OUR CARS – AFFAT

YOUR VERY OWN GODZILLA

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS - WORDS  ALEX AFFATT PHO­TOS  NATHAN JACOBS

IF YOU’VE been for­tu­nate enough to be se­ri­ously shop­ping for your long-time dream car, I’m sure you can re­late to my ex­cite­ment and anx­i­ety .

You have such a vivid im­age of what you want: colour, spec, year etc.

But luck and avail­abil­ity on the sec­ond­hand mar­ket can be plen­ti­ful or – at times – bar­ren.

This is my car, a 1994 Nis­san Sky­line R32 GT-R; it’s my dream ma­chine, my “for­ever” car.

How long was I look­ing? That’s com­pli­cated, as I was sort of al­ways look­ing, even back in mid­dle school when Skylines were cheap.

But as I got older, found jobs, then bet­ter ones; they al­ways eluded me as the prices steadily ap­pre­ci­ated over the past 10 or so years, al­ways seem­ingly just enough out of reach for it to sim­ply re­main a “dream” car. Never de­mand­ing any more thought than ca­su­ally brows­ing list­ings on­line.

But prices took a steep jump in 2014, thanks to Amer­ica’s 25-year rule re­gard­ing ve­hi­cles el­i­gi­ble for im­port. It saw the pre­vi­ously Sky­line-starved na­tion go

“NOWA­DAYS $20,000 WON’T GET YOU A ROLLING SHELL"

into a f lurr y, inf lat­ing prices at the Ja­panese auc­tion houses where most of the grey-im­port cars come from. Pro­duced only from 1989 to 1994, each year since more and more cars saw steep price growth, prompt­ing lo­cal sell­ers priv y to Ja­panese auc­tion re­sults to jack their own prices up sim­i­larly.

I could al­most plot their prices on a graph, I’ve been look­ing at them for so long. In the mid-2000s, the go­ing rate for an av­er­age BNR32 (Nis­san chas­sis speak for an R32-gen­er­a­tion GT-R) was about $15,000 – a true bang for buck bar­gain; and if you paid $20,000 or more, you were ei­ther crazy or got an ab­so­lute minter.

Nowa­days… $20,000 won’t get you a rolling shell, and you’ll still need to BYO mo­tor and gear­box. $30-35,000 will get you an av­er­age, or even worse, car; and any­thing de­cent will see high $30s if you’re lucky, and well north of $40,000 in most cases.

I was feel­ing the pres­sure, even back to last year as I was ha­bit­u­ally check­ing the list­ings mul­ti­ple times per day. Then it dawned on me that 2018 was the last year that the last run of 1994 cars was ex­empt from the USA’s 25-year mone­tary f lood­gates, and I re­alised that if I didn’t get se­ri­ous soon, prices could run away from me – and I didn’t want to look back and re­gret not ever ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Godzilla own­er­ship.

And so, I got se­ri­ous. But it wasn’t an easy search.

Given that I knew how cheap these cars used to be, it was hard to ac­cept the inf lated prices they now de­manded. And all the cars I looked at had bent chas­sis sills, ques­tion­able his­tor y and var­i­ous me­chan­i­cal un­knowns. Only a few cars met my stan­dard, and they didn’t stay avail­able for long.

Then, the new list­ings slowed on­line, and there was just one car that caught my eye.

I was get­ting des­per­ate or over-ex­cited – I’m still not sure which. It was in my least de­sired colour, and fea­tured some mod­i­fi­ca­tions that weren’t to my taste and would need to be re­versed. But the seller was hon­est and help­ful and the car seemed to be in good con­di­tion (both rare oc­cur­rences in the Sky­line world).

I or­gan­ised an in­spec­tion

for Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Then, late that Fri­day arvo, well af­ter I had al­ready checked what was avail­able on­line for the day, I fig­ured I’d have one last look, and here this car was – newly listed, newly avail­able.

I im­me­di­ately shot off my ini­tial round of ques­tions. All checked out – known his­tory, a binder full of re­ceipts, well thought-out main­te­nance and mod­i­fi­ca­tions – and it was owned by some­one who truly re­spected the car and its prove­nance.

I called the seller, and his only avail­able time to in­spect clashed with the other car I was set to view. I know what they say about eggs in one bas­ket, but I can­celled the other car – this was it!

The next day I left a de­posit, and the fol­low­ing week­end I took de­liv­ery.

It’s a Crys­tal White Se­ries 3 R32 GT-R that rolled off the pro­duc­tion line in June 1994. It has had the en­gine re­built, which was a req­ui­site of mine as many still on their orig­i­nal un­opened blocks will likely be in need of one soon. It’s no 30PSI 500kW mon­ster though, and has stayed largely true to orig­i­nal spec. It fea­tured some pe­ri­od­cor­rect Nismo items, such as the N1 front bar ducts, and three-piece side skirts, and a set of rare Nismo LMGT3 wheels. In­te­rior largely pre­sented as orig­i­nal, bar the un­sightly dou­ble-din head unit, an ECU hand con­troller and a sin­gle oil pres­sure gauge.

It needs some clean­ing up; some leather in­te­rior trim has per­ished and needs re­plac­ing, win­dow rub­bers were a bit leaky, there’s a slight mis­fire (likely to be coil­packs), the front diff leaks and it had been sit­ting , so there’s work to do.

But we’ll save that for the next up­date.

01 The GT-R ce­mented its leg­endary sta­tus with back-to-back wins at Bathurst in 1991 and 1992.02 Rear quar­ter an­gle screams 90s ag­gres­sion.

03 The heart of Godzilla, a 2.6lt twin-turbo in­line-six, is still for­mi­da­ble to­day.

LEFT Proven at Bathurst, the GT-R is known in both fame and in­famy.

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