Sky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Datsun Skyline GT-R
Written by Dave Pankew | Photos By Jacob Leveton

When domestics ruled the landscape, automakers from other countries were quietly developing their strategies for the future. The Europeans were pushing for more power and the Japanese were developing light and nimble chassis while the Americans were sticking to the same formula. The Domestics were still big into pushrod V8s, full frame and dated technology like solid axles.

Sky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-R

On the racetracks of the world, Japanese sports cars were making a statement. Cars like the Datsun 510, Toyota Celica and Honda Civic were getting noticed in the US, but Japan was keeping their best kept secret at home. The Datsun [Nissan] Skyline GT-R was being produced over there to become Japan’s premier sports car of the day. The Skyline was never exported to the US until 30 years after its debut! For three decades, Skyline technology was refined and left the country only in limited numbers on the grey market until the R35 with its highly advanced, left-hand drive form.

Sky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-R

Today, the Nissan Skyline is frequently voted as the number one dream car of tuners. But many are unfamiliar with its roots which prior to the release of the R32 GT-R in 1989. The gem you see before you is one of very few like it in existence. They were never exported to the US and in the fast-paced Japanese economy they were disposed of to get the latest technology.

Sky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-R

The 1974 Datsun Skyline you see here has a colorful history and has been carefully preserved. In classic car language, these cars are referred to as “true survivors” that are basically factory with some minor restoration along the way. These cars have matching numbers and most of their original equipment because they have never been wrecked or rotted out. Cars like that require a full restoration, but a car like this fetches top dollar because new owners don’t have to worry about shady repairs.

Sky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-RSky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-RSky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-R

Owner Rick Rosales of Torrance, CA is the owner of Right Hand Drive Japan. His Skyline serves as a demo car to attract attention to his parts and service business for JDM cars. Rosales has the entire history of this car documented and is the third owner. The car was first registered in August of 1974 and the original owner kept it for 20 years in pristine condition. The next owner was from the Iwate Prefecture on the north side of the Honshu Island of Japan. When he sold it to Rosales, it was shipped to Kyushu Island where Second Beat Classic Car Service did some minor restoration work to this true survivor. It was then loaded onto a cargo ship destined to the Port of Long Beach in Southern California. Since the car was over 25 years old, it was brought in under legal importation laws so it could be legally titled without any problems.

Sky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-R

Since the car was so pristine, Rosales has been tentative about doing too many modifications. He switched up the lame stock wheels for a set of Watanabe RS Wheels Front 14X9-inch and fat 14X10-inch all rocking 0-offset. The rollers were wrapped in undersized 195/60R14 Yokohama DNA ECOS ES300s up front with 215/60R14 rears. The correct stance was achieved with a set of Toyoshima lowering springs dampened by Kameari Street Shocks.

Sky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-R

The exterior is almost all OEM GT-R, including the paint. The car features a GT-R front lip and rear spoiler. The overfenders are also OEM GT-R to accommodate the larger wheels and tires. The look was completed with an OEM GT-R front grille and badging.

Sky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-R

There are only a few mods beyond that. Inside there is a Skyline tri-spoke steering wheel and luxury items like factory electric widows and working AC! The engine received a Nismo thermostat, Nismo rad hoses and a fuel pump. Technosquare stepped up to provide a custom stainless steel exhaust using a Magnaflow muffler.

Beyond that, there isn’t much else to say. We’ll just let the pictures of this Classic JDM do all the talking.

Sky Lizard: Rick Rosales' 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-R

Owner: Rick Rosales
Location: Torrance, CA
Vehicle: 1974 Nissan Skyline GT-R

Nismo Fuel Pump
Nismo Thermostat
Nismo Silicone Hose

Watanabe RS Wheels; 14X9-inch 0-offset; 14X10-inch 0-offset (r)
Yokohama DNA ECOS ES300s; 195/60R14 (f), 215/60R14 (r)

Toyoshima Lowering Springs
Kameari Street Shocks

GT-R Front Lip
GT-R Rear Spoiler
GT-R Over-fenders
GT-R Front Grille
GT-R Badging

More Vehicle Features

Keepin' it G

As the both President and Founder of Team Hybrid and Hybrid Hunnyz, James Lin has earned his stripes to become one of the leaders in the custom Sport Compact business. Since 1995, his level of commitment has been unwavering and…
Read More

Mission Impossible: Drift Rescue - Kiely Mackey's 2000 Nissan Silvia (S15) Spec R

Imagine it: someday in a not-to-distant future, a wily and wizened Tom Cruise leads an elite team of young specialists around the country to seek out and rescue long-lost JDM classics. They use their Google and technical skills to resuscitate…
Read More

Reinventing the Wheel: Carlos Molina's BMW E46 323i

In the years we've known Mr. Carlos Molina Jr. we've noted that he never stops moving forward. He is, in a word, a perpetual motion machine of automotive customization. He never rests on his laurels, and is never content to…
Read More

Back in Time: Pete Colello's Widebody 2002 Toyota Celica

Over the near decade I’ve been in the industry I’ve seen many trends arrive on the scene and others fade out fast. Then again, I’ve been an enthusiast for two decades and been following imports since there were anemic little…
Read More

Royal Flush: 2008 Lexus IS 350

Ah, the Lexus IS 350 – touted by the Toyota-based premium brand as their BMW 3 Series fighter. Certainly, with just over 300 hp, it’s no slouch, and in my books, it gets the nod in terms of styling. This…
Read More