You can tell from the name itself that the Concorso D’Eleganza Villa D’Este is not your typical Denny’s parking lot car meet. It’s held at the end of every April held on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, one of the most gorgeous locations planet Earth has to offer. The show stems from the days just before the Great Depression (the, um, first one, in 1929) and lasted through WWII. So what’s a Skyline doing there?
In its heyday the Concorso D’Eleganza became a steel cage ring for Italy’s most famous design houses like Ghia and Carrozzeria Touring. Each year before the judges, they’d try to outdo each other with the most beautiful car bodies. In the process they created automobiles commanding prices in collectors’ circles today that would fund your wildest J-tin dream garages with dough to spare. The Italian government put a stop to all the fun in 1950, but in 1995 the event was revived as a celebration of that time.
It was an era when the world turned to Italy for automotive design. Stylists like Giovanni Michelotti penned bodies for the likes of Triumph, Volvo, BMW, Alpine and Prince Motor Company. It was that last one that resulted in the BLRA-3 Skyline Sport, a perfect candidate for this year’s “Italian Style Goes International” category.
The Skyline Sport concept debuted at the 1960 Turin Motor Show. Like other coachbuilt cars of the day, the Michelotti body was hand built and then mated to a chassis found in the company’s regular lineup – in this case, a Gloria of the same era. The Gloria also supplied the four-cylinder GB4 engine, producing 94PS. Remember, coachbuilt cars weren’t about speed, they were about style.
All of this was pre-Nissan, when Prince was considered the high-end marque for well-heeled Japanese. When it went on sale in 1962, the price tag rang in at ¥1.85 million, almost double what a first-gen Skyline 1500 cost. According to Nissan, only 60 were built during its two-year run, including a handful of ultra-rare convertible versions.
We’ve always felt that the Sport looked a bit out of place in the Skyline lineage and not at all fitting with the hustle and bustle of 1960s Tokyo. But when it’s parked against the backdrop of lakeside hills dotted with Italian villas, it looks perfectly at home, doesn’t it?
Thanks to Mark G. for the tip! [Images: UltimateCarPage.com]