This was one of the first cars to come off Nissan’s new factory in Yokohama, 1935. It’s called the 14 and has a 722cc, 14.8bhp engine. See that nice little rabbit mascot? It was created by Ryuichi Tomiya, who also worked on the body design.
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Datsun: greatest hits
This is the 210 Fuji that won the Around Australia rally in 1958. It had a freshly developed 1.0-litre engine and… not a lot else. Still, it managed a class win on the 16,000km , 19-day enduro-drive.
The first Bluebird (Datsun 310) waslaunched in August 1959 with a choice of either a 1,000cc/37.5bhp or a 1,200cc/42.4bhp engine. In October 1960, a slight change led to the 311; the engines were upgraded to 42.4bhp and 54.3bhp respectively. Apropos of not very much, this commemorative car toured the country collecting the autographs of all the prefectural governors of Japan at the time.
This is a bit more like it. It’s the actual Fairlady that won the first ever Japan GP Race, held in 1963 at the Suzuka circuit. Despite the fact that its chassis was from a 310 Bluebird, and the engine was from a Cedric, it won the B-II class. It also looks a bit smashing.
OK, so it’s not technically a Datsun - this one’s a Prince, another nameplate from the Nissan mothership. But it’s here because Skyline badges ended up on the back of several Datsuns after management decided that the model should move away from its traditional luxo-barge position in the line-up.
Thinking that race victories would spur sales, the manufacturer put a G7 engine from the Gloria into a Skyline and produced the required 100 units to gain official approval. The car (launched on the 1st May 1964) was entered in the 2nd Japan GP in 1964. A Porsche 904 won the race, but Skylines placed second through to sixth. It became famous for its performance and development continued, producing the GT-B, launched in February 1965. Because Prince was the luxury arm of Nissan, its sporting credentials fitted more comfortably with the youthful, sporting Datsun brand.
This is the first proper, mass-produced hot Skyline. The C10 GT-R was launched in February 1969 and came fitted with an S20 engine, which descended from the thoroughbred R380 racer’s GR8 unit - a high-performance DOHC 24-valver. It could hit 124mph and cover 400m from a standing start in 16.1 seconds.
Ah yes, the Z. Or Zee, if you’re American.
The first-generation was launched in November 1969, followed by the 240Z in ‘71, the two-plus-two model in ‘74, then the S31 in ‘76. Pretty, isn’t it?
To encourage a few sales, the second-gen Sunny had this racing counterpart. It is, appropriately, called the Excellent Series, it weighs 775kg, makes 197.3bhp and it won the TS race in the 1973 Japan GP.
Look at it! So CUTE! The Cherry, launched in 1970, was also Datsun’s first front-wheel drive car, and remarkably, it offered as much interior space as the old Skyline 1500 (S50). You could choose from a two-door saloon, four-door saloon, or three-door van. There was also a 1200cc twin-carb X-1 racing model, which you should Google because it’s amazing.
This was taken from Datsun’s I Can’t Believe it’s Not a Muscle Car design philosophy. The C110 (nicknamed Ken and Mary) was launched in September 1972 and three variants were available: the 1600, the 1800, and the 2000. The 2000 Series also included a GT and option-stuffed GTX version. Try and find one that’s not gently dissolving. We dare you.
As we’ve demonstrated, there were several spicy Datsuns. But the nameplate’s best remembered for its more… ubiquitous offerings. Like this. The Bluebird. It was a top seller for 27 consecutive months (from the month after its launch to February 1982) in the compact vehicle class, so it’s hardly surprising that only now, 30 years later, they’re no longer a common site on UK streets.