The first Italian-designed car of Japan

The first Italian-designed car of Japan
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It seems like the best of both worlds: a car that is designed in Italy and built in Japan. This Prince Skyline Sport of 1961 is to be sold in auction in Tokyo.

In the early days in Japan, Prince Motor Company was one of the largest manufacturers of Japan. Their name is now practically forgotten because in 1967 the company merged with Nissan. But until that year, Prince built some great cars.

The famous name Skyline was introduced in 1957 by Prince Motor Company and used for its top of the line models. In 1967, Prince merged with Nissan and the Skylines became Nissans or Datsuns.

In 1960, the Japanese took to Italy to get a renowned designer to build their exclusive coupé-version of their Skyline. At that time it was a bold step for a Japanse auto manufacturer to get help in Europe, but it turned out a wise move. After Prince, lots of Japanese car builders worked with European – mainly Italian designers and until this very day, there are Japanese cars on the market that have been sketched in Italy.

The car is equipped with an 1862 cc four-cylinder engine, the chassis is from the Prince Gloria and the bodywork was handcrafted by Italian craftsmen. The interior looks very Italian too and is upholstered with leather, which was very unusual for Japanese cars at that time.
Because of the handbuilt body, the car was very expensive in Japan (about 1.9 million yen), no more than 60 were built, 35 coupes and 25 convertibles.

This car is finished in off-white and is practically new. It has made only 1,160 kilometres and is still in original condition. In 2009 this car was exhibited at Villa d’Este, where it was probably the first Japanese car to be present.

It is now to be sold by BH Auction in Tokyo, the expected value is between JPY 40 million and 50 million, which translates into about EUR 350,000 or USD 380,000.