Film star role adds £100k value to Gran Turismo Nissan GT-R

Racing Movies

The main Nissan R35 GT-R race machine campaigned by Jann Mardenborough and used in Gran Turismo: The Movie is up for auction – it represents the new "instant" star car buyers market

2 Jann Mardenborough Nissan GT-R R35

Gran Turismo star Jann Mardenborough with the actor that plays him in the film, Archie Madekwe

Gran Turismo

Last month the car below, a racing-spec Nissan R35 GT-R, would sell for approximately £150,000. This Friday, it’s being auctioned with an estimate of £235,000-£275,000.

The £100k difference is quite simply the release of Gran Turimso: The Movie, in which it takes a starring, Pirelli-shredding role.

In years gone by the value of celebrity and film star cars accumulated over years if not decades. One of the main Volkswagen Beetles used in the original Herbie franchise was sold for over £95,000 after idling in a Disney parking lot for over forty years, a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball went for $3.5m after being hidden away in a private collection for four decades and more recently film star Peter Sellers’ DB4GT – used himself in ’60s comedy caper Wrong Arm of the Law –  sold with a reserve of £2.6m.

Previously, cars would sit in a garage collection, a padlocked carpark or the classic dusty old barn, then come to auction and sell for an eye-watering amount. Now though, a change is coming, driven by the immense instantaneous PR power of social media, streaming services and computer games.

6 Jann Mardenborough Nissan GT-R R35

R35 has had its provenance hugely increased by exploits in the real world, the virtual and on camera

A car can achieve notoriety overnight, and then be yours to buy straight away. There’s no better example of this than the 2014 Nissan R35 GT-R going under the hammer at Iconic Auctioneers as part of the historic Silverstone Festival this Friday.

But its not any run-of-the-mill GT machine – the Nissan is the star car at the centre of the action in Gran Turismo: The Movie, the biopic of gamer-turned-racer Jann Mardenborough.

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Not only did the former Nissan works driver race the GT-R in the mid 2010s, finishing ninth at the 2015 Nürburgring 24 Hours the chassis itself was used extensively in racing scenes for the $200m Sony picture starring Orlando Bloom, David Harbour and Archie Madekwe – and will be up for auction for over £225,000 to £275,000.

Another Nissan GT-R competition car, without the cinematic provenance, sold recently for £150k, meaning this one’s starring role could have added as much as £125k to its value.

Lionel Abbott, a car specialist for Iconic Auctioneers which is selling the car, tells Motor Sport that “You’ve got a chance to buy a car as it hits the cinemas local to you – the market now is so instant.”

Mardenborough’s story is one which is almost difficult to be believed, from the shy teenage bedroom gamer to an international motor sport star on the 2013 Le Mans podium in just a couple of years.

The trajectory of celebrity cars from motoring curios to auction icons is now becoming similarly meteoric, as Abbott explains.

“It goes back to cars usually from the ‘60s, when you’re looking at E-Types and Astons owned by the likes of Sellers,” he says.

4 Jann Mardenborough Nissan GT-R R35

Guide price is between £235,000 and £275,000

Silverstone Auctions

“Normally it happens 20-30 years after the event, maybe someone saw the film in the ‘60s – 30 years later they’ve actually got the resource to make an ‘evocative buy’.

“The difference with this GT-R is now we’re in a world which is so current and fast. You can bid for the car as it hits the cinemas.”

What makes it further unique is that various iterations of the car have been massively popular in the video game franchise in the first place – fans will remember racing it on their Playstation, and now have a chance to own one of the ultimate competition versions.

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Abbott says changes in the market reflect changes in buyers’ tastes through the media they consume.

“It’s become such a powerful tool with Gran Turismo and Fast and Furious,” he says.

“Those cars now are appealing to that ’90s generation who played all these games, perhaps they now run a tech company for example, and now they have the resource to indulge.

“I think that’s what could drive this. The market is just very intense and you’ve got probably a four or five month window before those kinds of people are satisfied and move on. 70% of our bidder are first-time buyers. Everything is just so instant.

“No one waits for any maturity. We’ve already had an inquiry from a guy who has got a museum in America.

“It’s something where he can go ‘Right, here’s a car from Gran Turismo and that’s gonna bring 20-30,000 people over the threshold of museum.’ It’s that kind of that mentality now I think.”

Abbott cites the recent example of the TVR Cerbera Speed 12 – the one-off road car monster which old for £600,000 – as another ‘fantasy’ computer game car (it was featured in several Gran Turismo and Forza releases) buyers could now drive in reality capturing people’s imaginations, but says it’s difficult to predict the added value of such cars gained by their celebrity status.


“It’s hard to work out a formula, but I think it makes them worth a fifth again, in terms of value, in some in some cases.

“[Fast and Furious star] Paul Walker’s Toyota Supra sold for a massive amount of money recently [£430,000]. And I think that was over 10 times the car’s [non-celebrity] value, but the association is a powerful thing.”