Unforbidden Fruit: This 2016 Nissan GT-R Nismo Sale Shows the Newer GT-R’s Trajectory

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“The GT-R is forbidden fruit, and you always want what you can’t have,” said photographer Larry Chen when we interviewed him last year about the impending import eligibility of the R34-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R. He’s right—Skyline GT-Rs have been highly sought-after in the U.S. for decades now, in large part because we couldn’t have them when they were new.

But what about the GT-R that was always available here? Often overshadowed by the enthusiasm for prior generations, the R35 GT-R is nonetheless carving its own healthy path to collector status, as this $160,750 sale of a Canadian-market 2016 Nissan GT-R Nismo highlights.

2016 Nissan GT-R Nismo front side
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As with its predecessors, the 480-horse all-wheel drive 2009 GT-R used technology and brute force to put down supercar-like numbers and embarrass cars costing tens of thousands more. It bested the Porsche 911 Turbo around the Nürburgring with a 7:38.54 lap time, and numbers that were achievable by the average consumer said a lot, too: The GT-R regularly achieved sub-12 second quarter mile times and 0-60 sprints under 3.5 seconds. The GT-R’s brutal launches and racetrack poise brought to life the mythical status it achieved in video games, right here, in person, in North America. Finally.

While GT-Rs haven’t sold here in any great number, the enthusiasts who’ve come across them know how impressive they can be. From drag racing and roll racing to hill climbs and road course work, R35 GT-Rs continue to be a force to reckon with. Their 3.8-liter V-6 might not be as well-known as the RB26 that was found in prior-gen GT-Rs, but it’s hard to argue with the newer engine’s ability to handle well north of 1000 hp.

2016 Nissan GT-R Nismo engine
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Nissan’s halo car received regular incremental updates after its introduction. Launch control software, suspension tweaks, stronger brakes, interior improvements, and regular power bumps kept the car ever-competitive, at least on paper. As they had done with prior-gen GT-Rs, Nissan injected excitement with added trim levels and special editions over the car’s life. After the Black Edition and Track Edition, Nissan introduced the NISMO Edition, the most brawny iteration to date.

On the exterior, the Nismo’s revised bodywork includes a front splitter, sills, rear wing, and bumper cover, while 20-inch Rays wheels add to the tuner look.

2016 Nissan GT-R Nismo Wheel
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The looks were backed up with adjustable Bilstein dampers, stiffer springs, and revised roll bars, along with additional structural adhesive helped increase the GT-R’s already sky-high capabilities. On top of the cornering prowess, Nissan saw fit to add the larger turbos from its FIA GT3-prepped race cars, bumping horsepower 55 over the base car to an even 600. With these tweaks, Nissan’s engineers managed to knock a full 30 seconds off their original GT-R ‘Ring time—the Nismo managed a lightning-quick 7:08 lap.

According to our valuation team, this particular example comes in at #2 condition. With 3900 miles, it’s no wrapper car, but it is nearly new in just about every aspect. The Hagerty Price Guide values a #2 example at $162K, ever so slightly above this car’s sale, so it transacted just about on market. Commenters (and one of our valuation experts who tracks GT-Rs) noted that they’ve seen similar Nismos listed and selling higher, however. This likely comes down to variables rather than any sort of market trend—these cars got a visual update in 2017 that has proven popular, and of the colors available on 2015-2016 GT-R Nismos, Pearl White, while attractive, is by far the least rare.

2016 Nissan GT-R Nismo interior
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That said, any R35 GT-R Nismo is rare indeed. According to GT-R Registry, over 2015 and 2016, only 82 Nismos came to the U.S. and 36 went to Canada, with 582 total being produced in that period. For comparison, 1582 Premium-trim cars were delivered to the U.S. in ’15 and ’16.

Its limited numbers are a large part of what’s driven the Nismo’s collectibility and values: its $162K #2 condition value is 73 percent higher than the Premium-trim GT-R’s #2 value of $94K. The Nismo’s values are on a more aggressive trajectory, too—it’s gained 26 percent over the last three years compared to the Premium’s 17 percent.

Ultimately, this tech-laden, modern rendition of Nissan’s recipe for speed hasn’t taken quite the same path to collectibility as its ancestors, but it’s gotten there just the same. Regardless of generation, though, special-edition GT-Rs continue to be a force in the ever-growing Japanese collector market.

2016 Nissan GT-R Nismo headlight
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    Nismo’s are always desired by collectors. GT-R’s don’t drop much in value as prices for new ones crept upward each year. Finding one that has not been modified or modified stupidly is not easy. Also most of the complaint of GT-R’s being very digital and not much of a drivers car seems to be mellowing out as newer cars feel far more digital and isolated from what you are doing. Still I have always been conflicted on these cars. I should want one as I love turbo powered Japanese cars but I don’t know why I don’t desire one and would rather drive my slower Supra.

    Effective and sophisticated, but a face only a mother could love! Don’t dare show that snout next to an original Z-Car! Ouch! Bought mine in July, 1970… Just sayin’ !

    Could not agree more. They say that a camel is a horse made by committee. The GTR looks like a car that was made soo ugly that the builder is daring you to buy it.

    Totally agree – easily the ugliest of all the GT-Rs. Performance only matters in the present day, and as electric cars easily outperform current ICE and older cars, looks and sound do matter in the collector market. The R35’s saving grace was its performance, but that will eventually fade.

    Nonsense to some of the earlier comments, just a matter of perspective.
    If it’s soooo ugly, why do old and young people snap pics, chases me on the highway for a better look or pic, gives thumbs up and ask questions when parked?
    No car is perfect in all aspects. This car is a absolute blast to drive daily.

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