Nissan Skyline R31 Silhouette (1986-90) - Club Classics Under $30k

By: Dave Morley

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It wasn't the prettiest car of its time, but the R31 Skyline's handling and silky-smooth six makes it good buying on a budget


1986-90 Nissan Skyline R31 Silhouette

I’m not gonna sugar-coat this; the Nissan Skyline R31 is not the prettiest car I’ve ever clapped eyes on. In fact, from most angles, it’s downright homely. But maybe that’s part of the attraction: It certainly stands out from the pack. And when somebody makes the big list of locally-made cars that were worth a damn, I’m tipping the R31 is somewhere in the top half.

Despite the garden-shed aerodynamics, these were great cars and arguably the best handling big Aussie four-door you could buy at the time. They would sure as hell show a Falcon (XF) or Commodore (VL) the door back in the day, provided there were a few corners.

The injected Nissan six was a real sweetie and while it didn’t rev particularly hard, it didn’t need to with plenty of shove from relatively low in the revs and the sort of smoothness that would have had an XF Falcon owner checking the tacho to make sure the thing hadn’t stalled. And yes, it had a tacho.

The Silhouette version was a bit more of the same with a body kit, some iffy alloys and the classier interior including the six-gauge cluster. And a limited-slip diff which suddenly made it a pretty quick point-to-point car. Any hey, while we’re not big fans of plastic 80s body kits, at least when you were starting with something this dowdy, you couldn’t really go backwards.

The catch now is finding a manual one that hasn’t been fitted with longer lower control arms, a locked diff and been skidded to death by little suburban grubs with neck tatts. But if you do, my advice is to buy it and keep it safe. And drive the wheels off it at every opportunity.

Value range: $5-15k



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