Nissan is well known for making two of the, arguably, best JDM sports cars; the Nissan Skyline and Silvia. But even before they merged with Prince Motors in 1966, the production of their VIP luxury sedan, the Nissan President, was already underway.
The Nissan President was among the first cars solely produced, marketed, and sold by Nissan, as most were manufactured and sold under the Datsun or Prince name. Production began in 1965 with President H150, the same year the Nissan Cedric Special 50 was produced. As a result, both cars shared the same platform.
However, the main reason Nissan made the President was to compete against the Toyota Crown and possibly get picked for use by the Imperial household of Japan. Tax regulations in Japan have always been strict on cars with large engines with over 2.0-liters of displacement. Still, Nissan wouldn’t hear any of this.
Nissan’s efforts to get the Nissan President used by the royal house didn’t bear fruits. Still, the Nissan Royal, made by their sister company Prince Motors was among the few cars used by the Emperor of Japan. But later, in 1970, the H150 Nissan President was appointed for use by the Japanese Prime Minister.
Base spec models come with a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder engine, while other trims have either a 4.0-litre V8 or 4.4-litre V8. The third and fourth gen Presidents come with a 4.5-litre V8 engine. After the first generation, Nissan discontinued the manual transmission selling all production models with an automatic transmission.
The Nissan President was the first JDM VIP sedan, better than the Toyota Crown. But is it better than the Toyota Century, which is so good that it is nicknamed the Japanese Rolls Royce? Apart from being the first JDM car to have ABS and electronic door locks, there are some hidden features that it has better than the Toyota Century. So is the Nissan President better than the Toyota Century? Stick around to find out.
Pros and Cons
Cheaper than Toyota Century
The Toyota Century tramples all JDM sedans, luxury and VIP sedans. But what if there was a better option with better value for money? Would you buy it? Unlike the Toyota Century, you can easily pick up a Nissan President for under $10,000. This is a bargain since finding a Toyota Crown or Nissan Cedric for that price is difficult.
If someone stated that the Nissan President was the first JDM car to feature ABS, few would believe it. Well, you better believe that because it’s true. Nissan first used ABS in 1971 when producing the President H150 (first generation).
Apart from ABS, you also get dual front airbags and side curtain airbags for the front seat passenger, driver, and rear seat passengers. Most JDM sedans don’t have the front seat passenger airbag. The Nissan President has one, making it one of the safest JDM sedans, regardless of age.
Excellent Build Quality
On the exterior, the Nissan President is just an ordinary old JDM sedan. But it’s in the interior where the greatness is. You are greeted by soft multi-layered silk woolen seats that make you want to be driven around town, windows down, just enjoying the breeze. And if you prefer a little privacy, you can close the rear window blinds. The only disadvantage is that the rear windshield blind can only be controlled from the driver’s control panel.
You can also get the Nissan President with leather seats offered at no extra cost at production time. But if you have a choice between leather or woolen seats, go for the one with woolen seats. You might think the Toyota Century is the only JDM sedan with heated and massaging seats. You get heated and massaging seats with dual-memory functionality in the Nissan President.
Unlike the Toyota Century, where there’s an opening in the front passenger seat, you can move the front passenger seat using the controls on the rear seat center console. You can either lower the headrest to increase the road view or move the entire seat forward to increase legroom. You can also lower the front passenger seat and use it as a leg rest during long road trips.
Some features, such as the signal TV and phone in the rear seat armrest, might seem useless, but this was cutting-edge technology in the 1960s and 1970s. You’ll probably never use such features but seeing them there gives the interior a wealthy mafia vibe felt in such cars.
There’s nothing much going on on the exterior except the paint job complemented by numerous chrome bits across the body length. However, chrome bits, badges, and grille might need polishing depending on how well the car has been kept.
Appreciate in Value
The Nissan President was produced in limited figures. A total of 56,000 units were made from 1965 to 2009. Market prices will stagnate or appreciate depending on how well the car has been kept and the spec. Rare-spec units such as the 1990 Nissan President JS and Nissan President Royal Limousine will appreciate.
JDM car prices are always on the rise due to high demand, and the Nissan President is one of the cars with high demand and low supply in the US. So, if you are thinking of getting one, do it before prices reach Skyline levels and if you want to sell yours, hold on to it a little bit longer.
Slow but Smooth
Performance isn’t that great on the Nissan President, but the throttle response is so smooth that you can put your coffee cup on the dashboard, and won’t spill. If you are a performance enthusiast, you’ll enjoy driving a Toyota Mark II or Nissan Gloria more than you’ll enjoy driving a Nissan President.
