There was no sticker shock when Ginash George went out and bought an Acura CL. Honda made the car, the dealership sold it, and the markup Ginash was willing to pay was a reasonable one. The whole process was about as boring and predictable as the CL itself.
But dealerships aren't always reasonable and Nissan's R35 GT-R is neither boring nor predictable. All of which led to the sort of dealership markup that sent Ginash—who'd had every intention of driving home in a brand-new R35—packing in his 5-year-old 350Z and contemplating something else entirely.
Aside from that Acura-branded Accord, Ginash's affinity for all things Nissan runs deep. When he was growing up, the twin-turbocharged 300ZX was his dream car. Years later and preempting the North American GT-R's release, he had the opportunity to see the JDM supercar for himself in Japan. "There was a global buzz about the upcoming GT-R," he says about what led him to that Nissan factory showroom located in the Tokyo sub-division of Ginza and, later on, to sell off his Z in order to free up funds for a Nissan supercar of his own. Six months and tens of thousands of dollars of dealership markups later, though, and, according to Ginash, that dream was thoroughly squashed.
But don't feel sorry for the guy. Ginash's other car is an NSX, and he needs another supercar about as badly as you need a Snuggie for your living room. For Ginash, all of that dream-slaying led to something a whole lot better. You might not think 115 hp is better than 480 hp, and in almost any other instance you'd be right. But here you're wrong, and that's mostly because of the third-generation Skyline—a car that set the precedent for the R32s, R33s, and R34s that you can't get your mitts on and the R35 that you'll never be able to afford. And it did all of that with no more than 115 hp (non-GT-R models).
Ginash is no bonehead and knows 115 hp will always be 365 hp less than 480; however, to limit yourself to considering only the Skyline 2000 GT-X's underdeveloped, albeit four-and-a-half-decade-old powertrain, and not the car's heritage and supercar symbolism makes about as much sense as you not liking Nissan's R35 because of its floor mats. There's more to the 45-year-old sports sedan—also known as the hakosuka—than you've ever considered, the most intriguing of which is the pursuit of obtaining one.
For that, and more, Ginash put Salt Lake City's JDM Legends to work, a firm that specializes in arranging the sale, transportation, and registration of hard-to-find Japanese classics like the hakosuka for people like Ginash who want one badly enough. Right about now you're wondering why Ginash didn't go all out and have the fellas over at JDM Legends deliver him a first-gen GT-R and not the marginally lesser GT-X. Turns out, Ginash has your answer. "I fell in love with the [first-generation] GT-R coupe, but based upon my research, that seemed almost like an impossible dream," he says. "You'd hear stories [about how] the Japanese don't let these leave the country." They're just stories, Ginash goes on to say, and the cars are indeed obtainable, but they command a premium—exactly the sort of thing that made him shy away from the last GT-R he'd thought about.
"It seemed as if the world [had just] discovered the hakosuka," Ginash says about all of the hoopla surrounding the RWD coupe and sedan that started sometime around '10. The sort of hoopla that meant he'd have to get his name on JDM Legends' waiting list, stand by for six months, and then place his order. "Eric Bizek of JDM Legends knew I was genuinely interested [and] he told me that a very clean GT-X model, completely stock, was coming in the following week," Ginash says about what the specialty importer's shop manager had told him. "I sent him a deposit immediately."
The deposit didn't just earn Ginash the car but also the sort of services that make JDM Legends much more than a Japanese-car middleman. Services like restoring the car's body and fitting it in GT-R-like garb that includes the top Skyline's front and rear spoilers, fender flares, and factory-original taillights.
As for that inline, six-cylinder L20A engine, it's been left in place for now, but has been fitted with Weber carbs, a header from the GT-R, and a Fujitsubo exhaust. It isn't much, and Ginash knows it. "I'm considering an engine swap," he says, which shouldn't surprise you. "I know some purists are against anything that isn't an L-series," he says before alluding to the RB25 and RB26 transplants he's considering and that only some sort of uptight stickler would object to. It's a swap Ginash says will still honor the car's lineage and will, frankly, be a whole lot more reliable than that carbureted 12-valve lump. And faster.
"Cars like these, you simply cannot buy and then replace with something else," he says. "That was one of the main reasons why I decided to pursue a hakosuka." And until that engine swap happens, Ginash is happy just driving his piece of Nissan nostalgia whenever he gets the chance, a car that ticks just about every box for him, didn't command an absurd premium, and isn't a Acura CL.