The Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R was in production from 1989 until 1994. Styled by Naganori Ito, it is a front-engine, rear wheel drive coupe seating two adults and two children.
The R32 era reintroduced the world to the GT-R name, its last use on a Skyline having been in 1973. It was aimed at Group A racing, and the plan had originally been to fit a 2.4 litre engine, and compete in the 4-litre class (turbocharged vehicles having their displacement multiplied by 1.7 to ensure a fair playing field). All wheel drive was planned, but the extra weight put the Skyline at a disadvantage in the 4-litre class. However, it was felt that the car could be competitive in the 4.5-litre class with a 2.6 twin turbocharged engine, so Nissan did that. The race car had in excess of 500bhp, but when Nissan brought its GT-R to the road, it was detuned to meet a gentlemen’s agreement across the Japanese motor industry that 276ps was ample for any car. A NISMO variant was offered to homologate parts required for racing, including ducting and spoilers – but deleted ABS, as this wasn’t permitted under Group A rules so couldn’t feature on homologation cars. V-Spec and V-Spec II packages were made available in 1993 and 1994 – V for Victory, celebrating success in Group N and A racing. The model was discontinued in 1994, and replaced by a GT-R variant of the subsequent R33 Skyline.
The Skyline feels firm and mechanical, it’s almost a shock when you think about the car’s technological reputation. But it feels old school, complete with an engine making all manner of unusual noises with each press of the throttle. Put your foot down and it pulls incredible hard, but there’s more fun to be had in the corners than in straight lines. It feels alert, with well weighted steering and an excellent response, loads of grip – yet when the back does eventually break away, there’s an odd sensation as the front continues to pull what is effectively a sliding car. Few cars match that. This is yaw – and once you’re used to it, the car behaves like something with rear wheel drive. It takes time to become at one with the GT-R, but once you have, it’s well worth it.
Corrosion can be a killer on R32s, so check the arches, sills, bulkhead, rear winds and rear screen surround carefully for corrosion – as well as behind the bodykit if you can access it. Be wary of underseal as it could hide all manner of corrosion in the floor – and a poor underseal job could even be trapping water in. Sills and chassis rails can be damaged by insensitive jacking, so be careful with any car you view to see that it’s in the right shape. The front end panels are aluminium – easily dented, so check for damage – and check the shut lines for any evidence of accidents while you’re at it. Engines are hardy, but it’s wiser to stick to a standard car than anything uprated if you’re after longevity.
Skyline Nismos are the most valuable of all R32 GT-Rs, followed by the V spec variants – there’s no discernible value different between a V spec and a V Spec II. The basic Skyline is the best value for money package, but arguably the least collectible unless you have found an especially early example. All R32s in the UK are grey imports – the model didn’t officially come to the UK, so if you’re looking for one don’t expect to find a genuine UK car.
Japanese technology has given us several advanced performance cars. If you’re looking for an alternative to the R32 GT-R try a later R33. Alternatively, the Subaru Impreza Turbo or any of the iterations of Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution will offer the same blistering performance and all wheel drive fun. A Porsche 944 Turbo might be as quick, but won’t feel it, while supercars such as the Ferrari 348 will be far more fragile.