I’ll have to go back to the Nismo Gallery for a full look around. This time it was only a detour during my road test of the Mazda MX-5 (which you’ll be able to read later here later this month) so I didn’t stick around for too long. I did have enough time to have been amazed and wowed by what was on display.
The Nismo Gallery is located next to the Nismo Omori factory in Yokohama. Trusting Google Maps to take me there, the area it’s in would be the last place you’d expect precision engineering to happen. But as I saw a bright blue R34 come out the exit gates I knew I had gone to the right place. It’s hard to miss as it’s a grey building with massive ‘Nissan’ and ‘Nismo’ signs on it.
As you walk through the main doors you’re greeted by what can only be described as R390 GT1 Le Mans racer stuck to the wall. I’ve been in hotels less welcoming than the Nismo Gallery. It was quite an astonishing sight to see and one I’d like to replicate one day in my house. Though maybe not with a priceless pieces of motorsport history.
When I went there were seven cars on display at the gallery, including the R390. First up the IDx Nismo Concept. Seen at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show this car previewed what could’ve been Nissan’s answer to the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ. Unfortunately, two years on, the concept hasn’t made it into production and there doesn’t appear to be any signs of if happening at all. A shame really because I quite like the look of it.
Behind it were a couple of production Nismo cars that you can buy today, well in Japan. Unfortunately the question isn’t whether you can buy them or not but rather if you’d want to. Okay to be fair the Note Nismo could be pretty decent as it’s basically a Juke Nismo but with a lower centre of gravity. And I did enjoy the Juke. The Micra Nismo however, I’m not so sure. I mean it only has a 114bhp/83kW so I wouldn’t even call it a lukewarm hatch.
At least to the left of them were some proper race bred machines. There was a 1983 Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette Group 5 racer. Loosely based/resembling a R30 Skyline, the Super Silhouette had a LZ20B 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder DOHC engine producing “over 570bhp/419kW and 539NM of torque”. With Masahiro Hasemi at the helm, the Super Silhouette won 2 races in the 1982 championship and 5 wins in 1983.
There were two R34 GT500 cars on display too. One was the yellow Pennzoil car from the 1999 series while the other was a blue Calsonic car from the 2000 series. Both cars are relatively similar. With the RB26DETT engine, they produced around 500bhp/386kW and “over” 706NM of torque. While they were relatively successful in races, they never won a championship.
The cars are display with interactive information sheets displayed on iPads, because Japan. They provide more information on the cars. However, Japanese reading ability will be required. After nearly giving myself a nosebleed from trying to read and then translate all the info in my head I resorted to looking at the colourful model cars they also had on display.
Once I had recovered I went and had a look at the workshop. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed access in there, though in my next visit I’ll try to get in. But I love that they made it so visitors of the gallery could see inside. There were a surprising amount of cars getting work done in there as well as some extra goodies on display such as an absolutely stunning 240Z and R34 GT-R.
Much like the Spoon workshop, the Nismo one was spotless. There wasn’t a single thing out of place, no cigarette butts on the floor, or yesterday’s lunch left on the table. It was so clean I’d happily have a kidney transplant in there.
I asked the lady at the reception desk about the cars inside. Apparently most are customer cars taking their cars in to get tuned, customised, or restored by Nismo. The latter would explain the near-naked Skyline inside. She said not many people do this though as it’s not that well known, even around here. Which surprised me but then again I guess most people would want to do up their cars themselves. It was at this point I noticed a group of Westerners at the shop inside the gallery.
This was no ordinary gift shop. It was quite literally a Nissan lover’s paradise, as repeated numerously by the tourists. I had a chat to them and found out they came all the way from Australia just to buy parts for their Skylines back home. Quite the trip for some car parts but I can totally understand why. The shop literally sold everything from taillights to air filters. Be warned though; these are genuine parts and the prices reflect this.
Since I didn’t have a Nissan to buy parts for I just bought some amusing stickers. But if you want to see some of Nismo’s greatest and latest cars, have a peak at their workshop, and/or buy parts, then the Nismo Gallery really is a must do. Just make sure to buy extra luggage allowance when you book flights.