If you decide to get a Nissan President, ensure you get to enjoy the rear seats every once in a while. The ride comfort makes you feel like a baby being rocked to sleep, and you’ll probably doze off. Noise cancellation is excellent as you’ll only hear road noises when driving at speeds over 60mph, provided the windows are closed.
In 1990 Nissan introduced adaptive suspension in the Nissan President. If the controls are functional, you can switch between two comfort modes and one sport mode, which stiffens the suspension to reduce body roll. When unlocking the car, the ride height rises to ease entry into the vehicle and lowers when getting out. You’ll not find this feature even in most modern luxury sedans.
Probably the major thing that will make you get a Nissan President over a Cima or Gloria is its great minimalistic bulky look. Nobody will ignore a lowered President with nice wheels and a neat paint job at a car show or when parked randomly at a Walmart store.
Most JDM Luxury and VIP sedans, including the Nissan President, are well kept and maintained by their previous owners. The most you’ll find on a Nissan President is rust on early production models, especially underneath and on the wheel wells.
Hard to Find
As stated earlier, Nissan only made 56,000 units of the Nissan President from 1965 to 2010, mainly sold in Japan. Few were exported outside Japan, so finding one in the US is demanding. But you’ll have a better chance of finding one if you visit JDM dealerships or listings. Importing one is also an option, especially since you can get a low mileage one in Japan that is still in excellent factory condition.
High Running Costs
The Nissan President is just as fuel thirsty as any other car with a V8 engine. But this is not where you’ll dump your money. If any mechanical components start failing, you only have three options. Either lock the car in your garage, order parts from Japan or make custom parts. Neither of which is good. This is the main advantage of buying cars made for the Japanese market.
Faulty Braking System
Earlier production models come with a front-disc rear-drum brake setup, and for a car that weighs over 3500 pounds like the Nissan President, you might need to upgrade the brakes. There’s also a chance that the brakes have never been changed throughout ownership.
While upgrading the brakes, you should also change the brake fluid lines or inspect for cracks. Some of these cars are stored away and left to die slowly, resulting in fluid lines becoming brittle. Old fluids might also permanently clog up these lines.
Luckily, the Nissan President’s scarcity does not make it overpriced, at least for the coming 3-5 years. You can easily pick one up for less than $10,000 at auction directly in Japan. Examples already imported to the USA will set you back $10-20k on average. There’s no better option for that price if you are looking for a JDM VIP sedan.
- Toyota Century (Read our Buying Guide)
- Honda Legend KA9
- Nissan Cima
- Mazda Sentia
- Toyota Chaser (Read our Buying Guide)
- Toyota Celsior (Read our Buying Guide)
- Mitsubishi Proudia
- Toyota Crown (Read our Buying Guide)
Models and Specifications
1965-1973 Nissan President (H150)
Before 1965, the Nissan Cedric Special 50 was Nissan’s flagship sedan but couldn’t keep up with the Toyota Crown. The Toyota Crown was the only flagship luxury sedan then. Before other manufacturers seized the opportunity to make theirs, Nissan introduced the H150 President as their flagship luxury sedan to replace the Cedric Special 50.
To save on manufacturing costs, the Nissan President H150 shared the same platform, mechanical parts, and body panels as the Cedric Special 50 and Datsun bluebird 510. But it has more refined luxury touches on the exterior. Underneath the hood, you get a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels via a 3-speed or 3-speed manual transmission. Nissan also developed a 4.0-litre V8 engine first used in the Nissan President H150.
For a car to be designated for use by government officials in Japan, cars had to meet special VIP specifications. Two Nissan President units were appointed for use by the Japanese Prime Minister at the time, Eisaku Sato.
You can get the H150 Century with either silk woolen seats with heating functionality or leather seats offered at no extra charge. JDM manufacturers did this as Toyota did the same with the Century.
In 1971 Nissan introduced the first Anti-lock Braking System in Japan and installed it in the Nissan President H150. Before it was discontinued in 1973, the H150 President also got AC for the rear seat passengers and an electronic locking system.
1973-1990 Nissan President (H250)
By 1973 the Nissan President had already surpassed the Toyota Crown. Still, a new competitor had emerged, the Toyota Century, which was then in its first generation. To compete with the Toyota Century, Nissan had to make changes and upgrades, including a facelift, a new 4.4-litre V8 engine, and interior upgrades.
