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Nissan Skyline GT-R R32: Buying guide and review (1989-1994)

Nissan Skyline GT-R R32: Buying guide and review (1989-1994) Classic and Performance Car
Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide
In 1989, Nissan re-wrote the performance car rulebook with the Skyline GT-R. The Japanese performance car was originally homologated for International Group A racing, to allow it to race against the likes of the Sierra Cosworth and BMW M3. Nobody, even Nissan themselves, could have quite predicted just how much of an impact it would go on to have all over the world. 
 
With a front-mounted, twin-turbo, in-line six-cylinder engine displacing 2.6 litres and mated to a mildly bonkers all-wheel-drive transmission and four-wheel steering, the Nissan was like a car from the future when it was launched in 1989. Back then, Nissan’s technologically advanced GT-R was a Far Eastern oddity denied to the UK market unless purchased as a personal ‘grey’ import. But with a racing pedigree every bit as impressive as that of the Porsche 911, and with a starring role in Playstation’s then-new Gran Turismo game, it had credibility and cult appeal in spades.
 
At the heart of its success was an electronically controlled four-wheel drive system, called ATTESA E-TS. This stands for Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All terrains and Electronic Torque Split. The system uses multiple sensors throughout the car and a powerful computer to work it all out and send the power to exactly where it’s needed. It endowed the car with almost unnatural levels of grip, delivering thrills like nothing else. 
 
The RB26 engine is superb, delivering brisk 300+bhp (officially 276bhp) performance from the factory. A few modifications can safely take power to over 400bhp, as a lot of R32s are now producing. 
 
Unlike a lot of high-performance four-wheel drive cars, the Skyline is primarily rear-wheel drive. Being engineered to go fast on a circuit, not the rally stage, means that the clever transmission only calls on the front wheels when it’s really necessary. Have no doubts, this is a true driver’s car. 
 
Which one to buy? 
 
The R32 Skyline GT-R was never officially brought into the UK, meaning that you will be looking at an import one way or another. There are advantages to buying a fresh import (such as a lack of rust), as well as a car that has lived in the UK (better value) – but it really depends on what you are looking for. 
 
The earliest cars are the lightest. In mid-1991 Nissan changed the headlight design, and added more side impact protection – increasing the weight. There are other various spec changes to look out for. V.spec special editions, built to celebrate the car’s motorsport success carry a hefty premium, but are worth seeking out if you want the very best. Although a lot of cars were upgraded with official NISMO parts, the extremely rare NISMO cars are also much more valuable, and rarely leave Japan. 
 
Many have been crashed or heavily modified (or both), which is a great shame as a sympathetically tweaked R32 is a hugely desirable car. As standard the car develops a claimed 276bhp (it makes closer to 300bhp in truth, but Japanese manufacturers had agreed not to engage in a horsepower war), but receptiveness to tuning is one of the beauties of turbocharged engines, and, as the Skyline’s RB26DETT motor is famous for delivering 1000bhp back in the days when 500bhp was supercar-type firepower, it’s no wonder most examples have been boosted to some extent. Stick to well-maintained cars that have been tickled to 350bhp or so and full-throttle use won’t feel like pulling the pin from an expensive six-cylinder grenade.
 
Performance and specs 
 
Engine 2568cc, straight-six 
Power 276bhp @ 6800rpm
Torque 260lb ft @ 4400rpm
Top speed 155mph
0-62mph 5.6sec
Fuel consumption 18.9mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2615mm
Length 4545mm
Width 1755mm
Height 1341mm
Kerb weight 1430kg
 
Common problems
 
• When looking at any GT-R, the engine should be your main priority, as this is generally where the value is. The standard oil pump was never quite up to the job leading to oil starvation at high revs. Listen for any noises coming from the engine. 
 
• Old coil packs can cause all manner of issues, mainly misfires. Recently replaced or upgraded items are a positive. 
 
• If you’re looking at a tuned car with an upgraded engine, then be sure there is proof to back it up. Many cars coming from Japan are highly tuned, but running on the standard engine internals. If this is the case then the life of the engine will be significantly shortened. 
 
