The Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R is one of the greatest and most loved cars to come out of the land of the rising sun. It is regarded by some as the pinnacle of the GT-R range and has become somewhat of a legend.
The R34 GT-R is as desirable as ever and prices are rising rapidly. It was and still is a popular car but with only 11,578 manufactured, good examples are becoming harder and harder to find. That’s why we have created this Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R buyers guide to give you all the information you need to know before making a purchase.
We have broken this article into a number of different sections from the history, to what to look out for and where to buy a Nissan R34 GT-R. The first section of this guide will cover the history and all the different models that come under the R34 GT-R badge.
The History and Specifications of the R34 GT-R
Nissan ended the nineties with the launch of the R34 GT-R in 1999. The new GT-R was much the same as the previous generation but with a new body and more techy goodness. Below we have listed all the different models of the R34 GT-R and their specifications.
The basic model of the R34 GT-R is known as the ‘R34 GT-R’. It was produced from January 1999 (when the first R34 GT-R’s rolled off the production line) to the end of production in 2002. The R34 GT-R retained the much loved RB26DETT engine from its predecessors, the R32 and the R33. Nissan painted the valve covers a cherry red as opposed to the black colour used in the R32 and R33.
Kozo Watanabe designed the R34 GT-R and it featured a similar layout to previous versions. It was a 2 door coupe with a front mounted engine, and a complex all-wheel drive system. The wheelbase was 2,665 mm and the total length was 4,600mm, with a width of 1,785 mm and a height of 1,360 mm. The total weight was around 1,500kg.
While many cars today feature a display setup, the inclusion of the multifunction display on the R34 GT-R was a rarity for cars in 1999. The 5.8-inch display could show information from oil and water temperature, to boost pressure and throttle position. Originally, the display could show a total of seven different live readings, however this changed for later models. The GT-R V·Spec model added two extra features to the display: intake and exhaust gas temperatures. Nismo displays were offered for an additional cost and included features like a G-Force meter, lap timer and an increase in the boost pressure measurement to 2 bar.
R34 GT-R V.Spec
Nissan launched the V.Spec alongside the base R34 GT-R in 1999. Compared to the standard GT-R the V.Spec had an upgraded ATTESA E-TS Pro system alongside an Active rear LSD. Stiffer suspension was also included, along with a new front splitter, side splitters and a carbon fibre air diffuser. This model stayed in production until October 2000, when it was replaced by the V.Spec II.
R34 GT-R V.Spec N1
Like the R32 and R33 before it, the R34 GT-R was given the N1 treatment. The N1 was a homologation special that was sold without air conditioning, audio equipment, the rear wiper, or the boot lining, however the ABS system remained. Nissan included a new R34 N1 engine with the car that featured N1 spec turbocharges and a N1 block. Only 38 of these were produced from the factory, with 12 of them going to Nismo for Super Taikyu racing. The rest were purchased by various garages and tuning companies.
R34 GT-R V.Spec UK
Similar to the V.Spec, the UK version was imported into the United Kingdom with a number of modifications made by Middlehurst Motorsport. All up 80 of these UK edition GT-R’s were produced, with all of them receiving 3 additional oil coolers, a revised ECU map, full Connolly leather interior, underbody diffusers, an active rear limited slip differential, stiffer suspension. Additionally, extra features were added to the multifunction display. Nissan also produced an additional 10 cars for the Hong Kong and Singapore market, and New Zealand received 5 models.
R34 GT-R V.Spec II
Replacing the V.Spec in October 2000, the V.Spec II featured a number of minor changes. Bigger rear brake rotors were included, along with even stiffer suspension, and a new carbon fibre bonnet equipped with a NACA duct. On the inside the V.Spec II featured an iridium centre console and aluminium pedals. Black cloth was used for the upholstery, rather than the grey used in previous versions. The base GT-R also received these changes except for the carbon fibre bonnet.
R34 GT-R V.Spec II N1
The same changes made to the V-Spec II were also made to the V.Spec II N1. Weight saving was a priority for the V.Spec II N1. The paint was substantially thinner than the standard car and you could see the woven strands of metal under the paintwork. Only 18 of these were produced and like the earlier N1, most of them went to tuner shops and garages, making it one of the rarest Japanese cars produced.
R34 GT-R M-Spec
2001 saw the release of the M.Spec, which was essentially the luxury version of the R34 GT-R range. It was based on the V.Spec II, but had a revised suspension setup, “Ripple control” dampers, a leather interior with heated seats and a stiffer rear sway bar. The ‘M’ in the name stood for Mizuno who was the chief engineer of Nissan. The Carbon fibre bonnet was also removed and replaced with the standard aluminium one.
R34 GTR V.Spec II nür & R34 GTR M-Spec nür
These two cars were designed to be the finale to the R34 GT-R range. They were released in February 2002 and were named after the famous German Nürburgring racetrack, where the Skyline was developed. In total 1003 R34 GT-R Nürs were produed, 718were V·Spec II Nürs and 285 were M·Spec Nürs. Both of these cars received the N1 version of the RB26DETT, which featured larger turbos running increased boost.
