At its core, the standard Skyline was (and technically still is) a Japanese 3-Series of sorts: compact, comfortable, nimble. But in the late ’60s, when Nissan wanted to go racing, it gave the Skyline a bigger engine, slapped the letters GT-R across the back, and started a phenomenon. While the original Skyline GT-R was short lived, it returned in 1989 as the R32 GT-R, where it proceeded to kick everyone’s ass in touring-car racing — earning the nickname “Godzilla” in the process. And while the Skyline was never exported to North America, its subsequent inclusion in pop culture franchises like the Gran Turismo video games, the Initial D anime and the Fast & the Furious films put it front and center for young car enthusiasts in the US.
Because we want what we can’t have, and because the Skyline was such a particularly adept car, it has become something of a forbidden fruit to US. But thanks to the good ol’ 25-year rule, R32 GT-Rs and earlier Skylines are now starting to show up on our soil. If you ever grew up playing Gran Turismo and pining for one, you owe it to yourself to bone up on your import laws. Or, you know, buy one someone already brought here.
1972 Nissan Skyline GT-R ‘Hakosuka’
What we like: The first Skyline to wear the GT-R badge. Less than 2,000 “Hakosuka” (a portmanteau of “hako,” meaning “box,” and “suka,” short for “Skyline”) GT-Rs were made, and they’re all elegantly simple, with vintage Japanese style elements like the “Watanabe” wheels, fender flares and hood-mounted side mirrors. A 160-horsepower inline-six engine doesn’t hurt, either.
From the seller: “The car presents beautifully. The body is solid, crisp, and very straight. The paint was done to high standards and is virtually unmarked.”
Location: Emeryville, California
1975 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-X
What we like: Nissan only made 197 GT-R versions of the C110 “Kenmeri” generation Skyline, and they’re nearly impossible to find. But the GT-X was still a capable performer, producing a modest 130 horsepower from a 2.0-liter inline-six. The C110 was only made for five years and was perhaps the biggest departure in overall design for the Skyline. While it’s still missing out on some of the greater design flourishes and performance upgrades of the GT-R, you can rest assured it’s still one intriguing and rare machine, should you decide to bring it stateside.
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
1984 Nissan Skyline 2000 Turbo RS-X
What we like: Nissan may have cancelled the GT-R after 1973, but many iterations of the Skyline that followed picked up where it left off, including the “RS-Turbo,” bestowed with a turbocharged inline-four engine, producing 190 horsepower — the most powerful Japanese engine at the time. While the DR30 generation RS-Turbo is little known in the US, it became iconic in Japan for its role as the hero car in the Japanese cop drama Seibu Keisatsu.
Location: Osaka, Japan
1989 Nissan Skyline GTS-t
What we like: With the hype of the GT-R, it’s easy to forget that deep down the standard Skyline was always a practical car with a nimble platform (available with four doors, no less). This bone-stock (aside from the wheels) GTS-t comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and 212 horsepower, all sent to the rear wheels.
From the seller: “Mechanically this GTS-t is sound and has no aftermarket modifications. It was originally a factory automatic, however all OEM parts have been used with the manual transmission swap.”
Location: Richmond, Virginia
1991 Nissan Skyline GT-R
What we like: Nissan returned the GT-R nameplate in 1989 after 16 years. As a result of the company’s racing aspirations, the GT-R was built to homologate the Skyline for Group A touring car racing. The road-going GT-R received a race-derived AWD-system and 276 horsepower. The R32 generation GT-R is the Genesis of Nissan’s tech-ridden, supercar-slaying icon we know today.
From the seller: “This GT-R has SSR Speed Star wheels in excellent condition and is overall in amazing condition for a 25 year old car.”
Location: North Slat Lake, Utah