Even in Japan, where the average car owner is usually scrupulous about his or her steed’s spotlessness and mechanical fitness, cars eventually end up at the knacker’s yard. It is the way of things. On a recent Sunday outing, I happened upon these three vehicles, parked by the side of the road. I did not have the time to go into the junkyard proper, but I figured this trio might appeal. Consider it an appetizer. Itadakimasu!
Let’s approach this motley group by its most sizable member, as they might say in the adult film trade. I will readily confess that old Toyota trucks are pretty much terra incognita, as far as I’m concerned. But ignorance has never stopped me from writing a post, as I’m sure you are aware. A moderate amount of Internet sleuthing hinted that this was most likely to be a Toyota FA, as in there was sweet FA about it on the web.
I upped the sleuthing level to 11 and managed to gather the following information: this is a SWB variant of the FA called the FC. These trucks, which were powered by a 3.9 litre OHV 6-cyl. engine, were introduced in 1954 and were in production for 10 years with relatively few changes. That’s about all the hard info I could get — any corrections and/or additions from the CCommunity are most welcome.
The one I found seems to be a 1961-62 example of this FA / FC family. The water cannon on top of the truck looks like a serious piece of kit. They don’t kid around with fire in this country – a wise move, seeing as houses here are mostly made of wood, paper and tatami.
Seeing a big red fire engine makes one feel like a kid again. And this one, with its open top cab and its rounded nose was just like a life-size toy, albeit a fairly rusty one. It seems not many of these have survived, though some appear to have been exported (perhaps second-hand) to Malaysia and Thailand, in an attempt to retire under sunnier climes.
The bright green paint used on the dash certainly makes for a great contrast with the bodywork. The environment in central Japan is certainly just as punishing in the summer as Bangkok is, with scorching temperatures, typhoons and a cornucopia of gigantic insects that probably all conspired to make the seat’s fabric and padding disintegrate. All that is left is a wooden bench. Harsh.
Sitting right next to the Toyota – in its shade, even, which made taking photographs a bit of a challenge – was a well-known face, or so I thought. “Aha!” exclaimed T87 upon gazing at the stacked quad headlamps and squarish shape. “Looks kinda like a mid-‘60s Fairlane.” OK, I didn’t think that for very long, as unlike the Toyotruck, I was somewhat aware of the Nissan Gloria, and this car still had its badges.
Besides, I have been a student of the “Asian Brands” section of CC for about five years now. It would have been a shame if what I learned from Prof. Paul N. and Dr Don A. didn’t amount to Jack S. You gotta know the CClassics. So Fordy McFordface here is indeed not a Fairlane, it’s a 1967-71 Nissan Gloria (A30).
A very interesting car, this one. It was the last design made by Prince before they merged with Nissan in 1966. Looks-wise, it was clearly influenced by the 1966 “Nissan” Prince Royal custom-built limos presented to Emperor Hirohito in 1966, just as Nissan took over. This was the first domestic car to ferry the Japanese monarch, so Nissan added their name to it at the last minute, even though it was really 100% Prince. Nissan ended up deleting the Prince name from the Gloria and the Skyline after 1967, just as the A30 Gloria came out.
The rear of the A30 Gloria, as pointed out by Paul in his post, has a bit of a Mopar feel to it. Compared to the first couple generations of Glorias, this one also ditched its predecessors’ distinctive De Dion rear axle in favour of a plain old Nissan-made live axle with longitudinal leafs. Nissan were keen to squeeze costs out of the Gloria, so they made it as technically similar to their latest 130 Cedric (1965-71) as possible.
At least, the Gloria formerly known as Prince and the Nissan unfortunately named as Cedric wore quite a different body. This was not to last: when this late ‘60s generation came to an end, the Gloria was to transform into a “gloriafied” 230 Cedric (1971-75). The nameplate survived, but the car died. The 130 Cedric had PininFarina looks – unfortunately altered by a significant mid-life facelift in 1968, but the Gloria had a more American feel to its design. I could see this thing in a Japanese version of Hawaii Five-O (entitled Okinawa Young Police Inspector Exotic Drama or something), chasing bad guys in a Toyota Crown…
The interior of the Gloria was in quite a state, as expected on a 50-year-old junkyard find. Also as expected, this car has a manual transmission. The automatic was perhaps available in some markets (I’m not sure if it was, though), but not on JDM cars. It just wasn’t a thing yet, back in the late ‘60s, even on large 2-litre cars such as this. However, this generation Gloria, even the lower spec “Standard 6” and “Van” wagon, came with front disc brakes as standard.
All in all, this A30 Gloria is quite appealing. It’s big but not huge, familiar yet unknown, “Super Deluxe” yet reassuringly basic. It would have been interesting to take a look under the hood, as these cars were born with a rather powerful Prince OHC 6-cyl., unfortunately traded in 1969 for a more sedate Nissan OHV mill of identical displacement. Decontent much, Nissan?
Last and very much least, the trio’s third player is a sorry-looking Daihatsu CM trike. Again, I’ll have to own up to my near complete ignorance of these contraptions, important though they were at the time. The Japanese economic miracle owes a lot to these cheap and sturdy pickups buzzing around the length and breadth of the country. It’s also noteworthy that several Japanese automakers started off with trikes – Daihatsu were making them since 1930, but Mitsubishi and Mazda also built their automotive reputations with three-wheelers.
