GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1962 Prince Skyline Sport Coupe

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prince_skyline.jpg

Year: 1962
Class: Compact (Intemediate in Japan)
Type: coupe

Country of origin: Japan
Host: GT5

Price: $272,866

Construction:
Length: 183.1" // Width: 66.7"// Height: 55.5"
Wheelbase: 99.8"
Overhang: 6' 11"
Track: 52.7" [F] 54.1" [R]
Ground Clear:
Weight: 2,975 pounds

Steering: unassisted worm & roller

Layout: front engine / rear-drive
Tires: 5.90 x 14
F. Suspension: coils
R. Suspension: DeDion axle, semi-elliptical arms, coils? Brakes: drums

* Oil change was performed but no engine rebuild for all specs & testing below

Engine: 1.9 liter OHV inline 4
Aspiration: natural
Fuel System: ?
Valves / Cyl: 2
Bore x Stroke: 3.31 x 3.31"
Compression: 8.5:1

Final HP:      92 @ 5,000
Fnl Torque: 112 @ 3,500

Credits per HP: $2,965.93
Pounds per HP: 32.34
Pounds per trq: 26.56
HP per Liter: 48.6 

Idle: 750 // Redline: 5,500 // RPM Limit: 6,000

Transmission: 4-speed manual
Differential: ? 

0-60 mph: 15.368 seconds
0-100 mph: 1:10.050

0-400 M:  20.902 @ 69 mph
0-1000 M: 37.472 @ 90 mph

1 Mile: 51.789 @ 98 mph

Daytona Lap Time: 1:21.872

Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 2,300

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 32.2 mph
2nd: 60.0 mph
3rd: 95.0 mph
4th: 112.8 @ 4,550 rpm 
  

----------EXTERIOR / HISTORY------------

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Ahhh, the Skyline. When many gamers think of the Gran Turismo series, the Skyline is one automobile which immediately comes to mind, and for several reasons. As a population, the Skyline lineage comprises the most common model in any GT game, unfairly outbalancing any other model made by any other car-maker. Go ahead, pick a Gran Turismo. Look at its list of Skylines. There are are far more Skylines than any other model of any make, even amongst Japanese manufacturers. 

It's something which can annoy us more than it pleases us at times, as we imagine this huge list of cars PD "could have put into the game, if only they'd take out a few Skylines". Yeah...and this behavior from PD and their fans gets repeated game after game after game.

So it may come as some surprise that despite the fact that there are so many variations of Skylines, the weakest portion of this website happens to be its Nissan Skyline pages. I know this. At this writing, here's how they break down:

> I've reviewed the KPGC10 series ('71 Skyline GTR) for GT2. And haven't made it to any later games, yet.

> The R31 ('87 Skyline) comes next, and is the only review to date which feels the most "complete", with a couple games addressed.

> The R32 and R34 reviews? Both incomplete. Specs, testing, and write-ups for these generations are dismally far behind those of many other portions of the site. I even wrote something about Barney during one of these so-called "reviews".

> R33? There are no R33 era reviews yet. :-/ 

It's something which has bothered me as a writer, something to be embarassed about, and over all these years, I've been meaning to finalize the situation. It would literally take ages to do, though, especially for the later generations. There's so damn many of these cars, how the hell should they be added to the site? One at a time? Or as sort of a mishmash of several models per review (as the R32 portion sits at the moment).

So here's what I've come up with, my dear readers. I've decided to go back...all the way back...to the beginning. Let's look at the very oldest Skyline which appears in a Gran Turismo game. This happens to be the '62 Nissan Skyline Sport Coupe. I figure if I start here, perhaps I can maybe build up a bit of momentum, assuming I just focus on Skylines for the next few months.

Perhaps we can call this my "Skyline" phase. :lol: When they write my Wiki page, it'll go: "...sometime late in 2011, Parnelli entered his "Skyline" period... years behind the rest of the racing world" ha ha..  

Sorry. Anyways, I'm starting with the '62 Sport Coupe, the Skyline which "started it all" in a way. Even though the '62 has many lacks, it is supposed to be a sports car. Although far from being a "Kenmeri or a "Godzilla", the sole fact that the Sport Coupe was supposed to be Prince's fastest, most stylish model makes it the Godfather of all Skyline GTs in a way. Prince didn't know yet how their vision would wind up; didn't know yet the amazingly vivid future the Skyline lineage would eventually have. In truth, this car (the '62 Sport Coupe) was not the earliest Skyline, it just happens to be the earliest found in any Gran Turismo to date.
 
