CRAFT SPORTS Naples
I've been coming down from New England to South West Florida my entire life multiple times a year to be with family and later friends, so when I heard a dealership specializing in GTRs was cropping up 20 minutes from where I visit, I was blown away! It was like a weird convergence of the place I spent so much time in my formative years and the cars I dreamed of throughout my life. Such an endeavor seems much more likely in a place like California where it feels like everything car related seems to sprout from. Naples, Florida seems random in comparison.
During the year I hadn't visited Florida due to the pandemic, Craft Sports set up their operation stateside and filled their inventory primarily with GTRs, as is their specialty, with a few interesting additions in the mix.
Craft Sports's stateside operation may be new, but the company itself is far from it. Founded in Gunma, Japan in 1995, Craft Sports quickly grew into the largest GTR specialty shop and dealer in Japan and a mainstay in the Skyline community due to their dedication to the chassis. Their dedication to Nissan's flagship sports car is obvious given them closing up shop for a couple months right after my visit to campaign an R35 with Nismo as a partner in Super GT with Nismo's GT500 program.
Given the popularity of Japanese imports the past few years in the US, it only seemed logical to expand their dealer network into the States and eliminate the middle man, and due to their solidity in the market, they were able to fill their Naples dealership quickly with Japanese dream machines. The white floors, walls, and ceiling made the entire experience look like a dream!
Despite seeming like a sea of clones, there was actually a strong variety of R-chassis cars in various state of modification. That said within the collection on sale all the modifications seemed to be reversible ones sympathetic to the idea that these cars are becoming collectors items, especially the cars they curated.
A reoccurring brand amongst the modified examples was Tommy Kaira, a niche tuning company founded in 1986 beginning with Mercedes of all brands but settling early into an affinity for Nissan's sports car platforms and various Subarus. Like a few tuning shops of the era, Tommy Kaira released numbered complete cars similar to a pre-merger AMG wearing their full catalogues of parts.
This example of a Tommy Kaira Type R wore a host of TK parts like their front bumper and wing, a set of Tommy Kaira's 3 piece wheels, Tommy Kaira Recaro seats, Tommy Kaira coilovers, interior accessories, and ECU. This car also hosted a few Nismo parts like their side skirts, rear spats, and suspension arms.
Another similarly equipped Tommy Kaira Type R sat a few cars away wearing a set of Enkei GTC01s.
Parked right at the front door was one of the simpler modified examples and one of my personal favorites. The exterior remained stock save for HKS coilovers and a set of matching black OG TE37s. Besides wheel fitment, my other favorite part was the GT focused interior featuring rare Recaro SP-J Raptor reclinable seats.
In their on site inventory, Craft Sports kept the most R32s on hand of all the R chassis, but the R33 generation wasn't left out and was well represented with this trio of silver GTRs.
The first of the trio was this Tommy Kaira equipped example, although this GTR was a homage and not a Tommy Kaira built car. Craft Sports fitted TK's 6 piece aero kit along with a set of their three piece wheels.
Another top 3 favorite was this R33 GTR V-Spec. I'm not good with R33 aero so I'm not sure what it was running but whatever it was looked good. Behind the BBS LMs sat a set of R35 GTR brakes up front.
I was salivating over the set of rare GTR spec Volk SE37Ks this R33 wore!
Tucked deep amongst the R32s was a rather special car. Autech was a subsidiary of Nissan Japan producing special variants of Nissans performance models of the 90s and early 2000s. One of their early models was this R32 sedan. Only 201 examples of this model were produced and ran a naturally aspirated variant of the RB26 from the GTR producing 220ps mated to a 4 speed automatic fed into an Attesa AWD system. All examples came dressed in this JK0 paint code. These cars were rare from the beginning, but what makes them even more rare today is Rocky Auto and other shops like it in Japan poaching them for their NA, high compression RB26DEs for swaps into cars like 240Zs, Hakosuka Skylines, and other classic Japanese models. What examples remain are becoming more desirable.
Sharing space with it was an even more rare machine...
Nismo's rendition of the S14 Silvia was quite a special car with only 30 being produced. Dubbed the 270R referencing the 270ps the modified SR20DET produced. Cams, an intercooler, and a revised ECU give the car its additional power while retaining on road manners and suspension tweaks, an upgraded clutch, and upgraded driveshaft help to make use of the extra power.
The most obvious differentiation between a normal Silvia and a 270R would be the exterior. All examples came in Nissan's KH3 "Super Black" color and wore a bespoke Nismo kit consisting of front and rear bumpers, side skirts, wing, and that funky vented hood. They also came with a special set of wheels although this one wore SSR Type Cs. Of the existing 30 examples, this one was stamped #3.
Although the "newer" Skylines were much more popular, there were a couple older HR31 Skylines in their inventory, this one being a GTS model wearing an original exterior except for the RS Watanabes.
Before the R34 GTRs arrived after my visit, this was the big daddy of the collection; a Midnight Purple R33 GTR on Nismo LMGT2s! Since then it's been sold and it's position in the inventory hierarchy has been filled by a plethora of R34 GTRs including a Millennium Jade V-Spec II Nur and a Midnight Purple II model.
Although Craft Sports specializes in R chassis and associated Nissans, they're not exclusive to them. Amongst the RB machines was a stock MK4 Supra RZ, an SW20 MR2 on AVS Model T6s, and this NA1 NSX on BBS RG-R. I couldn't get a good photo, but the entire interior was custom wrapped in red leather to contrast the silver exterior.
The setting of this dealership and the dream machines in it really made it feel like you were inside a Gran Turismo showroom.
The pair of matching black R32 GTRs on gold faced BBS LMs looked perfect.
I used to feel like the only wheel option for R32 GTRs were a fat set of 18s but recently I've started to come around to 17s as an option.
I could have spent the rest of my life lurking amongst all these cars.
The showroom was fairly large, but not enormous. However, the cars never seemed to end! What an incredibly special place this is in the US. No time spent wandering around here felt like enough time. Considering just how many new cars have already been added and replaced in their inventory since I visited a couple months ago so there's more than enough reason to check it out again next time I'm in the area.
Thank you so much to the guys over at Craft Sports being so accommodating!
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