• The standard turbo is fine when running sensible boost pressures, but can become fragile at higher pressures. Aftermarket turbos are no bad thing in this case. Check for blue exhaust smoke, which will likely be worn seals. 
 
• There is also a lot to go wrong with the ATTESA four-wheel drive system, which can be expensive. Check the computer for fault codes, as well as a warning on the dash. There’s a lot of specialist knowledge though, and a lot of minor faults can be fixed easily if diagnosed correctly. 
 
• Due to the complexity of the HICAS rear-wheel steering system, problems are not uncommon at this age. It’s not unusual for the system to have been removed, especially on modified cars, so it’s best to find out if you want originality. 
 
• The five-speed gearbox is generally fine, although the synchromesh on fourth gear can wear. Listen out for any whines and noises from the diffs, although they are a little noisy and uncivilised at low speed anyway. 
 
• Rust is a big issue, especially if the car has lived in the UK for more than a few years, although don’t automatically expect a fresh import to be rust-free. 
 
• Most common areas are the sills, where the car has been incorrectly jacked up, as well as the rear wheel arches, thanks to dirt and mud collecting behind the rear arch spats. Check the whole underside if you can, especially the chassis rails and bulkhead, as well as suspension mounting points. 
 
• Suspension components wear out quickly if the car is driven hard, so prepare to change lots of bushes on higher mileage cars. 
 
• No-frills interior is hard-wearing, although the seats can suffer from bolster wear at higher mileages. 
 
Model history 
 
August 1989: Standard R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R goes on sale 
February 1990: Uprated Nismo edition introduced, with aerodynamic changes required for Group A homologation. 500 produced in total. 
July 1991: Stripped-out GT-R N1 model for racing introduced. Just 228 built. 
February 1993: Bigger Brembo brakes, 17-inch BBS alloys and recalibrated four-wheel drive system mark out the new V.spec model 
February 1994: V.spec II model introduced, with wider 245 tyres 
January 1995: R33 Skyline GT-R goes on sale
 
Summary and prices 
 
There were over 40,000 R32s produced, meaning that prices have remained reasonable for some time now, especially when compared with similar European performance cars of the same era. Prices have slowly been creeping up though, and thanks to the fact early cars can now be legally imported into the USA has had a big impact on prices of cars in Japan. 
 
In the UK, prices can vary from £3500 for a project probably in need of welding and engine work, to £15,000 for one of the best. The absolute best low-mileage and completely original cars sought by collectors will change hands for considerably more.
Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 buying guide
Last updated: 2nd Aug 2016
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Nissan Skyline
5000 1350000 GBP
  • Nissan Skyline 1996

    £6,200 £6,200

    r33 gtst spec 1.5 1996. Excellent condition inside and out. Stage1 tuned drives without fault, no rust anywhere on car. Hks induction.ss decat exhaust, uped coil packs, fuel pump, discs and pads, boost controller, gauge's, bc adjustable coil overs, hicas delete, service history with recent clutch and cambelt. The engine bay is like a show car. Very quick car . Mot 10,months

    • Mileage: 55000 mi
    • Engine size: 2500
    For sale
    £6,200 £6,200
    FridayAd
  • NISSAN SKYLINE GTST STUNNING EXAMPLE ELDERLY OWNER UNMOLESTED AND VERY STOCK 1996