Like the H150, the H250 President is also rear-wheel-drive, and you can get it with the 3.0-litre inline-six or 4,0-liter v8 engine. However, the 3-speed automatic transmission was discontinued, and the H250 Nissan President was only sold with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
The H250 President has a bulkier body than the H150 but still uses the same platform adopted from the Cedric Special 50. At the front, you get double circular headlights with a rectangular surround but not merged with the grille like in the H150 President. The grille has a protruding angle at the middle with the President badge just above mounted on the hood.
Nissan also extended the body length by 235mm, but the width and height remained the same. As a result, the H250 appears to have a lower ride height than the H150 President. The front and rear bumper sizes were also increased, and the increased body length gave the H250 President a limo look. Now the Nissan President was catching up with the Toyota Century.
You still get the same interior as in the H150 President, but Nissan added bolstering to the rear seats. A signal phone and TV were added but are only available in the Sovereign VIP trim (1985) sold with the 4.4-litre V8 engine. Production of the Nissan President H250 continued until 1990 with facelifts and improvements. For example, in 1982, the headlights were updated to double rectangular halogen headlights on each side.
1990-2002 Nissan President (HG50)
The Nissan President HG50 debuted late in 1989 when the production for the H250 was ending. It was first revealed at the 1989 Tokyo auto show and then went into production in 1990. You get the HG50 President with a 4.5-litre V8 engine driving the rear wheels via a 4-speed automatic transmission.
Nissan tried making sales in the US by making the Infiniti Q45 through their luxury and performance unit, Infiniti. The Infiniti Q45 was sold in Japan and other Asian countries as the Nissan Infiniti Q45. Infiniti was established to rival Acura, established in 1986, and Lexus, established in 1989. In the US, the Infiniti Q45 rivaled the Acura Legend KA9 and Lexus LS400.
A short wheelbase version of the Nissan HG50 was also made badged as the Nissan President JS. There’s not much difference between the Nissan President JS and a standard model. All trims come with the same 4.5-litre V8, and the interior has either leather or silk woolen seats.
In 1993 Autech, Nissan’s customization division made the first Nissan President limo. Badged as the Nissan President Royal Limousine, it was made as a possible replacement for the Nissan Prince Royals used by the Imperial Household of Japan but was not accepted.
2003-2010 Nissan President (PGF50)
The last-generation Nissan President was unveiled in 2003, sharing the same platform as the Nissan Cima Y50. Basically, the Nissan President PGF50 is a rebadged Nissan Cima as it also shares the same body panels, tail lights, and headlights. You get it with a 4.5-litre V8 engine also used in the Nissan Cima.
At this time, Mitsubishi introduced the Mitsubishi Dignity, which also has the Nissan Cima Y50 Platform. The Nissan President was slowly dying, facing more competition than ever, unlike in the past, where its only competition was the Toyota Century.
But Nissan decided to go out with a bang. The President PGF50 comes with silk woolen or leather seats like its predecessors, and you can get it as a 4-seater or 5-seater. The 4-seater model is the most luxurious with a BOSE stereo system, and controls were moved to the rear armrest.
In 2010 Nissan announced the Nissan President and Cima. Since there were no plans for another flagship VIP sedan, the Nissan Fuga became Nissan’s flagship sedan. However, the Nissan Cima returned in 2012 to battle the Toyota Crown.
In 2010 the Nissan President was discontinued along with the Nissan Cima as both cars couldn’t comply with new safety regulations. Trials to bring up the Nissan President were put down as Nissan would incur losses as sales were already declining rapidly.
No. Older model years go for approximately $10,000 or less, while newer models sell for around $13,000. That price is pretty low for a car you can get with a V8 engine.
The Nissan President might not have a V12 engine like the Toyota Century. Still, it’s luxurious and neat looking in equal measure. It’s all about personal preference and the availability of comparing the two. Nissan enthusiasts will pick the Nissan President over the Toyota Century, and Toyota fans will choose the Toyota Century. However, the Toyota Century is more common in the US. Hence, buyers have a better chance of finding a Nissan President directly in Japan for export.
The best chance you get a Nissan President is by buying from JDM dealerships or checking online for JDM car-specific listings. You can also import one, provided it’s over 25 years old.
Some Nissan President model years made after 1997 are illegal for import to the US. This is because the Import Vehicle Safety Compliance Act prevents importing cars under 25 years old.
You can easily turn a Nissan President into a drift car. However, the Nissan President is more of a show car than a drift car; turning it into a drift car wouldn’t do it justice. Unless you buy a totaled one for a drift build project.
How to Import a Nissan President
Read our Ultimate Guide on How to Import a Car from Japan.