The Nissan Gloria Is a High-Performance JDM Car You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

There are numerous excellent JDM cars consumers in the U.S. couldn’t get until a quarter-century after they were released. Even though Japanese carmakers provided an abundance of choice for American shoppers, some of the East’s best-looking vehicles were restricted.

According to JapaneseCarTrade, the Nissan Gloria may initially sound uninteresting, but the Latin word for “glory” inspired the name. As one of the longest-lived models in the business, it gave buyers a mark of luxury, comfort, and surprising performance for a sedan. Americans caught a whiff of the car in the M-series Infiniti. But before, the Gloria had a long and illustrious history on the other side of the world. 

Where did the Nissan Gloria come from?

Nissan’s Cedric sedan was launched in 1955, but the Gloria rolled off the production line in 1959. While the Cedric left Nissan’s plant in Yokosuka, the Gloria was made about 40 miles north in Tokyo at Prince Motors. The automotive marque came out of the Tachikawa Aircraft Company, which produced military aircraft for Japan during World War II.

Dissolved after the Allied victory, the company took the name Fuji Precision Industries, changing its name to Prince in 1952. The company sought to honor Akihito’s formal inauguration as Crown Prince of Japan, who was also gifted the first Gloria. After two more name swaps, Prince Motor Company became part of Nissan in 1966.

A black Nissan Gloria against a grey background.
Nissan Gloria | Nissan Motor Corporation

Prince was known for building luxury automobiles, namely the Gloria and the revered Skyline. In fact, Prince motors made the first Gloria based on early versions of the Nissan Skylines. Initially, the Prince Gloria was Nissan’s main competitor, but when Nissan took over the production of the Gloria, it became a sportier version of the Cedric.

JDMBuySell asserts that differentiating both cars can only be done by identifying the engine code. For instance, the sixth-generation Gloria comes with the L-series gasoline and S-series diesel engines. Nevertheless, after the fourth-generation 230 Gloria, it shared the same Cedric chassis code and engine variants.

What kind of performance did the Nissan Gloria have?

A myriad of engine configurations propelled the Gloria over its 45-year production history. A 1.9-liter four-cylinder, a 2.0-liter six-cylinder, and even a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. Although it wasn’t offered in the Japanese market, the Nissan Gloria’s short-lived American cousin, the Infiniti M45, had a 4.5-liter V8. Car and Driver said the model could reach 147 mph, taking 5.7 seconds to hit 60 mph.

As a four-door cruiser, the Gloria wasn’t set up to wow the performance-minded but was quite sporty for a sedan. In the 1990s, the ninth and tenth-generation models had the agility and grunt to match smaller, more athletic competitors. Motor Reviewer says that with the top-spec turbo V6, the Gloria could put down 280 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque. Such figures and relative nimbleness put it beyond the reach of Toyota’s MR-2 and Acura’s Integra.

The VQ30DET V6, the spiciest in Nissan’s VQ-series engines, had a lower 9:1 compression ratio in the Y34 Gloria. Enhancing the sedan’s credentials, the quad-cam, 24-valve powerplant was also put in the mythical R34 Skyline.

Can you get a Nissan Gloria in the U.S. today?

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Production of the Gloria ended after 46 years when the Nissan Fuga replaced it in 2004. It lived on in the U.S. as the Infiniti M-series until production ended in early 2022. Most of the tenth-generation Y33 Nissan Glorias and those preceding are available to bring to the U.S. under the 25-year import law. Yet, there aren’t many in the U.S. HotCars says buyers may have been more interested in the Skyline than the Gloria. As well, similar Infiniti offerings stateside may have persuaded many to find a Gloria-adjacent sedan.

Many enthusiasts idolize the 1970s-1990s sports sedan coming from Europe from Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and even Maserati. Some are coming out of Japan, but they’re more rally-geared, for example, Subaru and Mitsubishi. The Nissan Gloria wasn’t bred to storm down the Autobahn or slide around the circuits of the World Rally Championship. Nissan built to Gloria for looking good and being comfortable. However, its mechanical relation to the Skyline and limited all-wheel drive variants make it a stylish and sporty pick.