Despite Nissan stating the power was 276hp, these cars produced around 330hp and tuners managed to squeeze 450hp out of the engine with stock components. Other changes included changing the Cam cover from Cherry red to Millennium Jade, the stitching on the interior changed colour and the speedo was changed for a 300km/h unit.
R34 GT-R Z-Tune
Nismo originally designed the concept of the Z-Tune in 2002, when Nissan was putting an end to the R34’s production. The first Z-Tune rolled out the factory in 2003 and Nismo was given approval to make another 18.
The cars were built with a concept RB26DETT ‘Z1’ engin, which was based on Nissan’s Le Mans GT2 and GT500 racing experiences. This came with a strengthened block and stroked crankshaft. Additionally, the engine displacement was increased to 2.8-litres and upgraded turbochargers were fitted, which gave the Z-Tune around 500HP. With all the extra power, the Z-Tune GT-R could go from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds and had a top speed of 327km/h (203mph).
Nismo stripped and resprayed the used V Spec GT-R’s to a “Z-Tune Silver”, which was a special colour that was exclusive to the Z-Tune. The bodywork was based off Nismo’s GT500 racing cars and was designed to be more functional. The changes to the bodywork included the bumpers, bonnet, engine bay vents, wider wheel arches for increased tyre size and more. Brembo designed a completely new brake system for the Z-Tune and the suspension system was upgraded for more aggressive driving by Sachs.
All of the Z-Tune GT-R’s were handmade and were re-built from the chassis up. Engineers reinforced and stiffened the chassis seam welding in key areas such as the door seams and door frames. Carbon fibre was also extensively used in places like the engine bay, strut towers and transmission tunnel. As many of the components for the Z-Tune were based off racing gear, Nismo had to redesign many of them to work at maximum efficiency and reliability as is expected of a road-going vehicle.
- GT-R (Series 1) = 2,709
- V·Spec = 4,193
- V·Spec N1 = 38
- V·Spec UK = 80
- V·Spec Hong Kong = 10
- V·Spec New Zealand = 5
- V·Spec Singapore = 10
- Unknown (Series 1) = 20 (pre-production cars including GT-R (Series 1), V·Spec and V·Spec N1).
- GT-R (Series 2) = 1,268
- V·Spec II = 1,855
- V·Spec II Nür = 718
- V·Spec II N1 = 18
- V·Spec II New Zealand = 2
- M·Spec = 366
- M·Spec Nür = 285
- NISMO Z-Tune = 19 Note: The Z-tune were built on used cars, which is why that number cannot be added to the total figure below.
- Total = 11,578 (+3 prototypes for the UK) – Thanks to GT-R Registry for giving us the correct figures on this one.
The R34 GT-R’s Successor
The R34 GT-R marks the end of an era, being the last GT-R to feature the mighty RB26 engine and the “Skyline” name. Fans of the GT-R name would have to wait until 2007 to see the next line-up in the range. Simply known as the Nissan GT-R (R35), the new car was unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.
It quickly became apparent that the new R35 GT-R was positioned in a completely different segment of the market to the R34. The R35 was more technologically advanced and its performance is in a completely different league.
Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R Buyers Guide
Now that we have covered the history and specifications of the R34 GT-R, let’s jump into the buyer’s guide section of this article. Poor maintenance or modifications can turn your dream purchase into a nightmare, so it is important to check any car you look at thoroughly.
The R34 GT-R was built during a time when Nissan was struggling financially and they had to cut a few corners to keep costs down. While it’s not an unreliable car, they aren’t as bulletproof as some other Japanese sports cars.
Additionally, due to the nature of the car many of them have been driven hard. A large number of R34 GT-Rs have accident damage and enthusiastic driving can wear out the components. Japanese owners actually drove their cars quite hard, which means you should be extra cautious when importing one.
Checking the condition of a car is probably the most important process when buying one. Major mechanical or bodywork problems can leave you penniless, so it is important to inspect every GT-R thoroughly.
We recommend that you inspect the car yourself or pay a third party (not the importer/dealer) to inspect it on your behalf. If you do not inspect the vehicle yourself or pay a reliable person to do so, you will be opening yourself up to a much higher level of risk. However, we understand that this is not always possible, but you have been warned!
How Much Should You Pay for an R34 GT-R?
This is one of those how long is a piece of string questions. The reason we say this is because the price of an R34 GT-R can vary depending on where you live, the model you are buying and what condition it is in (along with some other factors). Prices also change a lot over the years, so if you are reading this article 2, 3 or more years after we have written it, the information about pricing may be out of date. For these reasons we are not going to tell you how much you should pay for an R34 GT-R.
If you do want to get a rough idea of what you will need to spend to nab yourself a GT-R, we recommend that you check out your local auction/classifieds websites or dealers/importers. From there you can compare the different models available and you should be able to get a rough idea of what you need to spend.
