Originally manufactured in 1955
by independent Japanese automaker Prince Motor Company
(neé Tama Electric Car Company
) the Prince Skyline is the forefather
of today's amazing Nissan Skyline sports car
The Skyline began life as a modest, stately saloon car (a station wagon model was also in the lineup) in 1957. A far cry from today's Skylines, the original "ALSI" Skyline was powered by a 1.5-liter, overhead valve flat-four cylinder, producing 60 horsepower (later improvements would yield 70 hp). A special, limited edition "Skyline Sport", designed by Italian Michelotti, appeared only in 1961 for the more performance-minded driver. It utilized a 1.8-liter, overhead cam engine producing 94 hp; unfortunately, the impressive hand-built car (which looks remarkably similar to today's Nissan Skyline R34) was far too expensive for most, and was dropped from the lineup.
The second generation (S50) Skyline appeared in `63, and, like the first ALSIs, was produced as a sedan and a wagon. The engine, while new, gave just as much performance as the previous GA-4 engine (not much -- 70 horses). This new generation Skyline introduced a distinctive, four-circle taillight setup (rumored to have been inspired by the Chevrolet Corvette) that the Skyline still retains today. In `67, the S50 was replaced by the S57, using a new, 88 hp, 1.5-liter OHC engine, making the Skyline the strongest ~1500cc-powered car in Japan.
In 1964, Prince decided to enter the Skyline into the world of racing. The frame was modified to jam in the G7 inline six-cylinder engine, taken from the top-class Prince Gloria (another car which later became a Nissan, and still is today -- also a humorous name by itself). Only a few of these modified Skylines, called the S54, were created at first (in order to meet production requirements before it could enter Gran Turismo class races) -- but, it became so popular that it entered wider production from 1965 through 1968 as the Skyline 2000GT, of which there were two models -- the GT-A (running at 106hp with a single carburator) and the GT-B (127 hp, with a limited slip differential and a 3-2 -- triple two-barrel carburator setup). The GT-B finished well in its first race -- the second Grand Prix of Japan, where it took a close second place to a Porsche 904. This and similar racing triumphs paved the way to Skyline racing glory.
Nissan and Prince merged in 1966, after the Japanese Diet decreed that small companies merger and create larger conglomerates, to prevent hostile corporate takeovers. From then on, the Skyline was labelled as a Nissan, though the Prince team still develops it.
Forward to Nissan Skyline C-series.