Article by Anthony Alaniz (Anthony_Alaniz). Photography by Randy Montgomery.
There is little doubt that we here at Revvolution thoroughly enjoy unique builds and the platforms they're built on. To say we are as strange as the cars we love would not be a far stretch of the imagination. So when we come across a car that is particularly out there, we jump on the chance to take a look, and get down and dirty.
Standing out in the automotive crowd is hard. Everyone has an E46 M3—track day, bro! And a Subaru WRX STI, because the upcoming polar vortex is going to throw a majority of the nation into a winter hellhole.
Everyone understands Mustangs and Camaros are the bread and butter of those with mullets and an uncompromised love of country music. Corvettes are for divorced men over 50 with ED, while every college student with a full-ride to Generic State University has a non-inline-6 BMW.
Josh "The Ginger” Hauser wanted something wicked and different, and landed upon a 1991 Nissan Pulsar GTI-R. The same chassis that sparked (and quickly ended) Nissan's foray into the World Rally Championship Group A rally under the Nissan Motorsports Europe division.
"It’s a four-wheel drive, turbo, five-speed hatch—what’s not to love?” said Hauser. Oh, and it’s right-hand drive to boot.
He imported the car in 2005, bringing it in through California. Since then, he has only made a few modifications, leaving the majority of the car the way it was originally sold.
"I prefer right-hand drive,” added Hauser. "Most tracks go clockwise and you have a better sightline. And it’s easier to pass on the inside. And easier to see if it's clear to pass left-lane freeway Nazis.”
Added parts include the JIC coil-overs, ASA hollow lightweight wheels, Wilwood brakes and a head-unit. Even the purists require a slight touch, right? Currently, the car sits pristine with only 25,000 miles on the clock.
What makes the GTI-R such a rare automotive gem is that it was built as a homologated variant in order for Nissan to enter the WRC with only 500 units made to spec. Now, most 1990s hatchbacks were boring offerings trying to find a market niche that was no longer viable in the American market.
Elsewhere in the world, where people have a heart for their automotive necessity, the GTI-R was a definitive hot-hatch. Power came from a turbocharged SR20DET (same platform found in the Nissan S-chassis), 2.0-liter engine producing 227 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque, where the power was sent to all four wheels through an all-wheel drive system. That AWD system is a variant of the ATTESA system that's now found in the Nissan R35 GT-R line-up.
It has been estimated that the hatch can rocket to 60 in around the five-second mark, running through the quarter-mile in the 13-second area. Back in 1991, this was the cutting-edge of performance.
To distinguish itself from non-homologated models, Nissan added a rear wing and scooped hood.
Two different trims of the hot-hatch were sold—RA and RB. The RA trim included air conditioning, power windows and ABS. The RB trim simply did away with such luxuries. Hauser’s car is the RB trim.
While there were no exterior differences between the two and the engines were the same, the RB came with a close-ratio gearbox and a front limited-slip differential.
The idea of homologation has been lost over the years. Today, automotive manufactures no longer have to build a certain number of road-going models of a car in order to compete in certain racing series, sadly.
Sure, that hasn’t stopped the likes of Ferrari and McLaren from offering up expensive, track-going monsters to people who look at four wheels and 750 horsepower as an investment, but the GTI-R is a callback to the days when race cars were placed into the hands of ravenous automotive enthusiasts because they had to.