The relationship between the East and the West has changed many times over the centuries: the differences in culture has influenced tastes and reference models. With the automobile, European design has been and represents a constant reference for Japanese manufacturers, just remember Giugiaro, who designed the Pony, the first mass-produced Hyundai, or Pininfarina, whose HP-X project developed for Honda gave birth to the NSX. Soon western charm was joined by marketing which led brands such as Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Honda and Nissan to open design centres in Europe and the United States.
In addition to pure design, marketing has always been drawn towards the brand image opportunities, aside from the business opportunities, of producing limited series models with high profit margins and potential value growth over time. Among the very first of these is arguably the 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO, designed to race in Group B and modified for road use after the racing regulations changed. Just 272 were produced and prices are now sky high. Or the 1993 McLaren F1 produced in just over 100 examples, far fewer than expected, which now breaks records at auctions, clearly demonstrating how right Gordon Murray’s design vision was.
This Western charm is now a temptation for Nissan, which has picked up on the considerable interest shown for its GT-R 50 by Italdesign, presented at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2018 and initially conceived as a one-off. The considerable success of this model among its many fans has convinced the Japanese manufacturer to produce 50 examples in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the GT-R series as well as the Italian design brand based in Moncalieri.
Using a 2018 GT-R Nismo as a base car, this vehicle has been completely redesigned, evolving and amplifying the lines while maintaining its distinctive features. The roof has been lowered by 54mm and an adjustable wing now graces the rear.
Performance has also been tweaked by the technicians from Nismo, the high-performance division of Nissan, who tuned the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 engine by using components developed by the racing experience with the GT-R within the GT3 category. All this results in a power increase of up to 720BHP and 780nm of torque.
To put a GT-R 50 by Italdesign in your garage, the price has been set at €990,000 excluding taxes. A great marketing operation, like so many and possibly too many cars lately, or will it become a “future classic”? Only time will tell, but once again we have proof that imagination and courage fuel the passion for that magnificent object called the car.