Friday, February 3, 2012

How a Series 3 BCNR33 is Different From the Other R33 GT-Rs

Lately, from various people there seems to be some interest in the Series 3 R33 GT-R. For those who don’t know what a Series 3 is, the informal nomenclature refers to the 1997 and 1998 R33 GT-R models, ie the last 2 years of production. During its production, the R33 GT-R evolved, with various (mostly cosmetic) changes being made both for the 1996 model (Series 2), as well as the Series 3 models. I was going to write only about the Series 3 on this post, but decided as I was writing this that it would be best to highlight all of the changes throughout the production, to demonstrate the differences clearly.

For example, one well known difference is the rear fog light that replaces the right side back up lamp:

Obviously, the Series 1 (or “zenki” [前期] model in Japanese) is the R33 GT-R in its original form. Introduced for the 1995 model year, the comparisons being made at the time were naturally against the R32 GT-R (how it was larger, heavier, but faster and better handling, etc). It is important to note for all R33 GT-R fans that, it was this zenki model R33 GT-R that set the under 8 minute record at Nurburgring. The modifications made later are obviously not those that required significant capital and resources for Nissan to implement. Which really is another way of saying that the Series 1 models were so good that, most improvements in the Series 2 and 3 were really only cosmetic!

Some General Stats:
Total number of R33 GT-Rs ever made: 16,250
(compare this with 43,934 R32 GT-Rs, and 12,175 R34 GT-Rs)

Standard cars: 9,871
V-Spec cars: 6,551 (including N1 versions)

Number of cars by model year:
1995: 8,446
1996: 4,093
1997: 2,708
1998: 1,175

Note: These numbers I copied out of GT-R Magazine. Don't ask me why they don't add up!

R32 GT-R vs. R33 GT-R:
According to my resources, (catalogs and third party books), some of the less obvious differences between the R32 and the R33 are:
1) Elimination of telescopic steering
2) Smaller trunk space due to relocated battery to rear, and strut bar
3) Smaller gas tank – reduced from 72 liters to 65 liters
4) Elimination of the Active Sound System that came with the R32’s stereo.
5) ECU changed from 8 bit to 16 bit.

BCNR33 Series 1 (前期 or "zenki"):
For the Series 1, the available colors were as follows:

LP2 – Midnight Purple
BN6 – Deep Marine Blue
QM1 – White
KL0 – Sparkling Silver
KN6 – Dark Grey Pearl
KH3 – Black
AN0 – Super Clear Red (special order optional color)

The Series 1 chassis numbers range from BCNR33-000056 to 009270 (and apparently with numbers 000094-000100 missing!)

BCNR33 Series 2 (中期 or "chuki"):
For 1996, a few improvements were made to the car:
1) The addition of a front passenger airbag as standard (it was a factory option in the Series 1)
2) The change of the driver steering wheel from a large airbag type to a more compact and sporty type

(photo courtesy of

3) Changes to the shape (more 3-D) and material (cheaper feeling apparently) of the dashboard surround
4) Center console is shallow compared to before (could file CDs upright in the zenki one - reason why is the addition of an additional airbag computer underneath)
5) Deletion of coin slot next to power mirror controls
6) Rear antenna switch moved from above left knee to left of steering wheel behind wiper stalk (replacing the blanked off switch)
7) Changes to the rear finisher (the “Skyline” lettering under the trunk is more pronounced).
8) A special “LeMans” edition car was released in limited numbers – its color was Champion Blue and the car had N1 ducts in the front bumper, a carbon fiber center rear spoiler with adjustable flap, hood top molding, and special commemorative stickers on the C-pillars. These cars were offered for sale only over 2 months during the summer of 1996. [Note: a FAST look-up shows a total of 177 of these cars were built.]

Available Colors:
LP2 – Midnight Purple
BN6 – Deep Marine Blue
QM1 – White
KR4 – Sonic Silver (replaced KL0)
KN6 – Dark Grey Pearl
KH3 – Black
AR1 – Super Clear Red II (special order optional color) (replaced AN0)
BT2 – Champion Blue (for LeMans cars)

The Series 2 chassis numbers begin at BCNR33-021001

BCNR33 Series 3 (後期 or "kohki"):
But then in 1997, Nissan made more than a few improvements to the R33.

