Prince Motor Company

clymer_coverLate in 1959, renowned automotive publisher Floyd Clymer took a trip to Japan and the 6th Tokyo Motorshow. Upon his return to the US, he put together this book, the ‘Complete Catalog of Japanese Motor Vehicles’ which was published in 1961. This 270 page book takes a very in depth look at the state of the Japanese motor industry at that time and covers everything from scooters to buses and microcars to heavy trucks from just about every manufacturer. The book has a wealth of photos (around 600 black and white images) and there’s plenty of data as well as chapters about the Japanese Industry, their Motorsport endeavours and advances in automotive technology as well as a variety of snaps from Clymer’s trip. I found this original, somewhat dog-eared copy of the book at a swapmeet many years ago and until now it’s been quite hard to find. But the good news is that VelocePress made it available once more from October 2013 and copies are available though the usual sources such as eBay and Amazon for around $40.

Click through to take a peek at what this book has to offer…

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To remedy the dearth of PMC posts on here I’ll begin with something Skyline flavoured… a road test of the very first of the high performance Skylines that culminated in the legendary GT-R we know today.  This car, the S54B, was developed from the original four cylinder S50 Skyline by stretching the nose by 200mm in order to squeeze in the triple carburettored 1998cc Prince G7 straight six, derived from the the S40 Gloria engine. The intention of Prince in creating this monster was to go racing in the GTII class in the Japanese Grand Prix of 1964 which they did with great success, finishing in all the positions from 2nd to 6th behind the Porsche 904 (although the Skyline did lead the race for a while!). Of course, the S54B (and S54A with single carburettor G7 engine) were also available for the public to buy and the car paved the way for next generation of straight six powered Skylines, the GC10 and in particular the GT-R.

Here, the road going S54B, or Prince Skyline 2000GT as it was known, is put through it’s paces by Australian magazine Sports Car World back in September 1966. It seems they were suitably impressed…

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Prince Motor Company products are not common in Europe these days at all despite being sold in a number of European countries back in the late 1960s. In their day, PMC produced really well engineered and rather advanced cars and they brought a great deal of know-how to Nissan when the companies merged in 1966. For example, the 410/411 Bluebird in which arrived in 1963 had what was basically a 1950’s OHV engine as well as drum brakes, wishbone front and leaf spring rear suspension. This was superseded by the 510 Bluebird only 4 years later which came equipped with a modern OHC engine, disc brakes up front and four wheel independent suspension! That late 60’s period, after the PMC merger, was really Nissan’s golden era where there was a stream of technically advanced and really well made cars such as the 510 Bluebird, C30 Laurel, C10 Skyline and the S30 Fairlady Z. Ultimately, I think without gaining the engineering expertise of PMC’s designers and engineers, Nissan’s first front wheel drive production car, the E10 Cherry, would not have arrived as early as 1970.

The only PMC car I have personally driven was an S40 Gloria such as the one shown in the Australian advert below.  Despite that particular example having spent it’s life as a taxi and thus covered very high mileage, it was still a joy to drive!

pride_prince_ad

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Looks like Iceland got a few old Japanese cars if this Icelandic scrapyard is anything to go by. Amongst the wild variety of rusting gems there’s both 230 and 430 Cedrics to be seen but best of all how about this fantastic S40 Prince Gloria?! This was probably sold there as a PMC B200 as it was in Scandinavian countries, although later ones wore Nissan badges, following the 1966 absorption of PMC into Nissan. Apart from the damage it looks to have survived it’s years with remarkable little rust. Check out the rest of the scrapyard gallery on www.opuszczone.com

Thanks to Gompo on Autoshite.com for the heads up!
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This little gem arrived in the post today all the way from China. This is the first 1/43 scale die-cast I have seen of this subject, the ALSI model Prince Skyline. This one is a 1959 Skyline and is marked as being made by Norev on the base. Therein lies a mystery. I would have presumed that this was part of the Hachette Fujingaho Car Collection as Norev make all the models in that series, however this Skyline doesn’t appear on the list of models which makes me wonder what other models may exist in that series but are not listed. Anyone know? The model itself is really good with plenty of fine details and a nice paint finish. Norev have even made the effort to model the Skyline’s de Dion rear suspension, although it’s not exactly correct, it has to be said. A nice addition to my collection of 1/43 models anyway, and another step towards having a model of each generation of Skyline!

