By on February 19, 2008

2009_gt-r032.jpgIn Michelangelo Antonioni's film "Blow Up," Thomas (David Hemming) watches a rock guitarist smash his ax and toss the remnants into the audience. Caught up in the spirit of the moment, Thomas joins the scrum scrambling for a piece of the dead guitar. He grabs the lion's share and runs away. Dozens of fans give chase, attempting to wrest the prize from his grasp. Finally, Thomas is clear of the crowd. Alone with his treasure, he contemplates his booty– and then casually tosses it into a nearby trash can. Nissan GTR anyone?

Sacrilege! The new Nissan GT-R blasts from zero to 60mph in 3.5 seconds, navigates the Nürburgring as fast as the Porsche 911 Turbo and (allegedly) does so with more confidence than Stuttgart's finest. All this with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $70k. Clearly, it's the performance automotive bargain of the decade.

On the day the initial U.S. dealer allocations of GT-Rs were announced, the mathematics made the problem clear. Nissan deemed exactly 691 dealers "qualified" (i.e. large and financially productive enough) to sell the GT-R. During the model's inaugural year, Nissan will build 2500 GT-Rs worldwide, only 1400 vehicles of which will make it stateside.

It doesn't take long to divide 1400 by 691 and conclude that the anointed U.S. Nissan dealers will receive two GT-Rs (on average). Since these dealers were obliged to make an investment in the equipment needed to service the GT-R's unique run flat tires, it makes sense that they'd want to recoup that investment ASAP, over the two model transactions they'll experience in 2008. And, lest we forget, they're car dealers.

Bottom line: a "buyer's premium."   

So when I contacted my local dealer to place an order for my very own Nissan GT-R, I wasn't surprised to encounter a lot of squirming and shadow puppeteering. This, of course, gave me a reverse Groucho Marx; I wanted to join a club that didn't want me as a member. BUT–  

I am allergic to paying more than MSRP for anything (I have a doctor's note to prove it). The idea of forking over a significant premium for a GT-R in its first year of release makes me feel both elated and stupid.

To delete "stupid" from this equation, I began an on-line investigation, hoping to tap the experiences of other enthusiasts desperately seeking a Nissan GT-R. Most of the stories I encountered indicated that dealers were adding a $10k to $25k additional onto the car's MSRP.

About a half dozen commentators listed dealers committed to selling their GT-Rs at MSRP. This information did me little good, as one sale accounted for half of their allocation. By the time I'd identified the virtuous dealer their other GT-R was also sold. Living in California didn't help; the Golden State's love for fast cars seems to blur the lines of whatever rational decision-making may remain within state borders.

Of course, the upshot of this hot model fever is a four-wheeled Ponzi scheme. Aside from the Ferrari Enzo, you can count on one hand the number of cars that garnered a premium from the onset, and maintained that value (and you'd still have enough fingers left to make gang signs). Anyone remember the $100k dealers placed on top of the dreadful BMW Z8? The SL55 AMG for $50k on top? And yes, people paid above the odds for a Pontiac Solstice.

Eventually, as the hot model cools, someone gets burned. IF you're going to pay a premium for a hot car, the "trick" is to do so straight out of the chute, then sell the car before availability catches-up with demand. Given that the Nissan GT-R ain't no Ferrari, and Nissan dealers love money, I reckon Nissan will up production after the 2008 model year, big style. At that point, the premium will disappear, for both buyer and seller.

You want to talk about killer depreciation? Then you need to contemplate the concept of "front loading" an asset destined to shed value. A 2005 SL55 AMG with less than 20k on the clock can now be yours for $86k as a certified pre-owned car from an MB dealer- and a lot less as a private purchase. With Solsti piling-up on dealer lots, there isn't a single soul in the U.S. who'll pay you above the odds for a new one. Not one. 

So I'm hot on this quest to find someone who will accept my order for a Nissan GTR at MSRP and I've never even seen one in person– let alone felt the driving experience. Two questions. How long will the hype last? With all this demand and little supply, how long will there be someone willing to pluck this discard from my trash heap and pay ME more than MSRP for the privilege? Second, would I even like it?  

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45 Comments on “Nissan GT-R: What Price New Hotness?...”


  • avatar
    AGR

    Is it the dealer or the prospective buyer that will run up the price of the GTR or any other rare vehicle at launch?

