Road Test: Power Prince (S54B)

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 its paces by Australian magazine Sports Car World back in September 1966. It seems they were suitably impressed…

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Pride in Prince

Prince Motor Company products are not at all common in Europe these days, despite being sold in a number of European countries back in the late 1960s. In their day, PMC produced 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 Nissan 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 This was superseded by the 510 Bluebird only 4 years later which came equipped with a modern OHC engine, disc brakes up front and four wheel independent suspension!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 solidly engineered 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 above.  Despite that particular example having spent it’s life as a taxi and thus clocked up some epic mileage, it was still a joy to drive!

Graveyard Gloria

Looks like Iceland got a few old Japanese cars if this Icelandic scrapyard is anything to go by. Among 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

The Little Prince

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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Skyline Survivor

To most people, the name Skyline conjures up images of the high horsepower GT-R models, but the reality in most Skylines are quite mundane four door family cars, often with automatic transmissions and often little four cylinder engines. The four door saloon has been the mainstay of the Skyline range right since its 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 hardtop coupe version of the C10 in 1970. The names Skyline and Gloria were to adorn versions of this body. Both names belonged solely to Prince Motor Company until their merger with Nissan in 1966, after which the Skyline name evolved to become synonymous with high performance, most notably with the aforementioned Nissan Skyline GT-R. The Gloria went on to become a ‘badge engineered’ Cedric, noted for its luxury…

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Japanese Showcars

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.

Hachette Fujingaho Car Collection

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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Nissan Heritage Collection

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!

Finnish Japanese Auto Extravaganza

The first ever Finnish Japanese Auto Extravaganza was held in August and we were lucky enough to be there with our Norwegian friends, in my C130 Laurel and newly acquired ’67 Bluebird 411. We got 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 its 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 are in the gallery below, and serve to show what an extraordinary variety of old Japanese machinery exists in Finland. Pick of the event for me had to be the Isuzu Bellett 1600GT coupe… what a car!..

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The Last PMC Clipper in Finland?

Juhani Halmeenmaki has located this super rare Prince (PMC) Clipper truck (model AQTI) in Finland. This one has languished, abandoned for 20 years, Long enough for the rear end to sink into the ground! It was owned by a gypsy who transported horses with it. Juhani says this is probably the last Clipper in Finland. The vehicle has now been stripped of any useful parts which will be passed to Svein-Erik Finnerud in Norway to help with the restoration of his own Prince Clipper.

finclipper1
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