ICON BUYER

WITH ITS HIGH-TECH TWIN-TURBO STRAIGHT-SIX, ALL-WHEEL STEER­ING AND VARI­ABLE ALL-WHEEL DRIVE, A CARE­FUL AP­PROACH WILL PAY OFF WHEN BUY­ING YOUR VER­SION OF THE ORIGINAL ‘GODZILLA’

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS - BY CLIFF CHAM­BERS/ALEX AFFAT + PICS NATHAN JACOBS

We all want to buy an R32 Nis­san Sky­line GT-R – here’s how

NIS­SAN’S DE­CI­SION TO BUILD a car that would chal­lenge Porsche’s fast car hege­mony re­ver­ber­ated through­out the en­tire per­for­mance car world.

Lo­cally, how­ever, the BNR32 (“R32”) Sky­line GT-R didn’t prove quite as suc­cess­ful in show­rooms as it did the race­tracks of the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship. Aus­tralian-com­plied GT-Rs ar­rived in 1991 priced at $110,000. De­spite tricky eco­nomic times and with the cheap­est Porsche 911 cost­ing $55,000 more, the GT-R looked to be a bar­gain.

Nis­san built Aus­tralia’s first batch of R32 GT-Rs at Mu­rayama, Ja­pan, in May and June 1991. The sec­ond run of 50 cars came down the same pro­duc­tion line in Au­gust. They were then shipped to Melbourne where 50 ex­tra hours per car were al­lo­cated to fit lo­cal com­pli­ance items in­clud­ing child-seat re­straints, a fuel-filler re­stric­tor and high-mount stop-light.

Of the 100 cars that ar­rived as ‘of­fi­cial’ im­ports, 26 were painted Black Pearl Metal­lic with a fur­ther 37 of each in Jet Sil­ver and Red Pearl Metal­lic. Re­port­edly just 63 of the avail­able cars had found own­ers.

With a de­cent pro­por­tion sold to lo­cal Nis­san ex­ecs and se­nior deal­er­ship types, just a few dozen re­mained for pri­vate buy­ers, but even those seemed im­pos­si­ble to move. To­day, de­mand for R32 GT-Rs, Aus­tralian-de­liv­ered ex­am­ples es­pe­cially, couldn’t be stronger.

MAR­KET RE­VIEW

With al­most 44,000 R32 GT-Rs built be­tween 1989 and 1994, many have been im­ported pri­vately into Aus­tralia from Ja­pan. Lots of these cars are avail­able and rep­re­sent the bot­tom of the R32 GT-R ‘pile’. Too many cars in an am­biva­lent mar­ket (with many of them in sub-stan­dard con­di­tion) drag down the prospects of bet­ter ex­am­ples to ap­pre­ci­ate.

Above the ba­sic vari­ants sits the R32 ‘V Spec’ which was sold in two edi­tions to­talling 2756 cars. Nismo and GT-R N1 ver­sions add a com­bined 788 but there are just 100 in Aus­tralian spec­i­fi­ca­tion, mak­ing lo­cally com­plied cars the most col­lectible R32s of all.

THE TWIN-TUR­BOCHARGED R32 GT-R IS NOT A CAR THE HOME ME­CHANIC CAN ‘FIX UP’ ON WEEK­ENDS

.BODY & CHAS­SIS Rust should not be ap­par­ent in Aus­tralian-de­liv­ered cars, the ma­jor­ity of which haven’t seen enough rain to go rusty. Cau­tion is es­sen­tial with those that started life in Ja­pan risk­ing ex­po­sure to icy con­di­tions. They need to be lifted and closely in­spected for any cor­ro­sion or re­pairs. Crash damage is an is­sue with all GT-Rs so look for kinks to the front chas­sis rails, par­tial re­paints and mis­matched front or rear lenses. The ex­tra weight of that hefty rear wing can weaken boot-lid sup­ports and wa­ter can leak through mount­ing holes. EN­GINE & TRANS­MIS­SION The GT-R with its twin tur­bocharg­ers and ag­ing com­po­nents is not some­thing the home me­chanic can ‘fix up’ on week­ends. Avoid­ing big re­pair bills is best achieved by choos­ing a car – lo­cal or used im­port – that comes with re­cent ser­vice his­tory. If the tur­bocharg­ers haven’t been re­placed or there’s no ev­i­dence of ser­vic­ing at least ev­ery 5000 kilo­me­tres, as­sume ma­jor work will shortly be needed, and pay ac­cord­ingly. White ex­haust smoke in­di­cates oil be­ing burned in the tur­bocharg­ers. Check un­der-bon­net hoses and plas­tic com­po­nents for per­ish­ing and heat damage and the cylin­der head for oil leaks. Rapid stand­ing starts hurt the clutch which costs more than $1500 to re­place. Lis­ten for clunks from rear drive-shafts or the dif­fer­en­tial. SUS­PEN­SION & BRAKES Check that the HICAS four-wheel steer­ing and ABS are still op­er­at­ing. Many GT-Rs travel min­i­mal dis­tances but shock ab­sorbers, bushes and brake com­po­nents still de­te­ri­o­rate due to age alone. Re-kit­ting wheel cylin­ders and the booster, chang­ing hoses and stan­dard pads will cost more than $1500. Stan­dard brakes fit­ted to GT-Rs weren’t re­ally up to the cars’ po­ten­tial and a lot will have later, larger ro­tors and calipers. Ro­tors warp due to ex­ces­sive heat and pulse through the pedal. When new these cars sat high with at least a hand-depth of clear­ance be­tween the tyre and wheel-arch. A car that sits no­tice­ably nose-down or un­evenly may have had its springs short­ened.

IN­TE­RIOR & ELECTRICS The GT-R in­te­rior is ba­sic but trimmed in qual­ity ma­te­ri­als so a well-kept car should be on its original seats with min­i­mal de­te­ri­o­ra­tion to the cabin plas­tics. Cars that be­gan their work­ing lives over­seas can show wear to the seat bol­sters but avoid any car that shows low kilo­me­tres and a trashed in­te­rior. The odome­ter will have been ‘fid­dled’ or re­placed. Age can af­flict elec­tri­cal com­po­nents as well, so a full check of ev­ery switch and gauge is rec­om­mended. The air-con­di­tion­ing should ac­ti­vate with an audi­ble click and send a stream of cold air through the vents within 20 sec­onds. IM­PROV­ING THE BREED Save your­self a small for­tune by buy­ing a heav­ily mod­i­fied R32 GT-R from the get-go if you’re in­ter­ested in tun­ing one. Mod­i­fied ex­am­ples out­num­ber stock ones by a big mar­gin just be­cause a whole uni­verse of mod­i­fi­ca­tion ex­ists – a topic that could eas­ily fill an en­tire mag­a­zine (and has), with it be­ing so easy and rel­a­tively cheap to ex­tract more per­for­mance from the R32 GT-R.

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