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Import street racing cars


Sean Baertsch runs Zen Auto Works in Calgary, Alberta, and, as the name implies, he specializes in importing Japanese gray-market cars—models that were either never imported into Canada or that were so scarce when new they may as well be exotics today. The same goes for Jamie Orr, who runs Orchid Euro in suburban Philadelphia, whose company focuses primarily on European makes. What the two have in common is not only hard-won expertise in the nuances of foreign models but also a huge degree of patience for the painful challenges of red tape, both domestic and international. So, they became our guides for navigating what's hot in the gray market.

Baertsch says he has a fair number of customers who "crystal-ball" cars for the coming year, trying to figure out which autos will see high demand. That may well be the case with R32 Skylines. The eight-generation Skyline was the first new GT-R in 16 years, and this edition of "Godzilla" brought with it an extraordinary dominance in racing—never losing a single race in a series called the All Japan Championships. So there's a pedigree.

Canada's 15-year rule means that the lowest-hanging fruit long ago landed at port in Vancouver. Still, Baertsch thinks you may be able to find decent buys on R32s if you look hard enough. This car was built all the way through 1994, so you've got some time to keep up the search. We'd suggest looking for the even more unique NISMO editions (debuted in early 1990), which were homologated so that Nissan could qualify in Group A racing.

The R32 is a lot like original Quattro Audis, bred first and foremost for racing. And even street-going models were hardly meant for refinement. Its six-cylinder inline DOHC engine wasn't huge at 2.6 liters, but it put out 276 hp sent to an electronic AWD system that also featured all-wheel steering. (In Group A racing, this car made a stunning 600 hp.)



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