A couple of weeks ago Donut Media published their first “Up To Speed” video, a primer of sorts, and the subject was none other than the Nissan Skyline. If you haven’t heard of Donut Media, they make entertaining automotive videos and push them out across various social media outlets. Their target demographic is definitely the millennial import crowd, since most of their videos include Japanese and drift cars. It’s great to see an outlet with some strong outreach dropping knowledge on one of the most iconic nameplates of all time and the video has a lot of great information, but there are a handful of inaccuracies in their Skyline history.
It’s hard to cover the entire history of a 60-year-old model in under 10 minutes, but accuracy is important, so let’s just elaborate on a few points they overlooked. First off, they mentioned that Prince was best known for making electric cars then out of nowhere made a luxury sedan called the Skyline and it was all roses from there.
There is some truth to this, but it’s not the whole story. Prince was sort of related to the Tama Electric Car Company, which made probably the most well-known electric car from Japan prior to the 1960s. Tama was an offshoot of the disbanded Tachikawa Aircraft company, and changed its name to Prince in 1952 after they began making luxury sedans and large trucks.
The Skyline was actually the successor of the Prince Sedan AISH made from 1952-57. Takuya Himura designed this car to be an executive compact car and one was actually gifted to Crown Prince Akihito, who had invested in the company (and thus, it is said, given the company its name). It was more of a evolution than instead of simply jumping into the luxury sedan game out of nowhere.
The video also implied that the Skyline’s racing pedigree started with the C10 Hakosuka. While the Hako is the most well-known classic Skyline, it was by no means the first racing Skyline. The Prince Skyline Sport BLRA-3 holds that title. It featured a body by Giovanni Michelotti who is best known for his design of the Renault Alpine A110 and BMW 2002. The car featured a 1.9-liter Nissan Gloria engine in lieu of the standard 1.5-liter Skyline motor and saw some use in Japanese motorsport in the early 1960s.
This leads to the biggest omission, the Prince Skyline S54. While it was featured in pictures in the video, they completely omitted the important racing pedigree of the Skyline 2000GT. This is as important of a car as the Hakosuka, and laid the ground work for it.
Using a basic sedan that anyone could buy, the father of the Skyline Shinichiro Sakurai modified it for racing by adding six inches between its cowl and front axle. With the extra room, he could stuff a Nissan Gloria L6 under the elongated hood and sent it into battle in the 1964 Japan Grand Prix. The S54 was able to go toe-to-toe with the purpose-built Porsche 904 and even took the lead to create the “Skyline Legend.” It was the first Japanese “muscle car” and this was the pride of Japan during its era. Without the S54, the Hakosuka and the GT-R name may have never existed.
While it’s understandable that the video skipped over the Malaise Era C210 Skyline Japan generation, it was still a cultural touchstone that affected many Japanese car enthusiasts. Some versions were equipped with Japan’s first turbocharged engine, it’s a favorite platform for kaido racers, was hugely influential as the star of Seibu Keistatsu, and it’s nickname — the Skyline Japan — is the grandest of all the generations.
The R31 GTS-R production car was also omitted. Though perhaps not as sexy as the AWD GT-Rs of the 90s, it was still a significant evolution in the lineup. It introduced the RB-series L6 engines, saw motorsports successes in Japan and abroad, and even introduced HICAS four wheel steering to the model line. This generation were a very capable sports sedans and the GTS-R was an extremely rare homologation model.
While Donut Media does a great job covering these cars for the mainstream, we at JNC do feel the need to set the record straight. Videos like these do raise interest in JNCs, which in the long run is far more important than omitting a few details. What people will learn about the Skyline from this video is a general knowledge that they can use to dig deeper into this history of the cars. The video is absolutely still worth a watch.