According to several Japanese car importing businesses, prices of the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R have doubled in Japan. This is not surprising, as the R32 is one of the most sought-after cars from the tuner era and it is now federally legal to import to the US, after officially turning 25 last year. It’s also because Japan’s stocks are pretty well depleted at this point.
The history of Godzilla’s export exploits began almost as soon as the cars were new. Australia was the first to receive them, with 100 official units sold through Nissan Australia in 1990.
The first significant numbers of JDM R32s to leave Japan would have been in 1993, when they became legal for import into Australia.The UK was the other early adopter of the R32, and began gray-market imports in the mid 1990s. Still, they were fairly expensive and thus out of reach for most.
By 1996, however, the R32 had reached that six-year mark where used cars in Japan take a nosedive in value. The R33 had been launched and the timing happened to coincide with favorable currency rates that made it even more appealing for Aussies to import one, and thus created the first wave of R32 exports.
For many years, neighbor New Zealand had been lenient on imports, but in 1998 the country removed all import tariffs, opening the floodgates for Japanese imports. It was in this era of the late 90s that interest in JDM cars was reaching an all-time high, and the R32 led the way for those who wanted the ultimate in wow-factor.
This interest in everything JDM kicked into overdrive in the mid-2000s, creating the second wave of export. Countries in the Middle East, Russia, Southeast Asia, and even our neighbors in Canada — all of which have fairly lax import laws — caught the JDM bug and with newfound wealth began to pluck their dream cars from the motherland.
Now, thanks to our famously strict 25-years-or-older rules, the US is last to the finish line. Over two decades of international buyers scouring Japan for R32s have passed since the car went on sale.
Many of them have already left Japan, and what remains can be put into two categories. The first are cars that are either junkyard bound, and therefore not even in the pool of exportable examples. Those are now fetching anywhere from half to ¥1 million (about USD$8,100).
Then there are the truly prime examples that have been held by devoted owners. Those in the latter category were ones that were previously not financially feasible to export, and they are buoying the prices of exportable specimens. Those typically go for ¥3.5 million on the Japanese market and have fewer than 50,000 km.
Everything else goes for about 2.5 times the reserve prices. Sure, it still might be possible to find a deal, but it isn’t so much as that the demand is growing, it’s that the demand is growing while the supplies have dwindled after 25 years of being picked over.
Special thanks to Kevin San.