    £8,995 £8,995

    WE ARE THE LEADING SUPPLIERS OF QUALITY HAND PICKED PRIVATELY BOUGHT STUNNING EXAMPLES OF JAP PERFORMANCE CARS. THIS IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF SUCH, IT HAS BEEN LOVED AND CHERISHED TO THE POINT THAT ITS GOT ALLOY PROTECTORS ETC ETC. THE SALE WAS ONLY DUE TO THE PREVIOUS OWNER NOT BEING ABLE TO DRIVE ANYMORE DUE TO AGE :( AND EVEN THEN HE HELD ON TO IT FOR LONG AS HE COULD !!!;;PLEASE DONT FORGET TO LOOK ONOUE WEBSITE FOR OVER 40 DETAILED PICS TO SHOW THE QUALITY OF THIS CAR;;HERE WE HAVE A STUNNING STOCK EXAMPLE OF THE HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER AND VERY RAPIDLY APPRECIATING EXAMPLE OF THE LEGENDARY GTST ( RB25 DETT ENGINE) MANUAL.;;IT HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY BEEN OWNED BY AN ELDERLY GENTLEMAN AND WAS A GARAGE QUEEN MOST OF ITS LIFE.;;AS YOU CAN TELL FROM THE (REMOVABLE) ALLOY PROTECTORS THIS WAS A HIGHLY CHERISHED EXAMPLE ITS BEEN POLISHED MANY TIMES MORE THAN DRIVEN OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS;;MECHANICALLY TOTALLY STOCK DOWN TO EVEN THE FACTORY AIRBOX.;;THE CAR IS SO STOCK YOU CANT EVEN HEAR IT TICKING OVER :);;THE SUSPENSION TOPS ARE LIKE NEW. UNDERBODY AGAIN TOTALLY RUST FREE AND PERFECT;CAMBLET HAS BEEN CHANGED AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN RUN ON THE BEST OILS POSSIBLE;;;;

    • Mileage: 76000 mi
    For sale
    £8,995 £8,995
  • Nissan Skyline

    £5,000 £5,000

    1984 R30 Nissan Skyline Saloon 1800TiL Auto Excellent clean original condition inside and out, no rot, never welded, still factory paint on chassis, good service history receipts etc, dry stored.Taxed Tested mot July 2018, no advisories, DVLA registered July 2017, BIMTA Certification, all taxes/duty paid. Unusual and rare in the UK in this condition.Weekend use only, creates lots of interest at meetings. Only selling as space needed.

    • Year: 1984
    • Mileage: 48000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.8
    For sale
    £5,000 £5,000
    Tim Dent
    Tim Dent
  • NISSAN SKYLINE - 1996

    £8,995 £8,995

    It has a few modifications but only sensible ones. ;Its looks totally standard apart from the wheels to look at. ;This car is the ultimate sleeper. The rear arches are rust free and so are the top mounts;;Particulars of the car are and not limited to;;3" front mount with steel boost pipes ;Link G3 ECU ;3" turbo back exhaust. It has a rear muffler and a de-cat muffler. Its loud but not crazy. ;Uprated fuel pump ;BC racing coil overs ;Various polybushes ;R32 GTR clutch and flywheel ;Imported on 28/11/2008;First reg 01/09/1995;2 owners since import;Last change keeper 22/08/2013;Skyline manuals in Japanese;Auto watch cat1 alarm with certificates;Imported with 64606km;With export certificate;Also has Japan service logs;Up graded BC coil overs ( br type)fitted with invoice;Braded hoses fitted;Since 2013 has been maintained by one off the best in skyline industry ;Has been decated;ReMapped;New tyres on 12/12/2016;New brake discs;New Spark plugs;22/10/2016 had new bushes (super pro bushes);R33 down pipe elbow;Set up on a rolling road;18 inovit deep dish alloys;Rust free arches;Front mount intercooler;Hks straight through;Chrome hard pipes;Apexi air in take;High powered coil packs;Interior all original;Pioneer head unit;;WE HAVE READY TO SEND VIA EMAIL LOTS OF PICS FOR THIS CAR PLEASE REQUEST IF YOU WISH.;WE CAN DELIVER THIS CAR NATIONWID

    • Mileage: 69000 mi
    For sale
    £8,995 £8,995
  • Nissan Skyline

    £5,995 £5,995

    Air Conditioning, Bluetooth, Climate Control, Colour SatNav, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Immobiliser, Remote Central Locking, Folding Rear Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Parking Camera, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Traction Control, Twin Air Bags, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, UK Pioneer Bluetooth Head Unit Fitted, Stereo, 18'' Alloys Originally Imported By UsLike New After Market 18'' Alloy Wheels with Recent New TyresPioneer Apple Car Play Head Unit FittedReversing CameraCar has been Delimited during Speedo Conversion