Nissan GT-R R34 Inspection Guide
Checking The Vin
One of the most important things you need to do when inspecting a Nissan GT-R R34 is to check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). The VIN can tell you a lot of information about the GT-R you are looking at and it is always a good idea to enter it into a VIN decoder/check-up website in your country. These check-up websites may be able to tell you if the car has been in an accident, stolen or if it is a GT-R at all.
You should also check that the chassis number engraved on the frame matches the one on the vin plate. You can find the production year of the car by looking at the label on the bottom of the safety belts.
The last thing you should do is head on over to gtr-registry.com. This website has data on more than 1.7 million vehicles and 99% of genuine R34 GT-Rs should be registered here. It really is a useful service and we highly recommend you use it when looking to purchase a GT-R.
Making Sure the Car You are Looking at is Genuine
Never buy a Nissan GT-R R34 on the badge or bodywork alone as you may be getting scammed. There are loads of people who have modified normal R34 Skylines to make them look like a GT-R, so don’t be fooled by this. Along with the recommendations above with the VIN, we also recommend that you learn what a real R34 GT-R looks like. Check as many photos and videos online as you can, and try to physically view at least a few real GT-Rs before making a purchase.
The RB26 engine found in the R34 GT-R is a fairly robust piece of kit, especially when it is maintained well. However, a large percentage of GT-Rs have been tuned and fitted with aftermarket parts, which can cause headaches down the line. Always check that modifications have been carried out correctly and not ‘done on the cheap’, otherwise you could be in for some serious expense.
We recommend that you get yourself familiar with what a stock R34 GT-R engine bay looks like, even if you are happy with a modified example. This will help you recognise if anything has been changed or seems out of order.
When Should the Oil & Oil Filter Be Changed on a Nissan GT-R R34?
It is important to carry out regular oil and oil filter changes on a high performance car like the Nissan GT-R R34 (or any internal combustion engined car for that matter). Remember to check the service history and with the owner to see if regular oil/filter changes have been carried out. If they have not it suggests that the R34 GT-R you are looking at has been poorly maintained.
If the oil in an R34 GT-R’s engine has not been replaced regularly it can breakdown in the presence of contaminates and become diluted. Below we have included some information about what oil/filter to use and when to change them on an R34 GT-R.
Most owners would recommend that you replace the oil every 5,000 km (3,000) miles or every 6 – 12 months . Some owners will leave it until about 8,000 km (5,000 miles) but we feel that this probably getting a bit far between changes. Anything more than 8,000 km is probably a sign of a poorly maintained GT-R.
Best Engine Oil for a Peugeot 405 Mi16
Depending on who you ask you will get a range of different answers for this. Additionally, the oil weight that an R34 GT-R needs can depend on a number of factors from the temperature of the environment the car is in, to whether or not it has any modifications and much more.
A good general oil for the RB engine in the R34 GT-R is a 5W-40 engine oil such as Motul’s 5W-40 Synthetic Racing Oil. Some owners will run 10W-50 or even 10W-60 engine oils if they are living in very hot environments, running lots of power and/or track their car regularly. Another option that owners like to run is 10W-30.
We would check with the owner to see what they run and probably keep on using the same oil if it seems like the owner has maintained the car well. Remember, thicker oils are better for hotter environments, while thinner are better for cooler places.
It is usually recommended that you use a genuine oil filter from Nissan (15208-53J0A), but some after market options are available as well. Some owners will change the filter with every oil change, but you can do it with every second oil change if they are regular.
Inspecting the Oil
Checking the Oil itself is an important thing to do. If you notice any metallic particles or grit on the dipstick move onto another R34 GT-R as the one you are looking at is probably not worth your time. Additionally, watch out for a frothy dipstick as it may indicate a failed head gasket or other overheating problems.
Other Things to Watch Out For
With regular servicing and frequent oil changes the RB26 should cause little problems. The timing belt and water pump should be replaced every 80,000 km (50,000 miles) or so and, as a rule of thumb, modified cars with more power should be serviced more frequently. When looking under the bonnet, check for any oil leaks around the turbochargers and around the engine block.
Check the state of clips and brackets on standard-looking engine bays – Do they look new? Or are they damaged? – to see any signs of major repairs or accident damage. You should also check that all the stickers inside the engine bay are in the correct place (A big green one can be found on the left suspension turret). A lack of stickers inside the engine bay could be a sign that the car has been crashed or resprayed.
The next step is to fire up the mighty beast. Turn the car on and let the oil settle at the correct temperature. Once the car is warmed up apply some throttle: the engine should rev smoothly and you should hear a slight ticking sound at idle. Oil pressure should be around 4 bar and never lower when the engine is revving over 4,000rpm.
Most R34 GT-Rs suffered from porous engine blocks and many of them have had rebuilt engines as a result. While this is no cause for concern, you should try to establish who carried out the work and when did it occur. Check the reputation of the person or company involved and proceed with cation if they have excess negative feedback.
