A 1973 Nissan Skyline GT-R sold for $176,000 at auction at the recent Monterey Historic Car Week. As the first Kenmeri GT-R sold at auction in the US, it’s a significant milestone. We were fortunate enough to be able to witness the historic moment first hand. Here’s what it’s like to sit in on a high end auction at one of the world’s most expensive automotive events.
All week the GT-R, along with other auction cars, were on display at the Portola Hotel in Monterey, where the RM Sotheby’s auctions take place. Potential bidders were free to scrutinize the car as much as they wanted but it couldn’t be driven. The lot number for the GT-R was 303, meaning it would be the third car (the ones digit) to cross the block on the third night (the hundreds digit) of the week.
In this case, that would make it Saturday. The auction would start at 6:00pm, so we got there a bit early to see the cars staging outside the hotel. The GT-R was behind Lot 302, a Ferrari 308 GTS, and ahead of lot 304, a 1962 Ghia L6.4 Coupe, one of 26 built.
Of course, the Kenmeri GT-R itself was also a limited production vehicle, with 197 street versions built before Nissan had to pull its racing program due to the 1973 oil crisis. Compared to the 2,029 Hakosuka GT-Rs built, it’s exceedingly rare.
We kicked the tires (not literally) of this particular car, KPGC110-000127. The car appeared to be very well documented and has clocked fewer than 23,000 original kilometers. Both the records and the very clean interior appeared to corroborate the odometer’s claim.
According to the documentation, the car was serviced at Sport Corner, the Nissan division that would become NISMO, and bears a service place on the firewall (though not riveted in). The “O/H” next to the engine and transmission indicate that those have been overhauled, and the documentation pins that date at September 1985.
Its second major engine service came in 1998. This time, according to the accompanying records, it was performedat Techical Shop Limited, a GT-R garage overseen by former Nissan Works driver Kenji Tohira.
Tohira was active from the days of the Hakosuka GT-R touring cars, and continued to drive for Nissan in cars such as the Fairlady 240ZR and Group A R32 GT-R. His signature appears on the inside of the hood.
Also under the hood was a period correct sports header. Less appropriate, however, was a newer style aftermarket exhaust that would look at home on a shakotan sled, but doesn’t really seem to jive with a bone stock restoration.
This particular car also boasted a rare factory aircon installation.
Some of the other bits were a bit less than original. In particular, some wiring kludges, non-OEM clamps, a missing fastener on the rocker panel, and a chip on the door.
Perhaps most egregious were the windshield wipers, which looked like cheapo blade replacements that weren’t even the right size for the car. Overall, though, while not a peak specimen, it was an honest presentation with a few issues that would be fairly easy to sort after the correct part is hunted down.
Finally, a loudspeaker announcement asked everyone to take their seats. The doors to the block opened up, and as it happens lot 301 was for a 1968 Toyota Land Cruiser.
While we didn’t spend much time poring over the FJ40, it appeared to be a well done restoration using plenty of NOS parts and fasteners. It was a coveted black plate California car too, but when the gavel dropped it was sold for only $65,000, or $71,500 including the 10 percent on commission and fees.
This was surely a disappointment to the owner, as well restored Land Cruisers regularly go for at least $80,000-$100,000. This was an early 1968 model too, but as we learned last year, the first lot is quite possibly the worst of the night, as most bidders haven’t even yet ordered their cocktails. It also didn’t help that there were at least eight or nine other first-gen Land Cruisers for auction in Monterey that weekend.
The Ferrari was next, and then it was time for the Kenmeri. Click the video above to see what it’s like to be in a room full of people who collect real cars as if they’re Hot Wheels as they bid a Skyline up to $160,000.
That’s $176,000 out the door. While that seems low compared to the $242,000 fetched by the Hakosuka GT-R last year (which was in worse condition) and the $253,000 of the Fairlady Z432 in March, there are a few factors to be considered.
First, the Hakosuka and Z are the more iconic cars. The Hako, while in worse condition, was the inaugural GT-R auctioned in the US. Second, the Kenmeri suffers a bit in the performance department thanks to its weight, and while most owners will never drive it in a way where that matters, bragging rights do affect prices. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, it was never officially raced.
Overall, it was a fair price for a rare car of its condition. When it becomes even more well-known exactly how difficult these are to find relative to the Hakosuka GT-R, the value will only increase.