Courtesy of Leake Auction Company

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1991 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R
Years Produced:1989–94
Number Produced:40,430
Original List Price:$31,000
SCM Valuation: $34,000
Chassis Number Location:Stamped into firewall above engine, also included on blue VIN plate on right-hand side of firewall
Engine Number Location:On block, below oil dipstick tube
Club Info:GT-R Owners Club
Alternatives: 1993–97 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo; 1984–96 Chevrolet Corvette C4; 1994–97 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 752, sold for $30,800, including buyer’s premium, at Leake’s Tulsa, OK, auction on June 8, 2019.

I just turned 34, and nothing makes me feel older and more curmudgeonly than thinking about a Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R.

I hate that hooligan boy-racers have all but ruined the R32 for me. From what I can tell, the R32 GT-R is a car I should actually love. That’s because it’s pretty dang dorky.

If the rear windshield wiper alone didn’t give it immediately away, the R32 was obviously designed by Japanese nerds. And there’s nothing I love more than nerdy cars.

Unconvinced the R32 has nerd credentials? Let’s break down its components.

It’s a Nerdfest!

The R32’s nose looks like it was cribbed from the Saab 9000, which is probably the king of dorkmobiles. It looks tame and not menacing or exotic, flying in the face of its “Godzilla” moniker — a decidedly nerdy nickname in and of itself.

Although it’s a reasonably priced compact sports car — fairly nice-looking examples can be had below $30,000, as we’ll discuss later down — it has 4-wheel drive AND 4-wheel steering. I believe if you look in the dictionary under “over-engineered,” both those systems are cited.

The staid styling of the exterior continues into the cabin. The R32’s interior has no special adornments. It’s a hard-plastic shrine to driving — but in a good way.

And let’s not forget that heavenly, but arguably superfluous, rear wiper. Drool.

Lots of ponies

A non-nerdy sports car would be powered by a monstrous V8 or maybe even a prodigious V12 thrumming under its hood. Everyone agrees those are sexy engines; songs are written about them — songs for beautiful people to have sex to.

However, the R32 is driven by Nissan’s RB26DETT twin-turbocharged 2.6-liter inline 6-cylinder engine. And nobody is writing songs about small-displacement inline 6s.

Furthermore, Nissan officially rated the R32’s power output at about 276 horsepower. That figure was furnished during the rumored “gentleman’s agreement” between Japanese automakers, where brands consented to keep their cars under 300 horses. Despite that pact, the R32 has been routinely clocked at 320 horsepower — even 20-year-old, unmodified examples.

Nissan pretended that the R32 was less powerful than it really was. If publicly under-rating your halo sport car’s performance figures in order to comply with a gentleman’s agreement is not nerdy, I don’t know what is.

A precise rocket

So if the R32 GT-R is dorky, what from that era wasn’t? I wager Camaro and Mustang weren’t.

At the same time Nissan was painstakingly crafting a 4-wheel-drive-and-steer supercar, Chevrolet and Ford were turning out live-axle, rear-drive, V8-powered bare-knuckle brawlers with all the preciseness of the word “thereabouts.”

If the GT-R was a sextant, the American Pony cars of the early ’90s were the equivalent of measuring the stars with your bare hands. The Pony cars weren’t exacting or, really, something to be terribly proud of. They weren’t at all nerdy; they were just nasty.

Because of that devil-may-care persona, you’d think American boy-racers would prefer Detroit’s cruel duo to some JDM nerd-rocket. But they don’t. They love this car.

“Fast and Furious”

The big-boy GT-R, though, Godzilla, is the one lauded by boy-racers everywhere, mostly due to its starring role in the blockbuster “Fast and the Furious” franchise.

Because of that Paul Walker-inspired Skyline mania, examples imported to the U.S. have continued to climb in value — even though there are ever-increasing numbers of them on the market. It’s a supply-and-demand conundrum that economists can someday study.

With that economics heads-scratcher in mind, we come to the 1991 Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R that sold in Tulsa, OK, in June for $30,800 — nearly $4,000 below the SCM Pocket Price Guide median.

When this R32 was imported to the U.S., it underwent a restoration, including new exterior paint — and suede-and-leather upholstery inside the cabin. It is said to be loaded with NISMO upgrades, too, including a roll cage.

I am guessing the reasons it sold for such a modest price were the auction location (who buys a JDM Nissan in Tulsa?) and its questionable previous condition.

This R32 shows 131,732 kilometers (81,854 miles) on its odometer. Given its high mileage and large number of modifications, this example was probably ridden hard and put away wet, necessitating the resto job.

No matter — if the drivetrain is in good shape and correctly serviced, this one was well bought. It’s not one I’d mark as an awesome investment piece. Rather, if the buyer intends to keep it as a nice-looking R32 to occasionally tear around Tulsa, then it’s a slam-dunk. ♦

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