    • Mileage: 68000 mi
    • Engine size: 3500
    For sale
    £5,995 £5,995
  • Nissan Skyline

    £6,995 £6,995

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Half Leather, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Immobiliser, Remote Central Locking, Folding Rear Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Twin Air Bags, Auto Lighting, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Stereo, 16'' Alloys Good Condition In and OutOne Owner Since Import (Imported By Us Originally)Premium Bose Sound SystemHalf Leather Interior

    • Mileage: 38000 mi
    • Engine size: 3500
    For sale
    £6,995 £6,995
  • NISSAN SKYLINE GTST SINGLE TURBO 350 BHP AUTO VEILSIDE KIT 400R BUMPER 1994

    £6,995 £6,995

    Here we have a very nice example in lovely condition throughout. Unlike other examples up for similar prices if not more you will find this car is mint. We are the Uk's Biggest and best Suppliers of Mint JDM performance cars and like all of the rest of our stock this is one of the finest examples available and should not be missed!!!;The car comes with a folder full of receipts and a Dyno plot showing 350bhp. ;Stage one Mods done to achieve this include but not limited to.;Blitz SBC-iD Boost Controller;Super Airflow Controller ;HKS Turbo timer;HKS Blow off valve;Simtoyo High Power Air filter;Greedy Top Mount;4 pot front brake calipers;2 pot rear calipers;17'' OZ racing wheels with Toyo Tyres like new;Cambelt changed at 87088;Car showing 90220 now which is a mixture of kms and miles rough mileage is 78000 miles;TOAD Cat 1 alarm system with certificate!;Original exhaust Sysytem;SONY CDX-M630 CD Player;Alpine Front and rear speakers;;;PLEASE NOT WHEN COMPARING THE MARKET OUR CARS ARE ABSOLUTELY MINT, HAND PICKED EXAMPLES.;NONE OF THE USUAL 'IT'S OK FOR THE YEAR' 'ITS WHAT YOU EXPECT ETC ETC'';YOU WILL FIND OUR STOCK IS FLAWLESS;;Also please dont forget to look on our website for 50+ detailed pics of this car and other stunning examples of Jap performance cars.;;IF YOU LIVE TOO FAR AWAY OR CANT GET TO US FOR ANY OTHER REASON WHY NOT TRY OUR NATIONWIDE DELIVERY SERVICE??;;WE CAN DELIVER THIS CAR TO YOUR DOORSTEP!!;;CALL ANYTIME 7 days ON 07565 211101 ;

    • Mileage: 78000 mi
    For sale
    £6,995 £6,995
  • Nissan Skyline

    £31,990 £31,990

    4x4, Service history +++FREE NATIONAL DELIVERY+++PART EXCHANGE WELCOME+FINANCE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST - SUBJECT TO STATUS+COMPANY DIRECTORS PACKAGES AVAILABLE+ALL VEHICLES PROFESSIONALLY VALETED AND READY- 1994 Nissan Skyline BN32 GT-R RB26DETT 2.6 Twin Turbo 4WD Manual imported September 2015 and built in April 1994 finished in Gun Grey with Two Tone Grey Cloth interior, Odometer reading 75,200 Kilometers, Momo 78 350mm Suede Steering Wheel, Tomei Shift Knob, R34 GTR Pedals, Nismo Floor Mats, HKS Hardpipe Kit, HKS Intercooler, HKS Twin Mushroom Filter, HKS Exhaust, Cusco Rear Strut Brace, Front Strut Brace, BC Racing Coilovers, Morimoto HID Headlamps, Service History on 30/09/15 at 67,752 Kms; 20/04/16 on 71,642 Kms; 12/11/16 on 74,112 Kms; 05/08/17 at 75,249 Kms.

    • Mileage: 46800 mi
    • Engine size: 2560
    For sale
    £31,990 £31,990