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.

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