“The King is dead. Long live the King” – or so it goes.
In March of this year Kazutoshi Mizuno resigned as Chief Engineer for the GT-R programme. Whether he had decided he had taken the R35 as far as he could, or perhaps for other reasons that we do not know. The idea of a Nismo GT-R was certainly not something Mizuno-san felt was needed but that was a decision made previously. All the speculation in truth matters little as “Mr GT-R” has now left the circuit and Nissan has to decide what to do next.
Shortly after Mizuno-san’s announcement at a conference it became clear it was not something that had been planned for a long time. Perhaps Nissan Executives had been aware but perhaps not in enough detail. When Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn said he
“has no plans yet for the next model. Also the 6000 car sales didn’t fulfil and stayed low.”
It certainly got people talking about what happens next. This was further compounded when Ghosn stated his
“mind is not clear considering the factor that Mizuno will retire in a short period of time and this will cause sale drops.”
All in all it adds up to a fantastic car but slower than expected sales.
Taking the GT-R forward then requires some tough decisions to be made. Persisting with the R35 GT-R and further developments, special editions and, perhaps, limited edition versions may be the way forward in the short term. This has been done before, remember the Z-Tune? Or the 400R? Or limited edition colours such as Midnight Purple III. And there was even the S-Tune BN-R32 which came out in 2000 – long after the launch of the R34.
In parallel with the R35 programme the next generation GT-R will probably continue but under new leadership. However new leadership does not mean new to GT-R. The new Chief Product Planner for the GT-R will be Hiroshi Tamua.
Tamura-san has a long heritage with the GT-R. For those who love their Skylines he drives a gunmetal R32 GT-R, a Designer on the R33 and was Head of Product Planning for the R34. Tamura-san also started the new GT-R programme before handing over to Mizuno-san and it was he that decided it should carry the number R35.
The photos in this article are of Tamura-san taken in 2012 at a GTROC meeting
Planning for the Nissan GT-R began long before the demise of the R34 and though many of the ideas perhaps were not incorporated into the current GT-R it remains to be seen if the next version GT-R caries some of them – should Nissan eventually decide to go ahead with it. Of course this last comment is only because we are in challenging times and nothing is certain.
Dates and detials of a potential next GT-R are thin on the ground but plans do exist and we can expect more changes, albeit perhaps a little less public, in the team pushing the GT-R programme forward. One thing for sure however, is that the GTROC’s Honorary President – Hiroshi Tamura – is back doing the job he loves more than any and the one he feels more qualified to hold than anyone else.