How a Vintage Nissan Transmission Became a Sex Toy
Photo: Velvet Alley, Image: Steve DaSilva
This is a scale model of an eighth-generation Nissan Skyline transmission. Despite the convincing level of detail covering every square inch of its surface, it sits less than nine inches tall – far too small to link an engine to a driveshaft. It’s intricately modeled, meticulously crafted, and made of 100-percent silicone. It’s also a sex toy.
But where does the idea to make an R32 transmission sex toy come from, and how does that idea evolve into a real product? To find out, I talked to the toy’s designer and the company that’s now made it a reality.
The story of the Skyline stimulator begins with Twitter user Saber.Driift, who operates under that username for her design endeavors and asked to be referred to as such in this article. She’s a fan of all things JDM, from her Y33 Nissan Leopard to her Subaru Vivio Bistro, but her heart belongs to the HKS R32 Skyline GT-R of early-nineties Japanese Touring Car Championship fame. That car had such an impact on her that it inspired her own R32 build — a four-door model, decked out in a pink-and-white livery inspired by HKS’s distinctive design.
That Skyline recently needed a transmission rebuild, which — as you’d expect with an out-of-production car that was never officially imported to the U.S. — required Saber.Driift to purchase a spare transmission for parts. Eyeing the gearbox, a thought came to mind. She had designed automotive-themed sex toys before, including one shaped like her own R32 Skyline. Why not make a silicone transmission?
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At first she envisioned a more cartoonish design, but she threw together a quick, straightforward sketch and posted it on Twitter. She put a call out to sex toy producers, asking if anyone would be willing to take up the challenge. That’s where Velvet Alley came in.
“[T]he base was built from about a hundred separate pieces set into place, merged together and then molded into the asymmetrical funneling shape of the bell casing… It took a couple months to work it all together.”
“It did seem a bit intimidating,” Tyler Olsen, owner and modelmaker at Velvet Alley told me via email, “but we were pretty sure we could get something close to what she was looking for.” Olsen uses 3D modeling software to design sex toys, and the process was no different with the Skyline sketch. But while the procedure may have been rote, the sheer number of intricate details Olsen needed to render for the replica to look right demanded incredible precision.
“Using that sketch and four or five pictures of different angles for inspirational blueprints, we started building it in two stages,” Olsen told me, explaining how the digital 3D rendering came together. “First, the base was built from about a hundred separate pieces set into place, merged together and then molded into the asymmetrical funneling shape of the bell casing.“ Individually modeling small sections of the gearbox before digitally assembling them into a singular structure helped to make the design more accurate, but it certainly wasn’t fast. “It took a couple months to work it all together,” Olsen said.
The Velvet Alley design omits some small details for user comfort, like protruding bolt heads, but overall the toy is largely identical to an actual R32 Skyline gearbox. Diehard Nissan fans may notice, however, that this transmission couldn’t be from a GT-R — it lacks the transfer case necessary to operate that car’s all-wheel-drive system. Looking at the shape of the GT-R gearbox, it’s not hard to imagine why.
Not that Velvet Alley expected customers to get hung up on those kinds of details. In fact, the company didn’t really think about car enthusiasts at all while designing the toy. They merely saw a challenge — a novel and interesting design to bring to life, something that could, as Olsen put it, “transcend the idea of toys into the realm of art.”
Saber.Driift, however, always knew the toy would have enthusiast appeal. She thinks of gearheads as an “untapped market” for themed sex toys, one she aims to capture with her automotive designs. But neither she nor the folks at Velvet Alley anticipated the response to the R32 transmission.
“I didn’t expect the absolute reach it had,” Saber.Driift told me. “I heard it’s all over TikTok… I saw it on auto meme pages.” Velvet Alley noted a rush of new business after the first tweet announcing the new toy. “Once the tweet seemed to catch on, we noticed more and more automotive-related usernames liking and retweeting. It was pretty cool to see the overwhelmingly positive response.”
For Saber.Driift, the creation of the toy was a chance to put a positive spin on the hassle of fixing her own R32 Skyline. We’ve all had frustrations with the cost and complexities of car repair, but she used the design as a way to get back at those inconveniences. In her words, “now my transmission can fuck me twice.”