Help Us ID the Mystery Roadster of SuzukaS

During the drivers’ parade that preceded the Japanese Grand Prix on October 4, Williams’s Kazuki Nakajima rode in this vintage Japanese roadster. Can you help us figure out what it is?

At first glance, it looks like a small Datsun, an SP310 Fairlady for instance, but the details don’t add up. There is also this peculiar badge:

Help Us ID the Mystery Roadster of SuzukaS

And a blurred model name on the quarter panel:

Help Us ID the Mystery Roadster of SuzukaS

The badge would make you think Prince Motor Company, the guys who made the original Skyline which lives on as the Nissan GT–R, but—as far as I know—Prince never made a small roadster.

What makes the whole situation even more baffling is that I ran this photo by my friend Zsolt Csikós, who is a living and breathing encyclopedia of old Japanese cars, and even he came up blank. And when the guy who, roused from his sleep, can tell you year-by-year changes on fourty-year-old non-exotic cars comes up blank, you know you’re in trouble.

Unfortunately, the embedded metadata offers no clue:

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 04: Kazuki Nakajima of Japan and Williams rides in a vintage car during the drivers parade before the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 4, 2009 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

So it’s up to you now, expert morphologists of a bygone Japan: what the hell was Kazuki riding in before he brought his Williams home to a not particularly shiny 15th place?

Update: Jim–Bob and Graverobber to the rescue! It’s a Toyota Publica, pronounced paprika.

Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images