I recently purchased a Prince Skyline 2000GT-B. For those unfamiliar with the car, here is an explanation and short video of its historical significance. With interest in landmark Japanese cars at an all-time high, it’s quite possible that the six-cylinder Prince Skyline GTs could be the next blue chip JNC. For those interested in the model, here is a quick reference so you know how to tell the difference between a 2000GT-A and 2000GT-B.
The first hotted up Prince Skylines came in May 1964. Father of the Skyline Shinichiro Sakurai wanted to capture the GT-II class win at that year’s Japan Grand Prix, and shoehorned a Prince Gloria G7 2.0L straight-six into the engine bay of the base Skyline, where a 1.5L inline-four came standard. The nose had to be lengthened 200mm at the cowl in order to accommodate the motor.
As per homologation rules, 100 units had to be built for road use, and Sakurai’s team barely finished them in time to enter the newly christened Prince Skyline 2000GT into the Grand Prix. Initially, however, the production Skyline 2000GT came with a single 2-barrel carb setup good for 105PS, whereas the race cars had triple Webers capable of 165PS. This first batch of 100 were given the chassis code S54-I.
In February 1965, Prince offered for sale a proper version of the race car with triple-Weber 40DCOE carbs good for 125PS. However, since the model was still called the Skyline 2000GT, these became known as the 2000GT-B amongst enthusiasts, or chassis code S54B-II.
Later that year, in September 1965, Prince helpfully renamed the single-carb version to 2000GT-A, and its corresponding chassis code became S54A-II, while the first 100 from May 1964 were retroactively called the S54A-I.
When looking for a GT-B to buy, we noticed that there are quite a few GT-B “spec” models out there. A spec model in Japan is the term used to describe a standard or lower specification model that has either been modified to the upgraded trim, or simply to just look like the higher specification model. This most common application of this phenomenon is with the run-of-the-mill Hakosuka GT-X modified into GT-R clones with the addition of rear flares and a spoiler.
With the Prince Skyline, the lower spec GT-A is often made to look like a cooking-spec GT-B. The GT-B’s triple-Weber carburetors and their native velocity stacks are just one of the many mechanical differences.
Due to the GT-B’s triple Weber configuration, the fresh air channel on the passenger side is also modified. The GT-B also has under-hood louvers to aid cooling.
The GT-B also came with a 5-speed close-ratio gearbox was also available for race purposes on the GT-B. While on the surface more desirable, they are clunky, have an unusual shift-pattern (fifth next to fourth), and are sometimes prone to second-gear problems.
Luckily, my GT-B carries a 4-speed (above), which is more than capable in maintaining pace with fast traffic light starts and, with a top gear ratio similar to the 5-speed, easy expressway cruising.
While the GT-A had blue “GT” fender badges, the GT-B had red ones, a tradition that continued onto the Hakosuka GT-R and beyond. Check the GT-B for a limited slip differential (which back in the day cost less than the clock option!) and firmer shock absorbers. There are also a few subtle sub-frame differences as well, such as rear anti-sway bar mounts.
The GT-B also came with a 99L (26.153 gallon) fuel tank with a fast churn-style race-filler in the trunk, where as the GT-A came with only a 40L (10.567 gallon) fuel tank with a conventional side filler outside of the trunk.
However, as most of these differences are bolt on, it is very easy to make a GT-B spec model. To make sure that the GT-B in front of you is a real one, look for a cut line hidden by the rear chrome spear. This last point is clearly visible from inside the trunk, where the GT-A is smooth, the GT-B has a seam.
However, if you happen to see an S54 simply passing by on the street, the easiest way to tell whether it’s a GT-B is with a quick glance at the rear flares. The GT-B’s are ever so slightly wider than a GT-A’s. Hopefully these tips will aid in your quest to get a real GT-B if you so desire.