Back in 1964, the Prince Motor Company–which would later merge with Nissan in 1966–entered their new Skyline GT in the second-ever Japanese Grand Prix. The Skylines they entered did remarkably well, dominating 2nd-6th places. They didn’t win first, though, thanks to a privateer Porsche 904 GTS. That loss was the birth of the Prince R380.
The Prince R380 was the result of the Prince engineers realizing that they needed a mid-engined car like the Porsche 904 if they were going to really be competitive. A new, unique mid-engined chassis was designed, and all-new aerodynamic bodywork. A version of the straight-6 engine from the Skylines was adapted to racing, and produced a now-quaint 200 horsepower.
The Japanese Grand Prix was on hold in 1965, but was on again in 1966, when four R380s were entered. Three Porsche 904s were entered as well, so the Prince team was finally able to see if they actually built a car to beat the Porsche.
They did. The R380s took first and second in the race, making the Prince R380 arguably Japan’s first really significant race car.
There’s only one of these left in the world, and Infiniti will show it at this year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
Infiniti is a relatively young brand, but via Nissan they like to trace their heritage back to Prince, and if you’re going to do that, you may as well showcase one of the most important and beautiful Prince cars out there.
Which, I suppose, is exactly what they’re doing.