    Imagine the dealer that sells at MSRP and 2 days later the same vehicle is on ebay for 10K more money on its way to 20K over MSRP.

    Whatever is offered over MSRP is the “expendable money” that is not a factor in depreciation, its a factor of gratification.

    The dealers will say that the cars are sold, or pre sold, once the car arrives the original customer cancelled the sale. It usually gets very creative, imaginative, until supply meets demand.

  • avatar
    helius

    I’ve always been rather perplexed by these “market adjustment” charges. Are people really that desperate and/or well-off enough to pay such high surcharges for instant gratification?

    Ah well, perhaps I’m just horribly old fashioned in these (last?) days of free/cheap credit.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Saw a Ford GT at a local dealer here. they sold two of them, both white models. 250K was the DSRP, the dealer suggested retail price. I asked if the customer got a spare GT at that price and they did not think it funny.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Is it the dealer or the prospective buyer that will run up the price of the GTR or any other rare vehicle at launch?

    Both. Look at the prices of the WRX, Evo, S2000, 350Z, or other highly anticipated vehicle and you’ll see two things: The dealer selling at a 10-15% markup, and the shrewd opportunist who sells it for even more.

    Sorta like what happened with the PS2, PS3, Xbox360, and Wii when those consoles first launched.

    The GT-R will be a bargain, eventually, but if anybody buys one right now thinking they’re getting great bang for their buck, they’re sadly mistaken.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    re-importation may soften the aftermarket price but with performance vehicles being made in limited quantities the market sets the price.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Reminds me of my colleague who bought a Miata back in 1989, $4k over MSRP. She and her husband still have it, but they’re loath to let it go because of the premium they paid for it.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “How long will the hype last?”

    It will last for about 18 months IF Nissan decides to substantially up the number of sold vehicles in the following year.

    “With all this demand and little supply, how long will there be someone willing to pluck this discard from my trash heap and pay ME more than MSRP for the privilege? Second, would I even like it?”

    Who knows? If Toyota ever decides to bring a new Celica stateside I may actually be willing to pay MSRP for a 4WD 300 HP version. I’ve owned 2 All-tracs and 12 Celicas in all including every single generation of that model. To me it would be worth it if the design and performance was even half as good as a GT-R.

    starlightmica, would your colleague happen to be from New Jersey? My next door neighbor growing up did that with a blue one.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    I’m still at a loss for this thing. Seriously…$80k plus for a Nissan. Call me a brand whore if you want, but the fact they didn’t sling this as an Infiniti is beyond me. I would be able to justify that price tag for an Infiniti fr faster than a Nissan, if nothing else than for dealer service.

    Think about it. You have just paid what is most likely around $100k for this thing. You have to take it in for service. They are gonna shove you in a waiting room with stale coffee and crying kids. Uh…what person who is moving this much cash for this car is going to sit there and deal with it? And then it turns out your car has to stay there over night. Ok, fine, where is my rental M45 or Q or FX?

    Oh no sir, we don’t have those. Here, you can have this rental beat up Versa, Sentra if you are lucky. Or we can send you to Enterprise where you can get an equally dismal Pontiac.

    Uh, excuse me? No thanks. If I’m gonna be paying a premium on this thing, than I expect premium treatment. Seriously guys, move this thing as an Infiniti. That, or step up production and make it its own brand. Just like this very site has said about the Corvette, don’t put the Skyline on the same show room floor as a Versa. At least not here in the States.

    Of course, I, as a true brand snob, am waiting for the day I can take delivery of my 99x Porsche Turbo.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Steven Lang:

    Virginia, and hers is the Classic Red that faded really quickly. Since 50k (!) Miatas were sold the first model year, there were probably lots of people who paid that premium.

  • avatar
    timoted

    I agree with Virtual Insanity letting go of $80k for a Nissan plus the dealer markup is probably setting one’s self up for some disapointment aside from the fact that they should seriously have their head examined.

    The exception would be the scenario of turning right around and selling it for a profit. More than likely if you are someone who is willing to pay the dealer markup you either are not all that concerned about the markup or have such a huge ego to feed just so you can say, “I have the first one on the block”.

    There are too many other ways to part with that kind of cash and still have fun and more than likely have some $$ left over.

