The first in our series of used car reviews, finding near-standard examples of core MAXERS motors and seeing if they're worth the money. First up, Godzilla!
Ask any Maxer to name an iconic car they’d want for Christmas and chances are the Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R would be nestled in their snow-topped dream garage. But, with a hot market roasting resale values to around twenty-large for a good one, is Godzilla getting a little over-priced for a jumped up old Jap lizard?! Millsy and Dan hit the road in this blue beaut to find out.
Probably the greatest engine ever made
Anyone that isn’t instantly smitten when hearing an RB26DETT for the first time is likely some kind of soulless robot and should be killed immediately. The 2.6-litre, twin-turbo, 24-valve powerhouse is one of the smoothest, sweetest sounding (if you like the sound of angry boost!) engines ever forged, and owning one is pure ecstasy. Popping the hood on car cleaning day is so arousing you’ll never look at jazz mags the same again.
The standard turbos have ceramic blades; great for lightness, not so good for longevity. If a car of this age is still running its standard turbos get them gone. Modern replacements are better in every way. With around 300bhp in stock form, the R32 GT-R will wind up pretty nice, but with an old car in standard trim, the engine will be a big part of your general housekeeping anyway. New turbos, a plug-in ECU, free-flowing air filters, and a big bore exhaust are all things you’ll want and should do to your new (old) GT-R. These mods alone will unleash a healthy chunk of extra grunt, plus an on-boost soundtrack that is absolutely guaranteed to impress the ladies.
All of my R32s were looked after by RK Tuning and Garage-D; two great tuning firms with a wealth of Skyline experience. If you’re serious about your GT-R, give these guys a shout and tell ‘em we sent you.
Rear steer? No fear!
The GT-R came with a jazzy-at-the-time rear-wheel steering system, called HICAS. Most cars nowadays will have a lock-out bar to do away with this old skool steering trickery, but if you are buying a pretty stock car have a look for the bar between the rear wheels. If it’s not there simply put it on your to-do list, along with suspension, bushes and rubber boots; all of which will likely need attention.
Let’s face it, the ‘32’s interior ain’t exactly plush, apart from the awesome standard bucket seats. Many old GT-Rs have lost their OE seats and you can spot this a mile off. Or the originals are saggier than a turkey’s chin. Old seats can be fully refurbed by trimming legends d:class automotive, or you can find some era-correct replacements from the likes of Bride. Either option won’t be cheap, but everyone’s bum deserves the best, right?
Another option is to go OE from newer GT-Rs for seats in better nick. Some say R34 seats are the least comfy, so nestle your rump for a while before making any big purchases. The rest of the 32’s interior is a feast of brittle old plastic, so be prepared for broken switches (that can be hard to find good condition replacements for), blown binnacle bulbs and a heating system that’s about as hot as a weak trump. If the heater matrix packs up, it’s a dashboard out job and will cost, so blast it at full heat and have a good sniff for odd, musty smells.
The dashboard can wrinkle from years of sun abuse. You can live with this by simply covering it in sexy Apexi gauges. At the end of the day, the ’32 interior is a bit creaky and shonky in places, but when that mighty straight-6 engine comes on song your eyes will be locked on the rapidly approaching horizon anyway.
Just look at it! (it might be rusty)
Squat, low and wide coupes don’t come much meaner – even in standard trim – than the ’32 GT-R. From the expansive bonnet, flared arches and iconic double-circle rear lights, the GT-R is everything a 90s-era Jap supercar should be, even if the standard horsepower ain’t exactly ‘super’ anymore.
The bonnet and front wings are lovely rust-proof aluminium and lighter than Millsy’s illusive wallet, but the rest of the body is steel. With early cars some 30 years old, the rot could well have set in. Here’s where to look:
>>>Anywhere the lower steel bodywork meets body kit, like the sills under the side skirts and the rear spats that catch water and crud.
>>>Rear wheel arches, and windscreen and rear glass surrounds.
>>>These old JDM cars weren’t undersealed, so be prepared to get on your back like an eager teenager and have a good root around.
Stop. Look. Modify
The standard 4-pot front brakes offer enough nip for a back lane blast, but any kind of hot lap track action will see them fading faster than your wife’s good looks. The V-Spec GT-Rs came with a Brembo brake upgrade which many Maxers favour, or the aftermarket is your happy hunting ground for calipers and discs so huge you’ll need to boost the standard wheel size too. Which is a great excuse to get new rims!
Because you’re worth it
So, look, R32 GT-Rs are awesome, but like any old lady they need regular firm fettling to keep them in tip-top nick, without unsightly leaks. Your wallet will hate you, but your Maxing mates will love you like a brother.
Are they worth £20,000? Hmmm, this amount of cash will buy you a wide and wonderful variety of Jap turbo monsters. Think Supra, Evo and Scooby. All look and go great from stock, and all can be tuned to astronomical levels of lunacy.
But, none other than the mighty GT-R gets to wear the GT-R badge of pride, and for many of us Maxers, including myself (did I mention that I had a GT-R?!), the urge to GT-R-your-life is simply too strong to resist. So why would you?