This Prince Racecar Once Beat Out Porsches at the Japanese Grand Prix
This car won the Japanese Grand Prix in 1966.
A few years ago, I attended an Infiniti drive event, and the best car I saw during the trip technically wasn’t an Infiniti, it was a Prince. Though, Nissan, the parent company to Infiniti, and Prince eventually did merge together, which is why the car was at the event in the first place.
- Car: Prince R380
- Location: Tennessee
- Photog: Tony Markovich (Instagram + Twitter: @T_Marko)
- Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T5i, 18-55mm IS STM lens
The Prince R380 has a unique history and holds a prestigious place in Japanese history. Nissan goes so far as to call Prince “Japan’s original builder of premium automobiles.” Prince’s roots are traced back to the Tachikawa Aircraft Company, which was established in the ’20s and eventually started building electric cars, then ventured into internal combustion. Prince Motor Company was officially created in 1952, and Nissan credits Prince for building the first Japanese single overhead cam (SOHC) six-cylinder engine.
Prince started by building sedans like the Skyline and Gloria, and eventually tried its hand at coupes. To further legitimize its performance credibility, it ventured into motorsports and began competing in the Japanese Grand Prix. After success, but not a win, at the 1964 Grand Prix, Prince took the top two spots in the 1966 Grand Prix (the 1965 event was canceled) with the car you see here, the R380. It was one of Japan’s first purpose-built racecars, and it beat out Porsche 906s to claim victory. Adding to the legacy, the R380, which is built on a Brabham BT8 mid-engine chassis, broke a few land speed records during the off-time in 1965.
Here are the full specs on this awesomely rare racecar:
- Overall length / width / height: 3,930/1,580/1,035 mm
- Wheelbase: 2,360 mm
- Tread (front/rear): 1,280/1,260 mm
- Curb weight: 660 kg
- Engine: GR8 (6-cyl. in line, DOHC), 1,996 cc
- Engine Max. power: Over 147 kW (200PS)/8,000 rpm
- Engine Carburetors: Weber 42 DCOE (x3)
- Transmission: Hewland 5-speed
- Brakes: 4-wheel outboard disc
- Tires (front, rear): 5.00L-15, 6.50L-15 (Dunlop F5)
As Prince rose in the automotive world, Nissan took notice and merged with the company in 1966. From then on, the Prince cars were merged into Nissan’s lineup.
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