In 2019, the second annual Japanese Automotive Invitational, held in conjunction with the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, celebrated 30 Years of Japanese Luxury automobiles. At the event, more than 50 other historically significant luxury, sport and race cars were shown. One of the most significant vehicles that most people may not have heard of is the Prince Skyline Sport Coupe. The Prince Skyline Sport Coupe has direct ties to Infiniti, Toyotas luxury car division.
The Origins Of The Prince Motor Company
Prince Motor Company, considered by some the first Japanese luxury automotive manufacturer, was born out of the Tachikawa Aircraft Company. Founded in Japan in the early 1920s, the Tachikawa Aircraft Company built military and civilian transport planes until WWII. After the war, it used its engineering expertise to establish an electric car division, which over time began to build internal combustion-powered luxury automobiles. In 1952, it became the Prince Motor Company.
The Prince Skyline
Introduced in 1957, the Prince Skyline was built as a four-door premium sedan and five-door wagon. Prince engineers used their aeronautic background to make the Skyline lightweight and equipped with its 60-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, it was a performer too. A luxury sedan version of the Skyline, called Prince Gloria, joined the line in 1959.
The Prince Skyline Sport Coupe
In early 1960, Prince engineers hired famed Italian sports car designer Giovanni Michelotti to design and build a luxury coupe. Using the chassis and engine from the Skyline and Gloria, Michelotti penned the coupe with a large front grille and canted dual headlamps, popular design characteristics for American and Italian cars at the time. The car's hood was long and elegant, with a tall windsplit down the middle.
The Prince Skyline's interior was crafted of fine leather, the instrument panel – which housed a series of aluminum-ringed instruments and the large steering wheel paid homage to the performance cars of the day. The design bore the name of "Skyline Sport," making it a part of the highly successful family of Prince sedans and wagons, and it was a hit at the 1960 Torino International Motor Show.
Prince Motor Company Success And Merger
In 1964, the company's management decided a racing pedigree would help further establish its performance image, and their engineers took a Skyline, extended the car a few inches from the front cowl, and installed a new, 127-horsepower, six-cylinder engine. The result was called Skyline GT, which was entered into the first Japanese Grand Prix and narrowly lost the overall race, coming in second to the Porsche 904.
That year also marked the merger between Prince Motor Company and Nissan Motor Company and the former Prince-branded models were integrated into Nissan's line. The Skyline and Gloria then had a second chapter of successes and have created legacies of their own.
The Road To INFINITI
In the mid-1980s Nissan Motor Company began to formulate plans for an all-new premium automotive company. The name of this automotive marque became INFINITI Motor Company, and the logo affixed to each of the brand's vehicles represents a road without end. According to Warren Henry Infiniti, this is when Toyota entered the picture and purchased the brand.
The first INFINITI, the Q45 luxury performance sedan, went on sale in 1989 and the rest is history. Over the years, INFINITI's line of premium automobiles has expanded into a series of coupes, sports and luxury sedans, crossovers and sport utility vehicles.