Masterpiece de Resistance
In 1998, Nissan unveiled the 202-mph, $1 million R390 GT1. Essentially a roadgoing version of the race car that captured four of the top 10 spots at the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans, the R390 street car enjoyed a breathtaking aura (its body was the work of famed Aston and Jag designer Ian Callum), humbling specs (550-hp, 471 lb-ft), and remarkable performance (0-to-62 in 3.9, quarter mile in 11.9). Rules dictated that manufacturers build at least one street-legal version of their race cars, so, as rumor has it, Nissan built two.
Today, after a little over a decade since those Le Mans days, the GT-R, of which Nissan will sell roughly 2000 per year at a cost of $77,840-$83,770 each, has superseded the omigawd! R390. Significance? When a genuine production car outperforms a homologated, Le Mans-based street machine-even one 11 years old-for about eight percent of the cost, it is certainly noteworthy.
The GT-R's significance, naturally, stretches far beyond its preeminence to the R390. Its justifiable association with contemporary flagships from Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche alone says it is no poseur. The bottom line is Nissan is comfortably performing in rarified air, legitimately shaking up the hierarchy within the supercar stratosphere. And, lest you forget, at a comparative pittance of the others' retail prices. Further, whereas previous generations were sold only in Japan, Australia, and the U.K., the new GT-R boasts a global presence, treating enthusiasts in such countries as Germany and the U.S.