Nissan is building 12,000 2009 Nissan GT-R's but only about 20 of them are allocated to Hawaii, and a handful of preorders have already been made.
Zoom! A few Nissan GT-Rs are isle bound
STORY SUMMARY »
Five Hawaii Nissan dealerships will get to sell the Japan-based automaker's 2009 GT-R, its entry into the realm of supercars.
About 20 of the sleek, muscular, 480-horsepower, turbocharged lust-magnets have been allocated for sale in Hawaii, and deposits are being accepted.
Dealerships on Oahu, the Big Island and Maui will divvy up the pie, including King Windward Nissan, New City Nissan, Tony Nissan, Kona Nissan and Jim Falk Motors of Maui.
The car was designed to compete, in the marketplace and on the road, against the legendary Porsche 911, which lists for $126,200, versus the GT-R's base price of $69,850.
Dealerships, sales and service personnel must be certified to handle the cars, due for delivery this summer.
Videogamers have been "driving" Nissan's new supercar in "Gran Turismo" but now the sleek, turbocharged machine hits the streets.
FULL STORY »
Sony game designers helped create the GT-R's instrument panel and display screens, including a g-force meter, which can be seen on the far left of this Japan-market model.
About 20 Hawaii people will get the heart-pounding, jaw-clenching, muscle-tightening experience of taking delivery of a 480-horsepower 2009 Nissan
GT-R. And then they'll get to drive it.
To put it mildly, the words "Japanese" and "supercar" don't have a long history of appearing side by side. The words might even have been considered an oxymoron -- a la jumbo shrimp -- because adjectivally speaking, supercar is usually preceded by European, Italian German, even American.
Nissan has not tip-toed onto the supercar scene. It dared to target the Porsche 911 Turbo as its chief rival. Equal in horsepower, the Porsche lists for $126,200 while the base price of a GT-R is $69,850. The automotive press has raved about the GT-R bang-for-the-buck, but also its performance, outside of any comparisons.
Videogamers have been "driving" the cars in "Gran Turismo" for awhile, as Nissan allowed use of its design in the Sony PlayStation game. Sony game designers then had a hand in the real-life GT-R's instrument panel display screens, the New York Times reported.
One of those displays is a g-force meter.
"It's pure PlayStation," reported Motor Trend magazine, which must have raked in the hate mail by saying the GT-R "makes even the hottest Corvette seem tame and crude."
"Just over 20 GT-Rs have been allocated to Hawaii, and a handful of pre-orders have already been taken," said Tim Gallagher, of Nissan North America corporate communications.
Nissan offered sales of the GT-R to all U.S. dealerships, following right-hand-drive roll-outs in Japan and the U.K., but dealerships have to commit serious coin for the certification required to join the elite club.
Five Hawaii dealerships are either certified, or are in the certification process, according to Gallagher. They are, King Windward Nissan, New City Nissan and Tony Nissan on Oahu; Kona Nissan on the Big Island and Jim Falk Motors of Maui.
"It's going to be a car that's so exciting and has such a great halo effect on the brand that it's worthwhile," said Ron Hansen, chief operating officer and co-owner of Kauai-based King Auto Center Inc., parent of King Windward Nissan in Kaneohe.
Dealerships have to pay for certification of two people. The service manager will be the only one allowed to work on the cars and only one executive will be able to sell them, either a dealership principal or its general manager.
With the fee for certification, upgrades and new supercar service equipment, a dealer's GT-R club dues "could top $40,000," said Bill Mickelsen, the GT-R-selling general manager of King Windward Nissan.
Nissan will manufacture 12,000 2009 GT-Rs, with 6,000 to be sold in Japan, according to Car & Driver magazine.
"They are going to build and ship the sold-orders first," Mickelsen said. If the entire allocation is not pre-sold, remaining cars will be shipped to dealers toward the end of the model year, to fulfill Nissan's commitment.
Given the "huge interest in the car," however, it is unlikely any GT-Rs will languish on the showroom floor, Mickelsen said.
The GT-R can be seen and heard in action and lusted after online, where numerous "spy" videos and official videos and pictures have been posted.
Watching YouTube on company time is generally not a good idea, but hey, this is work-related research, your columnist rationalized.
Chris Harris, a Brit who did side-by-side reviews of the Nissan GT-R, a Porsche 911 GT3 and a BMW M3, wound up practically gushing about the GT-R, whose predecessors were called the Skyline. It "cheats the laws of physics," he said in a video for AutoCar.co.uk.
Duuude! Never mind the Porsche comparison, he called it a "baby Veyron!" You can practically hear the Nissan execs in Japan buggin' over the Bugatti analogy.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org