A Complete Skyline R33 ends on a German Junkyard

This scrapped Skyline R33 was the most incredible finding during my junkyard visits over the years. It turned up on April 2010 on a small junkyard in rural Landau in der Pfalz, Germany. Even more surprising, it was not only the sought-after two-door coupe version, but also majorly complete.

Today, prices for the sought-after R33 are exceeding €50,000, and even the worst rust buckets undergo restoration. I guess that the odds of finding one on a junkyard outside of Japan are near zero.

The Skyline was almost complete. Even the intact Skyline 4-lens tail lights were still in place. Imagine seeing such a car in Germany, where these cars were never exported to yet became extremely popular due to the Fast&Furious franchise. Who would discard such a rare car?

The large exhaust, questionable side decals and the double center stripes looks like Fast & Furious-inspired modifications. The close resemblance of the style makes me wonder if we are looking at a red variant of Brian’s R34 from 2 Fast 2 Furious.

Besides the faded paint, the rear wheel arches suffered from advanced yet not fatal corrosion. Was this car discarded because it didn’t pass the technical TÜV inspection, required to be taken every two years?

The corroded brake discs indicate that this R33 was a no-runner left parked outside for at least a few weeks. While the suspension components and the wheel arches show signs of corrosion, this would not be a reason for towing such an exotic car to the crusher.

There may have been some welding work and brake maintenance necessary, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a welder and a few hours of work.

The front end of the Skyline raises even more questions: why are the fenders, bumper and headlights missing? Why is the bonnet of a different color?

Why are the upper radiator support and headlight support missing? The spot-welds seem to have been carefully drilled out. Some parts of the body are slightly bent. Could this car have been in a front end collision, and the repair turned out to be too expensive? My initial assumption was that this car must have been abandoned after an accident repair turned out to be too costly.

Hiding under the silver bonnet was the non-turbocharged RB25 engine, seemingly complete. Together with the relatively low km-reading of 115,990km on the ODO, I guess that this engine was still in working condition. I briefly wondered if some engine parts would fit to my CA18, but I decided to not take any risks and further strain the little budget I had as a student.

The interior was still mostly complete. The door panels were removed, and placed on the passenger seat.

The instrument cluster is where things got really mysterious: it had been modified to indicate mph, so it is hard to tell if the unit is kilometers or miles. In any case, the mileage was still quite low, especially for the robust RB engine. The yellow post-it sticker was a conversion table from mph to km/h. With Germany using the metric system, this made no sense.

My guess is that the Skyline was first exported to the UK, where it was converted to mph. I guess the cold and humid weather in the UK caused it to corrode quickly. But how did it end up on a scrap yard in southern Germany?

By chance, I found the answer a few weeks later. On a residential parking not too far from the junkyard, I found another R33, which coincidentally carried a dark red front bumper and bonnet.

The silver Skyline must have had a front-end collision, and the owner searched for a cheap Skyline as a part donor. He probably found the red Skyline in the UK, and self-imported it to Germany on a sketchy road trip. I imagined the owner writing down a mph to km/h conversion table on a post-it before he made the last trip of the red Skyline over the English Channel.

An experienced Skyline enthusiast with the tools, space and ability would probably have stripped the chassis down to the bare metal. With the junkyard find mostly complete, I assume the last owner did not fulfill one or more of these requirements. He or she likely had both cars delivered to a workshop to have the front-end swapped. After that, the red Skyline reached his final resting place.

“What a waste”, was going through my mind, when I was sitting on the passenger seat, looking over the crack-free dash, low mileage cluster and not-too-bad seating. There’s the rust, there’s the front end problem, and it’s automatic. But still, wouldn’t there have been a way to save this car?

I decided that at this time, the best I could do is to help other Skyline owners, so I posted the location on Germany’s most popular Nissan forum, offering to organize the removal, negotiating, buying and shipping of some spare parts.

Eventually, I helped a friendly fellow from the internet to receive a rear mirror and intact instrument bezel, as well as some smaller spares. When I visited the Skyline a few days later, the characteristic taillights were taken as well. I’ve read on a forum that someone wanted to use them to upgrade a 100NX. I didn’t inquire further, but I highly doubt that this project was successful.

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