  • avatar
    frontline

    If it is important to one’s ego to have the first GT-R in your neighborhood, why not throw a few more dollars at it. Relative to comparable machines, it is a bargain!
    Money is strange, I may fret and squirm about paying a few thou over for a car I love and then a couple of trees fall in the yard and I’m writing a check for $6,500,
    One thing that I am sure about is that no franchised dealer should ever sell over the monroney. That is the devils work.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Starlightmica,
    Maybe it’s a question of perspective, but to my eyes, your neighbors have had a great little sports car for 18 years. Compared to the cost of getting a new Corolla every 6 years (even at invoice), I think they did well.

    The thing about pricing is that it is very difficult to do for a product that is out of the ordinary. It makes perfect sense for a consumer to pay over list for a vehicle that has been underpriced — talk to anyone who paid over list for an Accord in the late 70′s. Not unheard of to sell the car 2 years later for what was list new.

  • avatar

    SherbornSean, “Starlightmica, Maybe it’s a question of perspective, but to my eyes, your neighbors have had a great little sports car for 18 years. Compared to the cost of getting a new Corolla every 6 years (even at invoice), I think they did well.”

    Indeed it is a question of perspective, but maybe the choice is not simply getting 3 economy cars versus the sports car. That’s why even though my salary is only 50k from my union job, I own 4 houses and 2 duplexes. You could buy houses for 50k as late as 2000 in Florida which I did. There were people then and there are people now who laugh at what I drive but then I laugh at what they drive too. The difference is now I can buy anything I want and the economy be damned.

  • avatar
    AGR

    There is a difference between dealers selling cars over list in the showroom, plus added accessories to increase the profit on the car.

    Transacting a rare car that is in the “unobtanium orbit” at a price range that borders 6 figures. In these intances the selling price is not higher than MSRP. The transaction is at MSRP plus “considerations” on the side. Its the considerations on the side that shift the car from the “unobtanium” to the “obtanium” orbit.

    In major metro areas there are always several shooters that emerge at the last minute with interesting considerations above MSRP.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Nissan wanted this to look like a supercar that every man can afford but that is not what they ended up building. Even if you could get it for $60k. Paying $1000 in service every time you take it to a track in order to maintain your warranty is not something the average joe can afford.

    It’s good they didn’t call this a Skyline because it’s certainly not a worthy sucessor to the R3x. It might as well be a 911 Turbo because it’s going to be bought by the same people.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I still do not believe the numbers add up. It has less power than a 930, weighs substantially more, they both have AWD, the 930 has a rear engine, yet somehow this is supposed to be faster? Maybe around the ‘ring where it matters, but it is not possible for that to be true in a drag race. 1 or more of the three (CW, HP, or 0-60) is wrong.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    The Nissan’s power is measured at the wheels rather than the crank. So it actually has more power.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The only thing I remember from that flick is Vanessa Redgrave without a shirt on. She was something to look at back then.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Jay,

    I appreciate your frustration at not finding a GT-R at MSRP. But I can’t agree that the dealerships are doing anything other than what they are supposed to be doing. This is all simple Adam Smith economics. Dealerships have an obligation to charge as much for a vehicle as they can. They aren’t charities. If the market justifies a $25K markup, then any dealer that does not charge this is run by an idiot who doesn’t understand his responsibility to the owners.

    On the other hand, anyone who would pay these premiums so that he can be the first on the block with a vanity product like a new sports car, is… uh, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Even the ForTwo commanded a premium when first launched. How SMART is that?

    My prescription: take two laps in your R8 and call me in the morning. You’ll forget all about the GT-R for another six months.

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    Keep in mind, speculation is speculation, be it in Nigerian oil money, joint-stock company shares, or new hotness. Don’t forget all the folks who got burned on the AMV8 Vantage (http://www.pistonheads.com/news/default.asp?storyId=14841 ). The efficient market hypothesis does not bode well for you.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    tankd0g.

    3800lbs

    [/all comparisons to previous gen Skylines]

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    GS650G :
    February 19th, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Saw a Ford GT at a local dealer here. they sold two of them, both white models. 250K was the DSRP, the dealer suggested retail price. I asked if the customer got a spare GT at that price and they did not think it funny.

