It Was An Honor To Meet The Prince

Most people who know me would identify me as a “Porsche Guy”. That’s all well and good, I own two of the things, hang out with other Porsche guys, and follow everything the company does in close detail. I’m not, however, just one facet. I have many interests, though to be fair, most of them are automotive in nature. I also love vintage Japanese cars, usually as they relate to the dawn of Japan in motorsport. The mid 1960s were heady days for Japanese auto makers, building faster and more competitive cars with each passing day. Infiniti says they most closely trace their lineage back to the cars first made by Prince Motor Company which was later absorbed into Nissan. The Prince Skyline eventually evolved into the Q50 (G37 before it), and the Prince Gloria was also sold as the Infinit M, which became the Q70. The connection isn’t exactly spurious. 
In any case, Infiniti USA brought the original Prince R380 race car to North American shores for the first time ever this spring. They’ve shown the car publicly at the Amelia Island Concours and the Cincinnati Concours and had the car on display at our lunch stop during the Q50 RedSport 400 drive last week. It was an amazing experience to see the car up close and in person. There are so many great details to look at. In case you’re not aware, this is the car that won the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix, beating my beloved Porsche 906 Carrera 6 in the process. This was among the first purpose-built Japanese racing cars, and of the four R380s built this is believed to be the only one remaining intact.  
Hit the jump for a gallery of photos. 


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15 responses to “It Was An Honor To Meet The Prince”

  1. engineerd Avatar

    Very cool! When the Japanese “zaibatsu” decided to build cars after WW2, they definitely made waves. When they decided to go racing, the Americans and Europeans definitely had to wake up.
    It’s interesting and beautiful. It looks like the Porsche 906 and Ford GT40 made sweet love and produced a Prince.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Had a similar thought, but can also see Lotus & Chevron elements – perhaps better to say typical for the era.

      1. Bradley Brownell Avatar
        Bradley Brownell

        It’s actually built on a Brabham BT8 chassis, hence the brit influence.

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          Or even expat Aussie! (Brabham and Tauranac)

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    The taillights have a Ford Cortina vibe.

  3. Maymar Avatar
    In elementary school French classes, we were taught a song called Le Petit Prince. That’s gonna be stuck in my head all night now.

    1. Alff Avatar

      “In elementary school French classes…”
      A very Canadian phrase, that.

    2. Victor Avatar

      Quebecois ?

      1. Maymar Avatar

        Ontario, but French class is (was?) mandatory through Grade 9, and I took it for an extra year. Should’ve taken it more seriously, although Google Translate helps.

    3. Bradley Brownell Avatar
      Bradley Brownell

      I referenced Le Petit Prince when I posted a pic on Instagram last Thursday.

  4. Alff Avatar

    That little purple Prince is such a sweet one it should be on a Dr. Pepper commercial.

  5. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    People forget the part Prince played in improving the engineering quality of Japanese cars. Two of their nameplates are still in production, some still made in the old factory, some of it by hand, the Nissan Gloria ans Nissan Skyline.( Ironically, the top model of this range is now just called the GTR).
    Prince, for years were the Japanese Mercedes Benz or Lancia/ Alfa Romeo
    With much competition history for their sedans.This is the winner of the 1964 2nd Japanese Grand Prix T-VI class. This model Gloria introduced Japan’s first OHC straight six, (ancestor of the Skyline straight sixes), and was also assembled in NZ, so I’ve driven one of the 300 made here. They make a good comparison with Rover’s P6 or Alfa’s Alfettas with their De Dion rear suspension and good brakes and power. There was a wagon too.

  6. I_Borgward Avatar

    So, the GT-R is, then, the automobile formerly known as Prince.
    I’ll show myself out.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Suddenly Infiniti’s purple touchscreens make sense! Little Red Q60 doesn’t quite have the same ring though.

    2. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1