I recently took my Nissan Skyline GT-R to CarMax for a used vehicle appraisal. This is the least likely place you’d expect to see a Nissan Skyline GT-R, except possibly for the member parking lot at your local VFW hall.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that’s right: I’ve had my Skyline appraised by the good folks at CarMax. You’d know all about this if you followed me on Twitter, because I recently posted a picture of my Skyline sitting in front of a CarMax retail establishment.
But you wouldn’t know the details: the sights. The sounds. The precise hue of the blue polo shirts on that crisp October morning. The dollar amount CarMax is willing to fork over to buy a 25-year-old Japanese vehicle with the steering wheel in the wrong place.
So today, I’m going to tell you all of that, and possibly a few other things, if I deem them relevant to the story.
Before we get started, I think it’s important to explain why I got the Skyline appraised by CarMax. It all started a few weeks ago, when I got my Hummer appraised. As I recall, the CarMax people pored over it, and they checked the VIN, and they examined every nook and cranny, and they looked up auction results, and they called a few buyers, and then they offered me approximately one Kia Soul less than it’s worth.
Frankly, I was content to let my CarMax experience end here, but you, the reader, were not. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever received so many messages on one topic as I did from people asking me to bring my Skyline to CarMax. I got e-mails (“Dear Doug, can you take your Skyline to CarMax?”). I got text messages (“Hey man, take your Skyline to CarMax!”). I got YouTube comments (“u should of taken ur skyline asshole”).
And that’s how I found myself strolling into my local CarMax early one recent Tuesday morning with a smile on my face, and a swing in my step, and a 25-year-old imported Japanese car in the parking lot.
Before we get into what happened, I suppose I should mention what I thought was going to happen. I figured there were only two possibilities: number one, they would value the car at roughly the same dollar amount as any other 25-year-old Nissan, which is to say: sixteen hundred bucks, or sixteen fifty if you bring us the spare key. Or number two: they would tell me to get lost on account of the fact that I was showing up in a right-hand drive Japanese car with a 14-digit VIN and a mini-disc player.
Either way, I figured there was no way they’d be able to come up with an accurate value, which is, of course, 45,100 credits in GranTurismo 2.
So I walked in, and we went to a computer to take down some details about me and the car. At first, I thought it would end right there. I thought we would get to the little dropdown menu, and we wouldn’t find “Nissan Skyline”, and the guy I was dealing with would call over his manager, and they’d walk outside to examine the car, and someone would say to me: “Sir, get out of here with your ridiculous weirdwagon.”
But that’s not what happened. What happened was, we got to the pull-down menu for Nissan, and there it was: an available selection for “SKYLINE.” In other words: I am not the first idiot who has attempted to sell a Nissan Skyline to CarMax. Although I suspect I am the first idiot who has attempted to sell a Nissan Skyline to CarMax that wasn’t in immediate risk of getting crushed by the federal government into a cube no larger than a microwave.
Once we finished with the computer, we went outside with a CarMax buyer named Andy. This is where things diverge a bit between “what I thought would happen” and “what actually happened.”
WHAT I THOUGHT WOULD HAPPEN: We would walk outside, the buyer would look at the car, he would ask if this was some sort of high-performance Maxima, and then he’d ask if I switched over the steering wheel myself. And I’d tell this story to you guys, and you’d laugh uproariously while reading about it on the toilet at work.
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: We walked outside and Andy asked me if the four-wheel steering system had been disconnected yet.
As it turned out, Andy knew the Nissan Skyline well. He was a car enthusiast: his dad had a Mitsubishi Starion. He had owned three Toyota Land Cruisers. His friends drag raced their muscle cars. He had no trouble driving on the wrong side of the car. He knew of the Skyline’s RB26 engine. In other words: he was the worst possible person I could’ve encountered while slyly attempting to get CarMax to appraise a Nissan Skyline GT-R.
So we went for a quick test drive, and when we got back, Andy went inside to figure out a value. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited.
Normally, this process takes roughly ten minutes, because normal cars are easy to assess. Some guy comes in with a used Dodge Avenger and you look over the car, and you look over the Carfax report, and you look over auction results, and you look over the guy to see how far behind on his rent he looks, and then you offer him what a used Dodge Avenger is worth: eleven bucks and a CarMax promotional windbreaker.
But the Skyline wasn’t so easy. So it didn’t surprise me that more than 20 minutes went by before Andy finally emerged with the valuation.
And that valuation was…
“I’m sorry,” Andy told me. “But we can’t make an offer on the car.”
This didn’t surprise me. What surprised me was the reason. It wasn’t the fact that the car is right-hand drive, or that it has a short VIN number, or that it’s so old. It wasn’t the fact that it’s imported, or that it’s an unusual model, or that there aren’t any similar cars for a comparison. It was simply because the odometer was in kilometers and not miles.
“In Pennsylvania, we can only buy cars where the odometer has been converted to miles,” he told me. “We’ve run into the same problems with cars from Canada.” Then he thanked me for giving him the opportunity to drive it, and we parted ways.
And so, it turns out that CarMax—which will famously make an offer on any vehicle you bring them, even if it’s 30 percent car and 70 percent duct tape—doesn’t want anything to do with my Nissan Skyline GT-R.
That’s a shame, because I was really excited about the promotional windbreaker.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn’t work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.