The Series 3 is the only one that came standard from the factory with:
1) Xenon headlights (which also means that unlike the others, once on they always stay on, even when using the high beams at night)
2) Larger front lip spoiler (an additional 20mm) – (but with an option to order the shorter one from the earlier models). This also means larger brake cooling ducts.
3) N1 ducts in the front bumper
4) Left side turn signal “grill” is cut out for maximum airflow to optional oil cooler.
Here is a photo of the front of my car, you can see all of these above changes:

5) ABS braking system actuator unit is smaller, with reprogrammed logic to improve stability in braking while cornering situations.
Compare the Series 1:

With the Series 3:

(both above photos courtesy of Global Auto)

6) Right rear back up light changed to a rear foglight (see first photo above)
7) On braking, only the outer rear taillights light up (not all 4):

8) Door window glass changed to “long life hydrophobic glass”
9) All glass received an anti-UV coating.
10) Interior (seat, door trim) with red accents instead of blue
11) Changes to dashboard facia material texture (somewhat rough tactile feel)
12) Additional bracing in the trunk rear floor area attaching the rear suspension mount to the floor in order to improve the car’s rigidity. Said to be the equivalent of adding another strut tower bar, and also has the added benefit of strengthening the rear crumple zone.

Available colors were the same as for the Series 2, except there was no BT2 color.
(Edit: As Sean Morris reminded me below in a comment, some of the very last cars were available in an R34 GT-R color, GV1 Black. Thanks Sean!)

The Series 3 chassis numbers range from BCNR33-040001 - 043743 (this includes the 4 door R33 GT-R produced by Autech)

So I think that's it! IF I missed something, please let me know. OR if there is a photo of something that should be added here, let me know!

References and Acknowledgements: (some of these links are no longer active) (photos of chuki model) (photos of kouki model)

R33 Skyline GT-R Best album (Cartop Mook)
I Love R33 Skyline GT-R (Neko Mook)

GT-R Magazine


Autodairies of a disturbed car nut said...

Thanks for that Aki... I didnt know about the brace added to the boot in later models!

Aki said...

no problem! Looking forward to more entries on your blog!

Kunal said...

Very informative Aki, well done!!

Karl said...

Great post, full of 'lost' and hard to find information I really enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Good summary of the differences. I'm a self-confessed R33 geek but there were some new ones on me there!

Aki said...

Thanks everyone! Let me know if there are other R33 minutiae you'd like me to research, happy to give it a try!

Neal Hartman said...

I really hate my steering wheel. It's just so damned big and bulky. Much rather have the late model one.

Nice work, as usual, Aki.

Sean Morris said...

There were some of the last R33's that were the R34 Black. GV1. One of them is here in the US.

Sean Morris said...

GV1 R33.

Now- find out how many N1's they produced. No real numbers on the R33's. I have seen one here in the US, but no one can give a real answer on them.

Aki said...

Sean -thanks buddy for the reminder, I knew I was missing something. Will post and credit you.

As for N1s, believe me I have been researching this, no one even at Nissan seems to know!

Sean Morris said...

I have asked a few people about the N1 R33's, but nothing. R32 is well documented, R34 is well documented. R33 is unloved. You R33 guys are lucky you have Alexander Gordji, ha ha. He is a real R33 enthusiast. I have some unpublished articles from him on R33 N1 racing, and Group A R32. One of these days I should edit them and post them.

Autodairies of a disturbed car nut said...

Sean, do it!
An I still wonder why the N1 cars were based on the heavier Vspec cars. I track use my R33 an looked fr a non Vspec on purpose - for it's plain old mechanical LSD.
Magic cars these GTRs. We'll never see another car produced like it. (R35 has no clutch pedal and dwarfs the R32-34 cars)

Aki said...

Sean - I know of Alex from his Nissan GT-R book, but did not know he was an R33 guy! Will have to figure out a way to contact him! Maybe he will be kind enough to let me publish on this blog (on a separate page, maybe) an excerpt from his articles?

Regardless, should be able to trace the N1 cars by their VIN number...hmm...

Aki said...

autodairies - I think the reason why is that Nissan wanted to have their highest tech car as the N1. Heavier, yes, but then they took out/off the radio, A/C, rear wiper, etc. in order to reduce the car's weight. After all, if they did not use the Vspec model, the standard model is mechanically pretty much the same as the R32 GT-R, except for the electric HICAS (vs hydraulic). Agree though now with superior rear LSDs like OS Giken, etc. the standard model is a better buy now - less things to go wrong? LOL

Aki said...

to all - I am thinking there is a need for a page on this blog devoted to the technical aspects of the car. Will begin to research...

ryandh said...

Is the rear fog light only on the series 3? Because my series 1 GTR appears to have a rear fog light, except it's on the left side, not the right. Just curious

Aki said...


very interesting, it appears you may have a custom job! I don't suppose you have a link to a photo so we can take a look?

To answer your question however - from the FACTORY, the series 3 was the only one with the rear fog light. Where is your switch for the foglight located? On the series 3, for some odd reason it is located on the lower part of the instrument panel, right above your left knee.

ryandh said...

