Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
  • The rarest production Skyline GT-R; only 197 examples sold
  • Properly serviced and maintained by renowned GT-R specialists in Japan
  • Less than 23,000 original and documented kilometers
  • Rare factory air conditioning; includes its original tool roll, jack and spare wheel
  • One of the most sought-after Japanese nostalgic cars

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1973 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R “Kenmeri”
Years Produced:1972–73 (non-GT-R Kenmeri production continued unt
Number Produced:197
Original List Price:$5,100
SCM Valuation:$200,000–$250,000
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$14
Chassis Number Location:Right side firewall
Engine Number Location:Block casting number on the right side of engine; head casting number on front of head
Club Info:Japanese Nostalgic Car
Alternatives:1970 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R “Hakosuka,” 1970 Alfa Romeo GTA, 1967 Shelby GT350
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 303, sold for $176,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction in Monterey, CA, on August 15, 2015.

The cultural juggernaut of modern tuning, brought into popular awareness with 2001’s blockbuster movie “The Fast and the Furious,” was not an old-car movement at its inception. But, as happens when young passion matures, enthusiasts soon took interest in the roots of their Japanese car addiction, and a historical perspective emerged. Thanks to the globe-shrinking Internet, the fact that the legacy of early ’70s Japanese performance took place outside the borders and consciousness of the United States is now inconsequential. If anything, that distance just fueled the mystique of the Japanese Domestic Market cars.

As the niche JDM enthusiast subculture went mainstream, the cool-factor feedback loop permeated the entire tuner-car culture.

The snowball rolls and grows

Despite steady rumblings from the peanut gallery, most established car collectors dismissed the collectibility of anything Japanese until April 2013, when a 1967 Toyota 2000GT sold for $1m at RM’s Don Davis Collection auction. Multiple 2000GT sales since then confirmed that the price was market-correct.

During the past year, we’ve seen Japanese sports cars appear at boutique auction venues with clockwork regularity — and fetching eye-popping prices:

In August of 2014, a 1967 Mazda Cosmo 110 Sport sold for $264,000 at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach sale, and a 1972 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R “Hakosuka” coupe sold for $242,000 at RM Monterey.

This January, a 1970 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R “Hakosuka” 4-door sedan sold for $88,000 at RM’s Arizona sale.

This March, a 1970 Nissan Fairlady Z 432 sold for $253,000 at RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island sale.

What never-sold-here, never-heard-of-it specimen would be next? At Monterey 2015, RM Sotheby’s delivered the goods right on cue.

Primer: Godzilla vs. Skyline vs. GT-R

By now, you’d have to be a car enthusiast living in a cave not to have heard the name “Nissan Skyline,” whispered in a tone of hushed reverence. Chances are, you know when the automotive press christened it “Godzilla” for its racing dominance.

And if you’ve thrown around “Nissan Skyline” or “Godzilla” within earshot of a JDM enthusiast, you probably found yourself swiftly corrected.

In Japan, the name Skyline doesn’t always mean tire-melting performance.

Skyline is the model name for one of Nissan’s successful production cars, sold in coupe, sedan and station wagon forms. The name evokes the nostalgic weight of its long production going back to the 1950s, even before Nissan’s 1966 merger with Prince Motor Company — but it was the racing homologation 1969 Skyline 2000GT-R, equipped with the groundbreaking S20 inline 6, that established the model’s street cred.

The high-revving 2.0-liter DOHC 24-valve S20 breathed through triple Mikuni carbs, and with 160 horsepower at the wheels, the first-gen GT-R (dubbed “Hakosuka,” or “boxy Skyline,” for its upright sedan profile) earned 49 consecutive racing victories on the Japanese touring car circuit.

So, what about Godzilla?

Emissions and fuel prices forced Nissan to shelve the GT-R package after 1973, but Skyline production continued. Sixteen years later, in 1989, Nissan revived the GT-R with the eighth-generation Skyline. For its outright dominance on the Australian racing circuit, that fire-breathing track machine was the Skyline that earned the Godzilla moniker.

Meet Ken and Mary

Now that we’ve explored the mythology of the Skyline name, let’s return to 1972.

Building on the success of the 1969–72 Hakosuka Skyline sedan, the next progeny of Nissan’s flagship car was a fun and stylish fastback aimed squarely at the youth market. Commercials, stickers and T-shirts featured a young, American-looking couple cruising the countryside and enjoying life in a sports car. They even had American names: Ken and Mary.

The “Kenmeri” Skyline was a colossal hit, and with its distinctive styling and cultural resonance, it has long been a sought-after collectible in Japan — and now, in the U.S. You can expect to pay $40k–$75k today for an imported base-model Kenmeri or nice GT-R replica, depending on condition and quality.

Ultimate spec and ultimate rarity

Nissan built just 197 GT-R-spec Kenmeris before the 1973 oil crisis hit, making this car even rarer than a GT-R Hakosuka, of which an estimated 1,115 were produced.

But Nissan never got to take the Kenmeri racing and prove its mettle on a public stage. The Kenmeri is also a little heavier, and its odd, 1970s pony car styling lacks the sleek rawness of the Hakosuka. However, as seen through the J-tin enthusiasts’ rose-tinted goggles, those awkward, oh-so-Japanese proportions are another layer of coolness.

Not perfect — but a screaming deal

Our subject Kenmeri wasn’t a 100-point, concours-correct car, but its shortcomings were fixable and relatively trivial, considering that it’s the only one ever offered for public sale in North America. The paint needs work, the exhaust system is not correct and the service tag was not riveted to the body.

More significantly, the car has factory a/c and just 22,172 kilometers on the clock — that’s less than 15,000 miles.

The best GT-R Kenmeri will fetch ¥30m in Japan, which is about $250k at current exchange rates. That sum matches what buyers recently paid for the first GT-R Hakosuka and Fairlady Z 432 at auction. This car, at $176k, was extremely well bought today and represents an even better long-term investment. I can’t wait to see what obscure JDM collectible rolls into to the U.S. market next. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)


Comments are closed.