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HAKOSUKA: Ash’s 1972 GT-X Skyline

It was a scorching 38-degree day in the industrial back streets of Wingfield, north of Adelaide. A table of Japanese car enthusiasts, also known as the Slow Life Team, were seeking the comfort of air conditioning at the local OTR. There was a lot of friendly chatter around the table while we were preparing for the first feature car shoot of 2017 but when Ash’s red Hakosuka rolled into the driveway, silence took over the table. We piled out of the restaurant and surrounded this thing of beauty. The breathtaking GT-R replica is a bucket list car for many of us and it is so clear as to why. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

A Japanese icon; every detail is perfection and it came out of 1972! If Japanese styling is your cup of sake, then there is no doubt that this car would steal your attention. The Slow Life Team had been granted a night with owner Ash to shoot this elusive collectors car with our talented media collaborators. This was the least that we could do to give this car the justice it deserves!

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The Hakosuka just oozes cool. The body shape is quite compact yet it has an aggressive stance that could never be mistaken for submissive. A Nissan creation, this car was one of the first in the line of Skyline’s produced out of Japan, but through the years has become a cult classic. It was the first ever GT-R and the first performance-orientated Skyline. Back in the early 70’s, Nissan could credit fifty trophies to the GT-R’s racing success and it wasn’t until Mazda produced the RX-3 that the Hakosuka had its first rival. Japanese for “box Skyline” the word Hakosuka was an affectionate nickname given by fans of the car. Just like this nickname has stuck, the car itself has become the holy grail for Japanese car enthusiasts.

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Ash is the passionate enthusiast you’d expect to drive such a special car. He’s open and down to earth about his journey so far and was more than happy to discuss the car in detail. He has tweaked the car over his three years of ownership and he is very hands on, ticking off his modifications and maintenance items himself. He even has a to-do list on the underside of his bonnet to keep track of his progress! Prior to this, Ash was no stranger to interesting cars with a cult following having owned an AE86 Trueno and a 1974 Mini. He recalls seeing a photo of a Hakosuka back in high school and declared he would own one at some stage of his life. He was lucky to time the purchase of his car before Paul Walker briefly drove one in the Fast and the Furious franchise which further skyrocketed this car to cult status!

After walking a few laps around the car, even the scorching sun couldn’t keep us away. I was contemplating what I needed to sell to get my hands on one of my own. Ash’s GT-R replica has the token rear over-fenders which compliment the beautifully dished Watanabe wheels. The boxy bonnet and front fenders hold the well-proportioned side mirrors, an awesome feature giving the car so much character. This red marvel sounds incredibly tough with Ash’s modified three-litre carby engine, built by Tony Knight. The car originally comes with an S20 2-litre and this replica, a GT-X, also has a 2-litre engine from factory. While the complete Fujitsubo exhaust ensures you are aware of its presence; just in case you have your back turned.

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While poking my head inside, I noticed that the all black interior is in incredible condition and perfectly matched to the era of the car without looking old fashioned. The factory woodgrain dash remains as does the vinyl seats and the wooden gear knob. This is a 44-year-old car which has been cherished! As I stood back to take in the finer details, I could appreciate the chrome headlight and taillight surrounds and authentic badges give this car a 70’s retro vibe without distracting you from its performance roots.

The coilover suspension, rear racing drum brakes and custom gauges are just a few modern modifications to give this car the tools it needs to conquer the hills and Ash explains it is so much fun to drive. Albeit, his favourite mod is still the engine. This car has so much heart but its name is synonymous with the culture and award winning reputation that Nissan has continued to create throughout the years. It was another seventeen years on from the release of Ash’s car that we were blessed with the R32 GT-R; another Nissan creation to dominate in motorsport.

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Ash drives the stunning two-door coupe as much as he can. It’s not a special occasion car and this really struck a chord with me. He doesn’t want to hide it away and gather dust, he drives it regularly and makes the effort to get it to events. As you can imagine, the car gets so much attention and he acknowledges this like a true enthusiast, giving all credit to the car like he’s just the lucky one who gets to drive it. His future plans include a rebuild of his diff and some tasteful Datsun bucket seats. When asked how long he plans to keep this beauty I was met with a quick and firm “I’ll keep it forever!”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Troy Barker (TJB Photo) is an Adelaide-based photographer who has produced what the SL team would describe as some of the most stunning automotive images we have ever laid our eyes upon. Taking his photography to the next level roughly two years ago, Troy enjoys the challenge of automotive photography; in which each and every vehicle is different to photograph, and the networking opportunities with fellow enthusiasts is endless. His current rig consists of a Canon 5D Mk III, and his lense of choice being the much-praised Canon 85mm F1.2. However, having such quality equipment doesn’t exempt you from the challenges presented by automotive photography! Troy remarks that the most challenging aspects he faces in automotive photography would have to be coping with different lighting conditions; namely being constantly aware of how the light is hitting your subject and your subject’s surroundings.

“Practice makes perfect, nothing comes overnight”. Troy’s advice to aspiring automotive photographers is to try new techniques, be adventurous and keep trying new things as they will all help you understand what does and doesn’t work for your next shoot. With the goal of shooting high-end commercial work, Troy’s talents should definitely see him shooting something spectacular sooner rather than later!

You can see more of Troy’s work on the TBH Photo facebook page here, and you can find his website here!

ABOUT THE MODEL

Our model for this month is Charliie Simpson; an aspiring 22 year-old model from Adelaide! With a solid track record in runway modelling and assisting photography students in their shoots; Charliie experienced her first automotive shoot with us at Slow Life. Charliie is also a self-proclaimed snapchat spammer (it’s okay, we can relate on this one) and spends much of her time playing with makeup as an aspiring makeup artist (yes, she did her own makeup for the shoot!) and playing soccer for Para Hills East. In the long-term, Charliie aspires to become a fitness model. “I want to inspire petite girls like myself that eating well and being strong is far sexier than being skinny”. Couldn’t have said it better, Charliie! She’s realised that modelling for automotive photography is a lot of fun, and she revealed to us that her dream car is a convertible 350Z or Mini Sports… We can already see her tearing up the esplanade with the roof down, enjoying some summer house, and soaking up the Adelaide summer!

You can follow Charliie on Instagram here – and girls, if you’re after some makeup for an upcoming special occasion, we think we’ve found the perfect girl for you!

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GALLERY

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Journalist - Slow Life Australia

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