Shed of the Week | Nissan Primera GT

Not so long ago, โ€˜never raced or ralliedโ€™ was a standard phrase in any classified ad for a vaguely sporting motor. It was meant to convince you that the quietly melting car you were thinking of buying still had plenty of life left in it.

So, with that in mind, would you buy a car from an owner who not only didnโ€™t try to hide its motorsporting activities, but who actually proudly proclaimed them?

If it was a Nissan Primera GT you might. Nissans werenโ€™t the most inspiring cars on the roads in the 1990s, but by gum they were good at taking abuse. The standard P11 Primera of 1995-2002 was slightly less exciting than a piece of chewing gum stuck to your shoe, but the GT had enough bant about it to make it worthy of consideration by the discerning Shedman. Partly because it was developed (partly) by smiley Ringmeister Dirk Schoysman who, with more than 15,000 Ring laps to his credit, knew a thing or two about setting cars up.

The BTCC version of the Primera GT mullered the opposition in 1999, taking the manufacturerโ€™s title with 19 wins from that yearโ€™s 26 races. OK, the road GT version is a bit down on power with 150hp, but its shortish gearing (it needs nearly 3,500rpm to run at 70mph in top) allied to a feeling that you will never, ever bust the 2.0 litre twin-cam motor sounds like a marriage made in heaven for your average hard-hearted leadfoot with zero mechanical sympathy.

Even in standard trim, the multilink-suspended, 280mm vented front disc GT looks after itself well. Despite its suburbanite appearance itโ€™s a great basis for a cheap track weapon, especially when itโ€™s festooned with more than its fair share of well-considered chassis mods, like this one. Take a squint at the list in the ad.

By the looks and sounds of the ad, this is not just a single-purpose circuit fun car. Of course, these pics might have been taken before the vendor took to the tracks. Maybe itโ€™s all been stripped out now. Shed hopes it hasnโ€™t. He loves the idea of a track car with a road atlas in the front seat pocket โ€“ย handy for the tedious barren wastes of Silverstone โ€“ย and with all the back seats still in place.

This one isnโ€™t in the ChromaFlair two-tone reflective green paint that the 1998 GTSE Mystic special edition came in, which is a mixed blessing: although it looks great, that flip stuff is murder to match up if youโ€™re aiming for concours spec. Not that you would be doing that with a 1998 Primera, so perhaps thatโ€™s a moot point. Instead, our one is in Resale Silver, which given its age and value sounds like another moot point.

Because itโ€™s not one of those 400 Mystics, no leather will meet your touchpoints. As long as you donโ€™t mind 20thcentury velour however youโ€™ll find good support in the seats and a surprisingly good driving position. The turning circle is a bit large, but then so is the carrying capacity of this five-door, five-seat hatchback.

Gearbox oil needs to be checked every now and then. If the level isnโ€™t right, getting into top or reverse will gradually become more difficult. Top links and bushes wear out, but replacements wonโ€™t break the bank. ABS problems are fairly common too, and will be down to either a sensor or a broken ring. If it is the ring, youโ€™d be well advised to chuck a new driveshaft in there at the same time as youโ€™re mending it because theyโ€™re considered to be consumable items and again theyโ€™re not madly expensive. A bust sensor will activate the dash light too and thatโ€™s an MOT fail.

Rust in this area can add complication to the fix. Itโ€™s a Japanese car of a certain age, so rust is to be expected. If youโ€™re buying this particular car, which we are told is totally solid bar one rear wheel arch, check both inner sills. The tailgate is a known Primera weak spot, and itโ€™s starting to go on our Shed. At least it gives any trackdayer youโ€™ve just overtaken something to tut at after theyโ€™ve seen those small brown stains on your passage.

The MOT on this car runs out in November. The only advisory last year was for a non-excessive oil leak, which is hardly something to wet your pants over. Shed likes a non-excessive leak actually, because it means the engineโ€™s getting fresh oil on a regular basis. If you decide to use the car more for fast(ish) public road use than for trackdays, your everyday annoyances could include dodgy headlights, moisture coming through the sunroof, and lost LCDs on the factory ICE head unit.

All the money spent so far has been on the chassis, so the platform is there for the next owner to splurge some cash on the tough and respected SR20 engine. Itโ€™s harder to get big increases on these normally aspirated motors than it is on the turbos, but old school tricks to improve the breathing (cams, flowed head, exhaust manifold, throttle bodies) would be a good start. But as Cupid Stunt used to say, weโ€™re giving away the plot.

Here's the full ad

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Comments (88) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Gareth9702 09 Aug 2019

    A good attempt by Shed to sell a bland box. You almost had me convinced.

  • Cambs_Stuart 09 Aug 2019

    I like it. Possibly the blandest lookng shed ever, but if the rumours are true, good fun to drive.
    The interior is fantastic. Why don't they make them like that any more?

  • B'stard Child 09 Aug 2019

    Gareth9702 said:
    A good attempt by Shed to sell a bland box. You almost had me convinced.
    I’ve seen one sticker up as a bttc rep - looked good but........

  • hammo19 09 Aug 2019

    Brilliant car with good handling, great engine and first class motorsport heritage.

  • Aluxo 09 Aug 2019

    Article says said:
    Nissans weren’t the most inspiring cars on the roads in the 1990s
    300ZX - Skylines R32/33/34 - Silvias. The 90s were peak Japanese cars!
    I’d take that over the 20 grand Cavalier... even if the Cavalier were shed money

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