    I saw the same thing, except the dealer was only asking $200k. At least the Ford GT seems to be somewhat collectable and has probably held its value fairly well. I wonder how much a lightly used Ford GT would go for now that they are no longer manufactured. Recently, I remember the Shelby GT500 typically had a dealer mark-up of greater than 50% of the MSRP during it’s first year. I don’t know how that has changed since. I remember when the PT Cruiser came out, people were paying a huge premium for those as well. I undertstand the phenomena, but I don’t think you’ll ever catch me paying a premium for any car.

  • avatar
    Point Given

    When the pt cruiser was hot for about 12 minutes and supply was extremely limited dealers were getting 6k over.

    You are correct in stating that Nissan will ramp up production in the near future. Patience….

    The Nissan dealer I used to work for was boasting about getting an allocation of 6 of them(I’ll belive it when I see it), but the talk was of 25k over.

  • avatar
    frontline

    I can promise all the bloggers out there that if Lexus receives a product like the GT-R you will not see additional dealer mark up. This is difference between the “average” dealer and a “great” dealer.

  • avatar
    AGR

    frontline,

    Consider this scenario at any dealer: sales person gets a cancellation on one of these hot in demand vehicles. Same sales person gets offered a consideration on the side. What do you think will happen.

    You can replace sales person by other titles or positions.

    The “games” start from the manufacturer to the dealer by attaching a myriad of “strings” to allocating the cars, they games keep on going, and going, and going.

    One example: the dealer has to take 5 non selling “dogs” to get 1 hot number, and buy 20K of special tools to get the 1 hot number with a 10K gross profit at MSRP. With the second hot selling number several months in the future.

  • avatar
    Chaser

    Virtual Insanity> You nailed it. And with this being a new model for Nissan, you’d better plan on spending some time in the dealer’s service center. Good luck with the loaner, too. I had a Frontier that was in the shop for a week and the dealership just pointed me down the road to the nearest rent-a-car. When I complained to Nissan’s Customer Service line, they simply informed me that it wasn’t Nissan policy to give out free loaners. I got rid of the truck shortly thereafter and won’t be buying another Nissan. I can’t imagine these clowns trying to deliver service worthy of a $70k+ ride.

  • avatar
    brownie

    Sorry, but “performance car” and “economic rationality” are two phrases that should never go together. To paraphrase the old joke about the guy who asks a woman if she’ll sleep with him for $1MM, and then if she’ll do it for $10: if you’re thinking about buying one of these cars then you’re already a sucker, no matter how much you pay vs. MSRP.

    Count me among the suckers, btw. I just try not to consider buying a performance car as anything other than a money-wasting proposition.

  • avatar
    frontline

    AGR,
    I think that you are saying that the BS originates with the factory reps and escalates from there .
    You are absolutely correct

  • avatar
    AGR

    frontline,

    Exactly, often when the manufacturer behaves like an “orifice” it should not be surprising that the dealer behaves like an “orifice” too.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Honestly, with the rare exceptions, the best way to make money on a performance car is to get one at the end of the run instead of the beginning. It is only when an amazingly good car ceases to be offered that resale stays high. This is true with supercars and even the great japanese sports cars of the late nineties (supra, rx-7, etc.) Sure, you can flip it quickly, but then you don’t get to enjoy it. I say let the prices come down and then grab one…good things (prices) come to those who wait.

  • avatar
    Skooter

    For what its worth. Was in a Ford showroom today. They had 3 Shelby GT500 Mustangs on the floor. All had “market adjustment” of $12,000 over MSRP. Total MSRP about $59,000.

  • avatar
    Threader

    Nissan is testing the waters this year but I predict they won’t dramatically increase production for 2009. Instead they’ll probably raise the MSRP 10% with excuses like the weakening US greenback and get more creative with a factory options list a la “BMW” to raise a fully factory optioned example tipping the scales at over $80K. Guess what? They will still easily sell. This is a halo car far removed from mass marketing. No need to flood the channels. Get people interested in Nissan/Infinity and sell the average Joe a 370Z or G37 coupe instead.

  • avatar
    tsgtsfitz

    I can’t wait to get a 2009 GTR……..in 2012 for 30 grand. No new car deserves a premium they are not that special especially the Japanese ones. Of course there is sucker born every second and I will be glad to take it off their hands after the novelty wears off.

