Progress Bar – R32 Part 1: Taking Stock

I've talked previously about how I got my R32 Skyline GT-R and briefly mentioned that it's not the best example out there but neither is it the worst. This car's had its share of neglect and questionable mods but there are bright spots too. It's like that pretty and nice high school girl you knew that always kept ending up with the wrong boyfriends – a little worse for wear but still presentable and just needs some TLC from the right partner. Being a rare Nismo R32 I think she deserves a shot at being returned to her former glory and that's going to be my goal over time (hopefully I haven't bitten off more than I chew lol). These “Progress Bar” posts will track how things are going. It's appropriate then to first take stock of the car as I got her. For posterity, here's how she looked originally:

So let's start with the good points:
  1. Engine runs solidly and certainly doesn't feel down on power. Idle's a bit high but doesn't overheat and starts every time.
  2. No evidence of major body panel or frame damage
  3. Surprisingly free of rust with only a small spot of shallow rust in the left rear wheel well and some surface rust in the spare tire well. Very amazing really.
  4. Has all the original Nismo body kit parts
  5. Still in the original Nismo trademark Gun Metal Grey color
  6. Some good mods on the car – HKS intake kit, aftermarket turbos, front Brembos from either an R33 or R34, HKS exhaust, Tomei speedo, oil catch can setup (unknown brand), Greddy oil filter relocation kit, Bilstein shocks, unknown brand brake master cylinder stopper, Tomei HICAS lockout, and Momo steering wheel. I found out later while working on the car that it also had aftermarket upgraded coil packs.
  7. All electrics work – power windows, doors, mirrors, even the power folding on the side views.
  8. All gauges work from the main ones to the three center console meters.
  9. No broken or missing vents on the interior (I've heard it's common for these cars).  
  10. Most importantly however, she's a 1990 Nismo R32 hence ticking off two important things on my gearhead bucket list - owning a Nismo vehicle and owning a JDM GT-R.
Now the bad:
  1. The paint is faded in spots particularly on the bumper covers and the lip is scraped up so that a full respray will be needed.
    Busted lip like a girl with a jerkass boyfriend

  2. HVAC works but only blows hot – probably the common issue on these cars of a broken vent mode actuator that's stuck on heat
  3. Some bracing of questionable quality was welded in the trunk (welds look like ass too) and a Do Luck interior brace was added - the looks of which I don't care for. Trunk interior trim was also removed to make way for the bracing
    My friend who owns a race shop had a conniption when he saw these welds

    That has to go

  4. Fourth gear is a bit grindy when shifting into it.
  5. Clutch is heavy and makes a noise when fully depressed indicating a worn throwout bearing.
  6. Windshield washer reservoir and motors were removed.
  7. Different keys for the ignition and doors.

  8. Ugly faux CF wrap on the instrument cluster.
  9. Cracked center console bezel and worn instrument cluster surround.
  10. Worn shifter boots and brake lever handle.

  11. Bubbled dash with holes left over from where some gauges had been removed.
    The infamous bubbled dash - with holes added free of charge!
  12. Driver side window is scratched from going up and down.
And the middling:
  1. Good set of wheels – rare Desmond Regamasters – but the tires have some dry rot already and the color on the wheels is a dark grey that does the car no favors aesthetically. Did I mention the wheels have lock nuts that I have no key for?
  2. N1 headlight swap but bulbs are dim and need replacing
  3. Some interior trim is cracked like the rear window surrounds and will need replacing while others are in surprisingly great condition like the door cards
  4. Window molding needs replacing but that's par for a car this old
  5. Some badging was removed like the Nissan logo on the back, the hood S, and the Nismo sticker but others were kept namely the GT-R logo and GT fender badges.
  6. Original seats are intact but stained and dirty
  7. Aftermarket stereo fitted which works but left front speaker doesn't and the head unit only takes Minidiscs. Minidiscs! Might as well have been eight track for how uncommon that is. Grr.
  8. Cusco suspension parts fitted but setup seems off and on the aggressive side
  9. Engine bay is trimmed in blue – not the color scheme I plan on keeping but worst part is that the paint job on the engine covers is showing wear
    I'll take a wild guess and say the previous owner liked blue.
  10. HKS exhaust is quality kit but loud as frak and a bit too ricer fart can-ish.
  11. Service records consist of “Your guess is as good as mine!”

So overall, it's a car that's best described as having potential. On the plus side I got it cheaper than what I know others have paid for other Nismos including ones with some even more questionable mods. Besides, I wanted a project car and this one is more than worthy of restoration. One by one I plan on tackling these issues and it'll be a long road ahead probably but I hope you'll keep following and watch as the progress unfolds. I'm sure there'll be good times and bad but hopefully the positive will outweigh the “what did I get myself into?” moments. At the very least, you can watch while I go into a full nervous breakdown.

Some of these issues I've already addressed and I'll post what's been done in the next Progress Bar article  (coming soon hopefully if I haven't had that nervous breakdown yet).


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