Why are Nissan GTRs so expensive?

Supply and demand. Nissan GTRs are a one-of-a-kind product for Nissan muscle cars that creates a steep price premium with each uniquely crafted design. Labor, time and especially engineering are what command a high premium for the Nissan GTRs.

Nissan GTRs are only made in Yokohama, Japan, and need to be imported into the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, etc. if you desire to purchase a brand new one.

Even used 2020 Nissan GTR Premium has a hefty price tag, ranging from $110,000 – $120,000 for 1k-5k miles.

But why though? Is this price tag just too much for a sports car, used or brand new?

In this article, we will discuss exactly why Nissan GTRs are so expensive, looking at labor, time and engineering

Labor for Nissan GTRs

Each Nissan GTR 545-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine is hand-built and assembled by one of four engineers, Takumi Kurosawa, Tsunemi Ooyama, Nobumitsu Gozu, and Izumi Shioya.  

This legendary team of four is known as takumi. When translated from Japanese, this means master craftsmen. Together, they have a cumulative total of over 100 years of exceptional work.

After each engine is completed, one of the four engineers will mount a plaque of their name on the engine. This is a symbol of excellence, dedication and skill that went into the engine creation.

And as of 2021, it looks that the same 4 takumi are still employed and building better products today.

To meet this legendary team, here is another video to introduce them and for them to describe what they do:

Time to build Nissan GTR engine

It can take up to 6 hours to assemble the Nissan GTR engine from one of the takumi

Time should not be a factor here since excellence, accuracy, and perfection is the goal of every hand-built engine. But because of the engineer’s superior skill level and knowledge of their craft, they can get it done within a few hours.

To show a glimpse of their work, here is a short clip of how they build their GTR engines.

Engineering the Nissan GTRs

As of 2021, the Nissan GTR NISMO and Premium are available as the latest products developed. This is the 51th year of GT-R excellence and Nissan hopes to continue that tradition.

Engine – The engine is the 3.8-liter V6 VR38DETT engine, hand assembled by one of the takumi and employed a 10-vane turbine wheel, one fewer than the 2019 version and 0.3 millimeters thinner.

As a result, the engine has a 14.5% reduction in mass and 24% in inertia correspondingly, allowing for a quicker response.

Since one less vane would normally reduce flow rate in the engine, a special backplate was created to prevent exhaust gases from flowing behind the turbine blades, which actually increases flow efficiency dramatically. Fluid and stress analysis were conducted in order to create the perfect design and vane profile.

Shift gears – The Nissan GTR NISMO revised its 2019 6-speed dual-clutch transmission to include “R-mode”, which incorporates adaptive shift control (ASC). This way, shift gears are more aggressive and intuitive.

Aerodynamics – From the 2020 GTR NISMO, cooling has increased in the engine bay and brakes without negatively affecting the drag coefficient of 0.26. This is their standard.

Carbon fiber – Common with Japanese modern cars, more carbon fiber has been added to decrease weight, increase downforce and improve aerodynamics. The front bumpers, rear bumpers, front fenders, side sill covers, hood, roof, and rear spoilers are some of the areas that were enhanced. In fact, the roof improvement was where Nissan found the most bang for their buck.

Design – Nearly all designs are based on the GTR NISMO front fenders, which increase front downforce by 15 pound-force without creating additional drag. This has been wind tunnel-tested and also shows that the front fenders do not create more turbulence at the rear wing, which is good for high-speed stability.

Brakes – Special large calipers, 16.1” in the front and 15.3” in the rear, join carbon-ceramic rotors. This combination is rigid, showing an outstanding improvement in brake reaction time compared to the 2020 model.

Why does it work? The carbon and silicon carbide rotors allow for a 36-pound total drop in unsprung weight and when paired with the oversized caliper set up, generates a higher friction level across the entire operational range. This yields a firmer, confident pedal feel.

The large calipers are painted in a heat-resistant yellow that can endure over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and discoloration from hard use and temperature cycling.

The front rotor cooling is also unique in that it was improved by altering the angle where the air guides are mounted, which better funnels airflow towards the centers.

Steering –  The Nissan GTR NISMO 2021 improved into lateral G (cornering stability), requiring minimal corrections even at speeds of 186mph. It has an enhanced yaw-rate response and smoother ride quality compared to the 2019 model.

Tires – Specially designed Dunlop tires increase grip by 7%. This tire also has a tread pattern with one fewer front grooves, which improves the contact patch by 11%. The tire also is slightly rounder, which makes cornering much easier due to more grip – a 5% increase in tire cornering force.

All percentage improvements were compared to the 2019 model.

Shocks – Retuned to 20% softer rebound and 5% softer compression, the Bilstein DampTronic shocks increased linear steering response and road-holding ability.

Nissan GTRs sold in the US

The following representation shows how many new Nissan GTRs were sold since 2008:

  • 2008 – 1730
  • 2009 – 1534
  • 2010 – 877
  • 2011 – 1294
  • 2012 – 1255
  • 2013 – 1236
  • 2014 – 1436
  • 2015 – 1105
  • 2016 – 698
  • 2017 – 578
  • 2018 – 538
  • 2019 – 331
  • 2020 – 303
  • 2021 – 50, only accounting for 1Q (Janurary, February, March)

These numbers are insanely low compared to the human population. But if you account for the human labor and skill needed to create perfection, it should be no surprise that the price tag is so high.

Nissan GTR Cost

A 2021 Nissan GT-R Premium will cost $113,540 MSRP and a 2021 Nissan GT-R NISMO will cost $210,740 MSRP. Product prices can range depending on your dealer. 


It is not surprising why the Nissan GTRs are such a high-valued product, which demands a high price. Since most car manufacturing is automated, some companies still value hand labor and skills.

Therefore, some motivated buyers and racers seek out these companies to support their products and service. These people believe in the engineers and company message and direction.

And their belief has some results to show for it. For instance, the GT-R NISMO GT3 won the 2015 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race. However, like all competitions that demand speed, power, and quick reaction time, tiny errors can result in not winning a race or worse. Nevertheless, the engineers work hard on their craft, making sure that their product is the best and all the driver needs to do is to focus on his/her performance.

This, as a result, forms a small tight community that is well-respected.

If you enjoy this article, check out my ranks on the best Barracuda cars ever made and on the best Ford GT40s ever made.

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