Worth the Wait
Anthony had to wait 20 years for this car, but it was worth it.
These days it seems like you can get just about anything delivered to your door. Clothes, groceries, gray market cars; you know, the essentials. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never considered importing a car and taking a bite of forbidden fruit. Anthony Biffle actually did it. He bought a JDM R32 Skyline from an ocean away.
His story is proof that it’s possible to order your dream car and have it delivered, but the process is certainly not without its challenges.
“Everything that I asked for was met, and it was great, but the things that I didn’t ask about were the ones that kind of went under the radar, and I got caught by,” Biffle said.
Color didn’t matter and tasteful modifications were fine. What he cared about was finding a rust-free example with verified miles and a good auction rating. Still, he was surprised to find that the car was delivered with no wiper blades or windshield trim, and a broken fuel gauge. Since the car could not be shipped with fuel, he also had to find enough gas at the port to reach a gas station. Not all surprises were unpleasant, though. What he thought was a black painted hood turned out to be carbon fiber.
Think back to your last video call, and imagine doing a final pre-purchase walkaround on a 30-year-old car with that kind of resolution. It’s in a buyer’s best interest to ask as many questions as possible and get photos of key details.
“Know what you want, and then kind of be extreme,” Biffle recommended.
Still, the reward can absolutely outweigh the extra work.
“I’d only seen two or three in-person before and, of course, never gotten to drive one or even sat in one, so it was all a lot of stuff happening all at once,” Biffle said. “But it was great, man. That’s probably one of those days I’ll never forget.”
There are multiple ways to go about bringing a car into the United States. Whether you handle everything yourself or hire an import service, you’ll have to invest some combination of legwork and money – reducing one only increases the other.
In many ways, life with the Skyline is less of an adjustment than you might think. Biffle said one of his biggest challenges is explaining to people that it doesn’t make 1,000 horsepower, despite what the internet would have us believe. While the car’s performance modifications are effective and well-built, they aren’t necessarily flashy. People are often surprised by the simplicity of the engine bay, and how tame the exhaust note is.
“I’ve got a Veilside exhaust on it … when it was new, it was almost $7,000,” Biffle said. “Quietest thing you’ll ever hear.”
He’s right about the volume, but I can testify that the sound it makes is glorious.
Is the part you found online a real Nismo product? Just check the price.
The cost of his exhaust is consistent with other aftermarket parts for this kind of car. You can even buy Nismo cupholders if you can find them, but they’ll cost you. Skyline owners on a budget need to decide which items are worth buying name brand, and which can be 3D-printed and bought on eBay.
“It’s easy to find stuff that’s fake because it’s affordable,” Biffle said of counterfeit parts.
Tracking down components is part of the game. Do it right, and you’ll have a car that’s one-of-a-kind. Biffle never gets tired of seeing people’s faces light up when he arrives at a car meet.
“That cool factor is just there … it’s not the fastest thing out there whatsoever, but it’s fun, it’s iconic, it’s instantly recognizable, and – no matter what – it’s still a Skyline,” Biffle said.
People naturally ask about his modifications, but he feels like they’re basic: a big single turbo, larger injectors, and an E85 tune. What gets him excited is talking to the person who painted their car like an old warplane, or replaced their shifter with a katana handle, because that’s where he sees innovation. He loves the diversity at car shows, from the grandfather with a classic Corvette to the teenager with their first car. Welcoming new enthusiasts to car meets is important, no matter what they arrive in.
“It’s a piece of junk, but it’s his piece of junk,” Biffle said. “And it’s the coolest thing ever.”
Negative car show experiences in his childhood inspired him to welcome everyone. Biffle knows his car draws attention, and he makes an effort to be welcoming and inclusive. When approached by a family with a six-year-old who wanted a picture with the car, he let the little boy sit in the driver’s seat and even start the engine. He also seeks out opportunities to let other owners talk about their cars.
“I’ll usually try to find the quiet guy that’s sitting by himself because that guy is having a bad time,” Biffle said. “He’s probably not having that much fun.”
A turn of the ignition can transport you to your high school days or Mount Akagi – the choice is yours.
Biffle described the Skyline community as friendly and supportive. They fix their own cars by necessity, and they welcome anyone who wants to join them. These cars are legendary but still attainable.
“If you were just dead-set on an R32 – nothing else mattered for you, you just want an R32 – you can have one for ten grand,” Biffle said.
Sure, at that price it wouldn’t be GT-R, probably wouldn’t have a turbo, and might not even have a six-cylinder engine. Does that matter? If you have to have the GT-R, yes. If you love the model and can’t spend very much, who could criticize your purchase?
“They’re just as great, they’re just as fun, they’re still a Skyline,” Biffle said. “It all comes back to that.”
Another important thing to remember is that a car that’s out of reach today isn’t out of reach forever.
“Thirty-five-year-old me didn’t want that car, 16-year-old me wanted that car,” Biffle said. “And I just had to wait for a while to get it, you know? And now that I’ve got it, I guess that’s what I’m saying; I get all those feelings back.”
For 35-year-old Anthony, a childhood dream car is an opportunity to teach his own kids how to tune an ECU with a laptop. They’re excellent copilots when new launch control settings need to be tested. They go to car meets, grow their love for the family Skyline and other cars, too. At one event, Biffle’s daughter spotted a Shelby Super Snake and declared that she would own one someday.
“Of course she will,” Biffle said. “Why wouldn’t you? Get one!”
That kind of outlook is empowering, and we need more of it. At the last car meet I attended, I met one person with a C8 Corvette fresh off the showroom floor and another with a 20-year-old, salvage title Lexus – and they were both beaming with pride. The cars were different but the joy in their owner’s eyes was the same.
Don’t be afraid to chase what you want. If Anthony Biffle’s experience with his Skyline is any indicator, you’ll smile every time you lay eyes on your childhood icon.
“I can show you a thousand things wrong with it, but it’s perfect,” he said. “I couldn’t see myself with anything different.”
“I never realized it could be an option … until I wanted it to be one.”
Scott is a lover of motorized fun, whether on four wheels or two. A child of the ’90s, he has a particular soft spot for hatchbacks and believes all aging cars deserve a second chance at life. Scott works as a freelance marketer for Dingo Productions in Fort Worth, Texas. If he’s not behind a camera or a computer, he’s probably chasing down new coffee shops with his wife or throwing a frisbee for his dog.
The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.