Nissan Classic Cars: Best and Worst Performers

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Nissan has a long history in the automotive industry, with a range of vehicles that have left an indelible mark on car culture.

From sports cars to robust family vehicles, Nissan’s lineup over the years has seen a variety of models that have become either icons or cautionary tales in the automotive world.

Classic Nissans are often celebrated for their innovation, design, and performance, but like any manufacturer, not every model has hit the mark.

In the realm of performance, certain Nissan classics have stood the test of time, becoming coveted collector’s items and benchmarks for their successors.

On the flip side, there are models that serve as reminders of what can happen when a car doesn’t live up to expectations in terms of reliability, performance, or customer satisfaction.

Let’s look at which Nissans are performing well, and which… aren’t.

The Rising Stars – Appreciating Nissan Models

Fairlady Z (S130)

Nissan Fairlady Z (S130)

Average sale price: $25,787 (£20,060)  |  Feb 2024 Monthly % change: +16.2%

Ah, the Fairlady Z – it’s like stepping back into a time when sports cars were all about the thrill of the drive and the wind in your hair. 

Introduced in the late ’70s, the S130 Fairlady Z was a dream come true for speed enthusiasts and design aficionados alike. 

What sets it apart is its perfect blend of performance and style, with a dash of Japanese engineering excellence. 

It’s a piece of automotive history that symbolizes the evolution of sports cars. 

Today, collectors and enthusiasts are snapping up these beauties faster than a slice of hot pizza, drawn to their timeless design and the undeniable joy they bring to the open road.

300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary (Z31)

Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary

Average sale price: $35,057 (£27,272)  |  Feb 2024 Monthly % change: +19.6%

Now, let’s talk about the Z31 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary. If Nissan’s lineup were a rock band, this car would be the lead guitarist – flashy, fast, and unforgettable. 

Launched to celebrate Nissan’s half-century of car-making magic, the Z31 was a statement and a half. With its turbocharged engine and futuristic design, it captured the essence of the ’80s performance era. 

Its significance goes beyond just its specs; it represents a milestone in Nissan’s history, a testament to the brand’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what a sports car can be. 

As market trends evolve, the Z31’s appreciation in the collector’s world underscores its enduring appeal and iconic status.


Nissan Figaro

Average sale price: $19,853 (£15,444)  |  Feb 2024 Monthly % change: +1.2%

Imagine a car that looks like it rolled straight out of a vintage postcard from the French Riviera – that’s the Nissan Figaro. This little gem is all about personality, with a design that’s as charming today as it was when it first captivated hearts in the early ’90s. 

Limited production has made the Figaro a coveted piece for collectors, a symbol of exclusivity and a nod to the past’s simplicity and elegance. Its cult status is well-earned, with each Figaro telling a story of a time when cars were more than machines; they were life companions.

350Z Nismo

Nissan 350Z Nismo

Average sale price: $24,333 (£18,929)  |  Feb 2024 Monthly % change: +9.0%

This beast is the adrenaline junkie of the Nissan world, with performance enhancements that take the driving experience from great to “Are you kidding me?!” 

The Nismo version is a testament to Nissan’s racing heritage, built to bring the thrill of the track to the everyday drive. 

Its appeal lies not just in its speed but in its ability to make every journey an adventure. 

Looking ahead, the 350Z Nismo is practically predestined to be a future classic, embodying the spirit of performance and passion that defines the Nissan Z-car sub-brand.

Facing Headwinds – Depreciating Nissan Models

Skyline R32

Nissan Skyline R32

Average sale price: $52,127 (£40,551)  |  Feb 2024 Monthly % change: -6.2%

The Skyline R32, a.k.a. “Godzilla,” stormed onto the scene and instantly became the stuff of legend. But even titans face challenges. 

Despite its cult status and racing pedigree, the R32 is navigating through a bit of a storm. 

Authentic JDM cars have been big business in recent years, with price tags rising astronomically in some places.

But even the best cars sometimes experience market corrections, which is what’s happening here.

And with ever-tightening emissions and import regulations, getting one on the road in certain parts of the world is becoming as tricky as threading a needle while wearing boxing gloves. 

But fear not – “Godzilla” isn’t about to go extinct; it’s just finding its footing in a changing market.


