A comprehensive guide to Nissan GTR ownershipby Dim Angelov, on LISTEN 07:44
If you’ve been binging on automotive content on YouTube, there’s a good chance you may have come across Craig Lieberman. The man is an avid car enthusiast and a movie advisor, who helped make the “Fast & Furious” movies a bit more realistic by helping choose the cars. He is also the man who got Paul Walker hooked on Nissan Skylines. Having owned many iconic cars, Craig is more than qualified to answer a question many have asked – what’s the cost of owning and maintaining an R35 GTR?
“Expensive” is a relative and subjective term
Craig immediately points out that if you are comparing the costs of maintaining a GTR to maintaining a Civic, it’s expensive. Obviously! Buying a GTR certainly isn’t cheap, as the current sticker price is $111,000. A used one will set you back about the same as a brand new BMW M-car or an AMG – around $84,000.
Craig Lieberman himself has an R35 GTR, which he bought brand new in 2014, which allows him to share his first-hand experience of “Godzilla” ownership. He points out that he puts about 7,000 miles per year on his GTR. “I drive it almost every day. I’ve done maybe five track days with the car, total. I don’t abuse it, but I do, occasionally, drive it hard.” I’d say that gives a fair idea of what the car has been going through.
What you’ll spend on tires
The GTR comes with Dunlop run-flats – 255/40RF20 front and 285/35RF20 rear. A full set costs about $1,900, as listed on "Tire rack". Craig describes them as a compromise between street drivability and track use. According to Lieberman’s experience, these tires last 11,000 miles.
Once they were done, Craig replaced them with the even noisier Toyo R888, which provided better grip once you get some heat in them. A full set cost him $1,700 and lasted only 8,000 miles, with a conservative driving style.
He then switched to Michelin Pilot Sport, increasing the size to 285/35 front and 335/30 at the rear. The set him back $2,100 and lasted 14,000 miles. After seven years of ownership, Craig had spent $7,700 on tires, not including the additional racing set. Essentially, $1,100 per year just for tires.
Five track days have taken their toll on the brakes, so “$1,800 were spent on AP Racing J-hook rotors, which is a common mod for those cars. Another $700 Endless MX-72 brake pads”. Those were changed twice, so $1,400, in total. This concludes the wear-and-tear list.
We all know the rule: regular oil change prolongs engine life. For the GTR, this procedure costs around $200, not including the 5.28 quarts of oil ($9 per quart. Liberman’s GTR has had six oil changes thus far, costing a total of $1,600 without the oil. Note: you have to remove the entire under-tray to get to the oil filter, thus making the job more expensive.
New transmission and differential fluid is needed every 18,000 miles and before and after every track event. This costs $900 with the fluids. Lieberman has done three of those, bringing the total to $2,700.
The GTR’s Reliability
With a three-year/36,000-mile standard warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, the GTR has been quite reliable and Craig has not suffered any malfunctions or failures. GTRs are known to be fairly sturdy if you take care of them. He did mention four new shocks, he had to change in 2019, but that’s par for the course. With that being said, Craig’s grand total, after seven years of ownership looks like this:
$7,700 - tires, $1,800 - brake rotors, $1,400 - two brake pad changes, $1,600 - six oil changes, $2,700 - transmission and differential fluid changes, $2,200 - four new shocks. And the grand total is $17,400. You can do the math yourself.
How does it stack up against other cars?
To put things in perspective, yearly maintenance for a McLaren 650S costs $1,500. The oil change alone will set you back $600-700. Both the McLaren 570 and 650S can cost their owners up to $2,200 in maintenance alone. As for the tires, you have to spend $3,000 to give your McLaren new “shoes”.
When it comes to Ferrari cars, owners can benefit from the brand’s no-cost seven-year routine maintenance program, for all models 2012 and newer. However, if you fail to get the car to a Ferrari service within 30 days of the scheduled maintenance, you are looking at a $2,500 maintenance bill.
Fancying an AMG E63? Be prepared to spend up to $21,000 in a five-year period, just for maintenance.
Expensive to modify?
Lieberman’s GTR, like many others, has benefitted from the “usual FBO” (full bolt-ons). Among them are a full 102-mm titanium exhaust, eco-tech setup on the tune, 1,050-cc injectors, three-inch intakes, new blow-off valves, E85 injection, new fuel pumps, and others.
Combine that with a carbon-fiber body kit – front lip, canards, rear wing, and side skirts and the grand total is around $19,400. Lieberman debunks another myth – the GTR is expensive to modify. The same mods on an STI or an EVO would cost the same.
What about depreciation?
We all know that the Nissan GTR was a supercar bargain. Although that’s no longer the case, you’ll be happy to know that if you buy one, depreciation will not hit as hard as you think. Craig bought his R35 for $104,000. According to appraisal websites, the current market value is $63,000. However, you will not find a good 2015 GTR for less than $72,000, which means 67 percent of the original value has been retained. In comparison, AMG cars retain only 39 percent of their original value, after five years.
The GTR is rated at 16 mpg city (14.7L/100km) and 22 mpg (10.7L/100km) highway. Again, you can do the math yourself, as it depends on how much you drive and how much a gallon of gas costs in your area. For reference, 10,000 miles per year, at 16 mpg and $4.69 per gallon equate to around $2,931.
In the end, Craig Lieberman finishes by praising the R35, as the best car he’s ever had. Keep in mind, he has owned over 40 cars, most of which quite iconic – Supra, M3 346, Diablo, and others. As the future of the R36 GTR is not yet certain and R35 prices have started creeping up, now is the time to get one, if you are thinking about it. We hear you, Craig, we hear you.