The full designation is Autech Nissan Stagea 260RS, as it was Nissan’s subsidiary division that bred this beast. Autech can be thought of as very roughly analagous to Alpina, though the latter is a more independent company. Nissan founded the subdivision in 1986, with the first president being Shinchiro Sakurai, the father of the Skyline.
Chris’s machine is a beast, lightly modified with coilovers, big wheels, and a turbo-back exhaust. Horsepower levels are hard to judge as Nissan underrated the Stagea 260RS, just as it did the GT-R, but similar cars are putting down well above 300hp to the wheels.
However, the Stagea is a fairly weighty machine, driving a bit like an V10 Audi S6. You really need to get the revs up to feel the power come on, and then there’s the incongruity of that Skyline-high redline. Keeping your foot in long enough is tricky around the city, which is why this thing isn’t more heavily modified.
Instead, it’s used as a more practical kind of transportation that just happens to be pretty damn badass. The trunk is full of Chris’ work gear (he’s a body shop guy, trained on everything from Ferraris to Teslas), and despite the low-slung suspension, it’s a pretty comfortable ride. The only thing that sucks is the fuel economy, which is flat-out terrible. Atomic breath ain’t economical.
We rumbled around the city, rattling windows early on a Sunday morning, Lucy the dog scampering around happily and sticking her head out the window. Roll on throttle and let that boosted straight-six really honk above 4000rpm, bouncing and reverberating back along the canyons of glass. Epic stuff.