6 April 2016

Is the Nissan Skyline the next Porsche 911?

Today, Porsche 911 values are plateauing. The hot market segments seem to be trucks, SUVs and modern imports (read: supercars and Japanese). But what if Hagerty knew exactly what car was primed to appreciate? We do and the knowledge isn’t based on our buddy’s anecdotes, it’s based on quotes we’ve issued.

Beginning in 2014, Hagerty saw quotes on 1989 Nissan Skylines spike. Last year, quotes on 1990 Skylines rose even more dramatically. And this year is off to the same start for Skyline’s 1991 model year. But why has it taken 25 years for people, mostly Millenials, to notice these cars? The short answer is that it hasn’t.

In case you’re unfamiliar, like most folks, the Nissan Skyline is like an extremely sophisticated Ford Mustang. It’s a 2+2 coupe, with a front-mounted engine and a few available performance levels (the GT-R being the top). But similarities end there. The Skyline’s top engine is a six-cylinder rather than a V-8, it has all-wheel drive rather than rear-wheel drive and relies on turbo-charging to make lots of horsepower. Also, obviously, the Skyline is Japanese.

Ask your kids about them though, because Skylines have been popular with Gran Turismo and Forza gamers and The Fast and the Furious fans. They’re also a blast to drive, at least that’s what I’ve heard. Like your kids, I’ve only driven one virtually. But, man, I’d love to flog one.

When released, they were among the most powerful Japanese cars, producing 276 hp. That may not seem like much, but a gentleman’s agreement in Japan limited horsepower to exactly 276 hp. However, as with America’s muscle car wars, it’s rumored that they were making more than the agreed-upon maximum. They’re also equipped with manual transmissions and since most people don’t even know what they are, Skylines have an “in-the-know” allure. Which is to say that unless you’re a real car fanatic, you don’t even know what this thing is.

But it has taken 25 years for Skylines (the R32 generation, which debuted in 1989) to become legal for U.S. importation. Since Nissan never offered the Skyline to the U.S. market, potential American customers couldn’t buy one in Japan and ship it here without federal approval under the “Show and Display” Law, which would allow you to import one but not necessarily register it.

Since the ’89 became available for import, insurance quotes on Skylines increased by 377-percent between 2014 and 2015. Now, obviously you can’t draw a direct line between insurance quotes and appreciation. However, it does point to some serious interest in the car and considering their current valuation averages about $20,000, it is extremely accessible to many people.

According to Hagerty’s Vice President of Valuation Services, Brian Rabold, “long-term prospects for these cars are good as they have a very enthusiastic following and that enthusiasm will likely spread to a wider audience as they become more visible.”

Nobody can promise you’ll make an enormous profit in several months, but Skylines seem like a very, very safe bet. And since Porsches’ appreciation seems to be flattening (except for very limited production, high-quality examples), it’s time to look elsewhere if you’re not buying traditional investments. At least, if all else fails you’ll own a terrific drivers’ car that appeals to a new car-collecting generation.

13 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Sean Morris Long Beach, CA April 6, 2016 at 15:19
    So Yoav, when do you want to come and drive one? Sean Morris importavehicle.com
  • 2
    Keith Ennis Jupiter, FL April 6, 2016 at 20:38
    I was one of the bidders at RM Sotheby's in Scottsdale that chased an R32 GTR until it ultimately sold at $85,000. I was not the winner. Why did a 52 year old man try to buy a Japanese Domestic Market Nissan? I listened to my 19 year old son and realized that he was right, this is a future collectible and a damn good car. I have subsequently purchased a 1989 Skyline GTR and am amazed at how advanced it is for the time. Forget the Mustang comparison, it is closer to a BMW. Being in the business of vintage Porsche's, it is interesting to see and be a part of an emerging segment of the collector car market. It's real and growing. Don't believe me? The Pinehurst Concours D'Elegance has added a category for Future Japnese Collectible Cars. There is also the Touge, an annual meet and drive specifically for Japanese cars. Thank you Hagerty for recognizing this exciting segment. And thank you to my teenage son for expanding my horizons. Long live Godzilla!
  • 3
    Guy Monroe Santa Fe April 6, 2016 at 22:02
    My son (35) just bought one...over 700 hp and with a few more mods he says over 1000. I'd never heard of them. You seem to be onto something.
  • 4
    Jon Lundberg, ASA Tucson, AZ April 6, 2016 at 23:03
    Just appraised a 1990 extensively modified with JDM parts. A totally street-able ROCKET! I think their value curve is definitely cycling upward. Good thoughts!
  • 5
    Greg Calgary, AB April 7, 2016 at 14:23
    Of course there is a rush since they are now legal to import. There will be a rush of importations, prices will be high until demand is satisfied, then there will be enough examples in the U.S. to satisfy the limited demand, and prices will fall back. This is exactly what happened in Canada. I sold my R32 GTR in 2008 for $17,000. You can pick them up for much cheaper here now. Although they are almost always trashed.
  • 6
    Mike Reed Hastings, Michigan April 7, 2016 at 05:45
    "The Nissan Skyline The Next Porsche 911?" You're kidding, right? This has to be a joke. It's April 7th, not April 1st...
  • 7
    Yoav Gilad Traverse City, MI April 7, 2016 at 20:19
    @Sean Morris: I'll email you shortly... @James Thomas: We're looking into those very questions right now... stay tuned!
  • 8
    Jack Smythe Austin April 7, 2016 at 10:36
    Just say no.
  • 9
    James Thomas Cave Creek April 7, 2016 at 11:50
    I'm totally ignorant. How does one find an unmodified example of the Skyline? How do find/import one from Japan? Thanks
  • 10
    Sean Morris Long Beach, CA April 9, 2016 at 19:05
    @James Thomas . I've been working on the Nissan Skyline GT-R's for 17 years. Everything from certification to racing them. My company, based in California finds, buys, and imports them to the US.
  • 11
    John Yaya Ca April 10, 2016 at 13:34
    Not all R32 GTRs are created alike. I wouldn't expect to see any other than the 500 Homologation cars or VSPEC editions to hold their value. Anyone who purchases one of the 40,000 standard GTRs might fall victim to the eventual balancing between supply and demand. In addition, cars that primarily trade in Yen will be more affected by arbitrage than by actual price appreciation due to increased global demand.
  • 12
    Gerald Iagulli Brooklyn, MI April 10, 2016 at 10:11
    Hunt down Doug DeMuro's articles on Jalopnik.com. He did an entire series on importing a GT-R.
  • 13
    Lars Jorgensen Pasadena, CA April 26, 2016 at 06:44
    Thanks Yoav great article. The in-line six is under appreciated on all fronts. Just hard to package.

Join the Discussion