To be honest, I just found it after reading your post. I'm out of town until tomorrow, so as soon as I get back ill post a link.

ryandh said...

Actually... The beauty of smart phones Haha. Here It is

Aki said...

Very cool ryandh! So where is the switch to turn it on, located?

ryandh said...

Located the same place as the series 3, but it definitely seems like a custom job.

Autodairies of a disturbed car nut said...

Aki - do you know if the Super Taikyu cars were based on the Vspec or standard car? I wonder if any of the racing versions had the active rear diff? My guess is no (other the actual N1 series)... Why would you want the extra weight and complexity on a race car?

Aki said...

The Super Taikyu series cars were all N1 spec cars. In Japanese, the series is the N1 Super Taikyu, and the regulation rules pretty much stated that the cars had to be near identical to cars sold on the market. Hence no aero mods, etc. In which case, you would want the most high tech car, no? Yes, more complex, but every advantage counts, and at a weight penalty of only 10kg, probably worth it. Also, the ATTESA ETS-PRO was rated to handle up to 600ps, so durability was probably ok. But I will ask some pro drivers next time I meet with them.

Dave (speedingpanther) said...

Great site Aki - I've been following some of your discussions on

I was intrigued with your rear/boot floor brace find. Can you really see them doing mnuch in your opinion? I've had a quick look at my 95 v-spec import and I can't see the mounting points giving vast improvements unless I've mixed the brace points (it was dark and using a phone light).

Keep it up (it's keeping me interested in the 33 with "new" extras like the courtesy lights on the outside - nice touch).

Aki said...

Dave - thanks for the accolades!

Re the mounting points, if you read my latest entry ( the article talks about how the R34 had better body rigidity. What I didn't bother translating/explaining was, the article described how Nissan in 1996 began working on improving the chassis rigidity. They built a chassis test car, which was based on the BCNR33, and began various experiments to increase the rigidity of the car. I SUSPECT that during these tests, they realized that one very simple way to increase rigidity in the rear was to add those two braces. They don't intrude on trunk space. BTW the R34 has ANOTHER brace in the trunk, a bar mounted laterally in the rear of the trunk in front of the headlights. But, as the article said it was tough to get the correct amount of rigidity front AND rear, in a balanced way. So I suspect that the added braces were good to add just the right amount of rigidity to the rear.

Anyway I plan to delve into this a bit deeper, as some of my upcoming additional mods will involve further body bracing.

Stay tuned!

Aki said...

oops not headlights, I meant taillights of course!

Dave (speedingpanther) said...

Thanks Aki - I've sourced some rear boot floor spaces so will try to keep you posted on fitment (running/testing might be longer as I'm mid way through an overhaul). PM me your address for pics on if it will help.
Braces came from a UK car BTW as standard :-)

Steve (GTROC -Crusty Demon) said...

Hi Aki

This has been very interesting for me having just purchased a series 3.
On the subject of the front bumper, my car differs from yours slightly, but I believe it is "factory"
My car has the factory oil cooler option and has a intake panel (sourounding the turn signal)and side exit from the cooler. It is similar to the Middlehurst UK cars but not exactly.

Aki said...

Steve - thanks for the comment! Honestly I don't know if it was a factory oil cooler option, but I inquired at Nissan Shinagawa once on getting one fitted to my car, and it's still possible to do. I think it was a Nismo oil cooler and bumper piece, and the price along made me re-think the option (plus cutting into my bumper...)

See you around the GTROC!!


Anonymous said...

Do you know anything about a bolt in the front right inner guard?? My new rims and tyres rub when im almost at full lock turning left but no bolt in the left guard??

Aki said...

No, sorry - I would have to go take a look at mine... actually ever since I upgraded to 18 inch 265 tires, my front right wheel rubs on full lock too. What size tires are you running?

Anonymous said...

Wow, awesome work. I really love all the info here.
Mr. Aki, do you know if these trunk braces can be purchased and retrofitted to the series 1 r33 gtrs? I would really like to add these...


Aki said...

Hi Laz,

Thanks for the nice comments! Pretty sure you can buy and retrofit the pieces, although I have not done it myself. On occasion I see them pop up on Yahoo Auctions here in Japan. Not sure if you can buy directly from Nissan, but if you can get ahold of these pieces, should bolt right on, although some drilling might be required.


Duane said...

Great Info!
Are all the Series 3's V-SPECS ?
- Ive seen 1 or 2 without the V-SPEC on the rear.

Aki said...

No Duane, Series 3 had both V-Spec and standard models.

Jim said...

Nice article Aki!

I have a Series 1 R33 GTR V-spec from jan 1995.

Mine DOES have a passenger airbag. i guess it was a rather expensive factory option back then...
there is no way for me to store my cd's upright in the center console because of the airbag computer.
mine doesnt have the rear wiper and has a workin fog light. pretty sure the fog light is a custom job though.