Smoke & Vapour Problems
Don’t forget to check for any smoke or vapour from the back of an R34 GT-R during an inspection. Make sure you do this both before, during and after a test drive (If you have a helper they can look out the back while you drive the car). A small amount of vapour upon engine start-up is perfectly normal, especially if the ambient temperature outside is low. If the GT-R you are looking at has major smoke or vapour problems then it probably isn’t worth your time.
White smoke – This is usually caused by water in the cylinders and could indicate a blown head gasket. If the smoke smells sweet, it is probably coolant.
Blue smoke – Can be caused by wear to the pistons, piston rings, and/or worn valve seals. To check for blue smoke, ask a friend to follow you while drive the vehicle and take it through the rev range. Alternatively, get the owner to drive the car for a bit and watch out the back. Blue smoke on start-up and overrun is a sign that the car has been thrashed. Blue/Grey smoke can be a sign that the turbo has gone as well.
Black smoke – Usually occurs when the engine is running too rich (burning too much fuel). The first things you should check is the air-filter and other intake components.
What Noises Should I Look Out for?
Like we wrote above, a slight ticking noise at idle is perfectly normal and is simply down to the injectors. However, there are a number of other noises you should keep an ear out for.
A slight knock from the engine that gets worse under revs is usually a sign that a big-end bearing failure is just around the corner. Another noise to watch out for is a harsh clanking noise at idle. This is usually caused by the fitment of an aftermarket multi-plate clutch. If the noise disappears when the clutch is depressed you’re all good, but if it persists it could be a sign of another issue.
Signs of a Failing Turbocharger on an R34 GT-R
Listen out for any weird whistling, rumbling or high-pitched metallic sounds when the turbos are at full boost. If the turbos are making these kinds of sounds it is well past its prime. However, a turbocharger will probably completely fail before making these sort of sounds. Here are some signs of a failing turbo:
- Distinctive blue/grey smoke – This usually indicates that the seals are worn, however, it can also be a sign of a cracked turbo housing (pretty unlikely). To check for smoke, leave the car idling for 10 minutes, and then rev it. If the seals have failed a blue/grey coloured smoke will exit the exhaust.
- Burning lots of oil– Its hard to get an accurate picture of this during a test drive, but try to glean some information from the owner.
- Slow acceleration– If the car feels slow it is a good indication that the turbo has failed or is failing. This is why we recommend that you test drive a few different GT-Rs to get an idea of how fast they are.
- If the boost pressure comes on late– Boost pressure that comes at higher than normal rpms could indicate either a worn or unbalanced turbocharger.
- Check Engine Warning Light– The check engine light (CEL) can be displayed for a number of reasons, from major to minor. One of these reasons may be due to a failing/failed turbocharger. If the light is on and you notice some of the other symptoms we have listed above, then it is a good sign that the turbo has failed.
Note: Some of the issues above can be the result of problems with the pipes going to the turbocharger.
Replacing the turbochargers is expensive, so make sure you take your time going through this inspection process.
The gearbox fitted to the R34 GT-R is fairly strong and should not cause any major problems. Issues can pop-up with regular spirited driving and lots of power, but you would have to push the gearbox pretty hard to find a weak link. If the synchros have failed, resulting in crunching gears, it can be an expensive fix.
During a test drive, make sure you go through all the gears at both low and high engine speeds, keeping an ear out for any nasty graunching or grinding sounds.
Testing the Clutch on an R34 GT-R
Clutch Engagement – The first thing to check is the engagement. To do this put the Nissan GT-R you are inspecting into gear on a level surface and let the clutch out slowly. It should engage around 7 to 10 cm (2.5 to 4 inches) from the floor. Engagement that is early or too late indicates a problem.
Clutch Slippage – The way to check for this is to shift into a gear that is too high for the speed you are going. Once you have done this, plant your foot on the throttle and watch the revs. If the engine speed goes up but the car doesn’t accelerate the clutch is slipping. Here are some things that can cause slippage
- Worn clutch
- Clutch covered in oil
- Clutch cable is too tight and is not releasing properly
Clutch Drag – Get the GT-R on a flat surface and press the clutch pedal to the floor (do this while you are stationary). Rev the Nissan hard (once it is warm) and see If it moves. If the car does move, the clutch is not disengaging when you shift and parts will wear prematurely.
Note: Many owners have replaced the standard clutch with an aftermarket one, as the original can noticeably deteriorate after two very hard launches.
Body and Exterior
There are a number of bodywork issues you need to watch out for.
When inspecting an R34 GT-R’s body, rust should be your primary concern. Unfortunately, Nissan did not properly treat the GT-R with an anti-rust coating at the factory. Additionally, due to the layout of the car’s body work and some structural weaknesses, the R34 GT-R can suffer at the hands of rust.
GT-Rs stored outside and exposed to the elements are more likely to rust than those kept inside. You should pay particular attention to where the car you are looking at has come from and where it has been stored.
Cars from Japan are particularly prone to rusting for a number of reasons. Garages and covered parking spaces come at a premium, so most owners are forced to keep their GT-Rs outside or in semi-covered areas. This, combined with Japan’s incredibly humid and wet summer weather mean that rust can rear its ugly head extremely quickly.
