Early Days: Philippines

Simply put, some cars are more special than others. Many are quite special to a few, and a few are a little bit special to many. Then, there are the rare holy grail type cars, the ones that appeal to a wide audience without sacrificing anything on any front. Roy de Guzman’s 1972 Nissan Skyline 2000GT is one that fits into the latter group.

Any Hakosuka is going to be special, and although Roy’s car isn’t the coveted GT-R version, the fact that he’s cloned the lesser model has allowed him to build this car to his liking without any guilt. He’s owned the KGC10 Skyline for nearly 15 years, and over this time the car has gone through a number of renditions, each more fantastic than the last.

As featured on Speedhunters in 2014 (sorry for the broken photo links), Roy found this car “at a workshop at the base of Mount Haruna, in Gunma Prefecture.” There were “a few sweat-on-the-brow moments when it became fairly obvious that the shop and its owners were most definitely Yakuza-affiliated and weren’t necessarily going to let a foreigner buy the car just because he wanted to,” although Roy ultimately drove off in his dream machine.

But Roy’s story as a car enthusiast starts long before this.

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Roy grew up during what he calls a “lucky timeframe” in the 1980s. It was an era where cool cars were featured at the forefront of popular TV shows, movies, and other media. Roy enjoyed and appreciated the cars in The Dukes of Hazzard, Smokey and the Bandit, The Fall Guy, and Back to the Future, to name a few period TV and movie productions, but it wasn’t until Roy moved to the Philippines and started high school that his love for cars really started to take shape.

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The first car gatherings Roy attended, at a place called Green Hill, catered towards a little bit of everything. Roy said there would be tons of different car clubs and groups that showed up in everything from MkI Volkswagen Golfs to old school Ford Escorts or Lancers, Corollas, Z-cars, and more. Perhaps surprisingly, given Roy’s current and recent builds, he was initially drawn towards the European car scene.

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He says he liked the taste and style to which the Euro guys were building their cars, however, over in the Philippines everything had a JDM-esque spin on it.

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This includes one of Roy’s first rides, and I don’t think any words can do justice to this photo. It’s period perfection, and air-cooled VWs were just the start of Roy’s automotive back catalog.

While there were loads of cool Japanese cars in the Philippines which weren’t offered in the United States, Roy admits that it wasn’t until the mid-’90s that he really got into Japanese cars. As it happened, the first one that really caught his eye was the GReddy/Trust R32 ‘Speed King’ GT-R. At the time Roy happened to own a mid-’80s Subaru XT Coupe, so he did what any reasonable man would do: he modified it.

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With essentially no aftermarket parts available, Roy sourced some 4×140 junkyard wheels from a Peugeot 505, fabbed up a custom intake and exhaust, did some work to the cylinder head, and fitted a hood scoop from a 300ZX Turbo. Absolutely fantastic.

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From here he owned a number of cars including a highly modified Mitsubishi Diamante — get a load of that rolling shot, apparently taken with a OneTen camera —  and, into the 2000s, both an AW11 and an SW20-generation Toyota MR2, the latter of which had plenty of aftermarket parts support to draw from.

The Perfect Storm: Japan

Then, in 2004, Roy found himself stationed in Japan on a military assignment. He sold the AW11, stored the SW20, and says by this point he had “seen every Initial D episode and every movie pertaining to import cars.” In other words, being in Japan with the Wild Speed (read: Fast & Furious) era in full swing and cash from the first-gen MR2 burning a hole in his pocket, it was the perfect storm. Roy set out to buy a new car.

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He ended up with an R33 Skyline GTS-T – the single turbo, RWD model – which he initially intended to send back to the US. That didn’t happen, though. Instead, our very own Dino took Roy to the Nismo Festival at Fuji, the place where Roy said he got his first taste of the more exotic and high-end Japanese cars.

Outside the event there were a number of old cars parked up in the lot, and that’s when it happened.

“Row one, spot one – a modified GT-R Hakosuka,” Roy recalls with excitement. He gestured to the car, and Dino said something to the effect of, ‘Roy, this is the genesis.’ With proper GT-R models commanding a serious price tag even in the mid-2000s, Roy immediately wrote the chassis off as a pipe dream. However, when Dino explained the concept of using a base version KGC10 to build a KPGC10 GT-R clone, it was game on. The car hunt started fresh.

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This search led Roy to where this story started, a shop in Gunma — yes, that Gunma — where he found the ideal candidate in a KGC10 2000GT.

As described in our 2014 story, when Roy found the car it had “GT-R fender flares, RS Watanabes, a nearly-complete interior, and most importantly, a howling 2.8-litre straight six L28 to replace the physically similar but much weaker factory-fitted L20 2-litre straight six.”

On January 27, 2005, Roy made it his.

Next, Roy started out on his journey to turn the car into a GT-R lookalike, but the plan never was to stop there. Roy tells me: “if you get a real GT-R it would be sacrilege to not restore it. But if you get a base model, the sky’s the limit and you can modify the crap out of it.” This is exactly what he has done, and as mentioned, the car has had many different iterations throughout the years.

Final Form: Las Vegas

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Unlike the R33, Roy’s KGC10 Skyline was a car that he absolutely had to send over to the US. Once he left Japan for his long-time home in Las Vegas, Nevada, Roy made sure the car came with him and he has been modifying it ever since.

I came across the car last year during the SEMA Show when Dino asked who would like to shoot America’s first Rocket Bunny Hakosuka. My hand shot up, but being that we were at SEMA, our ride out to the location would be anything but normal.

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Dino piloted the massive Ford away from the Vegas strip towards an Italian restaurant outside Red Rock Canyon, where he begrudgingly ate American pizza. I thought it wasn’t half bad, but Dino had other ideas. Anyway, with the sun heading down more quickly than any of us would have liked, we rolled out into the canyons to shoot Roy’s car along with another that Dino tackled. Here, on location, I was able to more closely examine the car itself and the modifications that make it what it is today.

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The Skyline’s presence is defined by its low-down stance, but it still manages to feel tight and planted from behind the wheel thanks to Parts Assist M.Speed coilover suspension in the front and GAB Sports adjustable shocks paired with 60mm springs mounted to adjustable perches in the rear.

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Design cues and parts are carried over from the GT-R model, including the rear spoiler, tail lights, and NOS bumpers and emblems.

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Wheels can make or break a car, and 15×10-inch Colin Cross Fevers wrapped in 195/50R15 Toyo Proxes R888R rubber on all four corners are the perfect match for the Rocket Bunny flares.

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Power still comes from an L28 inline six cylinder, although the engine bay has transformed over time. Triple Solex side-draft carburetors are equipped with an SK Sports induction kit and topped off with polished velocity stacks. A GReddy oil catch can is present, the ignition is upgraded with parts from MSD, and the exhaust is handled by a modified Trust setup.

The valve cover has been powder-coated gold, a nice touch which works well with the finish on the old school wheels.

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In the cabin the GT-R theme continues, although the additions here are more subtle. Roy sourced and restored a GT-R steering wheel and painted the ‘2000GT’ emblem — which all models had equipped — the correct red as you would have seen in the top model. A Datsun competition seat has been fitted for the driver alongside other period cues.

The interior is simply a nice place to be, and the longer you spend here the more details you find.

Constant Evolution: Transcendence

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Inside and out, the car is a cohesive, well-sorted build. No one part of the car outshines another, and beyond the factory brakes it’s hard to tell what Roy could possibly do to improve the car at this point.

The induction sounds are fantastic and the exhaust is pleasantly loud, but not overbearing. It feels quicker than it really is, but the power from the naturally aspirated L28 isn’t frightening. The car exhibits that classic shakotan stance while not being so low it’s unusable or unstable at reasonable speeds.

It’s rare I use this word, but Roy’s 2000GT is perfect.

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Roy agrees that there are so many different ways you can modify a Hakosuka, and he says he was most influenced by the kaido racer look. When I asked Roy how the car has changed over the years, he described it as a “natural evolution.”

“I don’t believe in changing something for the sake of change. Maybe for aesthetics, or as a design study,” he says, and it’s this unforced, well-considered approach that makes this car so good. It isn’t a car that’s been a trend-hopping build, but rather a painstaking process.

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After we shot the car I was able to cruise with Roy in his Hakosuka, and this is when it hit me how special this car really is. It’s a car that tells a story. Whether you’re into Japanese cars, classic cars, modified cars, show cars, or just about any cars, Roy’s KGC10 speaks to everyone, yet it isn’t overstated and remains nicely balanced.

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Roy’s Skyline also manages to serve many purposes at once. It’s a method of transportation, a snapshot of car culture today presented in a unique way, and while not exactly a time capsule, it’s still very much a connection to a simpler past.

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To Roy, it’s even more than all of this, and you can tell that his connection to the car teeters on the transcendental.

When he’s behind the wheel, you can tell Roy is right where he’s supposed to be.

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto

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