Daihatsu pickup trikes were among the most successful, along with Mazda, because they pushed the envelope to the limit for this kind of layout. The CM originally appeared in 1955 as a 1-ton truck with a 1-litre twin. By 1957, it had changed its front end, got a column shifter (allowing three abreast seating) and upgraded its engine to a 1.5 litre 4-cyl. Around 1962, the CM could be ordered in long-wheelbase form, with a whopping 1861cc engine to carry two tons of cargo. However, the growing popularity of four-wheeled trucks, including Daihatsu’s own Hijet and Delta, progressively edged out the three-wheelers until production finally stopped circa 1972.
Not a lot to add about this one, except that it’s not easy to find solid info on these, aside from automatically translated (= gibberish) Japanese web sources. The size of these things is perplexing and it seems they took quite a bit of getting used to – if you brake with the front wheel in a turn, these are almost guaranteed to tip over. Until 1965, Japanese drivers had to get a special license for three-wheelers, so I guess most folks who drove these were trained in operating them properly…
That’s all for this lot, may they rust in pieces. I don’t know about you, but I’m smitten by that fire engine. The A30 Gloria is, of course, Glorious as well, but a little too far gone. However, I have a couple more big juicy Nissans in store for upcoming posts – and in better condition, too. If I ever make it to the junkyard itself, I’ll do my utmost to give you a virtual tour.
Those Nissan Glorias like the preceding Prince Gloria were assembled in New Zealand in Christchurch, they were fairly popular but have all but disappeared the few remaining cars are firmly in the grasp of enthusiasts, Prince cars first turned up here in the form of the Skyline in 1958 and they continued to do so after the Nissan merger along with their cheaper smaller Datsun bretheren,
Strange as it may seem I actually owned a 68 Nissan Gloria it had been fitted with a 2.6 Vauxhall engine and gearbox after the original had expired and that was what I wanted, the car itself was rusted out completely.
I love the Prince/Nissan Gloria! It’s like an alternative universe, more efficient compact/midsized American car. The interior is more deluxe than I expected. It looks like the front seats have an AMC style headrest. It make sense that these cars would gain popularity in Australia & New Zealand.
Tomica (Tommy) makes nicely detailed diecast replicas of various JDM cars like Cedric, Gloria, Crown in 1/64 scale. I was not aware that Nissan made yearly model changes to these like the CC’s rear taillights detail.
Wow, I’m smitten by the rusting underbelly of junkers in Japan! First Jim Brophy’s Mazda Porter and Rolls Royce, and now these, all of them stuff that I would not think to be laying around and rotting away in Japan and I never saw (or noticed) when I was there. Clearly another visit to Japan is in order and we need to scale that fence (or ask politely at the gate) to see what’s inside.
Imagining a two ton(!) load capacity trike is somewhat frightening, at least it was an LWB, maybe there’s even a dually version somewhere. Perhaps RAM could have tried to import a few as the Ram 14 or something…Clearly Japan does have heavy pickup experience. 🙂
When I first spotted the pic of the back of the car, I thought 1965 Mercury.
I’d love one of those trikes!
The Nissan designer seems to have had a special insight into his contemporaries at AMC. The nose says to me ’67 Ambassador; the side profile, especially the roofline, is any Rebel/Ambassador four door sedan of that period. While the ’65 Mercury comparison for the rear is closest, there may be some channeling of similar vintage Rebel.
Thanks for all this JDM stuff; I am learning. I especially liked the Crown ’93 Majesta.
That series Nissan Gloria was designed by Prince Motors prior to the Prince-Nissan merger in August 1966. As it was released after the merger it was badged as a Nissan.
Great finds, as usual!
One thing here that piqued my curiosity was that the mid-1960s Prince Royal was the first domestic car used by the Emperor. I’m curious what types of vehicles were used by the imperial family prior to that time. I’ve seen pictures of Hirohito’s prewar vehicles (Packards & Mercedes if I remember correctly), but I’d love to know what kinds of vehicles were used in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The fire engine is an interesting figure-ground problem. At first it seemed to be a Ford with a Dodge hood, but after looking more closely at fender and cab shapes, it’s really a Dodge wearing a Ford mask. The dashboard is fully original, not resembling any US truck.
What a great start to the day – Tatra87 and JDM in the same post. I could seriously get used to this on a daily basis! 🙂
The Toyota fire engine looks like a parallel universe American LaFrance with 50s Detroit sheet metal and a very American style open body. The Gloria also shows a heavy US influence. Too bad neither is a practical restoration or import proposition,
I’ll have to check with a former owner of a Mazda trike about requiring a special license. He bought one new in the 60s to deliver boats. He was still using it a few years ago and he told me when he traveled he was told to stop at every police station along his route for a quick inspection. He was building and delivering 42-foot boats so they would have overhung well over the Japanese limit (which I think is just one meter). The trike was in perfect, as-new condition and he gave it to a hotel. Classic Japan: something that old would be considered value-less, even in perfect condition.
I get the Ford face, but personally I see more resemblance to a 1965 Rambler Ambassador. The rear view of the white one in the ad really shows a Rambler look.
The Gloria says AMC Ambassador to me as it does for some others. It looks like it would have been a great car back in its day. This particular car’s backstory has to be really interesting.
And that fire engine, just wow. Who doesn’t love a fire engine? And this is the first time I have ever seen a Toyota truck of this size and era. Seriously cool.