A bit of history first
Nissan canned the GT-R name in 1973, but brought it back when they needed a new car for Group A racing homologation rules. The new car was based on the R32 Skyline serious of cars, but with all the bells and whistles to make it worthy of the GT-R namesake. Nearly 45,000 of these R32 GT-Rs were sold, making up around 15% of the Skyline production at the time.
The R32 GT-R was a wildly different beast to the previous GT-R. It featured a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, a powerful 2.6-litre twin-turbo engine that produced 276 hp, and a weight of just over 1,400kg.
A Nismo edition was launched in 1990 with a total production run of 560. This featured some aerodynamic changes, removal of the ABS system, and weight saving. It was also only available in a gun metal grey colour.
The R32 GT-R was branded with the Godzilla name when it dominated the Australian motoring scene. The car was so dominating in Australia it tore apart Group A racing in the country and got itself banned in the process.
Where to get one
Wanting a Nissan R32 GT-R is the easy part; however, getting your hands on a nice example is where the fun begins. Obviously getting one in your own market is probably the best bet, but depending on where you live this could be expensive and/or difficult to find a clean model. We just had a quick look at our local market in New Zealand and found a number of good examples for varying prices (although it may be different in your location).
Another option is to import one, especially from Japan. While the Japanese government makes owning an old car a real pain, the R32 GT-R’s large fan base in the country means there are plenty of examples out there. Buying from a Japanese auction or dealer isn’t exactly the easiest process, so your best option may be to work with an importer in your area to find the best model.
Part of the reason that R32 GT-Rs can be hard to find is that the Nissan Skyline was never legally sold new in the United States. However, with R32 GTRs now older than 25 years, they can be imported and complied for use on American roads.
What to look out for
This is obviously a big one. As stated above there are a number of limited edition versions of the R32 GT-R including; the NISMO model and N1 model. While there were 500 NISMO cars produced, only 500 made it to the public with Nissan keeping the other 60 for race cars.
The N1 is even more rare with a total of 245 units created and it features the R32-N1 specification. All N1 GT-R’s were produced with a “Crystal White” paint scheme and had a slightly more resistant block and stronger turbine wheels in the turbo. They also had improved reinforcing for the brake master cylinder and additional brake cooling ducts under the car.
In 1993, Nissan launched the GT-R V spec and the V Spec II the following year. These cars were created to celebrate the success of the GT-R in the Group N and Group A racing series. V Spec cars used the lightweight aluminium bonnet and front fenders from the NISMO car. The cars also replaced the standard 16″ wheels with 17″ BBS wheels with 225/45R17 tires.
Another thing to look out for is an original vs modified GT-R R32. Finding an unmodified GT-R is going to be a real challenge but they are out there. Unmodified examples will for the most part, command a higher price than a modified counterpart. This means that they are really aimed at the speculative collector market and not your average Joe. While we were writing this article we found a nice unmodified model on Trademe (a New Zealand auction website).
Modified models may be anything from a simple ECU swap to a whole host of changes. If you are not too worried about having the ultimate collectors GT-R, a modified car might be a goer. Just make sure all the mods have been done properly.
The number of K’s on the clock is another important factor when buying a car. As the R32 GT-R is getting pretty long in the tooth you’re probably in for a real mission to find one with low K’s. A car with low K’s in good condition will certainly fetch a premium. If you are on a bit of a budget, a car with higher K’s that’s been well maintained could be a good option.
Check that the owner has a record of servicing and work on car. This is not only a great asset to check that the car has been maintained well, but it will also be useful if you ever come to sell the car in the future. It will also give you a rough idea of what it will cost to maintain the car, because it’s one thing buying a GT-, and another thing running it.
Things to avoid
Rust!! Rust can be a death blow to an otherwise perfect automobile. It’s common sense, but make sure to check in the Skyline’s problem areas. These are located below the rear window and around the inner rear fenders. You should also try to remove the rear spats and check for rust there.
Another thing is that a GT-R will be around 25 years old, many of its suspension elements may be worn. If you’re looking at a fresh set of coilovers, excellent, but all the rubber bushings throughout the suspension may be beginning to become decayed. You might have to weigh up the option of replacing some of these components or holding out for a prime example.
Old turbo’s can cause all sorts of nightmares and the ones in the R32 GT-R are no different. Make sure to check for any boost losses and do a compression test if possible. Some owners may have cranked up the boost as well, which may have caused damage to the turbo.
Smoke could also be a sign of serious trouble. Depending on the colour and when it kicks in it could be anything from a blown head gasket to a busted turbo.
Make sure you avoid going to see a car in the rain. Rain can hide a multitude of sins and if you do have to view a car in the wet, try and go back for a second viewing when it is dry. Viewing a car in person is always a bonus but with a rarer car like the R32 GT-R it may not be possible.
The R32 GT-R is one of the most exciting cars of all time. We love it here at Garage Dreams and would love to own one ourselves. Check out the video below of this magnificent example!