BUYER’S GUIDE: Prince Skyline GT-A & GT-B

Prince Skyline GT-B - GR1-197s

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. 

1966 Clubman Fuji

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.

1964 Prince Skyline 2000GT S54

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.

1965 Prince Skyline 2000GT-A S54A-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.

Prince Skyline GT-B - GR1-243s

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.

0097-8179_Nissan 1964 Prince Skyline 2000GT S54 interior

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.

Nissan Skyline GT-B shift knob

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.

Prince Skyline GT-B shipping - GR1-147s

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.

Prince Skyline GT-B toolbox - GR21-8246

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.

Nissan Skyline GT-B trunk cut line

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.

Prince Skyline GT-B in Tokyo- GR1-380s

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.

 

Ken Lee is co-founder of  Cars on Film and you can see more of his work here on JNCSkorj is co-founder of Filmwasters and you can find more of his work at Cars on Film and here on JNC

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29 Responses to BUYER’S GUIDE: Prince Skyline GT-A & GT-B

  1. Gavin Doolan said:

    Nice, we got a handful of these in Australia but I never see 1 on the street. They also had a brief racing history at Bathurst.

  2. Jim said:

    That is by far the best (and from my own research) the most correct summary of the Prince Motor Companys S54 GT-A and B history. Some very interesting pics too.
    Your last paragaph will have a lot of GT-B II owners being unjustly called out! That is only true for the Nissan badged cars.
    Must start a thread covering as much detail as we can muster on the intricacies of the S54 story. It is fascinating.
    We’ll have to find you a 5 speed Ken! The closer ratios really makes the G7-B sing, grew horns outa my head and hair on my knuckles. Imagine an Ed (Big Daddy) Roth character! 🙂
    Jim.

    • Kim said:

      Hi guys i stumbled across this site..I have a Prince Skyline GT model S54BE-2

    • Artsyken said:

      Hey Jim. Thanks for sharing fact about GT-B II not having a cut line. Didn’t know that. Interesting fact is that most GT-B’s in Japan are Type III so not many Type II to compare with. I’ll check it out next time!

      Definitely need to start a thread and dig out more info about these wonderful cars.

      Will have to find a 5 speed and install someday! Cheers!! Ken

  3. ready said:

    Wow 26 gallon fuel tank. That is awesome.

    How much do thse go for?

    • Kuroneko said:

      Yeah, there’s a story somewhere about someone filling one up, and the attendant comes over to see where all the fuel is going. As to prices, there’s at least two on Goo and Car Sensor this week…

  4. Kim said:

    Hi guys i stumbled across this site..I have a Prince Skyline GT model S54BE-2

    • Kuroneko said:

      Jump on over to the forum and post some pics then? Would be great to see another export B!

      • Kim said:

        hi i will try to put some up but it hasnt been restored yet..my uncle bought it brand new it was im pretty sure the first one sold in qld what i can remember them saying when i was young..my uncle died when he was 40 n then my day inherited it..n i remember what a beautiful hum that vehicle had so beautiful to ride in..triple webers n longer bonnet

  5. Kim said:

    i also have the original manual to this vehicle also..in A4 book..lots of information in manual

    • Artsyken said:

      That’s such a cool story! Would be great to see the car restored in the future!

      • Kim said:

        hi yes when i can afford it i will restore it, it has only been in our family..n being female lol i would have it done if i was a male..the car has great memories for me aa my uncle n dad n mum have passed on all with cancer n i would love to do it but in time i suppose..i have had offers on it as is …from.just visitors who are blown away from.whats under the bonnet

  6. Kim said:

    It originally from what i remember the colour was an offwhite but god knows y but my dad painted it dark green lol..great guy n put the vehicle to the test speed wise..few stories thete lol..he actually rolled it years ago but being the tough vehicle it is he only did damage to drivers front guard..i still remember driving it myself..omg what a dream car..i have a pic of my uncle with the vehicle when he first bought it..of course its only a black n white pic.i feel more excited about my vehicle reading what u guys have posted..glad i stumbled onto this site

  7. Kim said:

    yep lucky man..it was up bush up.nth qld

  8. Kim said:

    i dont think i will ever sell the prince but out of interest what would one be worth restored

  9. Jim said:

    Older restoration, you would start north of $30,000. Newer resto, the cost of recent resto would have to come into it. As an example I’m associated with a S54Be3 that was finished recently …. professionally done at absorbed…. well above Australian $75,000!!!
    Very broad spectrum as so many variables Kim.
    Cheers
    Jim.
    P.S. still in Nth QLD??

