October 15, 2020

1988-1993: The Golden Age of GTP

1988-1993: The Golden Age of GTP

1988-1993: The Golden Age of GTP

If competition indeed breeds excellence, the period between 1988-1993 may well be considered the Golden Age of GTP endurance sportscar racing in IMSA. For the first time in history, nine factory-backed teams competed, fielding some of the top names in motorsports in legendary skirmishes that produced a quantum leap in racing technology.

GTP, or Grand Touring Prototype cars, were single seat, closed-cockpit, purpose-built race cars using tuned production engines. They were at the pinnacle of automotive advancement for their time, second only to Formula 1.

At one point, Porsche, Nissan, Toyota, Jaguar, BMW, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Ford all crowded the grid together, making IMSA one of the greatest manufacturer battlegrounds in all of motorsports, and a favorite amongst brand-loyal racing fans who carried their enthusiasm into the dealer’s showrooms.

A true indicator of the stiff competition was the parity of the cars, with no single team running away with a dynasty. A rotating cast on the podium, and the efforts to claw back up, created intensity on racetracks around the country. The variety of the cars in the field was the secret sauce to IMSA, garnering rabid fan loyalty and pushing competition. Technological innovations that arose from this series included antilock brakes, traction control and active suspension; all mainstays of today’s sports cars.

Towards the end of this era, two frontrunners emerged: Nissan, which won the GTP championship from 1988-1991, and Toyota, which won in 1992-1993. Ultimately, it was a downturn in the Japanese economy which was partially blamed for Nissan’s withdrawal from the series in 1993, leaving a dominant and essentially unopposed Toyota to coast to victory that year. With the withdrawal of Jaguar and a number of Porsche privateers, that competitive mix was lost, and the series was renamed and sold numerous times. It lives today as the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, but those who experienced that high-flying era will always know it as IMSA.

Stratas Auctions is pleased to be able to offer one of the six original Nissan NPT-90 factory-sponsored race cars. The NPT-90 was one of the most dominant GTP cars of its day, with iconic red, white and blue livery that immediately transports one back to the heyday of endurance racing. Chassis #90-01 would log three victories and 15 podium finishes in its 22-race career at the hands of the legendary Geoff Brabham. Never crashed and highly original, #90-01 is one of the fastest and most powerful race cars ever built, and an icon of the Golden Age of GTP racing.

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