GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1963 Nissan Skyline 1500 Deluxe














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NISSAN SKYLINE 1500 Deluxe
 
Year:                                       1963                                                                        Price:                                       8,994cr
 
Driveline:                                FR                                                                           Weight:                                  960kg
Engine:                        Inline 4 cylinder pushrod   Capacity:                         1.5 litre pushrod

Max. Power:                            67bhp @ 5000 rpm  
                                                 
Max. Torque:                           107.8Nm @ 3500rpm

Quarter Mile Best:             20.9 seconds @ 106km/h

0-100km/h:                              18.4 seconds
0-160km/h:                                N/A

0-1000M:                       38.3 seconds @ 136km/h
  
Top Speed:                             139km/h 

Tyre Type                           Comfort Hard                      
Trial Mountain Best Lap:    2’11.841 
                                                                
SS Route 7 Best Lap:           10’55.922

Suzuka Best Lap:                    3'22.391  

Top Gear Test Track:             1'58.792

Nordschliefe Best Lap:        11’21.725


      The Prince Skyline of 1961 had proven an expensive lesson for Nissan as the car had evidently been seen as too big, too fancy and ill-suited to Japanese tastes. The hand-built body and custom craftsmanship was ill-suited to Nissan’s desire to build cars for the Japanese masses. The second generation Skyline was a vastly different car to the original, lacking all of the flair of Michelotto’s Euro charm that had made the BLRA-3 so unpalatable to the conservative Japanese. However, whilst Nissan worked hard to modernize and tone down the looks, they had to ensure that enough detail remained to keep the Skyline as a premium car in their model line-up.

       No longer a 2-door coupe, the Skyline 1500 was a 4-door sedan that laid the foundations for future Skylines and generations to come. Quad-headlamps, a feature many associated with expensive cars like Lincolns and Cadillacs, were kept. Fine chrome detail surrounded the window trim and a chrome strip ran down the belt-line of the car to help break up the boxy look. Twin mirrors were standard and polished full wheel hubcaps completed the upmarket feel. The rear end was also treated to chrome and many astute fans will easily pick the round taillights – a feature that would become trademark Skyline in years to come.
      
     Under the bonnet the Renault-derived 1.9 litre four cylinder was gone, replaced with Nissan’s own 1.5 litre overhead valve pushrod unit. Power was down from 91bhp to a mere 67 horsepower, a 25 percent drop, but Nissan cleverly marketed the reliability factor as the major draw card. The 1.5 litre engine had been in use in other applications for quite some years and had proven a near bulletproof unit. Mated to a 3 speed gearbox, the engine was able to haul the lithe 960kg chassis onto a top speed of 85mph. It was certainly capable of 100mph or more, but there was virtually no place in Japan where such speeds were attainable and to do so was regarded as insanity.
    
   The lithe chassis also offset the power deficit, as weight was down by more than 30% over the BLRA-3, giving the 1500 sprightly performance. With 100Nm of torque on offer, it was happy to pull from 2nd gear standing starts and 60mph was over and done in under 20 seconds. By the time the standing quarter was over, the ’63 Skyline was almost lineball with its predecessor.
   
   Many purists point at the S50 as the beginning of the Skyline’s heritage and were it not for the visuals, you’d be a fool to disagree. But the Skyline as a pedigree sports car leaves the 1500 Deluxe with a lot to desire. The car rolls, pitches and understeers out on the track, with none of the grace or mannerisms befitting the nameplate. And it certainly isn’t pretty, not from any angle, with a heavy upright grille, a cabin as forgettable as a glass elevator and a stance that’s altogether too high and purposeless. It shouts the word chintzy from the top of its 1.5 litre lungs, a cheap car dressed up to look more expensive than it really is.
  
   The driving experience says as much too and the biggest killer of the Skyline’s performance is undoubtedly the ludicrously short ratio 3 speed gearbox. The car begs for a 4th cog around almost any circuit and with a limited speed of 138km/h (140 downhill), you get the feeling that a Fiat 500 will swallow you at any moment. Suzuka’s main straight is a painful lesson in throttle control and the back straight down the Nürburgring is agonizing.
              
  The steering feels wooden and the skinny bias-ply tyres give up the ghost almost too early for comfort. Push the Skyline hard and you’ll be rewarded with an armful of understeer through the tight and twisty stuff. Get on the brakes too hard and the rear end dances away with all the grace of a hippopotamus out of water.
           
  Make no mistake, the ’63 Skyline has more shortcomings than a politician on a campaign trail. The gearbox is stubborn and lacks full synchromesh, making shifts a chore, the engine has all the character of a lawnmower and the chassis is decidedly less than impressive. The brakes, all four drums do a half-reasonable job of pulling you up but when you look at the kerb weight of the car, it’s more of an expected given rather than an accolade.
        
     Even with such a unanimously dreary score, the old Skyline still manages to pull some things out of the bag. The car is surprisingly just as quick as some modern Kei car efforts around the shorter tracks like the Top Gear circuit (anything under 2 minutes for a car like this is impressive) and it certainly pulls one back around the Nürburgring, despite a quick lap feeling like you’re coasting as those downhill sections redline the engine in 3rd.
               
    Personally, I’d love the see the S50D run an unfettered lap with 4 forward gears, but to ruin the originality of such a quaint car in the pursuit of “what ifs” is hardly worthwhile. And let’s be thankful that the ’63 isn’t the only classic early Skyline we get – the vastly improved ’67 model with an uprated engine, gearbox and styling isn’t far away.
               

Truth be told though, I prefer a Bluebird.