Prince Motor Co.

1952 Prince AISH-1


The Tama Electric Car Company had been building electric cars since 1947. 1949 saw a major investment made by the Bridgstone group, which allowed Tama to move into a bigger factory and to invest in developing better cars. By the start of the 1950s these electric powered cars were selling well, but political unrest on foreign shores were beginning to have a detrimental effect on the fledgling car maker. 


As a consequence of the outbreak of the Korean War, the global supply of lead came under pressure, which forced the price of lead up dramatically. Cars such as the Tama, with their huge banks of lead acid batteries, were fast becoming economically unviable to produce. 

By 1951 the price of lead in Japan had increased tenfold, and it was clear that the era of electric cars in Japan was, for now, over, and to survive Tama would have to convert to petrol engined cars.

The problem however was that Tama lacked the resources and time to quickly develop its own new engine. At this time Shojiro Ishibashi, who was the head of the Bridgestone group and now also on the board of Tama, had a Peugeot 202 for his own private transport. As a quick solution it was decided to build an engine based on the one in Ishibashi's Peugeot. Former aircraft engineers set about building their own Peugeot inspired engine. They increased the capacity from 1200cc in the Peugeot up to just under 1500cc, and from there the FG4A-10 engine was born.

Meanwhile, other events in Japan at the time would bring about a change of name for the new car. In 1952 Akihito, the first son of Emperor Hirohito, was about to have his investiture to become Crown Prince. In honour of this occasion Tama would be rebranded as Prince. Initially the cars were sold a Prince, but the company name remained Tama, but in November 1952 the company was also renamed as the Prince Motor Company. The decision to rebrand seems to have been something of a last minute decision, as the photos of the prototype clearly show it with Tama badges.

The car itself was an evolution of the previous Tama Senior sedan, though substantially changed. Not particulary pretty, but not unattractive either, it was more of a blend of international styles, the front remisicent of of Russian cars from the era whilst side on its almost european. The one thing it doesn't look is Japanese, lacking the awkwardness many of its Japanese bretheren possess.

If you had to find an engine to base your design on you could have done a lot worse that the Peugeot engine of the post-war era. It was robust and simple, yet quite refined for its time. The Tama/Prince engineers did more that just copy and added their own touches as well. The net result was that in taking it from 1200cc to 1500cc they brought the power output up from 30hp to 45hp. This FG4A engine formed the basis of the engine that would carry Prince right through until the merger with NIssan in 1966, eventually becoming the G-1.

As for the car itself, the AISH series would run through until April 1957, when it was replaced with the first model Skyline. In that time there would be five upgrades done, the first of these was the AISH-2, which came out in June 1953.

1952 Prince AISH-1 Sedan 

Length - 4290mm
Width - 1588mm
Height - 1590mm
Wheelbase - 2460mm
Weight - 1116kg
Top speed - 110kph
Transmission - 4 speed manual

Engine Specifications

Model - FG4A-10
OHV 4 Cylinder
Capacity - 1484cc
Bore & Stroke 75x84mm
Power - 45hp@4000rpm
Torque- 10kgm@2000rpm
Compression - 6.5/1
Carburettor - unknown
Final drive - unknown

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