Most Japanese R34 GT-Rs will have at least a bit of rust on them, unless they have delivery miles and have been stored inside.
Additionally, if the car has come from/or is located in a country that salts the roads during the winter, you should inspect for rust even more thoroughly. This also goes for vehicles that have spent extended periods of time near the sea.
Most Common Places to Find Rust on a Nissan GT-R R34
Below we have listed the places you will typically find rust on an R34 GT-R (however rust can occur in other places as well):
- All four of the wheel arches
- All of the fenders
- The fuel lid cover and bay
- In the engine bay (pay particular attention to the area around the suspension turrets)
- Rear boot/trunk (Don’t forget to check under the spare tyre!)
- Around the doors and windows
- Jacking points
- Underneath the vehicle (get your torch ready)
When looking inside the engine bay, check all the plastic and metal parts. If the plastic parts have lost their shine and appear matte in finish, it could be a sign that an excessive amount of water has made its way into the engine bay. Additionally, oxidisation of metal parts inside the engine bay could be a sign of the same problem. If this is the case, we recommend you remove the front bumper and fenders to check for any rust.
Signs That the Vehicle Has Suffered from Rust in the Past
Look for any signs that the car has been resprayed or any discolouring in the paint, especially around the areas we mentioned above. This can be a sign that rust has been removed and the car repaired. You can use a magnet on steel parts of the vehicle to check for any areas of rust repair. Additionally, we recommend you check the car’s service history and ask the owner as well.
Signs That a GT-R Has Been Stored Outside
Here are some of the tell-tale signs that a car has been left outside in the elements:
- Heavily discoloured badges
- Faded paint
- Hard rubber window seals
- Cracking/whitening on the front bumper lip
- Cracking/yellowing on carbon fibre parts (not on all models)
- Obvious rust or corrosion
Crash Damage and Other Major Repair Work
Walk around the body, inspecting all the different panels and parts – do you see any inconsistencies in the paintwork, large panel gaps or poorly fitting body panels? If so, it may be a sign that the car has been in an accident.
More than a few R34 GT-Rs have been in contact with things they shouldn’t have been and the car encourages enthusiastic driving. Ask the owner if the car has been in an accident at any point in time and check the vehicle’s paperwork thoroughly for any signs of repair work.
Get under the car if you can and inspect the engine bay thoroughly. Even things like the brackets and clips inside the engine bay can be an indicator of accident damage.
Additionally, we recommend that you inspect a car when it is dry, as water can hide a multitude of sins.
If accident damage has occurred and been repaired, ask the owner how serious the incident was (if they know). A car that has been in minor crunches will usually be fine, but major ones would make us walk away. Find out who did the work and check their reputation.
Other Bodywork Issues
Unless the GT-R you are looking at has been kept in a padded garage for its entire life, it is bound to have a few scratches and dings. Pay extra attention to cars finished in the sought after Midnight Purple colour: retouching the paint is almost impossible and body parts will usually need a full respray to look in top form.
Many R34 GT-Rs came in Bayside Blue. It is easy to tell if these cars have been repainted, as the colour came with a special coloured lacquer from the factory which is incredibly hard to match. However, the paint can look slightly different on the bumpers because of the plastic it bonds to.
Carbon fibre parts fitted to any of the models can be hard to find and are in some cases extremely expensive to replace.
If the car is fitted with aftermarket wheels, ask the owner if they have the originals. It is hard to find original wheels for the R34 GT-R and having them only increases the value of the car. This is especially true for Midnight Purple III cars as they had special wheels that were finished in a lighter shade of silver.
Suspension & Steering
Suspension parts will wear out in time, so check when/if they have been replaced. Many owners have switched to aftermarket bushings and components that are more durable than the standard units. This is fine, but make sure the work has been carried out correctly and the alignment has been adjusted to suit – otherwise excessive tyre wear will occur. While you are inspecting/test driving a Nissan GT-R R34 keep an eye out for the following:
- Dipping and swerving when the brakes are applied
- Excessive Rear-end squat during acceleration
- Tipping during turns
- High speed instability
- Excessive vibration coming through the steering wheel (could indicate alignment issues or failed ball joints)
- Delayed or longer stopping distances
- Uneven tyre wear
- Excessive tyre bounce after hitting a bump
- Leaking fluid on the exterior of the shock/strut
- Sagging rear suspension – usually caused by bad bushings in the rear
- Knocking or creaking sounds during a test drive (don’t forget to drive in a tight figure 8)
The factory brakes are pretty strong and you shouldn’t have too many problems with them. However, the standard discs can be expensive to replace so make sure they are in good order. Some owners have replaced factory discs with aftermarket ones, which is okay as long as they are of good quality. Check the brakes for the following:
- Pad life (use a little mirror or you may be able to use your phone)
- Pitted, scored or grooved discs
- Any leaks in the brake lines (get a helper to press on the brake pedal while you inspect the lines)
- Brake fluid level in the brake fluid reservoir
- Brake fluid changes every 12 – 24 months
While You are Test Driving an R34 GT-R
Don’t forget to test the brakes under both hard and light braking conditions to make sure they are functioning correctly. If the car pulls to one side or you hear a loud thud when you pull away for the first time, the R34 GT-R you are looking at may have a sticking/seized caliper. This usually occurs when a car has been sitting unused for a long period of time.
