The fastest and most expensive Nissan road car ever developed was created to comply with the 1998 Le Mans GT1 Class regulations which required manufacturers to build at least one street-legal version of the race car. The concept behind the creation of the Nissan R390 GT1 was to push reliability and dynamic performance to the absolute limit without compromising the driveability of a street car.
Unlike many others, Nissan built the road car first and built the racing version from it. The R390 GT1 design was the work of Ian Callum at Tom Walkinshaw Racing, previously acclaimed as the designer of the Aston Martin DB7.
At the front, Mr Callum used headlamps from the 300ZX production sports car and the distinct twin front grilles which gives the R390 GT1 a Nissan family look. The R390 GT1's long-tail carbon fibre shape was honed during extensive scale model wind-tunnel testing in England and full-size testing of the actual vehicle at Nissan Technical Centre in Atsugi, Japan.
Behind the driver sits the heart of this true supercar Nissan's VRH35L twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre double-overhead-camshaft V8 engine with electronic sequential port fuel injection which produces 410kW at 6800 rpm while complying with all European market exhaust gas regulations.
Getting that power to the ground from a standing start, out of corners or in damp conditions is a challenge and the R390 GT1 features a launch control system and traction control which, when encountering wheelspin, reduces power by limiting fuel to individual engine cylinders.
R390 GT1 performance as one would expect is staggering and includes a sub-4.0 second zero to 100 km/h time. Inside are normal road car appliances such as full instrumentation and leather-covered driver and passenger racing seats. The short-throw gear lever for the Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox and tiny racing steering wheel are reminders of the close alliance between the road car and the vehicle which captured four out of the top-ten spots in the 1998 Le Mans 24-hour race.
Underneath the all-carbon fibre chassis is upper and lower A-arm suspension with coil springs at all four corners, inboard shock absorbers and front and rear anti-roll bars. Braking is handled by huge AP 14-inch vented front and rear disc brakes with six piston calipers and ABS.