Junkyard Classics: Three-In-One JDM ‘60s Special Edition: Toyota FC, Nissan Gloria (A30) and Daihatsu CM

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.