​R35 Nissan GT-R Buyer’s Guide

By Sean Morris

Is the R35 Nissan GT-R a target car for the MotoIQ audience? Maybe and maybe not, but Project R35 GT-R says yes. The GT-R is not a manual shift, but rather a dual clutch gearboxed, V-6, twin turbo, 4000 lb beast. It's big, heavy, and extremely fast. How fast? The 2014 cars dip into the 2 second range for 0-60 mph and low 11 second quarter mile passes. The quarter mile not your thing? Then how about 7:18.6 for a lap around the Nurburgring? The thing about the GT-R is that it is easy to drive fast. An average driver in a GT-R is quick, but throw a fast guy in and they can seemingly defy physics. I have been covering the R35 GT-R since 2007, worked on a few of them here and there, and spent a couple years giving advice about the cars. I also have about 14 years of experience working with the Nissan Skyline GT-R. Everything from street cars to one that raced in the SCCA World Challenge GT series. This guide is an overview without getting too technical in any one area. Hopefully, it can help you out if you are looking at a car or have a friend looking into a car.

Nissan finally made the GT-R a global platform with the launch of the 2009 Nissan GT-R. This model was on display at the FIA GT1 and GT3 races in Navarro, Spain in 2011.

The Nissan Skyline GT-R has a long history in Japan, but the R35 (Nissan GT-R) is going to be our focus. Since 2008 there have been 7,376 GT-Rs sold in the US (July 2014). Worldwide sales figures put the numbers around 15,000 units, based on the data I have seen. In comparison, last month alone Nissan sold about 21,000 Altimas in the US. A Nissan GT-R is not an Altima. Selling the car at a Nissan dealer has been a bit of a blessing and a curse here in the US. The dealer network needs to be certified, and they must have special equipment in order to sell and work on the Nissan GT-R. This means the dealers that do sell them have a tendency to add a “market adjustment” to the price of the cars. The 2013 Nissan GT-R Black Edition is the first Nissan to MSRP in the six figure range in the US. The buyers expect better treatment than an Altima buyer, but they often feel that they do not get it.

MSRP from 2009 up.

2009 Base


2009 Premium


2009 Late Base


2009 Late Premium


2010 Base


2010 Premium


2011 Premium


2012 Premium


2012 Black Edition


2013 Premium


2013 Black Edition


2014 Premium


2014 Black Edition


2014 Track Edition


+$1000 Destination and Handling

+$3000 Super Silver Paint

The steady increase in the base price has helped and hurt. It has hurt buyers and helped sellers since the Nissan GT-R’s resale value remains strong as a result of the cost creep. Most 2009-2010 cars still trade hands in the $60-$70k range. If they are much less than that expect to find either a ton of miles or some other issue. The Prince of Nigeria will probably not sell you his GT-R for $15,000 if you Western Union him a deposit, so watch out for those oddball Craigslist ads.

To display its track prowess Nissan hot lapped showroom stock GT-R models in between sessions at the FIA GT1 and GT3 races at the Circuito de Navarra in 2011.

A GT-R is a Nissan, but it is a high performance Nissan. It is a 195 mph Nissan. It's not a joke of a car. If there were any errs in the beginning of this car they were in the areas of safety margin. The transmission, the brakes, the tires, the engine, and the tune were all pretty conservative. There have been some failures and a few of them are very well documented. With that said, each year the GT-R has seen some upgrades. This guide will breakdown those changes in detail. It will also cover the quirks and nuances unique the GT-R as well as focus on addressing the truth behind the wider known failure points.

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Thursday, September 05, 2013 12:10 AM
"Is the R35 Nissan GT-R a target car for the MotoIQ audience?"

I dunno, I think Mike is a lot richer than most of the MotoIQ audience. Or maybe it's just me ;-(
Thursday, September 05, 2013 7:30 AM
I've wondered about this for a while - are MotoIQ members race enthusiasts, mechanical enthusiasts, or both? And if both, is one side stronger? I know personally, I don't care much about racing. I love driving, wrenching, and a solid mechanical connection with the car, so it's hard to imagine driving a car without a standard manual. Without having driven one I can't say for sure, but the R35 seems exactly what I wouldn't want, regardless of price - a nearly perfectly honed, extremely fast, heavy speed appliance. That's not to say it's soulless, but it's hard to believe nothing is lost in the pursuit of performance compared to a car like a Miata, E30, EG/EK, or even something newer and light like a BRZ. Any opinions on this from drivers who want enough performance to be enjoyable but aren't trying to set lap times?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, September 05, 2013 7:42 AM
Maybe it's you. I am not rich. To me the GT-R is the best car I have ever driven which includes a few exotics. It is also the only car that I can't beat on the track when driven by a crappy driver. That's what impressed me enough to buy one.
EB Turbo
EB Turbolink
Thursday, September 05, 2013 9:20 AM
I bet Sean wrote 99% of this article from memory.
Thursday, September 05, 2013 9:40 AM
I think the price point of the GTR isn't as high as people make it out to be. Yea, I get that it is $70k for a used one, but with the average new car now north of $30k these days that isn't much to scoff at. A Porsche is $100k, a Corvette $75k, hell a high end Camaro is over $60k.

