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Staff Sgt. Paul Castillo is one of a handful of Nissan Skyline owners at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Skyline is considered Japan’s best sports car and is difficult to find. Castillo’s GTST model can reach 180 kph — but that’s only where the speedometer ends.

Staff Sgt. Paul Castillo is one of a handful of Nissan Skyline owners at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Skyline is considered Japan’s best sports car and is difficult to find. Castillo’s GTST model can reach 180 kph — but that’s only where the speedometer ends. (Jennifer Svan / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Paul Castillo has his eyes on the prize: a Nissan Skyline R-34 GTR.

The Air Force staff sergeant wants a faster road rocket. Mind you, his current wheels is hardly made for sleepy Sunday drives. Castillo figures his polished white Skyline GTST25 can go at least 110 miles per hour.

“The speedometer only goes up to 180 kph, but the needle has gone way past,” he said. “It hits the 180, after a while, you see it just come back around. That’s only been twice.”

Castillo is among a handful of Nissan Skyline owners at Yokota enticed by a mix of speed and affordability.

“The Skyline is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the Japanese sports car,” said Castillo’s buddy, Kevin Schutte. “It costs $100,000 in the States, if you can get one.”

And the R-34 GTR is the top Skyline, Castillo said.

“It’s high-tech, it’s fast, it looks cool.”

Why do you do this to your car?

“I like to go fast. That’s about the only reason why.”

What are some of the things you do to your car?

“I’ve pretty much done everything myself to the car. I have a Japanese friend who used to race semi-pro. He’s helped me put some of the stuff on.”

Where do you get the materials you use on your car?

“I go to different speed shops off-base. You just drive around, you see a place you’ve never been to before, and you just check it out. I bought my car at GT and Sports Cars off-base.”

Where do you go to show off your car?

“I don’t show off, but I will compete ... anywhere off base, at any red light, I guess, as long as the traffic’s right — and the time of day is right. You just do a quick look-around first.”

How much have you paid in total for the car?

“I bought my car for just a little over $7,000. That was my birthday present when I first got here. Plus, $2,500 to maybe $3,000 for little things here and there.”

What’s your favorite accessory on the car?

“Probably the sound. The sound of all the power, the hum of the muffler ... your turbo spooling up. It’s like a big hissing noise. You can just hear the air, you’re getting more RPMs. I’ll turn the stereo down just to hear it.”

What is the next upgrade you plan to make?

“Well, I’m only going to buy one thing so I can sell my car in April or May. I’m going to get an R-34 GTR. The only upgrade I’m getting now is fully-adjustable suspension. The height it stays at, you can’t adjust it. It’s like buying a new pair of shoes: You want suspension so you can stay on the road better.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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