Juddering or shaking through the steering wheel tends to suggest warped discs/rotors. This usually first becomes noticeable during high speed braking. If the brakes feel weak or spongy there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
How are the Interiors Holding Up?
Well, not too good unfortunately. The interior is perhaps the weakest point of the R34 and is where most of Nissan’s cost cutting occurred. Nissan selected cheap, very hard and easy to scratch plastic for the interior.
Many owners have also added gauges, stickers and all sorts of other parts to the interiors of their cars, which makes finding a stock model difficult. Almost all interior parts are hard to come by, but Nissan has added the R34 GT-R to their Heritage Parts program, so you should be able to find most of what you need there.
Seats, especially on well used models will have started to show signs of wear. There may be tears in the fabric that need fixing or the seats may be falling apart all together. Check all the other parts of the interior for signs of wear as well; from the carpets to the steering wheel and the gear shifter. If car has low miles, but the steering wheel and gear shifter looks worn, it could be a sign that the odometer has been wound back.
Along with checking the seat material you should also check that the seats themselves do not move on their runners. If they do it is incredibly dangerous and is an MOT/WOF failure.
Remember to give the interior a good whiff to see if the car smells like a smoker has owned it. Another way to check if the R34 GT-R you are looking at has been owned by a smoker is to inspect the headliner above the driver’s seat. If it is a different colour it suggests that a smoker has owned the vehicle.
The electronics in the R34 GT-R are fairly robust and nothing has a reputation for problems. However, we suggest you test drive the vehicle to make sure everything is working correctly. Pay particular attention to multi-function display (MFD): a slightly red tint, yellow or white lines, or a misaligned image are all signs of a screen that is on its way out. This isn’t a major problem but the MFD is quite expensive to replace.
We recommend that you take the time to go through the MFD’s gauges and functions. If they don’t register movements, it could be a sign that a sensor/sensors have failed.
Make sure you go over all the other electronics in the car. Try everything you can get your hands on to make sure it works and pay particular attention to any warning lights on the dash.
Inspect modified cars even more thoroughly and check any receipts for work done. Modifications that have been done incorrectly can be a real nightmare so be extra vigilant.
Should I Buy a Modified R34 GT-R?
A good chunk of R34 GT-Rs on the road today have been modified in some way. Modifications may range from small cosmetic items to complete engine overhauls. Any modifications should be inspected closely and get the owner to show you any relevant paperwork.
If we are talking about serious performance tuned GT-Rs I would recommend you look at models with work done by MCR, Mine’s or Top Secret. There are other good tuning companies around but these are known to be some of the best in Japan, even surpassing Nismo on more than a few occasions. Cars tuned by these companies will command a premium over vehicles modified by other tuners.
GT-Rs with over 600 horsepower should be avoided as the stress on the components is simply too much and reliability will suffer. We also recommend you steer clear of track cars and those that have been modified by multiple owners.
If you are looking for a modified R34 GT-R, we recommend looking for one that is only mildly tuned. Then, if you want more performance you can tune the car further and know exactly what has been done.
Are Higher Mileage R34 GT-Rs Okay to Buy?
You should always buy on the condition of a car and then on the mileage. There are plenty of cars out there with low miles but in poor condition, so you need to be careful when purchasing a GT-R. As the R34 GT-R is getting on a bit, anything under around 80,000km can be considered low mileage.
We suggest you look for a car that has done 100,000km or more, but has been maintained well and stored correctly. Low mileage GT-Rs will go for a premium and they are not always worth it.
Many owners make the mistake of believing that if you don’t drive a car it will last longer or have less problems. In fact, not driving a vehicle can actually be detrimental to its lifespan. This is because low mileage tends to suggest that a vehicle has been used for short trips, which aren’t kind to the engine. You may find that 90% of its engine life has been on cold oil or that the engine has not been lubricated properly.
Plastic parts and rubber seals will fail regardless of mileage and they can even deteriorate quicker in cars that have travelled less distance. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust from rearing its ugly head and the electronics from failing.
Mileage will never decrease with age and you could be pouring money down the drain going for a GT-R that hasn’t travelled far. You may be better off to put that extra money aside for repairs or modifications down the track.
Service History and Other Documentation
Always check the service history of any GT-R before making a purchase. The service history will give you a good idea of how the car has been looked after and maintained. It will tell you information about how regularly the vehicle has been serviced and if any major work has been done. Receipts and paperwork for any modifications should be inspected closely.
If the owner is unable to provide the service history or refuses to do so, you should proceed with caution. A complete service history will only add value to a vehicle and will be handy if you want to sell down the track.
Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.
Questions You Should Ask the Seller/Owner
- How often do you drive the car?
- When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
- How much oil does it use?
- What oil do you use in the car?
