Nissan Gloria: The Forgotten JDM Car That Was Actually Fantastic

Before Nissan came to prominence in the 1990s with the Skyline GT-R, the automaker built the Datsun Type 11, a vehicle highly inspired by the Austin Motor Company's Austin 7, before making its first mass-produced car, the Datsun Type 14, in 1935. The automaker merged with the Prince Motor Company in 1966 and brought the Skyline and Gloria marquees to Nissan's growing stable.

We all know the Nissan Skyline from the Fast & Furious movie franchise or as a Ferrari-baiting sports car with a wailing turbocharged V6 engine. It's much less likely that we're quite so familiar with the Nissan Gloria (or Prince Gloria), a luxury sedan produced from 1959 to 2004. It never made it stateside, and it didn't get the same sort of slice of Hollywood given to its sportier Skyline stablemate. Still, that doesn't mean it's any less desirable – or less worthy of the JDM exotica badge.

A vehicle fit for a prince

Before the Nissan Merger, the Prince Motor Company began the development of a posher, luxury-oriented version of the Prince Skyline. It was to be called the Gloria, and Prince wasted no time presenting its latest creation at the 1958 All Japan Automobile Show. Prince put the Gloria on sale in 1959, and it featured an 80-horsepower 1.9-liter four-banger under the hood.

The Prince Motor Company gave its first-ever production Gloria to Japan's Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko to commemorate their first wedding anniversary. Shortly after that, Prince became the official vehicle supplier to the Imperial Household Agency of Japan.

The second-generation Gloria debuted in 1962 and gained the Super 6 moniker in 1963, commemorating its new G7 2.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine generating 105 horsepower. The G7 was the first engine in Japan to break the 100ps barrier and enabled Gloria to dabble in motorsports. It won first and second place at the second Japan Grand Prix in 1964. In addition, the second-gen Gloria escorted the Olympic Torch at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

JDM Royalty

The most exclusive Nissan Gloria is the Nissan Prince Royal. Based on the third-generation A30 Gloria with styling inspired by classic Cadillac and Lincoln vehicles, Nissan only made five examples of Prince Royal between 1966 and 1967. All served the Japanese royal family from 1967 to 2004 before a fleet of Toyota Century Royals took over in 2006. If not for the Carlos Ghosn controversy, Nissan could have built the Japanese royal family's new parade car in 2018, but fate had other plans.

Nissan merged the Gloria and Cedric nameplates in the 1970s, and it immediately became a top-selling choice in the Japanese luxury sedan market. The seventh-generation Gloria/Cedric Y30 debuted in 1983 and was the first Japanese car to feature a V6 engine. It also came loaded with advanced features like the world's first automatic windshield wiper system, a fully-automatic computer-governed climate control system, and an illuminated hood mascot.

The Gloria/Cedric Brougham VIP debuted in 1984 and came with power-adjustable seats for the front and back. The Turbo Brougham joined the lineup shortly with a 230-horsepower VG30ET turbo V6 engine from the Fairlady Z. Meanwhile, the eighth-generation Cedric/Gran Turismo appeared in 1991, a time when Nissan V6 engines were pumping out 226 horsepower through a four or five-speed automatic gearbox. Production for the Cedric/Gloria continued until 2004 before its Fuga successor entered the fray, a car we know as the Infiniti M or Q70.

But above all, the second-generation Gloria's racing success paved the way for the Nissan Skyline GT-R sedan that debuted in 1969, the progenitor of Godzilla. According to Hagerty, the Skyline GT-R won 52 races (49 in succession) during its first three years of production, paving the way for the marquee's prominence in the racing world and to the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide.