A look inside Nissan’s incredible secret motorsport HQ

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TG was granted very special access to Nissan’s warehouse. And it was excellent

“How much? That’s impossible to tell,” Nissan’s Kazuo Hioki laughs. TG has asked him to quantify the net worth of the cars stuffed inside a nondescript, secret warehouse in Zama, and he’s struggling to count.

It’s impossible, but you get some idea from just one of the astonishing machines on display. The R390 GT1 car that took part at Le Mans in 1998, for example, is estimated to be valued at well over £1m. Another, the original Skyline GT-R, is worth a stratospheric amount too.

Zama of course, will ring a bell to anyone with a passing interest in Nissan’s history. It’s the heritage warehouse northwest of Yokohama in the Kanagawa prefecture that’s home to around 450 cars covering more than 80 years of Nissan’s road and racing heritage.

It’s not open to the public, but Nissan has granted Top Gear very special access. “It opened in 2010,” Hioki-san tells us. “Before this warehouse, all the cars were just stored in car parks and the like. Probably not the best conditions – out in the open air – so we first moved inside the building across the street, and then here.”

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A team of four mechanics look after the cars on a day to day basis, but they’re not started or run very frequently, only being moved for events and shows (like the recent Nismo festival). Hioki-san – who started his Nissan career way back in 1969 and was a former Nismo director – tells us it took around 40 years to build the collection of road cars, of which around 60 per cent were acquired through donations directly to Nissan.

Donations from people like the royal family, and those who want their ancestry preserved. “We’ve had people come into our office saying, ‘my granddad used to own this car, so please look after it’, and we do,” he laughs. The motorsport stuff of course, belonged to Nissan anyway.

It’s an astonishing setup, ranging from things like a 1933 Datsun 12 Phaeton, original GT-R, and even a Mid4 prototype. But it’s the racing machinery that’s the real show-stopper.

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“The most valuable of the racing cars has to be the 1992 Daytona winner,” Hioki-san explains. He points towards the beautiful R91CP. “But my personal favourite has to be the Primera racing car. That was my baby,” he smiles.

“That, and of course, the R32 GT-R that won at Spa…” he trails off. That’s the blue ‘Calsonic’ car wheeled out at the Nismo festival, where it wasn’t so much being paraded to the Nismo fans, but rather hustled around Fuji Speedway on three wheels.

We could go on for days recounting the excellent stuff on display, but we won’t. Rather, we’ll leave you to this gallery of Nissan’s classic racers.

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1993 Skyline GT-R No. 12 ‘Calsonic’
In-line 6cyl, 2,568cc, 542bhp, 490Nm, ‘over 1,260kg’

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1998 Skyline GT-R No. 23 ‘Pennzoil NISMO GT-R’
In-line 6cyl, 2,708cc, ‘over 369bhp’, ‘over 700Nm’, ‘over 1,200kg’

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2002 Skyline GT-R No. 22 JGTC
In-line 6cyl, 2,708cc, 454bhp, 685Nm, ‘over 1,200kg’

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1983 Bluebird Super Silhouette
In-line 4cyl, 2,082cc, 562bhp, 540Nm, 1,000kg

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1983 Skyline Super Silhouette
In-line 4cyl, 2,082cc, ‘over 562bhp’, ‘over 540Nm’, 1005kg

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1983 Silvia Super Silhouette
In-line 4cyl, 2,082cc, ‘over 562bhp’, ‘over 540Nm’, 1005kg

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1999 R391 (Le Mans)
V8, 4,997cc, ‘over 592bhp’, 900kg

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1985 GTP ZX-Turbo (US IMSA GT Championship)
V6, 2,966cc, ‘over 641bhp’, ‘over 685Nm’, 860kg

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1985 R85V (Le Mans)
V6, 2,966cc, ‘over 671bhp’, ‘over 685Nm’, 880kg

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1988 R88C (Japanese & World Sports Car Championship)
V8, 2966cc, ‘over 740bhp’, ‘over 730Nm’, 850kg

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1990 R90C (Japan Sports Prototype Championship)
V8, 3,486cc, ‘over 789bhp’, ‘over 780Nm’, 900kg

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1991 R91CP (WEC, Daytona 24hrs)
V8, 3,496cc, ‘over 671bhp’, ‘over 780Nm’, 930kg

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1992 R92CP (JSPC Series)
V8, 3,496cc, ‘over 789bhp’, ‘over 780Nm’, 900kg

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1992 NP35 (JSPC)
V12, 3,499cc, ‘over 621bhp’, ‘over 392Nm’, 750kg

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1998 R390 GT1 Road Car
V8, 3,495cc, ‘over 345bhp’, ‘over 490Nm’, 1,000kg

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1997 R390 GT1 (Le Mans)
V8, 3,495cc, ‘over 641bhp’, ‘over 685Nm', 1,000kg

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1988 Skyline GTS-R
In-Line 6cyl, 2,029cc, 395bhp, 412Nm, 1,160kg

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1973 Fairlady 240Z
In-line 6cyl, 2,870cc, 296bhp, 315Nm

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1989 Skyline GTS-R (Japanese Touring Car Championship)
In-line 6cyl, 2,029cc, ‘over 400bhp’, ‘over 400Nm’

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1993 STP Taisan Skyline GT-R
In-line 6cyl, 2,568cc, 542bhp, 490Nm, 1,260kg

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1976 Cherry FII Coupe
In-line 4cyl, 1,298cc, 146bhp, 128Nm, 785kg

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1999 Skyline GT-R
In-line 6cyl, 2,708cc, 493bhp, 686Nm, 1,200kg

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1972 Skyline H/T 2000GT-R
In-line 6cyl, 1,989cc, 158bhp, 177Nm, 1,145kg

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1973 Datsun Sunny Excellent Coupe
In-line 4cyl, 1,598cc, 197bhp, 775kg

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1972 Datsun Sunny 1200 Coupe GX-5
In-line 4cyl, 1,298cc, 143bhp, 505Nm, 638kg

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1977 Violet
In-line 4cyl, 1,991cc, 197bhp, 211Nm, 960kg

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1964 Prince Skyline 2000GT
In-line 6cyl, 1,988cc, 163bhp, 180Nm, 990kg

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1962 Datsun Fairlady 1500
In-line 4cyl, 1,488cc, 79bhp, 117Nm, 870kg

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1995 Skyline GT-R
In-line 6cyl, 2,568cc, ‘over 395bhp’, ‘over 475Nm’, 1,150kg

STORY Vijay Pattni
PHOTOS Rowan Horncastle

TopGear
Author: TopGear
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the most widely watched factual television programme in the world.