Will It Run Again? Skyline C211 Awaits Restoration in a Small Workshop in Chiba

In July 2022, I went to pluck strawberries in the Chiba prefecture, two hours from Tokyo, when I spotted today’s junkyard roadside find. Not much is left of the beautiful Skylines exterior, It took my quite a while to find out what model this blue chassis is. Without the characteristic round tail lights, the Nissan Skyline C211 was surprisingly difficult to identify.

The Skyline C211 was largely stripped and suffered from serious corrosion. Note the asymmetric trunk lid – the round hole in the body underneath the right side of the trunk lid is actually the fuel filler mounting, which, like the parcel shelf, is largely eaten away by corrosion. A quick search revealed that at least the cover part of the fuel lid is available. The trunk lid however seems to be beyond saving, and, like the bonnet, is held in place with cables and chains. This Skyline probably spent decades under the elements.

On the other hand, it has not (yet) completely fallen apart. With several years (?) of work, it may be possible to bring it back to driveable condition, which could be a fun project. My guess is that it was rescued by the workshop staff with the goal of a long-term restoration. I once worked in a small Renault workshop in Germany, that had an extremely rusty Rover Mini as a long term project. That was over 15 years ago, and I am very sure that the Mini is still not finished. I guess such never-ending restoration projects are very common among workshops.

Equipped with Longchamp XR-4, the first-gen Toyota Soarer parked next to the Skyline looks like a more achievable goal. The car is mainly complete, and still carries license plates. The rear window is held in place by duct tape. The window frame is partially missing due to rust.

A month or two of metal work, and the Soarer would be ready to hit the roads again!

After browsing through some material online, I think the Skyline C211 is actually a very cool project. The Soarer is easier, but nothing beats the dream of cruising in a C211 Skyline on the Wangan route along the seaside of Tokyo and Yokohama. I would love to join and spend weeks or months joining the team, cutting and grinding metal, welding, and restoring the chassis. The C211 Skyline is a beauty of a car!

This commercial got me convinced that I need a Skyline C211.

Update (2024-02-19): It was a strange coincidence that a day after writing this blog post, I went to a vintage car meeting in Yokohama, when I saw how a well-maintained Skyline C211 could look like.

I learned that these Skylines are called “Skyline Japan”, but my Japanese friends didn’t know why. A lot of cars have interesting names in Japan: The R30 Skyline (in the narrow headlight variant) is called “Iron Mask” (maybe because he looks like Hannibal Lecter?), and the Sunny Tuck is shortened to “Sanitura”.

In any way, the Skyline Japan is an amazingly beautiful piece of Automotive history. I sincerely hope the workshop in Chiba will bring it back to its former glory. Will this rusty chassis ever hit the road again? Perhaps I should come back this year to collect more strawberries?

Leave a Reply