Breaking the “Gentlemen’s Agreement”
Making production cars that are all under a specific horsepower was thought to be the safest way to go for all Japanese automakers like Nissan and Mitsubishi. With this in mind, somewhere along the lines there was a “gentlemen’s agreement” that was to limit the horsepower of all production cars to 300 horsepower. Most have been happy with the results as they enjoy reaching close to this number and adding dynamic features such as more active suspensions or a more responsive steering system to cars in order to ensure they can still offer performance many will desire in their vehicles.
With the Nissan GT-R the thought was to still keep it below 300 horsepower because of the agreement and the fact that it is a production car. This car is also supposed to be one of the best sports cars in the world, which led Nissan to a path that was difficult to navigate. One owner of an R-32 GT-R, Doug DeMuro started to wonder about the GT-R and the overall horsepower it came with, especially when he noticed a trend in the market and a different between two identical models offered on different continents.
DeMuro is part of the Jalopnik team which makes him somewhat of an expert in the field, and also allows him the keen eye to spot an anomaly. His R-32 GT-R which came out in 1989 was listed at 276 horsepower, the next version, the R-33 also was listed at 276 horsepower and the subsequent R-34 had the same horsepower rating as the previous two. What caught his eye was the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4. This car was listed at 320 horsepower for the US market but in Japan it was listed at 276. That certainly raised the eyebrows for DeMuro and made him want to test his GT-R to see what it really produced.
With this curiosity piqued, he took is R-32 to AWE Tuning and ran it to test the overall horsepower of the car. At the wheels the horsepower was a full 281 which meant the engine was able to produce a consistent 320 horsepower. So much for the “gentlemen’s agreement” and now with the cover blown off we can see many of the models that came out of Japan had much more horsepower than they were listed at, especially the sports car models such as the GT-Rs and the 3000GTs.
So what can we believe? First off there have been numerous occasions when a “gentlemen’s agreement” has been broken throughout history. If it’s not written down its not binding is the thought many have and these agreements are not set in stone. Maybe Nissan thought the agreement applied to the horsepower at the wheels that certainly was under 300 on the GT-R DeMuro tested? Of course that is doubtful since automakers know what they are listing is the engine horsepower when they do so, this simply was a paper shuffle that automakers were listing their cars at less than 300 horsepower to keep the peace even though many cars had more than that.