Nowadays, cars like the Nissan GTR and bikes like the Honda CBR 1000 RR (or ‘Fireblade’) are go-to solutions if you want to go fast on either four or two wheels.
For this week’s combo we’ve traced the lineage back to where the original wave broke which led Nissan and Honda producing some of the world’s favourite high performance machinery.
In the case of Nissan the first GT-R was produced way back in 1969, although you need to wind forwards a couple of years before a GT-R was available in familiar two-door form. This one is a faithful replica of a 1972 ‘Hasosuka’ GT-R and for lovers of early Japanese performance cars this is about as good as it gets.
It is seriously cool, from the wheels to the steering wheel and the howling, carburettor-fed straight-six. Oh and those seats! Notable also that one of the GT-R’s defining features – the round rear lights – hadn’t been thought-up for the fist two years of production, when they were square.
Honda also was doing some highly relevant work in 1971, as this CB750 proves. Unlike the Nissan, to look at it you’d be forgiven for assuming that it wasn’t much of a performance machine, but make no mistake, this is the first bike that could be reasonably referred to as a ‘superbike’ and overnight it made hitherto-dominant British bikes look like antiques.
Look closely at that engine. It had four cylinders and an overhead camshaft; Grand Prix technology in 1969 when it was launched. The 67 horsepower it produced enabled it to reach 125mph and nothing outside of Japan at the time could dream of competing with that. What’s more it was reliable, had an electric start and didn’t ‘mark its territory’ each time you parked it up. As a direct result of the CB750 Honda embarked on a journey that resulted in the immortal Fireblade and the modern superbike was born.
So as far as the GT-R and Fireblade are concerned, this pairing marked the start of it all. It’s interesting to note that both vehicles had a top speed of around 125mph. The current GT-R and soon-to-be-released Fireblade aren’t far off 200mph. We looking forward to 2025 when they should both be topping-out at around 230!