Back in the ‘80s, golf was massive in Japan. That’s just what happens when a country finds itself flush with cash and looking for a way to assert its ascendancy on the weekend as well as in the office during the week. Nissan noticed and thought it might sell some Glorias.
So they went with Jack Nicklaus, a golf star big enough that I know his name despite only ever putting to victory on courses that featured windmills, loop-de-loops, and soft-serve ice cream at the end. But for Japanese consumers, hearing Nicklaus say he enjoys the “quiet comfort of Gloria” was exactly what would get them into the showroom and out in a brand new Gloria hardtop.
Having Western celebrities selling products to Japanese consumers was a tried and true strategy in Japan as consumerism jumped the charts as the bubble economy inflated ever bigger. If you were in ‘80s or ‘90s Japan, there was Jean-Claude Van Damme-endorsed caffeinated gum at the checkout in 7/11. If you were thirsty, you could pick up some cans of Harrison Ford-approved Kirin beer, and after all that stimulation you could even play a special Pachinko machine that had the blessing of esteemed actor Nicholas Cage.
For me, someone whose exposure to golf is pretty minor, it’s hard to see the appeal of Nicklaus’s stamp of approval on a car. I’m not sure what the relationship between driving and golfing is, to be honest. Never understood it when Tiger Woods was selling Americans Buicks either, but I do like an Arnold Palmer on a hot day so maybe these guys know a thing or two about the world beyond the fairway.
Hopefully, someone at Nissan thought that through because this tie-up with Nicklaus went a bit farther than just commercials. Unlike Sean Connery merely hawking Mazhdas on television, Nissan went for the back nine too and offered buyers a Jack Nicklaus-edition Gloria.
If you went for one of those, you got a four-door pillarless hard-top (because Nicklaus knows that B-pillars are for chumps), some special walnut trim inside, and the all-important signature decals on the rear doors. How else would your friends know that you’re a big deal on the links if you don’t rep your favorite PGA star? If you want a better look at what these Nicklaus edition Glorias looked like, check out this run-down of a relatively clean one by WasabiCars. It’s a classy car, even if those signature stickers haven’t quite kept the allure they might have had on the lot. Or in the country club parking lot.