    • Kim said:

      Hi Jim thanks for that info…yes just moved back up to nth qld 3years ago..lucky prince was still up here otherwise i wouldnt have had it as i was in mky floods 2008 n lost everything.. 7ft water..so its great to have something left like the prince

  10. Jim said:

    Hmmm… gotta lotta family spread over FNQ, Atherton Tablelands and beyond. Most know my passion for the Prince marque but never been able to uncover anything yet. Found the odd Gloria but that’s all. Get registerd on the forums and put up some pics Kim, times a ‘wastin’ 🙂

  11. Don said:

    Hi Guys
    I am in the middle of restoring my 3rd GT over a 12 year period. First 2 were BE3’s and current project is a B2.
    No E in the number so not an export car but privately imported to Aus. My second resto was Ken’s blue car. Just a small correction re the flared rear guards though. The B2 did not have the flares and the shells seem to have been carried over to the A3’s. So only the B3’s got the flares.
    Cheers Don

  12. Juzza said:

    Hi guys iv also got a prince skyline im chasing any spare parts if you have any i need intake manifold and tripple webbers also a gearbox to suit l7 motor thanks love to get in contact from fellow prince owners 0412569336

    • Jim said:

      If you are fair dinkum about needing parts for YOUR Prince Skyline, and would like to meet some genuine Prince folk (Generally all Prince and Skyline crazy!.. it’s awesome :)) get on to the Prince Skyline GT Register in your neighbourhood via “info(@)princegt(dot)com(dot)au”
      Just avoiding the bots there but you know what to do.
      Quite a few members keep up with this good forum. Be good if you sign up and post a few pics of your classic Japanese iron!
      Cheers
      Jim

  13. Jim said:

    Going back over this article, Ben’s Pic of the No.39 S54B tribute car steering wheel…….. that centre piece, if indeed it is as the cars raced, is particularly intriguing!
    1: it’s a 5 speed (possibly as added later in the originals racing life?)
    2: Why the reverse pattern?
    Originally I just thought ” yeah, GREAT idea with the old ZF copy box’o’ cogs.” From experience the dog leg O/D with reverse above was so different to anything I’d experienced, sad to say I buzzed reverse more than once while rowing through that pattern…. So I thought when I saw that pic it was just that, an “in your face” reminder whilst racing that this box was different…….. but that different?!? reverse pattern? Or is my experience sadly lacking? Does anyone recognise or can otherwise explain the pattern There are some pics around of the amazing attention to period correct detail the restoration team at Nissan went to during this car’s build. I find it hard to believe these guys would have let a goof or flippant change like that leave the premises?!?
    Someone put this Prince tragic out of his misery?! 🙂

  14. chris said:

    I have a factory manifold for one , if someone is looking for one

  15. Ross said:

    I’m not sure if all these differences applied.
    In the early to mid 70’s both my brother and i each owned Princes; his was a GTA and mine a GTB. His had a four speed tranny and straight diff, while mine had the five speed and LSD. This was in Victoria Australia.
    Both had the triple Webers and 26 gallon fuel tank. Still petrol was only seventy odd cents a gallon then, so it didn’t matter. I can’t state positively that the Webers on the GTA were an aftermarket upgrade as we both bought the cars second hand, but they looked like they were meant to be there. And I really doubt that anyone in their right mind would fit a 26 gallon bomb in the boot as an aftermarket add-on. I never did like it, but I’d been told the Price T series were designed as rally cars.
    Through the mists of time, the only difference in trim that I can recall, was that his round tail lights didn’t have the bit of round chrome in the middle and (I think), that the instrument console was a different shape. His speedo was still in mph while the GTB was in kmh.
    Plus his was white and mine was a carmine colour.
    They were definitely power machines and just a little unstable. I always felt they were a bit long for their width, and they twitched a bit under heavy braking. I can remember the GTA, with my brother driving, spinning at over 100mph when he braked too hard to catch a red light he hadn’t noticed. The speedo went from 100mph down to zero and back again depending on where we were in the spinning cycle. We spun three times and came to a rest at the red light pointing in the right direction…..
    Far too powerful and tempting for young drongoes, as he proved later by flipping it in a pretend rally session.
    I had heard at the time, that Japanese traffic restrictions mandated a narrow wheel base.
    Fantastic cars, and the sight of that line of Webers used to gladden my heart terrifically. V8s and four barrel carby’s were just children’s toys!
    I’m just glad that I never had to attempt to tune them!

    • Don Adams said:

      Hi there
      The GTA was sort of a poverty pack version of the GTB. There were many detail differences
      Over the GTA, the GTB had the triple Webers, the large fuel tank (99 litres), full instrumentation, 5 speed box, LSD, tramp bars. dual circuit brakes and possibly more that I’ve forgotten or never knew. Any of these items on an A would be after market add ons.
      The narrowness of the track was because the car was created by starting with the 1500cc 4 cylinder car and stretching the front 200mm. Like Holden did with the Torana about 5 years later.
      I’ve just finished the resto of my third one, the second of which went back to Japan.

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