The Prince Motor Co. was born from Tachikawa (a company that manufactured fuselage for combat aircraft used in WWII), oil import restrictions, and a merger. After the war, Tachikawa focused on creating Tama, an electric car, while Fuji Precision Machinery powered sewing machines and movie projectors. Once these companies merged, the Tachikawa name was absorbed and the new Fuji Precision Industries started building gasoline-engine cars. In 1957, the company was known as Prince Motor Company and introduced the Prince Skyline as a luxury sedan.
A 125hp straight six was dropped into the Skyline, and the car became the Skyline 2000 GT (S54) and started racing in 1964. Although it didn’t take first in its inaugural race, the 2000 GT cars took 2nd through 6th place.
Nissan joined Prince Motor Co in 1966, and in 1969, the GT-R version of the Skyline sedan was launched. This one had a DOHC 2.0L inline six with 160 hp and was stripped down for weight reduction. A coupe (KPGC-10) was added to the line, and the two models had a total of 50 racing wins over the next three years.
The Merging of Motorsports
With the 70s came the gas crisis, and the competitive racing models had less success overall. During this time, the motorsports division kept on working, splitting into two offices. One office handled all factory team activities and the other was focused on private teams. In September 1984, Nissan decided to merge the two and Nissan Motorsports International Co. Ltd (NISMO) was established.
NISMO debuted at the 1986 endurance event, 24 Hours of Le Mans, racing the R86V and 85V. However, it was the AWD 1989 Skyline R32 that won 29 races in a row. This vehicle is often referred to as “The Godzilla Car” because an Australian journalist coined the name when the car was dominating the Australian Touring Car Championship in the early 1990s.
NISMO created a Nissan Skyline R34 with 500hp running from a 2.8L engine. This was the car for serious enthusiasts, and only 20 were built.
In addition to serious enthusiasts, another group of NISMO fans was forming. The GT-R cars were not for sale in the United States but were driven worldwide in the Gran Turismo® video game series. The Fast & The Furious franchise also increased awareness of advanced tuning and performance cars to the masses. Prepared for what would come, NISMO was already selling performance parts to select markets.
NISMO Expands Its Market
In 2004, NISMO introduced the Fairlady Z. The Z won its first race, but the big news was the same NISMO-built car was offered, beginning in 2007, as the 350Z NISMO in the U.S. Europe waited until 2013 to receive its first NISMO-built vehicle, the Juke. In 2004, NISMO vehicles were also off-road rallying with Colin McRae.
Nowadays, NISMO models are available in most markets. The introduction of NISMO’s Nissan 2017 Sentra has brought a lot of buzz. Auto reporters and enthusiasts are watching to see if NISMO’s innovation takes the economy car to a new level. What isn’t yet available to the public is a NISMO-built Leaf.
Perhaps the folks at NISMO harkened back to the company’s own grassroots beginning when they gave Nissan’s electric vehicle some NISMO treatment in 2013. The car reached speeds of 93 mph. NISMO knows green motorsports are growing in popularity, and this motorsports powerhouse will be ready for whatever the racetrack brings.