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Nissan warns against 'grey' GT-Rs

2008-11-20 12:33
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Nissan
Model GT-R
Engine 3.8l twin-turbo V6
Power 353kW @ 6 400r/min
Torque 588Nm @ 3 200R/MIN
Transmission Six-speed DCT
Zero To Hundred 3.5 seconds
Top Speed 315km/h
You really want a GT-R, and who can blame you? Is it worth settling for a parallel import though?

Blame the British and their colonial ties with the Orient for the slew of parallel – or "grey" – imports which fuel the imaginations of performance car enthusiasts the world over.

Ever since the first R-32 Skylines found their way to Western markets, local Nipponese performance enthusiasts have been hatching plans to "get a few" to local shores by any means possible.

"Grey" back then

Throughout the 1990s Nissan was not in a position to offer Japan's finest range of performance cars on sale locally.

There was a brief flicker of hope in the late 90s, when Nissan brought over a few R-34 Skylines for express display and demonstration purposes. These cars contained all the traditional grey import foibles – including a 180km/h speed governor which nearly drove local motor journalists to commit suicide.

A few local enthusiasts with deep pockets took up option on the R-34s Nissan had brought over.

There were significant caveats though: no warranty, no after sales service (parts could only be procured through UK or Oriental speed shops) and if your local garage did not have 102/100 racing fuel on tap, you we’re going to be awfully late for work if running close to empty in the morning.

Official options imminent now

With the new GT-R Nissan has taken a massive commitment to offer full after sales service and parts for a car that will headline its model range locally.

The question then stands to reason: should you buy an official GT-R next year, or try and source a "grey" one before Christmas?

If you do bring over a "grey" GT-R Nissan will not leave you floundering completely on your own. Within the planned GT-R service centre network they will endeavour to service them ("grey" GT-Rs) by as much as possible, but the diffuse global specification for GT-Rs and local conditions may conspire greatly against the "grey" imports as an ownership prospect.

The "grey" issues...

Firstly, you’ll need very deep pockets. In purchasing a "grey" car there will be no maintenance plan to fall back on. Considering the sophisticated nature of the GT-R, exposure to off the floor labour costs will be significant.

Secondly, parallel imports, considering their diffuse global specification parameters, will contain peculiar Japanese lettering for all displays, switches and the like. Great if you taught Japanese kids English for two years after university in Tokyo – very confusing if you’re a regular South African customer.

Thirdly, fuel (the bane of vehicle homologation locally) will be an issue. Export GT-Rs expect to be pampered with 98 octane fuel and nothing less; whereas official South African-spec cars will have been meticulously set-up to run on 95 octane by the time they arrive next year.

Octane ratings and optimal operational parameters in turbocharged performance cars are especially important to prospective owners at altitude.

Lastly, and perhaps most pointedly, parallel imported cars will retain the vengeful 180km/h speed governor, which is so intertwined with the ludicrously complex GT-R electronics not even Stephen Hawking has an idea how to disable it.

All things considered then, the expedience and exclusivity of getting hold of a "grey" GT-R now, instead of waiting for the official launch next year, carries a heavy exposure with regards to maintenance.

Ownership issues regarding a "grey" GT-R are epic in scope. You'll need a large stockpile of 98 octane fuel in your backyard. You'll only be able to use the first three gears of your GT-R under full-power. You’ll probably baulk at the price (and delivery timetable) of exotically imported GT-R parts - sourced from some geographically isolated market your ‘grey’ GT-R was intended for in the first place.

You don’t see many "grey" Porsches wheeling around South Africa, why would you want a "grey" Porsche-killer if a little bit of patience can reward you with an official one?

In the long run a "grey" GT-R is simply going to be a very costly 180km/h-supercar.

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