- When was the timing belt replaced?
- What parts have been replaced?
- What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
- Has the vehicle overheated at any point?
- Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
- Is there any money owing on the car?
- Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
- Is there any rust?
- Has rust been removed at any point?
- Has the car been used for track use at any point?
- When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
- Where do you store/park the car usually?
There are a lot more questions you can ask the owner/seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.
Things That Would Make Us Walk Away?
Sometimes it is better to just walk away from a vehicle. We have listed some of the things that would make us turn our back on a car below:
- Significant crash damage
- Overheating problems
- Tuned in excess of 600hp (will almost certainly cause reliability problems down the track)
- Modifications with no paperwork or done by a badly reviewed tuner
- Money owing on the vehicle
- Significant rust problems (minor rust is usually okay)
- Engine swaps with a different model engine (not RB)
- Major engine or transmission issues
- Significant track use
- Owner who is not forthcoming with information on the car (trying to hide something)
We feel that there are still plenty of decent R34 GT-Rs to choose from and it is not worth pursuing one with significant problems. You may be fine buying a GT-R with one or more of these problems, but we would personally walk away.
Where to Find a Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 for Sale?
Now that we have covered what to look out for when buying a Nissan GT-R, let’s look at where to find them for sale. While R34 GT-Rs are becoming rarer, there are still plenty of places you can find them for sale. Below we have covered everything you need to know about where to find a GT-R for sale.
Buying a Nissan R34 GT-R Domestically/Locally
The best place to start your hunt for a GT-R is in your own city or town. Looking at cars close to you is great because you can physically inspect and test drive them before making a purchase. Additionally, you can take the GT-R you are looking at to your mechanic or a specialist to check it over.
While finding a Nissan R34 GT-R for sale close to you is always the best option, it may not always be possible. Maybe there are no suitable GT-Rs in your area or you want a specific model. The next step is to look nationally. This will broaden your search area and you should be able to find more R34 GT-Rs for sale.
The price of GT-Rs will vary depending on everything from the mileage to the condition and the model (This GT-R Nismo Z-Tune sold for over $500,000!). In our local market of New Zealand, a good R34 GT-R tends to sell for around $100,000 to $120,000 (at the time of writing). Modified vehicles can be more or less expensive, but a completely stock standard model in good condition will probably be worth more in the future.
When you locate a GT-R with some potential, we recommend you take it to a Nissan or Skyline specialist. They should be able to identify any problems with the vehicle and will save you from buying a dog. If the owner is reluctant to let you do this, you should take this as a warning sign.
Best Places to Find a Nissan R34 GT-R for Sale
There are lots of different places you can find GT-Rs for sale. We have listed some of these places below:
Websites such as Craiglist, Cars for Sale, Kijiji and TradeMe are excellent places to start your hunt. You should be able to find a number of GT-Rs for sale by dealers, private sellers and importers. You will be able to easily compare the price of different vehicles and get a good idea of what you will need to spend.
Dealers and Importers
Almost all dealers and importers will have an online presence and many of them will advertise on websites like the ones we listed above. They may also have their own website which you should check out as well. Buying from a dealer or importer is usually more expensive but you may get better protection if things go wrong. We have listed some importers below:
Azak Cars – is based in New Zealand and they often have GT-Rs for sale. They are well reviewed and will almost certainly be able to help you find your dream R34 GT-R.
Montu Motors – is the number one importer of GT-Rs and JDM vehicles into the United States and is well reviewed.
Prestige Motorsport – is based in Australia and they can help you with all your importing needs.
Websites such as Facebook and Reddit can be excellent places to find a GT-R for sale. Join one of the many enthusiast groups and start your search. Write a post saying you are looking to buy a GT-R and you should get some responses. These groups can also be great places to buy or sell parts and ask for advice.
This sort of ties in with the above, but many owners’ clubs have their own website or they may not even have a website at all. Look to see if there are any Nissan or GT-R owners’ clubs in your area as these are often great places to find cars for sale or ask for advice.
Import a Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R
If you are struggling to find a suitable R34 GT-R, the next step is to look overseas. The Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R was sold in many countries, but the best place to look at importing one from is of course Japan.
Exporting cars from Japan is big business as older cars become expensive to own and operate. There are still loads of GT-Rs in Japan, some in good condition and some in bad. We are going to tell you everything you need to know about importing a Nissan GT-R below.
Import a Nissan GT-R from Japan
Importing a GT-R from Japan may seem a bit daunting, but in reality its quite simple. The first thing we recommend you do is Google “import Nissan GTR”. You will be greeted with a whole host of different websites that have R34 GT-Rs ready to export. These websites will let you search on the age, model, condition (more on that later) and more.
Some of these websites will be based in countries outside of Japan (Like Prestige Motorsport in Australia), while many of them will be based in Japan.
Always read up on any website or auction house you are thinking of using. Check for reviews and feedback from people who have used to service before. While you are unlikely to get scammed, it can happen. Here are some examples of Japanese importers/exporters.
