I'll admit it. The first exposure I had to the HKS R33 Nissan Skyline drag racer pictured above was when I won it as a prize car in the monumentally great Gran Turismo 2 for the original Playstation. That was 1999 or 2000, and sadly, despite the car's formidable in-game stats, it was a bit of a drag (no pun intended) to play with because the dragstrip was not included in the U.S. release of the game. (Suffice to say the car was not the most awesome thing to use at Laguna Seca, for example.)
Pity, because the real-life HKS drag car certainly walked the walk. In 2001, it made a 7.671-second run in Japan, setting a record for AWD cars that stood for several years. HKS announced this week that after years of entertaining fans, the car is being officially retired. It'll be displayed at an import drag event in New Zealand in February, after which it'll head home to Japan for good. Initially, HKS planned to rebuild and race the car at the NZ event, but they discovered that there was a lack of replacement parts for it and that the car's chassis has weakened over the years to the point where they felt it could no longer be raced safely without being completely redone. That, combined with the dearth of proper parts, made the HKS decision easy.
Follow the jump for a shot of how many of us first experienced this car, along with a 2002 video of the car in action and HKS's official press release.
Don't miss the video. Like I said at the top, that thing sure as hell walked the walk.