Introduced during the Great Depression when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the head of state and government in the U.S., hidden headlamps always focused on design rather than lighting performance. Demand for pop-up headlights kept ballooning after the 1935 New York Auto Show debut of the Cord 810, but safety concerns grew as well in the U.S.
Even though the European Union paved the legislative way to create safer concealed headlights, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rendered the pop-up setup unfeasible. Alas, the biggest restriction can be summed up as follows.
“Whenever any malfunction occurs in a component that controls or conducts power for the actuation of the concealment device, each closed headlamp concealment device shall be capable of being fully opened by a means not requiring the use of any tools. Thereafter, the headlamp concealment device must remain fully opened until intentionally closed,” says the NHTSA.
By 2004, the final examples of the Lotus Esprit V8 and C5 Corvette marked the bitter end of hidden headlamps, which have been a quirk of automotive design for almost seven decades. Japan was crazy about the pop-up mechanism during the 1980s and early 1990s, but as fate would have it, the Skyline GT-R and the R35 GT-R never received the cool-looking lights.
Had the Japanese automaker decided on concealed headlights for the R34, the result would have been pretty similar to the gobsmacking design study before your eyes. Rendered by self-thought concept artist Khyzyl Saleem, the guy who spent five years working on the Need for Speed franchise, the all-wheel-drive sports coupe also rocks a vented hood and super-sticky rubber wrapped around Motegi Racing MR150 Trailite satin-black wheels.
Produced between 1999 and 2002 in a little over 11,500 units, the R34 Skyline GT-R also marked the end of the legendary RB straight-six.