And oh, here's something of interest. In both of the games the Skyline Sport Coupe appears, it is listed as a Nissan. This is wrong. Matter of fact, the Skyline Sport Coupe is not a Nissan at all!  It was actually made by Prince Motors, which was a subsidiary of Fuji Precision Industries or something. Prince didn't merge with Nissan until 1966, and according to lots of websites still operates within Nissan, even though all Skylines after 1966 are known as Nissans and not Princes. But the 1962 model which appears in both GT4 and GT5 is a pure Prince model, and has nothing to do with Nissan at all.  

If I'm feeling embarassed about the lack of Skyline material on this site, I can't imagine how Polyphony Digital must feel, since they've been labeling the '62 Sport Coupe as a Nissan for years now. Is the Japanese version correct? In other words, is the '62 Sport Coupe properly labeled as a Prince in the Asian version of GT4 and GT5? Or maybe it's just easier (in a contractural, monetary sense) for PD to just call this car a Nissan, since Nissan has their rights to call it a Nissan?   

Ugh. I say they've got it wrong. Whether Nissan or PD is to blame, this car IS and SHOULD BE labeled as a Prince. It's just the right thing to do.

Prince started way back in 1946 as Fuji Precision Industries, which I'll just shorten to "FPI" for the sake of this write-up. 1946 was obviously a time when Japan's economy was struggling to gain traction; World War II had just ended of course. FPI's first car was a small, slow electric vehicle called the Tama. We can assume this car was electric because fuel was possibly scarce for Japan just after the war ended, but that's just a speculation on my part. Before 1946, FPI was known as the Tachikawa Aircraft Company, maker of the infamous Zero warplanes during WWII. This is interesting mainly because this means that Prince's roots started in a company which made small, lightweight airplanes designed for speed and maneuverability, something which of course some Skyline models would also possess years later.   

In 1952, FPI became Prince, named after Japan's Crown Prince. At the time, nobody was making a true higher-end luxury automobile in Japan, and Prince was the first to attempt to do so with their Gloria and Skyline models. The 1957 Skyline was the first Japanese car to feature quad headlights, something of a rarity outside of the United States. Although Prince was not on the level of Lincoln or Cadillac or Rolls Royce, surely this was a carmaker on a quest. I haven't been able to find out how much an original Prince cost back in its day, but it's probably a costly figure.  

By 1961, Prince's third generation of cars was now extant. Prince wanted to up the ante, and wanted to make a sportier model than their regular Skylines, and soon the car codenamed "BLRA-3" was in progress.

Prince went all out, and commissioned the Italian designer Giovani Michelotti, to design the BLRA-3. Michelotti then came up with this handsome design which my girlfriend dug the first time she saw it. Actually, the first time I saw the Sport Coupe, I had no idea what it was. I assumed it was an American car; perhaps a Studebaker had made it into GT4!?! Nope. It's just another Skyline.

But it does have somewhat American looks, does it not? Um...it almost looks as though it's from the generation of American cars just after they lost their tailfins. The Sport Coupe does not look Italian or even Japanese, not really. It it is interesting that no other Skylines following this one would share the '62 Sport Coupe's unique appearance. The Sport Coupe was hand-built, was rather a heavy car in comparison to other Japanese of its time, and not very many of them were made. Some websites say a "few hundred" were produced, and one site mentioned about 60 Sport Coupes were made in 1962; certainly making them rarities.

Perhaps rarity has something to do with this car's enormous price tag in Gran Turismo. Good lord. Even as a used car with 18,412 miles on its odometer, this one costs over $272,000 !!!!!!!!!  Goodness. In the world of auction houses, museums, and stuffy buyers looking to fatten their automobile collections, such a price might make more sense. But in a racing game? Who actually buys one of these for racing???

Oh wait, I do. But at least I have an excuse for my expense!

So anyways let's get to it. Let's see what (if anything) the earliest Skyline of GT might have to offer....            

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----------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------



This oldest of Skylines in any Gran Turismo game to date did have catchy looks, and was featured in some 60's-era Japanese movies, lending a Prince a hand to stay in business. It can be said that all subsequent generations of Skyline GTs featured in our games have at least some experience with speed, above-average driving qualities, and/or racing, so what does the '62 bring to this arena? How was it with power? How was it in the racing department?

