Originally published June 16, 2015

Dawn on the Pacific Rim. A sleeping city dozes past the sunrise, blissfully unaware of a subterranean rumbling. A monster awakens in a concrete basement, a beast of legendary ferocity, a kaiju of colossal power. Godzilla is coming.

Oh hey, looks like he’s bringing his dog along for the ride too.

Say hello to the Nissan Stagea 260RS, the station wagon with atomic breath. It’s a Japan-only family wagon that boasts the twin-turbo, all-wheel-drive guts out of the mighty Skyline GT-R. Basically, this is Godzilla as a grocery-getter: city-smashing power, room for the kids and running stroller.

It’s a rare machine, and one that was never meant for our shores. A competitor for stuff like the Subaru Legacy or Mazda6 wagons, it was sold between 1996 and 2007. People called it the Skyline wagon, as there were plenty of similarities underneath the skin.

A few Stageas were hotted up somewhat, given the guts to run with the turbo’d Subaru wagons. However, this particular one is the rarest and best, a special variant produced in small quantities with a noble bloodline.

That Autech designation – Autech is a specialist outfit founded in 1986 by Nissan as a sort of skunkworks tuning arm. Think of it as similar to the Nismo (Nissan-motorsports) name, a refinement of Nissan-branded speed and power.

The first president of Autech was Shinichiro Sakurai, a man often heralded as the father of the Nissan Skyline. Later, the company was helmed by Hiroshi Tamura, currently the Chief Product Specialist at Nismo, and owner of a 600-hp slate-grey sleeper GT-R. With guys like that, you’re going to get some crazy in your station wagon.

Autech took Nissan’s family-hauler, bunged out the already potent top-spec 2.5L twin-turbo engine and running gear, and transplanted in the heart of a giant. Running essentially all the same gear as the R33-chassis Skyline GT-R, this 260RS has a 2.6L twin-turbo straight six engine that revs past 8,000 rpm, a five-speed manual gearbox, ATTESA all-wheel-drive, extra bracing, Brembo brakes, BBS wheels, a limited slip rear differential, and extra aerodynamic trim.

Before, the highest trim Stagea made 276 hp. After Autech got done with it, the 2.6L twin-turbo six made… 276 hp. Wait, what?

Japanese manufacturers, concerned about road fatalities, had a private “gentleman’s agreement” pact to not produce cars above 280 bhp, or 276 hp. Thing is, most ended up imitating the American muscle-car makers of the 1960s and simply underrating horsepower outputs by a significant degree. Total output on this thing is hard to judge, seeing as it has a few mild modifications, but it’s likely huffing out well above 300 hp to all four wheels.

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