North American enthusiasts can finally get their hands on one of the world's most coveted performance icons: Nissan’s GT-R, successor to the generations of Skyline GT-R, known to enthusiasts and fanboys by its generation codes (R32, R33, R34) or simply by what Japanese enthusiasts called it—Godzilla.
For years this idol was exported to a small list of countries, but the new GT-R is finally ready to convert North Americans. Motor Trend, Automobile and Top Gear all named the GT-R their car of the year, sweet accolades for a model that sold only 1,581 units in its first year. If the 2008 SEMA Show was any indication, the GT-R is an instant classic.
Of those 1,581 units sold, 24 of them were found on the Show floor. Veteran Skyline importer and expert Sean Morris of 2009GTR noted that "the aftermarket is still pretty young for the R35 GT-R. It is being well-received by most of the aftermarket, but it’s an expensive car and it has some expensive systems.”
Offering Porsche Turbo performance at Corvette Z06 pricing, the GT-R isn't a young man's tuner car. Performance parts and accessory manufacturers need to have a realistic vision of the car's target audience. It is also, as Morris mentions, not an easy car to crack.
“Once people work out the transmission and its control, it will open up the aftermarket to more wild modifications," Morris says.
Ben Schaffer of Bulletproof Automotive and Bespoke Ventures, distributors and retailers of premium Japanese components, contributed to the completion of multiple GT-R’s at the Show. Schaffer elaborates on the importance of the vehicle.
“The 2009 GT-R dominated the SEMA Show," says Schaffer. "It represented the first new Japanese super car in more than a decade.”
Schaffer repudiates notions that the GT-R is nearly impossible to tune, at least electronically, claiming that his company's tuned GT-Rs make more than the 600 hp expected of Nissan's next update, the 2010 Spec-V GT-R.
As the GT-R is a new entrant to the North American market, enthusiast data is minimal and possibly unrepresentative. SEMA research has compiled data on similar vehicles to roughly forecast how owners might modify their Godzilla. The following data illustrates how owners of similar performance icons—Toyota Supra, Mitsubishi Evolution, Acura NSX—have tuned their cars.