Nissan Pao

Average sale price: $6,900 (£5,367)  |  Feb 2024 Monthly % change: -11.8%

The Nissan Pao – it’s like a perfectly preserved slice of retro pie, with a side of quirkiness. 

When it first zipped onto the scene, it was all the rage, thanks to its unique styling and throwback vibes. 

But lately, the Pao is feeling a bit like yesterday’s news. As tastes evolve, the once fervent interest in its distinctiveness has started to wane among younger collectors who lean towards models with a bit more vroom. 

Still, its charm isn’t lost; it’s just waiting for the right audience to rekindle the love affair.

Sports 1600

Datsun Sports 1600

Average sale price: $12,471 (£9,701)  |  Feb 2024 Monthly % change: -19.2%

The Datsun Sports 1600 – a breezy, open-top cruiser that once ruled the roads with its laid-back vibe and sunny disposition. 

This classic roadster holds a special place in history, offering a glimpse into the golden era of motoring. 

However, in the fast-paced world of classic car collecting, it’s facing a bit of an identity crisis. 

With market demand skewing towards more iconic or performance-oriented models, the Sports 1600 finds itself in a tricky spot, trying to match its historical charm with current valuation trends. 

It’s a reminder that in the world of classic cars, fame can be fleeting, but true class lives on.


Nissan GT-R

Average sale price: $92,580 (£72,017)  |  Feb 2024 Monthly % change: -3.8%

The GT-R – a name that resonates with power, prestige, and unparalleled performance.

Dubbed the “supercar killer,” it’s a modern marvel that has left an indelible mark on the automotive world. 

Yet, even titans have their Achilles’ heel. As ever more advanced supercars roll out, brimming with the latest tech and even more mind-blowing performance stats, the GT-R is facing a curious dilemma. 

Its value is experiencing some turbulence, possibly due to shifting collector preferences towards the latest and greatest, or perhaps because the very essence of what makes a car ‘collectible’ is evolving.

Nevertheless, the GT-R is the youngest of all models on this list, and there will be plenty of time in the future for it to pick up momentum in the modern classic market.

Looking Ahead – The Future of Nissan Classics

As we look into the horizon of Nissan’s storied journey through the automotive landscape, the shift toward the future beckons with both promise and a hint of nostalgia. 

Emerging Collectibles and Market Influencers

The landscape of Nissan’s classic car appreciation is fertile ground for speculation. Certain models stand out as potential candidates for significant value appreciation. 

Cars like the late-model 370Z or early iterations of the Leaf, for instance, may not be on every collector’s radar today but hold promise due to their pivotal role in Nissan’s history and their representation of key technological milestones. 

The influence of digital media platforms and a younger generation of collectors, with their penchant for the unique and technologically significant, could drive interest in models previously overshadowed by their more illustrious predecessors.

Sleeper Hits to Watch

Among the vast repertoire of Nissan’s classics, hidden gems await their moment in the spotlight. 

Models such as the unique NX Coupe or the lesser-known variants of the Silvia could emerge as sleeper hits. 

Nissan NX Coupe

Their limited production numbers, distinctive design elements, and the growing nostalgia for the era they represent make them prime candidates for appreciation. 

As the collective memory of automotive enthusiasts veers towards the late 20th century, these models might just become the next big thing in the classic car market.

Nissan’s EV Transition

Nissan’s ambitious stride towards an electric future, highlighted by their pioneering work with the Leaf, poses intriguing questions for the classic car market. 

As the automotive world gravitates towards electric vehicles (EVs), the allure of gasoline-powered classics enters a new phase of appreciation.

For me personally, it will be a cold day in hell before I appreciate an EV as a classic. But I do accept that at some point, cars like the Leaf will be appreciated for the pioneering work that went into its development.

I think we’re a way off that, though.

For collectors, this eventual transition might signal a shift in strategy, emphasizing the preservation of classic models as cultural artifacts of a bygone era.

But for now, let’s stick with the fun stuff.

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Adam Chinn writes about the intersecting worlds of classic cars, driving pleasure, and smart investment strategies. Starting his journey at 26, he’s proven that one doesn’t need to be wealthy to begin investing in classic cars.

Adam’s insights have been recognized on platforms such as MoneyInc, Swagger Magazine, and Top Speed.

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