Buying Forbidden Fruit: the R32 Skyline GTR

Many people will ask why spend so much money on something so old. Or they’ll tell me how I could have bought such and such car for that money and how it would spank the GTR up and down according to the spec sheet. I could disagree with them. But first, a history lesson for those who don’t understand the Nissan Skyline GTR.

Quick History of the R32 GTR

The R-series of Skylines began in 1981 with the R30 and evolved over generations similarly to the BMW 3-Series. The R32 generation arrived in 1989 and the top of the line trim, the GTR, was developed with the Porsche 959 as the target but Nissan’s chief engineer, Naganori Ito, wanted to use the GTR for Group A racing.

At the time, the Nurburgring Nordschleife production car record was 8’45”, set by a Porsche 944. The R32 Skyline GTR destroyed it by 25 seconds.

The R32 GTR was entered into the Japanese Touring Car Championship (JTCC), taking the series title 4 years straight. The nickname Godzilla was given by Australia’s motoring press after the R32 GTR promptly ended Cosworth’s reign in the Australian Touring Car Championship.

Nissan had created a monster. The GTR’s dominance was so significant that it was direct factor in the demise of Group A Touring Car racing. JTCC was similarly blighted by the R32 GTR, leading to the switch to the Supertouring category, and indirectly to the GT500 class we know today.

Calsonic R32 GTR race car
The legendary Calsonic R32 GTR race car.

There were a number of factors that made the R32 GTR such a badass. First, it was developed with the Porsche 959 as the target. That’s aim up there. To do so:

Nissan used a 2.6 liter twin-turbo inline six engine in accordance with Group A racing rules. Larger displacement would have meant entering a different class. The RB26DETT engine produced 320 horsepower but was muzzled to 280 horsepower for public sale. In race trim it produced closer to 600.

With inspiration from Porsche’s 959, Nissan fitted an advanced all-wheel drive system called ATTESA ET-S. And just like the 959, the GTR remained rear-wheel-drive until the slip was detected, in which case the ATTESA system could send up to 50% of the torque to the front wheels.

Remember, this was 1989. Quite exciting technology for a street car back then and well ahead of it’s time! Nissan sold just over 43,000 R32 GTR’s from 1989 to 1994.

Too bad the Nissan Skyline GTR never made it to the United States, let alone North America. In days when so few had the Internet, so few auto enthusiasts knew of the GTR. Here in the United States we were dreaming of the Porsche 959, Lamborghini Diablos and Ferrari F40. What was a Nissan Skyline?

R32 GTR in Gran Turismo
The Nissan Skyline GTR appeared in Gran Turismo, introducing kids and gamers to a new Godzilla.

Enter Christmas. The year is 1997 and kids of all ages, all over the world, were playing the freshly released Gran Turismo racing game on the Sony Playstation game console. It’s here that the R32 GTR’s motorsports success was digitally reborn and forever lives in those who put thumb to joystick.

I was one of those kids.

Forbidden Fruit

The Nissan Skyline was never sold in the United States. Not in any trim. Due to the United States laws, only vehicles 25 years and older were eligible for import. That meant that the first R32 GTR’s could be legally imported in 2014 and there were people with plans to do just that.

If you wanted an R32 GTR you had to go through some intimidating paperwork. One screw up and the vehicle could reject it at customs and you’d be out of your money and the car. People brought them in from Canada. Others purchased R32 GTR’s from Japanese auctions and had them transported over on ships.

The R32 GTR was extremely desirable and rejuvenated the import business. New Japanese import companies popped up all over the country to get in on the action. If you wanted a Skyline R32 GTR and didn’t want to risk losing everything, you went through an importer. Just like me.

Finding the Perfect R32 GTR

Throw a rock. Did you hit an importer? There really are a number of them out there. Here in Virginia the most popular is Richmond-based, Japanese Classics. Other notable importers on the east coast include Horsepower Logic and Montu Motors and Rivsu Imports. All of which are in Florida.
Then I found Driver Motorsports and Duncan Imports in Central’ish Virginia.

I scoured importer inventory and found it was tough. Many importers simply didn’t have any GTRs or the inbound vehicles they had on their website were already sold. I spoke with many of these importers and two stuck out to me. This is in no way an endorsement, just saying I got a good vibe.

Horsepower Logic
I saw their shop in a TommyFYeah video on YouTube. Roberto, the owner, frequently travels to Japan and has good relationships there that lead him to pick up some of the nicer examples. They’re also a Skyline GTR specialist and can take your freshly imported R32 GTR from stock to so so hot.

