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Ricci's Garage

Will this one thing increase the value of a Skyline GT-R?

Mark’s Nissan Skyline is headed for the operating table

Internationally renowned photographer Mark has been working with TG for many, many years. When not taking photos he’s buying inappropriate cars. Here he shares his addiction with the world…

If you’ve never owned a Japanese sports car from the Nineties, the experience is a bit like dating an MMA fighter with a sugar addiction. From the outside, it all seems quite exciting. There’s a strong element of danger, but the combination of turbo noise and TikToks dubbed over Teriyaki Boys makes it feel like a great idea.

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Right up until the point it all goes horribly wrong – preferably without any warning. Your friends will say that they’re not worth it; leave them and meet someone nice from Stuttgart or Wolfsburg. But this sounds very boring, because fundamentally you’re an idiot. And this relationship will (definitely) be the exception if you can give them one last chance.

The only logical solution is to seek outside help in the form of rehab. Tailored specifically for say, Japanese cars whose reliability seemed optional even from the factory. In the world of Skylines, SR Autobodies is Lincolnshire’s answer to The Priory.

Located on an unassuming plot surrounded by many fields, Steve Richards and his team are single-handedly undoing decades of neglect and substance abuse from these now collectable cars. And it’s just as well – have you seen the values lately? The cheapest you’ll find an R34 GT-R Skyline for is £120k.

Given that I own an R34 GT-R I should probably keep quiet, but this whole collecting mentality has got very silly. No longer are cool cars making their way into the hands of proper enthusiasts, but instead those with deep pockets who lack any personality outside of what colour they should spec a new GT3 in.

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Not that it makes any difference to my GT-R’s collectability; that went out the window shortly after a Japanese man decided that five temperature gauges were a suitable replacement for the passenger airbag. Finessed with an honourable 60mm Dremel to make them fit.

Truthfully, that was half the reason I bought it. I love all that stupidity, and if a car has been chopped up you may as well keep using it. Storing it in a garage would’ve been much cheaper seeing as I’m on engine number three. But they said they’ll change if I just give ’em one last chance...

Right, SR Autobodies. For Steve and his team, their incredible work is as much about preservation as it is restoration. Rust and corrosion appear regularly but the focus goes way beyond simply restoring them to their former glory. They’re actively improving the areas Nissan neglected first time round, from insufficient use of sealant to cheap primer and, in some cases, not even painting parts of the chassis at all.

Clearly things have already got out of hand because I’m writing about it in Top Gear. But given their values, this will likely be the last Skyline GT-R I ever own. So, while I still can and there’s petrol being pumped, I’m going to make it the best possible example. Well, Steve and his team are. I’m just there to take pictures and pay invoices.

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The engine? That doesn’t need touching, but an 833bhp RB26 will always be as volatile as a toddler walking down the toy aisle in Tesco. Everything else is getting the full works. From the subframes and differentials to the fuel system and suspension. And the brakes, interior, engine bay, bodywork...

It’ll be a terrifying few months, but I do think it’ll be one of the best Skylines in the world by the end. And if values can plummet until then, that’d be incredibly helpful as I cannot justify paying £250 for a replacement ashtray after the same man in Japan replaced it for (another) boost gauge.

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