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Hino – Contessa 1300 Coupé


Vehicle Overview

With design by Giovanni Michelotti (who had sold a very similar design to Triumph for their 1300, the second generation Contessa debuted in September 1964. While considerably longer and heavier, the PD Contessa also had a much more powerful 1,251 cc four-cylinder engine with five main bearings (“GR100”, 55 PS or 40 kW or 54 hp). With a four-speed manual transmission, top speed is 130 km/h (81 mph). A handsome coupé version was presented in April 1965; the coupé benefitted from an upgraded engine with twin carburetors and slightly higher compression and 65 PS (48 kW; 64 hp) from November of the same year. With chassis code PD300/400 (versus PD100/200 for the regular sedan), this sporting version was marketed as the “1300S”. 100 and 300-series are right-hand drive, while 200 and 400-series are left-hand drive. The use of twin headlights does contribute to a mild similarity to the second generation Chevrolet Corvair, and the lack of a front grille because the Contessa and the Corvair are both rear engined and rear cooled (air for the Corvair, water for the Contessa). Early Standard versions did not receive bumper horns and were fitted with single front headlamps with blanks where the second set would have gone. Later on, the Standard (of which very few survive) received the same headlamps and bumpers as the De Luxe, albeit with painted rather than chromed bumpers.

This generation of the Contessa was also exported to Australia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands amongst others. As a part of this export drive, the Contessa also saw local assembly in New Zealand (by Campbell Motors, around 600 are thought to have been assembled there) and in Israel (by Autocars). 55,027 PD Contessas were built, of which 3,868 were Coupés. As of 2007, only 105 Contessas remained on the road in Japan, although many New Zealand-built cars are exported back to Japan. While series production ground to a halt in March 1967 following Toyota’s purchase of Hino in late 1966, assembly of existing shells and parts continued at a slow pace into the summer of 1968, with ever-higher Toyota parts content. A further 175 were built in October 1969, as part of a final disposal of stock. As production of the Contessa began to wind down towards discontinuation, the factory was reprioritized to produce the Toyota Hilux pickup truck, and the Toyota Publica truck, then later was used to manufacture the Toyota Sprinter.

The earlier column-mounted three-speed manual continued to be available in the sedans, while a floor-mounted four-speed manual was standard in coupés and an option in the sedans. A 1.5 litre version of the GR100 engine was developed in 1966, but after the Toyota takeover the project was shelved. As Toyota began to assume operations of Hino assets and manufacturing resources, Toyota was also concentrating their efforts of introducing a Contessa sized coupe and sedan of their own, and in 1966 introduced the Toyota Corolla.

In an effort to prepare the US market in advance of a planned entry, Hino had Pete Brock and his BRE Racing team prepare two Contessa sedans for competition. One won a surprise victory at the 1966 LA Times Grand Prix. Later, Brock raced the lighter and faster Coupé version, called the “Samurai”. The Contessas also saw a lot of local competition in Japan, and to aid this effort 20 of the lightened Hino Contessa 1300 L (for “Lightened”) were built in 1966. These were built with thinner sheet metal and missing some equipment, such as hubcaps and sound deadening.

Technical Specifications

  • Body
  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
    Contessa 1300 Coupé
  • Coachbuilder
  • Length (mm)
  • Width (mm)
  • Height (mm)
  • Photo credits
  • Engine Type
  • Designer
    Giovanni Michelotti

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