CarWow has a battle of automotive icons of the 1990s. From Japan, there's the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34, and it challenges the BMW M5 E39 from Germany.

The Skyline GT-R packs a twin-turbo 2.6-litre inline-six. On paper, the engine makes 276 bhp (206 kilowatts or 280 metric hp) and 289 pound-feet (392 Newton-metres) of torque. This is because of a gentleman's agreement among Japanese automakers at the time where none of them would quote outputs higher than this horsepower figure. The actual number is likely higher. The power runs through a six-speed manual to an all-wheel-drive system.

Gallery: E39 BMW M5

The BMW M5 from the E39 generation boasts a naturally aspirated 4.9-litre V8 pumping out 394 bhp (294 kW or 400 metric hp) and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque. It uses a six-speed manual that powers the rear wheels.

The challenges start with three drag races. In the first one, the GT-R bogs down off the line, which lets the M5 take an easy victory. Next time, the Nissan driver has things dialled in and gets a better start letting it win by about half a car length. The final run is the closest, and the BMW manages to be first across the line.

Gallery: 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34

For their best runs, the M5 covers the quarter-mile in 13.3 seconds. The GT-R is right behind it with a time of 13.4 seconds.

Next, there are three runs from a roll. However, the setup of the races gives the M5 an advantage. Both vehicles start at the same speed and in the same gear. The GT-R's engine isn't revving high enough to build boost. The BMW wins all three times.

Finally, there's a braking test from 70 miles per hour (113 kilometres per hour). This time, the GT-R has an advantage because this particular M5 is riding on warped rotors. The Nissan stops in a shorter distance and ends up roughly in line with the BMW's rear bumper.