Now, those who know me, those who know of me and even some random people who encounter me on the street. All seem to know for one reason or another, that I’m a fan of Skyline automobiles. In-particular, the older ones. The ones from before when the masses seem to think they were even made. I guess that, in order to be the owner of 1963 and 1973 variants of the Skyline range, you’d surely have to like them at least a little bit, right?
So, what I thought I would do, is create a history series, that will cover a good part of what I know about the cars, right from the start. The bits that most people miss out in articles because they’re not “sporty” enough, or the bits they chose to exclude because it wasn’t indicative of the now legendary racing lineage. All that kind of jazz.
So, without further delay and ranting, I shall begin…
The name itself comes from a few years prior to the production of the car.
In 1955 a moment had by the man in charge at Prince Motor Co., looking out over the mountains and at the Skyline, the beauty of which struck him and the idea for using Skyline on a new line of cars came about.
In April of 1957, a new model of Prince was presented to the public. In it’s presentation were several scenic portraits of a skyline/horizon as well as a song that was created solely for the launch of the car so that people would remember the beauty and associate it with the car, a car which was to use the best technology of the day. The Prince Skyline.
So, with this… the first of the 1st Generation of Skyline had arrived. The ALSI-1
It came in 3 core variants; The Standard (ALSIS), the Deluxe (ALSID) and the Export (ALSIE) variant. The main points of difference with these were the side trim/decor and the level of options with which the cars came. The dimensions and all else stayed the same.
Despite common thought that the Skyline’s were never exported to America, one of the destinations for the ALSIE (the E designating it’s the Export variant) was in fact America. Though as you could imagine in the mid to late 50′s, the US was quite happy with it’s own car industry and the some 600 cars they received were likely not well met. (Though it has to be said, this is pure speculation on my part. Given the size of American cars and the price of fuel at the time, I doubt there would be little regard for a smaller 1.9l, 4cyl car from Japan)
The ALSI came in either 1500 (GA30) or 1900 (GB30) cc’s, in both capacities it was an over-head valve, water cooled, push-rod, 4-cylinder, single carburettor affair. The massive amount of power generated from these lethal engines was transferred through a single dry plate clutch to a 4spd manual column shifted gearbox then sent spinning through the driveshaft (which is fully enclosed) to an independent de-Dion rear suspension setup, large half-shafts spun the 14″ wheels and the 4ply rubber put that power firmly to the ground. Of course… when you wanted to stop you’d rely on that rubber again and the 4 wheel drum brakes to get you to pull up in time. Which, if you were going the top speed of 125km/h in this 1310kg car, could well take you a good distance further down the road than you’d expect.
The car itself was adorned with tasteful amounts of chrome and the use of two-tone paint in standard release as well as optional made sure the car had a recognizable presence. With bench seats front and rear, seating capacity was 6, though the interior was fairly spartan it came in a variety of colours and materials, the dash showed only that which was required for casual motoring, Speedo, Fuel and Water Temp guages with lights for the Generator and Oil pressure should they start performing sub par. A clock was located toward the centre of the car and the radio (if optioned) beneath that. Of course, a cigar lighter and ashtray was also part of the dash layout.
As was the case with most cars of the time, the use of chrome was high. Bumpers were a large and prominent feature of both front and rear.
The car shown in these photographs, is owned by Nissan and stored in their Zama Warehouse (along with a myriad of other fantastically preserved cars)
Photographs: Nissan Motor Co. Japan.
My next look back into Skyline History will carry on through the 1st Generation of cars, though their change is mostly cosmetic until the 2nd Generation, there are a few points worth noting and a few models included in the 1st Gen. era that start moving the range in a different direction. So keep checking back!