18 December 2020

More than an old car #160: Prince (Nissan) Skyline

One of the nice things about this blogging journey is to come across rarities that people may not be fully aware about, and I aim to bridge the gap between the car and the individual. This 1968 Prince Skyline S57 is a good example of being rare yet foreign at the same time...

The lineage of the Prince Skyline can be traced back to Fuji Precision Industries back in 1957, with the introduction of the ALSI/BLSI series. Developed by Shinichiro Sakurai, he remained a prominent figure behind the entire Skyline range until his death in 2011. The S50 series was the 2nd in the Skyline family, and the company name had been changed to the Prince Motor Company. At the time, the automobile industry was being reorganized under the guidance of the government to welcome foreign automobile manufacturers, due to the liberalization of automobile imports. Introduced in both sedan and wagon form in 1963, the S50 was intended to be a family sedan, and it proved to be popular among families and taxi drivers in part of Prince's 'maintenance-free' warranty program, such as a 40,000 km/ 2 year warranty for the engine.

In 1964, the more well-known S54 was unveiled and it grew in prominence in the Japan Grand Prix. This led on to the development of the S57 Skyline in 1967, featuring an increased engine output of 88 hp even with a 1.5 litre engine. It was distinguished by a red '88' badge on the grille and a small 'OHC' script on the rear, along with modifications done to the front fascia. Furthermore, as Prince had been merged with Nissan in 1966, there was a discreet 'Nissan' badge on the grille as well. The S57 was powered by a 1483 cc G-15 engine, which was the most powerful 1.5 litre engine intended at that time. It was 4100 mm long and weighed 940 kg

Production of the S50 series ended in 1968 with a total of 114,238 units sold, although there is no breakdown of individual models. Japanese cars of the 1960s are generally very rare today as most fell prey to rust. The first S50 sedans were sold by Kian Gwan Motors (Malaysia) Ltd in 1965, then the sole agent for Prince Motors in Malaya. Some were even entered into races during that period. The S57 especially was produced for only 1 year, so it is not inconceivable that only a few hundred may be left worldwide. Somehow this fresh import has made its way here: the owner must have a keen eye in actually recognising this unique obscurity. A similar unit is for sale at 1.98 million yen (S$25,667), which gives an indication of how uncommon it is. It should be a matter of time before it gets registered, and hopefully you will be able to catch it someday!