I do find the term “JDM” is a bit overused these days. But here’s a car for which it is totally appropriate. Not only did you have to live in Japan to get your hands on one of these - you also had to be the Emperor. It doesn’t get more exclusive than this.
The story of this car began in September 1965, when the Prince Motor Company announced that they would be providing two vehicles for the Emperor. The first would be ready by 1966, the other by 1967.
But - as it were, in May 1966, the Prince Motor Company merged with Nissan, and so the “Prince Royal” became the “Nissan Prince Royal”. The Prince Motor Company had an established relationship with the Imperial Household Agency previously, when they presented the first Prince Gloria to Crown Prince Akihito as a one-year anniversary wedding gift, and an earlier gift to the Crown Prince called the Prince Sedan in 1954. So Nissan gained the Royal approval through the back door, so to speak.
Because of the massive weight, a 6,437 cc (391 ci) Prince series W64 V8 with overhead valves, producing 260 PS (191.2 kW; 256.4 bhp) was used along with custom 8.90-15 Bridgestone tyres. To this day, the largest displacement of any Japanese car engine. A three-speed GM Super Turbine 400 (THM400) automatic transmission was used, as no one in Japan made a transmission strong enough for this engine.
When the Emperor is riding inside, the Imperial Standard, known as the Imperial Seal of Japan is displayed at both the front and rear of the car in place of a license plate, and on the exterior of both rear passenger doors, displaying a 16 petal chrysanthemum, in golden colour, in reference to the Chrysanthemum Throne of Japan.
While the chauffeur in the front enjoys seats covered in fine leather, this would never do for the Emperor. As you might remember from my post about the Toyota Century, leather seats are considered too noisy to experience true serenity and comfort. To achieve total calm, the rear seats are covered in the finest wool.
And the Royals seemed to have enjoyed these cars a lot - they remained in service all the way until 2006 when they were retired. The replacements were Toyota Crown Royal models - but even these were not as exclusive as the Prince Royal. Four were made of these - twice as many as the Prince.
The model you see here is a Diapet, introduced in 1975. It is in 1/47 scale - rather than the usual 1/40 - no doubt owing to the size of the actual car. But - I was a bit surprised that only the two front doors open - or perhaps the thought of little kiddies imagining themselves as the Emperor in the back seat would have been inappropriate?
Either way, it’s another fine example of the Diapet brand, and another seriously heavy piece of diecast. Just how I like them. But I found one amusing bit of “Engrish” on the base plate - which clearly reads “Nissan Prince Loyal” - and I would have thought they’d make sure to get that one right! Then again, the Japanese tend to be very loyal to their Royals, don’t they?