And here's the most disappointing part of the car. Not that I was expecting great things from a 50 year old. In the early '60s, it wasn't prudent to be producing a car which was blindingly fast yet, not while Japan was still rebuilding its infrastructure and economy.

In 1961, Prince unleashed their 1.9 liter G1 engine, which was a larger, more powerful engine than the original 1.5 liter overhead cam 4-banger which appeared in original '57 Skylines. The G1 rated at 70 horsepower, while original Skylines could boast only 60. Fortunately, we don't get the G1; instead, we get the engine codenamed GA-4 on some websites, and GB-30 on others. This is also a 1.9 liter, yet it rates higher at about 90 horses when the Sport Coupe is stock, with a stomach-churning (sarcasm) 112 foot-pounds of torque. Getting an oil change does not provide this huge jump in power, like in a modern Skyline, so no cheap bumps early on.  

Therefore, it can be said that the Sport Coupe wasn't so sporty yet. It's quite turtle-ish, matter of fact, with its tall 4-speed gearbox. Going up a hill is a guaranteed loss of speed, and when we look at the upgrades offered to us on the aftermarket, things look rather dismal. Even after spending a bucketful of Yen, it's difficult to place this car into more challenging events. Max power rates at just over 200 hp; at this writing I'm not sure of the exact figure, due to the fact that as I wrote this review, I couldn't afford a complete engine boost in a car I know I'm rarely going to drive. 

Nowadays, we're all used to Skylines with supersonic power-bands and striking dyno results, so some who know little about the history of older cars may be SHOCKED at the lowly 5,500 redline this 1.9 employs. But otherwise, torque and peak power are both easy to work with. Revs don't get super-high, and I'm finding it's rare the Sport Coupe displays any really bad behavior (like traction loss and sliding), when it's on its stock medium grade bias-plys, but this also assumes the engine's power is near-stock. As power gets raised (low as it is), tuning and better tires are eventually needed to compensate for the extra speed, but the car is still sluggish and easy to command.

At the most, I've dumped enough money to get my Skyline Sport Coupe up to about 180 horsepower. Drove it around Madrid Mini for a few laps, and then Trial Mountain. I later raced some of these in the Clubman Cup and also in some historic races. As mentioned, this one's got some tall gearing. 1st gear is the only selection of which the Sport Coupe tries to murder its rear tires; after this, the car settles into "cruising" mode. Starting with 2nd, the gearbox is now too tall for any exciting acceleration or drifty moments out of corners.
          
In the game, this car's engine is rather unpleasantly noisy, as 4-bangers often are, but it also sounds rather generic. Is this the actual GA-4 or GB-30 we're hearing? I'm not going to pass serious judgement here, but I'm thinking "no" is the answer. Then again, I could be wrong. Exhaust upgrades produce some nice sounds in GT5, but the engine and exhuast still sound rather generic at times. Anyways, this noisyness could be tolerated if there was some actual speed associated with it.

But you know what? It's okay. Not every car in Gran Turismo is a rocketship, not every car we can drive needs to be disasterously quick. Some occupy more of a "niche" market, for gamers like me and you, and should be driven for pleasure, not necessarily always raced full-bore. On the other hand, in GT5 there is so much racing which rates from "easy" to "really frickin' easy", the '62 can surprisingly wind up with a rather busy career for awhile.   
  
 

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---------CHASSIS / HANDLING----------

The handling of the Skyline GT-Rs (sometimes non-GT-Rs) has always  been just as deserving of hype as their engines. If this is so, how does the Godfather stack up?  

I have yet to drive this car in GT4. Frankly, I'm sure it would be a dull venture anyways, but it might happen one of these days. In GT5, the Sport Coupe handles a bit better than it accelerates, thankfully. This is to say it almost always stays within this sort of realm of safety as we drive it about. The fact that the '62 Sport Coupe is not interested in burning up those tracks (at first) with speed obviously helps a lot, of course. 

Let's start with braking. Nowadays, we're all familiar with Skyline GT-R brakes, which have huge vented discs all around and almost mandatory Brembo calipers. Back in the Prince's day, none of this had come to fruition. Matter of fact, the Sport Coupe uses drum brakes instead of discs!

Superior disc brake systems were actually not common yet. Despite this, the Prince with its old-fashioned drums doesn't do too bad in the braking department. But again, this is due to the fact that this car never gets too fast to begin with. It's only when we need to prepare for the races that the Prince suddenly might need some help.