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To most people the name Skyline conjures up images of high horsepower GT-R’s but the reality is that most Skylines are quite mundane four door family cars, often with automatic transmissions and relatively small capacity engines. The four door saloon has been the mainstay of the Skyline range right since it’s birth under the Prince Motor Company in 1957. Back in those days the Skyline only came as a sedate four door sedan, a situation that was to remain until the introduction of the C10 hardtop coupe in 1970. The names Skyline and Gloria belonged solely to Prince Motor Company until their merger with Nissan in 1966, after which the car rose to fame most notably in Nissan Skyline GT-R guise and the Gloria went on to become a ‘badge engineered’ Cedric.

As you can imagine, early Prince Skylines are very rare these days, particularly those early models from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The first model to come out was the ALSI which featured plenty of ornate chrome-work and pronounced tail fins just like it’s contemporaries rolling off production lines in Detroit. This was followed by an updated BLSI model which featured even more lavish detailing and dual headlights. These early Skylines saw export to a few European counties and around 600 were even shipped to the United States in 1960. Another country to receive a number of early Skylines was New Zealand and that’s where this particular 1962 Skyline 1900 Deluxe resides, in the South island town of Rakaia under the care of enthusiast Steve Harkness.

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It seems every Car Graphic publication I come across is incredibly comprehensive and excellent value and this new set of books on Japanese Showcars displayed at the Tokyo Motorshow down the years is no exception. The series is divided into four parts covering the periods from 1954-1969 in part one, 1970-1979 in part two, then 1981-1989 for part three and finally 1990-1999 in part four. Each book runs to around 150-170 pages with hundreds of black and white and colour photographs of cars from all Japanese manufacturers. So far I have picked up the first two volumes and can say they are well worth getting hold of, particularly as although they are a Japanese publication, they also have plenty of text in English. All the usual concepts and showcars were are familiar with are covered, but also a great many that are all but unheard of. Also, many of the photographs of well known Nissan concepts such as the 126X, 216X and 270X are ones I have not seen before and include some engine bay and interior shots. If you don’t have a supplier of Japanese books and magazines locally then you should be able to find these books available on eBay without too much difficulty.

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Whenever I have seen adverts for those monthly part-work magazines, that come with some kind of collectible item attached to the cover, it’s never really interested me. Until now that is. Sadly the Hachette Fujingaho Japanese Car Collection isn’t available here in the UK but if it was I would most definately be subscribing! This Japanese fortnightly publication features a different old Japanese car each issue and comes complete with a detailed 1/43 scale diecast model in a display case. The models are made by Norev and look similar to those produced by Ebbro. The good news for Nissan fans is there are no less than twenty five Nissans in the series which consists of a total of ninety cars. The Nissan offerings consist of a few cars already covered by other model manufactures such as Ebbro as well as a several that haven’t been modelled in this scale before, such as the A30 Gloria, KP710 Violet hardtop and the C30 Laurel. So where can you get this wonderful publication?

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Most Datsun fans will be well aware of Nissan’s amazing historic car collection which is hidden away from public view in the old factory at Zama. As this collection is not open to the public it’s relatively unlikely any of us will get to see it first hand, although rumours abound of plans to build a museum at some point. Thankfully Nissan do have one way for enthusiasts to check our what’s within the Zama plant in the form of their Heritage Car Collection website. The site not only lists each car in the collection along with pertinent data relating to it, but there’s also probably the most comprehensive time-line of Nissan models available anywhere online. Look further and there is a wealth of historical articles to read too so if you have never checked it out before click the banner below and go take a look!

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The first ever Finnish Japanese Auto Extravaganza was held in August 2001 and we were lucky enough to be there to check out some of the most unusual old Japanese cars we had ever seen. The event was held on a campsite at Riihimaki, a little north of Helsinki and was a weekend long event. The setting was beautiful (as is usually the case in Finland!) and the camp site very modern and well equipped. This being the first event of it’s kind here, the turnout was fairly small but the quality on show was high and the people very friendly. There were some vehicles in attendance which, unfortunately we never got the chance to photograph including a factory built 50 series Toyota Crown pickup but those that we did capture in the gallery below show what an extraordinary variety of old Japanese machinery exists in Finland.

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