The R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R is already a car that few people outside of Japan get to drive. Even fewer will ever ever sit behind the wheel of one of NISMO’s $430,000 factory-restored R32 Nissan Skyline GT-Rs. The program takes each example down to bare metal and rebuilds it by hand, resulting in what is essentially a brand-new GT-R. But just in case you were wondering what it’s like to drive one, here is your answer.
Michael Krumm raced Nissans for nearly two decades, from 1998 until his retirement in 2016. Early in his career Krumm drove for Toyota’s TOM’s team in JTCC. But with Nissan, he drove in JGTC’s GT500 class, took an R390 GT1 to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and won a series championship with an R35 GT1.
Despite this impressive list, Krumm never spent much time behind the wheel of an R32 Skyline GT-R, one of Nissan’s most iconic cars. That’s because Krumm was just 19 years old when Godzilla debuted in 1989. By the time he got behind the wheel of one, they were already old. “I didn’t really understand how it was when it was new,” he says in a new Nissan video, “Because I didn’t have this car in Germany.”
Though Krumm doesn’t have a time machine, he got to experience the next best thing, driving one of NISMO’s nut-and-bolt R32 restorations. “It was like I was back at [age] 19 and I got this toy in my hands,” Krumm says of the experience. “I just felt like a kid.”
He compliments the stiffness of the chassis, thanks to a blueprinted and balanced chassis with all-new panel adhesives. Krumm is probably more used to paddle-shifting dual-clutch automatics, but with the R32 he has to work three pedals and five speeds. He praises the tightness of the gearbox, noting that you just want to shift all the time just to experience the feeling. Of course, direct engine and steering response is going to be something you get with any car that’s not by-wire, but we imagine a brand new Skyline GT-R’s is going to feel extra crisp.
Perhaps just as importantly the R32’s completely new paint job — from primer to surfacer to paint to clearcoat — looks absolutely stunning. There’s a glossiness that only a finish un-aged by time and elements can emit. The freshness of the interior plastics and the perfect engine bay with zero discoloration on even the smallest part are something to behold. Watch it glide down the Shuto with passing buildings reflected in the mirror-like paint. It’s glorious.
It’s still going to be hard for most owners to pony up the $430,000 needed to have NISMO do a full restoration, as Krumm recommends. But if there are any Nissans worthy of this work, the R32, and the S30 Z, would be at the top of the list.