We wouldn’t kick a half-million-dollar Kenmeri out of our garages, but when it comes to Skyline GT-Rs that really get our juices flowing, it’s the ones at the Tokyo Auto Salon auctions. This year, there were two very special examples that are essentially once-in-a-lifetime chances representing the best of two eras of Japanese motoring.
The first was probably the most significant of the Skyline GT-Rs offered for sale last weekend. The 1972 model was a competiton-spec model that was raced in period. Few Hakosuka GT-R race cars survived the era, making this an extremely rare opportunity.
According to the listing, this car was built in 1972 at Prince Sports Corner, essentially a factory motorsports and tuning arm. It was owned by Shigeru Watanabe, a self-professed “God of GT-R” who once worked as a mechanic at Prince Sports Corner before opening his own shop, GT-R Service Watanabe, in Saga Prefecture. Watanabe passed away and his entire collection was auctioned last year.
While the listing cannot confirm if it participated in any of the big touring car competitions that helped cement the GT-R legend before the oil crisis struck, there are at least three mid-1970s races in which it it is known that Watanabe entered the car. The car finished 12th at the Chugoku Kyushu District Atsu Grand 200km in Kyushu in May 1975, 10th at the Mastery Silver Cup 500km in August of that year, and 7th at the West Japan 500km driving with Seiji Nambu in November 1976.
That means this car is eligible for prestigious historic races like the ones JNC‘s resident vintage racer Glenn competes in, such as the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Furthermore, this Skyline is a one-owner car. Race cars often trade hands and liveries, but this one has been under Watanabe’s ownership since new. Nissan may have built 1,197 Hakosuka GT-Rs, but there are only a handful of GT-Rs with historic race eligibility left in the world, and that makes this one instantly worth its ¥31,900,000 (USD $289,500 at current exchange rates) sale price and then some.
On the other hand, if we were after something a bit more modern, this R33 Skyline GT-R would be top of list. Built by renowned tuning house HKS, akin to Ruf or Alpina in Germany, it was a demo car created to display the firm’s engineering prowess and its ability to deliver complete road cars capable of over 300 kph. It even had its own name, the HKS T-002.
HKS built this particular R33, chassis number BCNR33-001275 delivered January 1995, to be a record breaking car. At a time when a sub-one minute lap time of Tsukuba Circuit was considered miraculous, the T-002 smashed it with a 58.715-second time, sending shockwaves through Japan’s tuning scene. Though it took six months to develop, the record was achieved in late 1995 to take advantage of the colder air. It is said that the turbos developed for the car helped the built RB26DETT, with displacement increased to 2.7 liters, generate between 600 and 720 ps and 586 lb-ft of torque.
Not content with the record HKS then modified the car again the following year, this time to compete for the 0-300kph (0-186mph) crown. For that, newer, the engine and turbo system was completely re-engineered, now putting out an estimated 920ps and 608 lb-ft of torque. At the time, a sub-20 second 0-300kph run was the ultimate goal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the HKS T-002 smashed it with a 17.64-second pass at the Yatabe Test Circuit in Ibaraki Prefecture.
After the T-002 served its purpose as a demo car, it was forgotten in a corner of HKS’s facilities. Many of its parts were pillaged for other projects and the chassis was left to rot. However, due to rekindled interest in 90s tuner flagships, HKS restored the car to be displayed at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon. With a winning bid of ¥12,210,000 (USD $110,800), it’s a small price to pay for a piece of tuning era history.
Images: BH Auction.