Spotted: Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)

Among the more frequently visited topics within the wider school of the used car transaction is the notion of what something is worth. Come to think of it, however much we might want to deny it, the whole used car game is based on this one central tenet - and yet the mechanism for deciding the monetary value isn’t as straightforward as people would like to imagine.

Is this Skyline worth the money?
Is this Skyline worth the money?
For newer cars there are trade guides outlining suggested prices, but even these are frequently wrong and fall into the trap of reflecting recent tendencies as opposed to what they should be doing: defining them in advance of any transactions.  

The best-known guides during the period at the end of 2008 and early 2009 made hilarious reading (OK, to me they did). Everything lumpy or exotic fell of a cliff, and then as stocks ran dry and demand rose in January 2009, they rocketed upwards again. The guides were months behind and you mostly had to ignore them.

But the fact is, a car – any car – is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it at the moment they transact. And this is why I often have to count to 100 when I’m trying to strike a deal and my opponent says, “it’s worth more than that.”

Get it bought, Monkey!
Get it bought, Monkey!
Because it isn’t. If the assertion was “I think it’s worth more than that”, then I wouldn’t take any issue, because everyone has a right to an opinion. Forget what any guide, expert or journalist says, the machinery is only worth the amount the potential buyer is willing to pay for it. It goes without saying that the vendor always can always reserve the right not to sell for that price.

I think the cleverest people always buy cars according to this rule. They work out what they would be happy paying. More often than not they are the ones people feel have overpaid for something, and five years later draw large profits having spotted a sleeper before the rest of us.

Where is this going? No idea. Well, rather sadly (and seeing as we're talking about GT-Rs today) it brings me back to an R32 Skyline I was admiring in the classifieds last night. I really must buy one or stop stalking them. Anyways, this one is quite expensive for a 20-year-old Datsun – £11,395.

Famed RB26DETT best when tweaked
Famed RB26DETT best when tweaked
Initially this had me tutting and telling myself “it’s never worth that much”.  This rank hypocrisy on my part I will need to excuse through tiredness, because if it checks out in the flesh and produces the claimed power, this car is easily worth the money.

I’ve been banging on about these for a while now, but the R32 is one of the most significant Japanese performance cars. It created a legacy that has outshone and outlasted the NSX. In fact take a look at the template for modern fast cars and despite Mr Trent’s excellent thesis on how Audi is responsible for the recipe, he was in fact wrong because Nissan was doing it 10 years earlier.

So it’s iconic, it appears to be beautifully modified, it has a power-to-weight ratio that could trouble many a modern,  and to my strange aesthetic senses, it looks perfectly Japanese.

Straighter edges less fussy than later Skylines
Straighter edges less fussy than later Skylines
So the question I have to ask myself is: would it be worth £11.5K to me? Compared to other cars I’ve owned for similar money, absolutely. The only real unknown is how these modified GT-Rs will fare over time compared to the very few unaltered cars out there. Experience tells you that tampering reduces long-term value, but the R32’s legend is based almost entirely on it being boosted at every possible opportunity. So to me it’s one of the few cars that, assuming the mods are good, can sustain them in the marketplace.

Next week: the £27,000 E39 M5, and why it’s good value. That’s a joke, by the way. I think.

2,568cc 6-cyl turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power (hp): 280
Torque(lb ft): 271
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1994
Recorded mileage: 39,091
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £11,395

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (129) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Terror Factor 26 Feb 2013

    I'd like to see a proper video of you in a R32, comparing it to something more modern (m135i maybe?)!

    (or to another classic performance car, E36 M3 maybe? Maybe just compare them both! "cheapish" fast new BMW vs fast old BMW vs Godzilla!)

    Edited by Terror Factor on Tuesday 26th February 12:17

  • GolfSupplierAU 26 Feb 2013

    Awesome machine, I wonder how much power that's pushing out though

  • Lanxx 26 Feb 2013

    Lovely, fascinated by these as a kid, and still like the look of them now.

  • Loplop 26 Feb 2013

    R32s (Clean ones at least) will only go up in value.

    They're the Japanese 3 Door Cosworth, only without the reliability issues.

  • Andy616 26 Feb 2013

    This one already sold a couple of days ago.

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