Japanese Car Trade – Is one of the most trusted Japanese used vehicle portals that connects overseas buyers to Japanese based vehicle exporters.
JDM Expo – Is one of the best places to find specialist vehicles such as the Nissan GT-R. They have a wide selection and are one of the most trusted in the business.
Tradecarview – is based in Tokyo and they have one of the best online platforms for connecting Japanese exporters to buyers from overseas.
How Does the Japanese Car Grading System Work?
Japanese auction houses and car exporters all source the vehicles they advertise in the same way. The difference between them is how much they are willing to tell you about the vehicle, the grading system and how much support they are willing to provide.
Auction houses will provide what is known as an ‘auction check sheet’, which contains most of the information you need to know about a vehicle. Seeing as you can’t view the cars personally, you are going to have to rely on the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision. If a company is not willing to provide you an auction check or additional information on a vehicle, move on to a different exporter.
Before you make a purchase you need to learn how to read an auction check sheet. The check sheet provides information such as the make, model, specifications and condition. There will be a grade on the check sheet that indicates the overall condition of the vehicle.
The grade on a check sheet is important, but you should not rely on it to make a decision. This is because different companies have different standards for grading their vehicles. A grade 4 for one company might be a grade 3.5 for another, so you need to be careful.
Some websites may use a different grading system and if you can’t view the auction check sheet, you should contact the seller/exporter.
The grade should be used to whittle down the number of GT-Rs you are looking at and then use the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision.
The Auction Check Sheet
Below you can see an example of an auction check sheet. The grade is located in the top right corner of the check sheet. You will notice that there is a number and a letter. The number indicates the overall condition of the vehicle, while the letter shows you the interior grade. Located on the bottom right of the check sheet is the ‘car map’, which tells you information about the exterior of the car and where any problems are located.
The check sheet also contains information about the specifications of the vehicle and any modifications. Additionally, the inspector’s comments will tell you about any other information you need to know.
What Does the Number Grade Mean?
- Grade 7 to 9 or S – New car with delivery miles.
- Grade 6 – Same as above but with a few more miles.
- Grade 5 – Vehicle is in excellent condition with low miles.
- Grade 4.5 – Overall condition is great, but may have up to 100,000 miles on the clock.
- Grade 4 – Overall condition is good, but can have low or high miles.
- Grade 3.5 – Similar to grade 4, but some work may be needed and they usually have more miles.
- Grade 3 – Can be the same condition as grade 3.5, but with more miles. Alternatively, the car may have lower miles but require more work.
- Grade 2 – Very poor condition car and may have significant mechanical or exterior issues. Not necessarily a right off, but you would have to be a brave buyer to purchase one of these.
- Grade 1 – Is modified in some way (can be extensive or something simple).
- Grade 0, A, R, RA – Some repair history that can be major or minor.
The Letter Grade
As we wrote earlier, the number grade is usually accompanied by a letter that indicates the interior grade. If there is an ‘A’ on the check sheet it shows that the vehicle is in exceptional or good condition. A ‘B’ means that the car is in average condition while a ‘C’ indicates that the vehicle is in poor condition. Grades below C indicate that the interior is in very poor condition.
The Car Map
The check sheet will also contain what is called a “car map”, which tells you all the information you need to know about the exterior condition of the car. It will show the location of any problems or damage to the vehicle. Any problems are indicated by a letter and a number. The letter tells you what the issue is and the number indicates the severity. You can read more about the car map in our “How to Import a Car from Japan” guide.
Our Guidelines for Importing a GT-R from Japan
- Always demand to see and have the auction check sheet before making a purchase
- If you can’t read Japanese or the company won’t provide a translated check sheet, get help from somebody who speaks/reads Japanese.
- Check that the chassis number on the check sheet matches the one on the frame
- Cross reference the check sheet with other websites
- Don’t rely on the grade (always check the auction sheet thoroughly)
- Investigate each website/service thoroughly (reviews, feedback, etc.)
- Be careful of heavily modified vehicles
- Get someone to inspect the car for you if possible. Ask for photos and get a good run down of the condition.
- Avoid cars with unknown mileages
- Stay away from bargains that seem to be too good to be true
- Stay away from grade 0, A, RA, R vehicles that have been involved in accidents – GT-R Registry has a slightly different opinion to us and believes that grade R cars can be good, but thorough inspection is key.
Know Your Country’s Importation Laws
It is extremely important that you check your country’s importation laws before making a purchase. Some countries have certain restrictions on importing cars under a certain age, so make sure you check.
Concluding This Nissan GT-R R34 Buyer’s Guide
Our final advice is to take you time searching for a GT-R. Don’t rush into a purchase and don’t settle for a car that doesn’t meet your expectations. Spend time checking out any issues or problems with any R34 GT-R you are looking at.
When you do eventually make a purchase, avoid driving the car in the rain and don’t wash it too much. Store the GT-R in a dry place and remember to drive it. Don’t let the car sit for months on end without use as this can lead to a whole host of problems.
A good Nissan GT-R will be a joy to drive and own, but be prepared to spend a bit of money.