Those who keep a close eye on the classifieds will be aware. For others it might come as a shock. But the roadgoing rally cars of the 1990s are becoming very hot property as used buys, even if it only seemed like yesterday they were being razzed around your local one-way system.
Alright, so we're talking about the best of the best. We're talking about £70k for an Integrale and £100k for a 22B. The same again for an Escort Cosworth. It's bonkers. Even the Celica GT-Four, perennially in the doldrums (despite being the basis for a great cheat, and therefore cool), can now command up to £20k.
So where does that leave the Nissan Pulsar GTI-R? The car Nissan threw into the WRC ring to take on the likes of Subaru, Mitsubishi, Lancia, Ford et al with the advent of Group A has never been fondly remembered. Partly that's due to a lack of success (a third being its best result, with far more wins coming once adapted to Group N), but also a lack of image, even by rally car standards. Lancia had the heritage and romance, Ford had the UK fanbase, Subaru had that unique engine and, by 1995, a homegrown rally champ.
Which isn't to say the GTI-R didn't have a lot going for it as a production car. Don't forget that it's powered by the same SR20DET that did such sterling work (and still does) in various Silvias, and the ATTESA (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain, dontcha know) four-wheel drive that was also found in Skylines. 'Mini GT-R' has been applied to the Pulsar on more than one occasion for its combination of enormous performance and clever chassis tech.
While assisted by the all-wheel drive traction, 5.4 seconds to 62mph is more than respectable, even today; 14.2 to 100 proves there's muscle to back up that initial dash, too. Combine that performance with the sort of compact, wieldy dimensions that would really suit the UK's tight roads and it's a surprise the Pulsar didn't find more favour. The image, as mentioned, combined with a chunky £20k price tag meant it always faced an uphill struggle, sadly.
Too late now, of course, the GTI-R is 25 years old and very much consigned to the status of curio. However, for those interested, there can't be many left on the planet better than this one. Although a JDM import rather than one of the UK Sunnys, it's absolutely immaculate: 45,000 miles, gleaming paintwork, not a single modification and stacks of history. 'POA' means there's no telling if the price is up quite where those others are, unfortunately; a less presentable car back in 2015 was £10k so could this be double that? More perhaps? Who knows.
While something this flawless couldn't be subjected to regular use, it would take greater willpower than possessed by us not to investigate just how good it might be over a British B-road. Because all the ingredients are there. The reality more likely is that the car takes pride of place in a collection alongside Type R Hondas, Spec C Subarus and RS Mitsubishis, where it will fit in just nicely. Or perhaps it will head back to Japan. Whatever the case, it's cause enough for some kind of muted, dorky celebration to see a Pulsar survive this far how the factory first intended. As always, we'd love to hear from whoever next decides to take the plunge...
SPECIFICATION - NISSAN PULSAR GTI-R
Engine: 1,998cc, 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 230@6,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 197@4,800rpm
First registered: 1990
Recorded mileage: 45,000
Price new: £20,552
Yours for: £POA