In 1964 Shinichiro Sakurai, the design engineer responsible to the Skyline series, wanted to take the S50 Skyline racing in the GT-II class at the Japanese Grand Prix. The S50 was a fine little sedan, and with it's 73hp 1500 pushrod engine it had class leading performance amongst the small Japanese cars of the time, but it would be no match for the Datsun Fairlady sports cars also entered in the event. Sakurai came up with a radical solution.
Sitting next to the Skyline 1500s in the showrooms was the new Prince Gloria, and the upper specification Gloria happened to have the most technologically advanced engine ever fitted to a Japanese car, the G7. This engine was an overhead cam 2 litre, 6 cylinder engine that created 106hp in standard trim. This was the first OHC engine ever fitted to a Japanese passenger car and it instantly made their rivals engines look obsolete. This had all the elements of a race winning engine, the only problem was that an inline 6 was never going to fit in the Skyline 1500's small engine bay.
The solution was ingenious but simple, they would just cut the front of the S50 body off in front of the firewall and weld in a 200mm panel to extend the front of the car enough to make room for the longer engine. By doing this they would only require the pressing of 4 new panels, the 2 new longer front guards/fenders and 2 new 200mm inserts. This never changed for the entire production run of S54s, even in the last cars built in 1968 you can clearly see the welded in extension panels in the engine bay.
The standard G7 engine was modified for extra performance, with the most prominent of those being the fitting of a set of triple Weber 40DCOE dual throat side draught carburetors. No figures were quoted for the upgraded race engine, but later production versions fitted with the triple Webers produced 127hp in street trim. Modifications of this scale effectively created a whole new car in the eyes of the race organisers, and homologation required at least 100 road going cars be built to qualify for entry in this production car class. There wasn't enough time to build that many new cars, in the end Prince purchased 300 new Weber 40DCOEs and presented the receipts as proof of their intention to build the 100 cars. This was accepted and the new 6 cylinder Skyline was ready to race.
After all that the Skyline didn't win the race, it was won by a Porsche 906, but the Skylines came in at 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th places, which was great publicity anyway. When the required 100 production versions went on sale the new model designation became the Skyline GT S54A-1, and these cars sold out in a very short time. In the end they never used the Webers on the production S54A-1, and it instead used the Gloria's single down draught carburetor, giving the car an output of 106hp. It was also fitted with a 4 speed gearbox instead of the 5 speed in the race car, though the 5 speed along with the triple Webers and limited slip differential were all available as optional extras.
With the initial run of S54A-1s quickly selling out it was clear that demand was there for this new version, and in February 1965 an updated S54A-2 and S54B-2 version was released.
There was only the one version of the S54A-1.
The S54A-1 was based on the S50D-1 4 cylinder Skyline 1500.
Length - 4300mm
Width - 1495mm
Height - 1410mm
Wheelbase - 2590mm
Weight - 1025kg
Top speed - 170kph
Transmission - 4 speed floor change
OHC 6 Cylinder
Model - G-7
Capacity - 1988cc
Bore & Stroke 75x75mm
Power - 105ps@5200rpm
Torque - 16kg/m@3600rpm
Compression - 8.8 : 1
Final drive - 4.444:1
Built with Mobirise