The Skyline is one of the most historic Japanese cars and has been around in various models for over 55 years already. The Skyline's production started in 1955 with the introduction of the Skyline ALSI-1, a car built by the Prince Motor Company. The Prince Motor Company was established in 1952 by the Tama Electric Car Company. Tama itself was founded by Tachikawa Aircraft Company which built fighter planes in World War II, and started producing the Tama Electric Car in 1952.
In honor of the Emperor of Japan Crown Prince Hirohita, Tama changed its name to Prince Motor Company and started producing petrol powered instead of electric cars. Prince used an engine designed by Fuji Precision Industries, a company which was established by Nakajima Aircraft Company. In 1954, the Prince Motor Company merged with Fuji Precision Industries.
In 1966, the Japanese government recommended that larger companies should be created which would be more competitive in international markets and more resistant to hostile takeover attempts of foreign competitors. As a consequence, Nissan merged with Prince, just as Toyota merged with Hino and Daihatsu. Thus, from 1967 on, Princes were sold as Nissans or Datsuns. Even though, the Prince division is still alive within Nissan and responsible for the Skyline line-up today.
Intially sold in Japan and selected left-hand-drive markets only, the Nissan Skyline went international in 2002 with the introduction of the Infiniti G in the US. The European market followed in 2010. In addition to the traditional coupe and sedan bodystyles, the lineup has meanwhile been expanded by a convertible (G37 only) and a crossover SUV, whereas the Nissan Skyline GT-R was succeeded by the Nissan GT-R in 2007.
1st Generation (1957 - 63): Prince Skyline ALSI-Series
Prince Skyline ALSI - 1 Series
The ALSI-1 series was built from 1957 until 1958 in sedan and station wagon bodystyles. It was powered by the 1.5-liter GA30 inline-4 engine producing 60 hp and reached a top speed of 80 mph (125 km/h).
The front suspension was a double-wishbone and coil type, while the rear suspension was a De Dion and leaf spring type. The standard and deluxe models featured different grilles and side trim.
Prince Skyline ALSI - 2 Series
1958 saw the introduction of the ALSI-2 series, which was built until 1963. The car was basically the same as its predecessor, except for a different bonnet emblem and a single large horizontal bar in the grille.
Also new were the quad headlights instead of the twin lamps featured in the ALSI-1 series and the upgraded 1.5-liter GA4 engine with 70 hp.
Prince Skyline BLRA - 3 Series by Michelotti
1961 saw the production of the limited edition, hand-built Skyline Sport BLRA-3 series, designed by the Italian Michelotti. The car came in coupe and convertible bodystyles and shared its chassis with the Gloria. The 1.9-liter GB4 engine produced 94 hp and propelled the car to 95 mph (150 km/h).
This car was very beautifully designed, but on the other hand with a price tag of 1,850,000 yen very expensive for its time. So unfortunately it was dropped in favor of the following S 50-E series, which was cheaper to produce. Only 60 units were produced.
2nd Generation (1963 - 68): Prince Skyline S50-Series
Prince Skyline S50E Series
The Prince Skyline S50E was introduced in 1963 and was built until 1968 in sedan (S50) and wagon (W50) bodystyles. It featured the new G1 engine, a 1.5-liter inline-4 producing 70 hp. In addition, the 1.9-liter GA4 engine with 91 hp was available. The S50 had a more boxy shape than its predecessors and introduced the four round tail lights, a Skyline feature that was kept for many generations until the R34 series and Nissan GT-R versions. It featured large round brake lights and smaller round turn-signals beside them.
The car came with two transmissions, a 3-speed column change gearbox and a more sporty 4-speed floor change gearbox. The latter version featured bucket seats to support its more sporty character, while the column shift version only had a single bench in front.
In 1967, the S50E series was replaced by the S57 series, which came with the new G15 engine, a 1.5-liter SOHC 4-cylinder with 88 hp. It was the most powerful 1.5-liter engine in Japan.
Prince Skyline 2000 GT (S54 Series)
In 1964 Prince started an attempt to go into racing. For this purpose the S50’s wheelbase was extended by cutting the car off in front of the firewall and adding an extra 8 inches of panel work to make a 6-cylinder engine fit in. Consequently, the 2.0-liter G7 engine from the upper class S40 Gloria model was installed to the car. In the beginning only a small number of these cars were built for GT-class racing homologation purposes, but since the car proved very popular, Prince decided to put it into full production. The resulting car was called the S54 series or the Skyline 2000 GT and came in two versions:
The Prince Skyline 2000 GT-A used an unchanged version of the G7 engine with only a single carburetor and 105 hp. In its first race, the 1964 2nd Grand Prix of Japan, the GT-A finished 2nd and almost beat the victorious Porsche 904 GTS, which was a pure race car. This was an incredible achievement considering that the Skyline was a 4-door sedan.
Following the GT-A, the Prince Skyline 2000 GT-B was introduced in 1965. It featured a 5-speed close ratio gearbox, full instrumentation, a limited slip differential, power brakes, a 99 liter fuel tank and a high compression version of the G7 with triple 40DCOE-18 Weber carburetors and 125 hp.
Both the GT-A and GT-B featured disc brakes with twin piston calipers up front and alloy finned drum-brakes at the rear. Later models even had flow through ventilation with small eye ball vents added to the dashboard.