The GTR will eat them all.

If an average person can "afford" a $30k car then it shouldn't be much of a stretch for an above average person to afford two new cars or one GTR.
Thursday, September 05, 2013 10:38 AM
Nice work Sean. Very nice work.
Thursday, September 05, 2013 12:14 PM
It's great to see a car that holds its value so well. Thanks for the info Sean.
Thursday, September 05, 2013 3:51 PM
On the maintenance side, make sure if you buy one, research the dealer. The one I work for (would share names but I'm not one of our 2 GT-R cert guys and I have a nonexistent grasp on the legal issues of doing so) is consistently at the top of all of Nissan's performance criteria. We have one of the highest CSI's in our region, routinely THE highest, the lowest warranty costs, etc., so when a GT-R has a failure we get a lot of lee way from Nissan in getting things covered under warranty. I've assisted with a few trans replacements where we get approved with just a quick call. Speaking to Nissan field engineers when we all go to lunch during our compliance evals, most of the other Nissan shops in the areas have to go through a nut-busting process for approval. It helps that our management holds our service personnel to the same standards as the guys on our Porsche, Infinity, and Benz sides. If you get a relationship with a top-notch shop, you will most likely not face any of the hassles the horror stories depict. A shop that treats the GT-R like an oversize expensive Altima because that's all they've ever sold will be under much closer scrutiny, and the burden of proof becomes much higher.
Thursday, September 05, 2013 5:15 PM
The purchase price of a GTR might not be astronomical, but the maintenance/insurance costs are right up there with Ferraris and Lambos. If you can afford all that then you are quite well off financially. To someone like me, that means you are rich.
Thursday, September 05, 2013 7:00 PM
Hmm, I wonder though. If you spend $1500 a month on a home but $500 a month on a car that would be considered pretty normal, but if you spent $1000 a month on a home and $1000 a month on a car, that somehow makes you rich. Money is a matter of priorities. I work with a bunch of guys making $40k a year all driving modified M3's, 370z's and even Porsche's. They aren't married, all rent together, and support their passion.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, September 05, 2013 9:28 PM
My GT-R costs about the same as my Tundra to insure and a little more than my Evo or STI. I think it's like $800 a year. I am not rich, I am 51 years old. I have worked relatively decent paying professional corporate jobs most of my life. At one time I was a magazine editor and an engineer and the same time and made really good money for about 10 years. My wife makes decent money. I paid off my house early while I was making a lot of money. I have always saved 20-25% of what I made and in my old corporate jobs, the company matched half of that as compensation and thus have a decent performing investment portfolio. I only have one child. I never got much into debit or maxed out credit cards. I buy all of my cars with cash unless there are really low finance rates. I am not rich, I am just older, have lived in moderation, worked hard and am solidly upper middle class. I can easily afford a GT-R. So could most professionals who are wise with their money. It's not like it's an exotic in price. Some guys buy expensive watches or clothes or go on fancy vacations. Some party, drink and waste their money on that. I waste my money on cars.
Friday, September 06, 2013 12:22 AM
DrunkenMessiah: Owning a GT-R is not like an exotic. When I purchased a new 2008 STi, insurance for me was $208 a month. When I purchased a year old 2012 GT-R, insurance was $218 a month. A lot of other STi and Evo owners report about the same on GT-RLife.

Maintenance so far for me is about what my STis were, but you will pay higher for tires as they are bigger. Sure, when I hit 36k miles and need to do a transmission fluid change, I will spend $500ish in fluids, so that is more than my Subarus. But oil changes are cheaper. I can buy GT-R factory fill Mobile 1 0W-40 5qt at Walmart for $25 and a filter for $8. I used to pay $8-10 a quart for German Castrol or Motul (on sale) for the STi. So far, there does not look to be anything routine (and bolt ons) I can't do to my GT-R on jack stands in a garage.

Protodad: I completely agree. Owning a home is so not a priority for me, so many hidden costs and time sinks fixing issues. I will take a modest apartment that has garage parking (and lets me change my oil) and a GT-R over buying a house.
Friday, September 06, 2013 5:02 AM
What's the big deal? If Mike can own a GTR then more power to him.

I like the fact that MotoIQ features a variety of different cars. I don't want to read about making econoboxes fast everyday.

Mike, do you still have your 300ZX?
Saturday, September 07, 2013 9:40 PM
Why all the hate because Mike's a slightly reasonably well to do "baller"? As long as he didn't make it selling kids into slavery or some other unsavory occupation (IRS auditor? ;-p), who cares? This website is about motorsports, not $500 racecars only (despite Coleman's most sincere wishes), and last I checked, the GTR was pretty damned motorsportsy.

Besides, us working professionals buy the gov't a pretty damned nice car every year, why not get one for ourselves? :)
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