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Used Nissan Skyline GT-R review: 1991-2005

The turbocharged four-wheel drive Nissan GT-R coupe was so successful in Australian motor racing that it forced officialdom to change the rules in favour of homegrown V8s, to avert the threat that touring car racing could implode.

MODEL WATCH

Before they could go racing, Nissan had to import 100 Skyline GT-Rs and sell them on the local market. That requirement was satisfied in 1991 with the one and only batch imported by Nissan.  All cars subsequently landed were so-called grey imports brought in under the Specialists and Enthusiasts Vehicles Scheme.

That first model brought in by Nissan was the R32, a rather dumpy, plain-looking two-door coupe. Without the war paint of the factory race cars the R32 didn't ooze aggression - until the right foot was buried in the carpet. Then it would explode into action. A stock-standard R32 would thunder to 100km/h in less than five seconds and dismiss the standing quarter-mile sprint in about 13 seconds.

It was fast thanks to its twin turbocharged 2.6-litre straight-six cylinder engine that boasted peak power of 205kW. All R32s had a five-speed manual gearbox which was packed full of quite tall gearing. That gave it good top-end performance, but could make it quite hard to get off the line smoothly and quickly.

While that made it fast in a straight line, it was a sophisticated four-wheel drive system that let it corner as if on rails. Four-wheel discs with ABS provide powerful and safe stopping power while subtle four-wheel steering adds to its cornering prowess.

The R32 is the lightest GT-R built; they gained weight with each new model. Nissan chose not to import the R33, leaving the way open for small-time importers to fill the niche.

The R33 was more aggressive visually with more add-ons on the body in the form of a rear wing and side skirts. It was also bigger and a little more plump, but the engine had more torque, which made up for the extra weight. It was also marginally slower than its predecessor, but was still able to cut a sub 5.0-second time for the 0-100km/h sprint as well as a low-13s quarter-mile time. The five-speed manual gearbox was improved with new synchros, which made shifting smoother.

With the best ride and roomiest interior, the R33 is widely regarded as the most practical GT-R for use as a daily driver, but it lacks the excitement of the R32 or R34.

The R34 followed in 1999. Although it's not immediately obvious, the more aggressive-looking R34 is smaller yet is 10-20kg heavier.  The awesome twin-turbo six was reworked with new camshafts and new turbos with power pegged at 206kW at 6800rpm and torque at 392Nm at 4400rpm.

IN THE SHOP

Brakes and tyres are the obvious things that take a pounding on the GT-R if driven hard. Check for disc wear and cracking, as these can be quite expensive to replace. The engine is generally rugged, but needs to be well-serviced. Cam belts need to be changed at 80,000km.

It's also worth doing a compression test on the engine, and listening for odd noises that might point to internal wear. Main bearings can be a problem in engines that are abused.

Early R32 models are known to suffer from leaks around the windscreen and rear window. The screen can be expensive to replace because of the radio antenna.

NISSAN SKYLINE GT-R

 * Awesome four-wheel drive
 * Get a compression test done on engine
 * Look for signs of car being thrashed
 * R32 best performing model
 * Uninspiring looks
 * Check brakes for wear

RATING

13/20 One of the most awesome performance cars ever built, but be careful of cars that have been driven hard.
 

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2009 $66,990 $77,000
1993 $19,140 $24,200
1992 $19,140 $24,200
1991 $19,140 $24,200

View all Nissan GT-R pricing and specifications

Pricing Guides

$21,670
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$19,140
Highest Price
$24,200

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 2.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $19,140 – 24,200 1991 Nissan GT-R 1991 (base) Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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