We may be in a “slowing” collector vehicle market, but when a clean car with both “Nissan” and “Skyline” written on it sells online for $6825, it’s enough to make us lean in close to the screen and furrow our brow. After all, we’ve spent the last several years telling you about how hot the Japanese car market is. It’s “thriving.” It’s “maturing.” “The end of the cheap Miata is near!”
All of that is still true, but deals are always out there, and this looks like a particularly sweet one on a premium JDM gem. There are just a few caveats.
In this country, the Nissan Skyline enthusiasts pay attention to most is the turbocharged all-wheel drive GT-R, the earliest version being the R32 built from 1989-94. The car sold this week is not a GT-R. Nor is it an R32. It’s the version of the Skyline that came before the R32, naturally called the R31. It’s also a GTS-X, one of the rear-wheel drive coupes built on the R31 platform.
While the flagship GT-R models are the most exciting and desirable for American gearheads, “Skyline” has a much wider connotation in the cars’ home country of Japan, where the first Skylines were built by Prince Motor Company way back in the 1950s. After Prince merged with Nissan in the 1960s, the cars wore a Nissan badge, and over the years Skylines have been everything from commercial wagons and commuter sedans to the race cars and tuner favorites that we know and love.
The R31 is technically the seventh generation of Skyline, and was available as a sedan, hardtop sedan, coupe, or station wagon. And while it shared similar styling with the R30 that came before it, the R31 debuted a number of firsts for the Skyline. Most important was that this was the first Skyline fitted with the RB-series engine, the legendary turbocharged oversquare straight-six that powers R32, R33 and R34 GT-Rs. It was also the first Skyline with Nissan’s proprietary HICAS (High Capacity Active Steering) four-wheel steering system.
This one was purchased by the seller in Japan, and reportedly spent some time in Dubai before being imported to Canada, where it is currently located. A GTS-X model, it has a 2.0-liter RB20 version of the RB engine as well as the HICAS rear-wheel steering, front and rear spoilers and two-tone gray cloth sport seats. It’s also, unfortunately, an automatic. But it also presents well, shows no serious mods or signs of abuse, and has just 50,000 km (about 31K miles).
On the one hand, snagging an interesting JDM coupe for $7K seems like a great move. On the other hand, anybody who owns this car is going to have to have a lot of conversations that go like this: “Yeah it’s a Skyline! No, not that Skyline. No, not that one either. No it’s not a GT-R, it’s a GTS-X. And it’s an automatic. It is a Skyline, though.”
But no matter the asterisks, it’s hard to argue with this price. “I think that is a damn good price for any Skyline” says Hagerty Price Guide Editor and self-professed Skyline nerd Greg Ingold. “Its only sin is the fact that it’s not a later version and that it’s an automatic. For context, a grubby R32 Skyline GTS-T (also RB20-powered and RWD) will cost more than this clean R31 went for.” And for somebody who wanted to modify it, the car is a good base and the new owner is already in it for so little. “I’m thinking manual swap and a warmed over RB26DETT [from an R34 GT-R] and you’d have a real sleeper on your hands,” says Ingold. Sounds good to me.