Aki said...

Hi Jim,

Yes you are right! The Series 1 cars had passenger airbags as factory options. As was the rear wiper delete! So you have a pretty special car there!

Thanks for reading and your comment!


Unknown said...

Aki that was a great write up and very informative. I am currently restoring a S3 97 R33. While inspecting the rear fog light I noticed that it does not stay on unless the switch is constantly engaged. Is this normal? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks

Aki said...


Thanks for the comment. The rear fog light switch is only operational when the headlights are on - if you dim the headlights, then the rear fog needs to be turned on again. Otherwise it will stay on as long as the headlights are on.

Hope this helps?


Stj88 said...

Hey Aki i just bought a 1996 BCNR33 GTR but the strange thing its a series 1. No-airbag, coin holder, CD's fit up right up in the arm rest and dash material is series 1.

Don't know the production date jet, will check that when it clears customs.

Unknown said...

Hi Aki.

I have a rear foglight and seems to be a switch on the centre console. But that switch has no plug on it, and when I remove the centre console, there is no plug there anywhere. It's a Series 3 1997. How do I find this plug> What could have happened as it looks like it's nowhere there. Any info on colours or where the wiring leads to and from?

Unknown said...

Hi. Nice write up. Very useful.
I have just bought a May '96 car, series 2, I guess, it has the smaller steering wheel and passenger airbag etc. It also has N1 vents and xenon headlights which appear to be factory fit, do you know if these were optional extras for the S2?

Unknown said...

Hello dear,
Thanks for your efforts. I have a question regarding the rear fender width/arch, could you confirm or find out if all series have exactly the same dimensions? Appearntly, some R33s can fit 18x10.5 +15 with ease, some cannot and the wheels stick out. I'm not sure why, but I believe in Japan they do fender rolling in the rear and modify the guards in front to run wide wheels with no scrubbing issues. I'm sure you can across this before, I'd appreciate your clarifications. Ali from Saudi.

Aki said...

The Xenons were not available until the Series 3 came out, so doubtful. The vents though were on the N1 cars so it's possible your car has an N1 bumper. Hope this helps!

Aki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aki said...

I don't think there is a difference amongst the models. That size should not be a problem especially in the rear even if the fenders are not rolled, if running a relatively normal height. Yes you can remove the liners and such but it's also how low the car is.

rmiguelcar said...

Hi Aki, I talk to you on speedhunters and I realise you´re the R33 guru maybe you can help me with a couple of questions I have, please.

1st: What´s the difference between a S1 and S2 R33 GTR?
2st: Did Nismo made a diffuser for R33 GTR? Since 400r rear bumper is a bit longer than the original there´s no other brand like Top Secret who make this.
3rd: Can you put some images about the antenna switch position? I cant really understand much about it.

Sky said...

Whats the differance in the r33 skyline 4?

den said...

There was a mod on the series 3 R33 that you didnt mention ,,They modified the gearbox syncro hubs , they made some larger ( 5th gear )and changed the weak spring clips for solid dog type locks on the 3/4 syncro, I fitted an OS Giken 5 speed cluster and they specify using the late model syncros they give you a list , the alternate parts are also listed in the r33 parts book, it is quite a few parts that are changed .

Aki said...

@Den - yes, you are absolutely correct! I forgot about that. In fact, most 33 owners will specify Series 3 gearboxes as replacements when theirs break. I will have to update the article above (and full credit to you!) soon.



Tarik Z. Laaraj said...

Possible to upgrade from S1/S2 ABS to Series 3?

Aki said...

I suppose anything is possible, but in this case I doubt it's worth the effort. Even NISMO didn't bother in their newly rebuilt from the ground up Clubman R33

Unknown said...

Aki, the V-spec also had the addition of plastic air direction plates the bolt onto the radius rods, also I believe the N1 model came with different wheels as when I purchased mine ( not an N1 but s3 V-spec ) it has 17x9 +8p enkei RPO1 that has in the canter oc the wheel " racing model for bcnr33 N1 ".

Dreek said...

Always great to read and soak with you about the 33s. I love being the black sheep, underdog. The zenki, which is what I have has the airbag on the passenger side and on the steering wheel. ALSO FOR SOME REASON MY TAILLIGHTS ARE DIFFERENT 🤣

Aki said...

Unknown - that is right, the V-spec came with the plastic brake air ducts. Not sure about the wheels to be honest, but those ENKEIs are most like special version, so hope you held onto them!

Dreek, thank you for your comment! Yep, being the black sheep/underdog is the theme of my life. So how are your tailights different???

Anonymous said...

This is great, thank you!!

Oliver Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.