  • avatar
    tvrboy

    Mr. Shoemaker, get over yourself. Am I supposed to feel sorry for you because you can’t get your new sixty-thousand dollar toy at exactly the price you want? I find it funny that you think MSRP is “reasonable,” when the price of a GT-R is more than what most people make in a year. It’s not something you NEED to buy, it’s not food, clothing, or shelter, so don’t complain about dealers jacking up prices. They’re not doing anything immoral or wrong because you don’t need a GT-R. I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend insane amounts of money on cars — if I had the money, I would — but don’t whine like you’re being denied a god-given right. You remind me of the people who come into my shop wanting an oil change on a 80K range rover or 50K corvette, and then refuse to pay the 20 dollar premium for the required synthetic oil.

    I do hope you find one though, cause it sure is a sweet car!

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    For 100 large you can get a GTR with 480 horsepower and 3,800 pounds of curb weight.

    Or you can get Brand X for the same price, with 620 horses and 3300 pounds of meat on the hoof, and it won’t cost you $1,000 each time you drive it hard.

    I’m just sayin’

  • avatar
    huy

    Those worried about service, don’t you worry… I’m sure they will charge a fortune to work on the GTR, as they do with the 300ZX. That said, they definitely take care of you because you are spending a lot more than anyone else!

    Mark-ups suck, but few cars exist that will outperform this car. Even if you pay $130k, few cars can equal the performance and daily driveability of the GTR. Off the top of my head, other cars in this price range would be… New Audi R8, New Porsche Turbo, New Mercedes Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series, Used Ferrari 360 Modena, Used Lamborghini Gallardo.

    A search for an Audi R8 turned up ONE (1) R8 locally for under $130k, with many others marked up to as much as $184k. The Porsche Turbo hovers right around that price, about $10-$20k more. The MB is selling for MORE than MSRP at $180k. And the used Ferrari and Lamborghini really wont do well for daily driving as maintenence will kill ya!

    None of these are quite as fast and maintenence would likely cost you more, but wouldn’t you rather be driving one of these nameplates instead? I know I would! Besides, no one i know drives expensive sports cars everyday. Now if you want something faster than these big names, that’s cheaper to maintain, and only care to spend $70k, get a Corvette Z06… it may have taken a while (2 years or so?), but no more mark-ups for this old dog.

    Or find a good tuner shop and have them build you something (STI or EVO, for example) that should kill all of the above for less money.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Lumbergh21 wrote:
    I wonder how much a lightly used Ford GT would go for now that they are no longer manufactured.

    A FGT with 2000 miles will still bring in $10-20k over MSRP, esp if it’s a rare color/stripe delete car. The only cars trading at less than original sticker are either high milers and/or salvage title cars.

    Never thought I would be able to justify a mid six figure pricetag on any car, but the FGT is just that good!

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    You mean nobody knows how to use a hair dryer to “delete” the stripes???

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Stephan,

    Only if your hair dryer can melt paint. The only tape stripes are the side ones.

  • avatar
    pdub

    I love when dealers get a chance to stick it to consumers old school. You want the latest, needless hot toy? Buck up and pay the market premium.

    So many cars these days sell at invoice, it’s refreshing to see cars that sell for full list or more. Believe it or not, the dealership needs the money.

  • avatar

    All makers toss out a “halo” model every now and again, for the benefit of the dealers.

    AMG benz….Now Black Edition Benz.
    For when your office lot is full of E and S classe. And when there are two or three AMG’s at your golf club.

    Mugen Honda ? Finally, and only 7k over sticker at my local dealer.

    Ford Mustang whatever editions…same deal. GT40, make an offer…ha ha.

    The Stealership will mark up to whatever they can get. Even my local BMW shop, overall decent folk, laughed when I read out the sticker for a Z8, which was “make us an offer at least 25k over sticker”.

    Think of it this way. Each dealer has to eat any number of slow sellers. The manufacturer can toss them some halo cars to partially make up for the abuse they take with the slow sellers.

    We, as ever, are the victim.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Ohforgodsake, you’re not the victim. Is the Nissan dealer supposed to provide you with your very own GT-R just because you’re an enthusiast? Can you spell free will, choice, supply-and-demand?

    Hey, I’ll make you feel really bad: I’m getting a GT-R to test for five days in Nevada at the beginning of April.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    Jay, I sincerely hope that I will one day have the problem you describe :)

  • avatar
    probert

    The guitarist was Jimmy Page and also on stage was Jeff Beck. It was the last incarnation of the Yardbirds before they morphed into Led Zeppelin. Oh Yes.

    About the car? I dunno


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