Driver Motorsports
These guys have a long list of beautiful Skyline GTR’s that they’ve sold. In fact, their website listed a GTR that was listed as Sale Pending and I called and emailed with my fingers crossed to see if it was somehow available.

Chris Driver, owner of Driver Motorsports, returned my call. That particular GTR was not available but they had a GTR that wasn’t yet listed. “Tell me more”, I said.

It was a 1992 model year. Gun grey. It came with two sets of wheels: Advan RS and BBS LM. They were thinking of respraying it Bayside Blue, installing fresh coilover suspension, and mounting the BBS LM’s.

Gun Grey Metallic R32 GTR sold by Driver Motorsports

“NOOOO!”, I said, about the paint. For one, resprayed GTR’s are sketchy because rust is common. Plus, I wanted an original. But damn if blue on gold wouldn’t look fire.

I was informed this GTR was very clean with no rust but the paint wasn’t the greatest. It also had a Nismo gauge cluster that read 36k kilometers. Accuracy, not so much. Or so we thought.

Chris then told me it had some modifications. You should have seen my Grinch face. “Oh?”

Not that he didn’t have my attention already, but now he had my full attention.

The list was good and let me tell you, the owner must have been a big fan of Japanese tuner, HKS. Bigger turbo, full exhaust, intake, turbo timer, boost controller, ECU tune.

Needless to say, I was in.

Asking about the price, Chris admitted that the car would probably be listed above $30k. And that kinda sucked because I was looking for something under $25k. And with that, the negotiation began.

“Chris, being that mileage isn’t accurate, how about you A) don’t paint the car, B) put on some stock 16″ wheels? Then what are we looking at?”

Chris stressed that this is not typically how he sells a GTR. Vehicles from Driver Motorsports are supposed to be pristine examples and that this was a huge exception to the rule. Look at their previous inventory and talk to people who have purchased from there. I believe him.

But nonetheless, we reached an agreement. He sent every photo I requested. They replaced fluids, checked belts, replaced spark plugs, even sent a video of the compression test and sent photos of the pistons taken through a boroscope. I sent a deposit and the GTR was all but mine.

Now, the waiting game. Chris has been sending me photos of the vehicle every day, keeping me up to speed on what they are doing and what’s left to do.

In the meantime, I was to find insurance.

Insuring the R32 GTR

Finding auto insurance for the R32 GTR has been the most stressful part of the entire process. Much more so than w-a-i-t-i-n-g for the car to arrive. And you know how I hate waiting.

Some said Geico. Some said Haggerty’s. Some said State Farm. Well, let me tell you how it went for me.

I have Geico auto and home owners insurance. I’ve had them for years. But when I called to add the GTR to the policy it was a huge no-go. They called their managers. They called up the chain. The Skyline GTR was on a blacklist, which is interesting being that a number of owners claim to have their GTR insured with Geico. Not to scare anyone, but they told me that if a claim on a GTR was possible it could be denied or that the vehicle would be dropped next time the policy was reviewed. Long story short, Geico was no help for me and now I was off to find new auto insurance for not just my GTR, but my M3 and our RAV4.

Haggerty’s? Useless and shitty customer service. Fuck them. But giving credit, they referred me to Amica and they said they’d insure my GTR. Their rate was a little high though so I’m passing but you should check them out for your R32 GTR.

State Farm said they’d cover me. Erie said they’d cover me. I’d advise calling your local agent. My local reps from both of these were cool people and genuinely interested in helping and wanting to see the car. Somebody is getting a visit next week.

Taking Delivery of the GTR

You read that right. Next week. I don’t have the car yet. It’s being transported. I work from home and I don’t have time to take off work to travel 6 hours round trip. Chris Driver has earned my trust and I hope I’m every bit as stoked about the GTR after it arrives as I am writing this article.

When I get the car it’ll have 3o day paper tags. I’ll receive a Virginia title and I’ll take that to the DMV and register it just like any other used vehicle. At least that’s the plan.

My R32 GTR is set to arrive this Friday, May 5th around noon. If you want to watch its arrival, I’ll be live streaming it on the RightFootDown YouTube channel. If you want to share the moment and be apart of it with me, please subscribe and you should receive notification when I go live.

Teaser Photos

  1. Oh, man that Gran Tursimo screen brought back a wave of great memories. I can’t wait to drive this car! IRL..

Let Us Know What You Think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Post
Everyday Driver

Paul Schmucker and Todd Deeken of Everyday Driver

Next Post
30 MPG in Justin's 2015 Subaru WRX

How Did I Get 30 MPG In My Subaru WRX???

Related Posts
%d bloggers like this: