What is love? The dictionary tells us it is "an intense feeling of deep affection." For car lovers, this also true. There's so much more to loving cars than just pining for your dream ride.
Love is a man not telling his fiancée that he has bought a roadster. Love is a husband not telling his wife how much his car's aftermarket parts cost. Love is a seaman browsing our buyer's guide while away at sea, imagining which MPV he will buy for his family.
For me, love is walking around a car show until my feet can't take it anymore, like a ballerina in a Black Mirror universe possessed by a cursed turntable to finish a macabre ballet. It was at a car show--the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, to be exact--that I first met the current Nissan GT-R. It had just been revealed to the world, and smitten gearheads gazed upon it like it was the baby Jesus on Christmas Day.
The Nissan distributor back then already wanted to bring in the GT-R, but the company had bigger problems to deal with first--like selling regular Nissans, which was rather essential to doing day-to-day business. For years, local car enthusiasts made do with gray-market imports, not letting the lack of official support get in the way of their affection for the Japanese super coupe.
But as any love-starved millennial would tell you, it ain't love until it's official. It took nine years, a complete corporate reorganization, and a shot of audacity from the newly formed Nissan Philippines for the GT-R to finally land on our shores.
When the news was announced on our website, the love poured in. Our Google numbers spiked, hundreds of comments filled our social-media accounts, and the lucky guys who could afford the GT-R's P7.35-million asking price lined up at the dealers. It was exhilarating to see all of this on our data-tracking tools, and it was amazing how tens of thousands of people clicked on an article about a car they couldn't afford. That's love.
I am a card-carrying member of this minority for whom the GT-R is a dream. That's why when it was time to choose a car to write about for our love-themed 150th issue, I picked the one I had yet to drive on public roads. In truth, I could have chosen any of the other cars here and still be enamored: the revived Japanese coupe, the pure roadster, the plush GT fit for a king, and the true hot hatch. I've driven all of them, and I'd gladly have one more go if I could. But I felt it was time to have a proper encounter with Godzilla.
An 11-year-old car model could be considered ancient, but when I arrive at the dealership, the sight of the GT-R still makes me purse my lips and inhale sharply. Its design defies aging. It looks very familiar because we've been drooling over it for more than a decade, but the strength of its presence--those Gundam body lines, outsize proportions, and four circular taillights--is undiminished.
It's so surreal when I'm handed the key and told that I'm good to go. Times like these, I close my eyes and imagine my check has already cleared--that I have a checkbook to begin with--and that this car is mine to park in my garage.
On public roads, the GT-R is a prism through which different people see different things. But it makes everyone stare. Car fans see the Skyline of legend, anime nuts see the R34 of 'God Foot,' racing fans see the dominant touring car that gave rise to the 'Godzilla' nickname, and regular motorists probably see an unfamiliar orange Nissan spaceship.
On long, open stretches (like the ones here at Pradera Verde in Lubao, Pampanga), when you challenge the GT-R to show you what it can do, you had better be ready. Power delivery through the six-speed dual-clutch transmission is scary-smooth. Speed buildup is steady until 2,000rpm, then the car surges forward in ways that will disorient normal senses. On one run, I keep my eyes flitting between the horizon and the speedometer--both of which are moving rapidly. I hit 140kph in mere seconds, and all without the car losing composure.
Toward the end of my time with this Japanese monster in robot clothing, I get a text from my brother asking if he could go for a spin in the GT-R. So on the last night of the loan period, we take Godzilla out for a quick spin around our village. We're teenagers again, without families and responsibilities, out for an evening stroll. I don't get to do these things with my brother so much, but our common love for a JDM legend has given us a few golden minutes we'll both remember forever.
This magic, this aura accumulated through heritage, ownership, fandom, and affection, is what makes the GT-R special. This car is all the cars we have ever loved. This is why we drive, and this is why we write. And to you, our readers, from the bottom of our hearts, thank for your letting us do what we love.