I did finally race this one in the Beginner Series World Classic Car Cup (WCCC). During the first race at Sarthe, the Prince wound up with 152 horsepower, and clocked a maximum of 147 miles per hour while drafting other cars down the Mulsanne Straight. Towards the end of this long path (as we all know) there's a sharp right-hand kink. Here we need to brake, and here is where I completely lost it all, two races in a row!  Start braking early in this car. It's heavier than all the others, yet its tires are narrow. As I started too late during both those races, the car swerved a bit, but one little swerve is all it takes. Next thing I know, the Prince was skidding off-track into the sand.

It doesn't end with braking; there's also the suspension itself. I'm not sure how much ground clearance this one has, but all it takes is one drive (actually one high-speed race) to realize how much this one loves to sway, dip, squat, and toss. While attacking Arnage and the Porsche Curves, the Prince also begins to understeer. It's slow rather than sudden, but at higher speeds it's possible to take up a track's entire width with front-end plowing while entering turns. And that's not all, the rear of this car can contribute to wayward cornering lines with body-swaying. There's a lot of rear overhang back there; I am guessing almost 4 feet of it. Large trunks (and often tailfins) were the fad of the day back in the early '60s, so we must take this into account as we drive this wingless car at a track like Sarthe, or else we'll see a side of this car that isn't so classy and hip.

But what did we expect?  

The Godfather of the Modern GT-R had a lot to learn about cornering. Once we look at the undercarriage specs, we begin to see why. The front coils are set at a wooshy 1.8 kg/mm up front, and 1.5 in the rear. No wonder it handles like a wet mop on a slippery floor!  After getting a sport suspension (3.2 and 2.6 instead of 1.8 and 1.5), GT Auto's Rigidity Refresh, and also some Chassis Reinforcements, it was noticeable how much firmer things felt. Still nowhere near-perfect, of course, but I noticed some definite improvements.     

At slower tracks (phew!) like Eiger Nordwand and Autumn Ring, the Prince Skyline hasn't got as many issues. It's too heavy most of the time, and that's not an RB25DE-coded straight-6 under the hood, which means Monster Moments of Torque are simply never going to happen, like they might in a rear-drive R32. Though there are occasional moments where things can get slightly messy, it's generally easy to clean these messes if we're at a slower track during a slower race. Assuming plenty of brake-time, the Sport Coupe does manage some nice mid-cornering moments, completely free of understeer and other such dramas. It's only when pushed just a little bit harder that this one starts to exhibit some pushing up front, and the car also loses a bit of its confidence, as well, as it starts to lean a lot and overheat its tires.

So that does it then. An easygoing pillowy car ,which can be made into somewhat of a weekend warrior, but will never be anything like its fierce children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. But still, the Prince Skyline Sport Coupe deserves some respect all the same.

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PROS-------------------------------

1). Yet another car to play with from yesteryear. Lots of other videogames have Skylines; but how many of them have the original sports Skyline which started it all?

2). Classy, off-beat looks any hipster would die for.

3). Assuming power is near-stock, there's a l
ack of understeer while entering turns, and also a lack of traction-loss when exiting them. This is an easy car to drive at such times.

4). Perfect machine for some historic events, for those of you who aren't looking to just cheat your way thru.

5). Look at all the chrome! Chrome bumpers! Chrome window inserts! Chrome wiper covers! Chrome hubcaps! Chrome grille! Whatever happened to all the chrome that used to be on cars?!!
     
 

CONS------------------------------

1). Damn. I mean, I just spent $272,000 on a car I'm not really even planning to race very often.

2). This car is also hard to find in GT5's used car lot, for those who actually want to fork over all that cash.

3). The original Skyline Coupe sure didn't pack in those horses.

4). We get all the usual power-ups (GT5), but the car is still pretty much a weakling after all is said and done.  

5). Somewhat heavy at just over 2,900 pounds.

6). Tall 4-speed gearbox, too. 4th gear sees about as much action as Micheal Jackson dated adults.  

7). Engine /exhaust sounds are simply buzzy, not awe-inspiring like some later Skylines illicit.

8). Longish braking distances in GT5 (non-ABS, basically) for such a slow car.

9). Occasional handling dilemmas can become a problem, especially while racing. Understeer, as well as body-sway oversteer, can both show up when entering turns, sometimes both can show up at the same time! 

10). Here we have an early '60s automobile, and still we get no tail fins!  


Published: 10/25/2011
Edited:      12/04/2013

        

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