Encountering this rare pre-Nissan edition of the Gloria will doubtless be one of the biggest near misses of the year for me. As in: I nearly missed it: it was black, on the move and at night – a pretty impossible combination. Given how few of these are still about, we’re going to have to make do with a handful of somewhat sub-optimal shots. But it’s worth it – these Glorias are perhaps the coolest-looking big Japanese cars of the ‘60s.
The second generation of Gloria, made by Prince Motors, was launched in September 1962. It originally featured a rather modest 1.9 litre 4-cyl., but by mid-1963 the Super 6 model was launched, featuring a 2-litre OHC straight-6 producing 105hp. This was the first Japanese OHC engine and it became the S4 Gloria’s mainstay until production ended in April 1967. By that time, Prince had merged with Nissan and the new Gloria, though designed and built by Prince, was badged as a Nissan. The same thing happened to the Skyline, as some may recall.
A higher-trim Grand Gloria (not pictured above, this is a Super 6), featuring a 2.5 litre 6-cyl., eventually took over as Prince’s top-of-the-line, just to keep up with the Gloria’s many rivals (Toyota Crown Eight, Nissan Cedric Special, Mitsubishi Debonair, Isuzu Bellel). Along with the Debonair, I’d say the Prince would have been my pick of that particular crowd.
And having found one of these precious Prince Glorias in an Ikebukuro parking lot, yours truly had to quickly take a few snapshots of the departing car. Of course, no interior shot was ever going to be possible in these conditions, so here’s a period photo of one. I did manage one photo of the beast before it set off – a rear end shot, easily the best of the bunch.
The S4 Gloria was a sophisticated machine, for the time. It had a De Dion rear suspension, was available with factory A/C and power windows, and originally came standard with an overdrive. However, by June 1964, the 6-cyl. Glorias could be had with a 2-speed automatic transmission called Space Flow, courtesy of the Okamura Corporation.
Our feature car appears to have this transmission, which only lasted until late 1965, when it was replaced by a doubtless more effective, but all-too-common Borg-Warner 3-speed. However, the license plate tells us that this car has an engine over 2000cc, so it’s not impossible that a newer (and bigger) motor now replaces the original Prince six. I imagine the Space Flow transmission might also have been given the boot, if that is the case…
Another one to add to the list of Corvair-influenced designs, though in profile (and with some dodgy camera work), I’m getting hints of Fintail Benz as well. I really hope I’ll be able to find another one of these someday (or, even better, the wagon version) and do it justice, but I’m not holding my breath.