The Datsun brand was a Japanese automaker that operated between 1931 and 1986. It was founded as a subsidiary of the Nissan Motor Company in 1931, with its name deriving from the Japanese phrase “Dat-san”, which means “son of Dat”. The first Datsun was shipped to Japan in January 1933 and sold under DATGO by Aoyama Tractor Co Ltd (now known as Yanmar). In 1958 Nissan introduced their first actual compact car, the 1960 Nissan Bluebird 310 (badged as a Datsun 1000), which sold well due to its low-price tag compared to other imported vehicles at that time, such as Volkswagen’s Beetle or Ford’s Falcon models.
What is Datsun?
The name Datsun was chosen by the founder of Nissan Motor Company, Katsuji Kawamata, in 1914.
Dat-san was an early car manufacturer in Japan and was the father of Soichiro Honda, whose family founded Honda Motor Co., Ltd. Datsun was founded as a brand within the Nissan Motor Company in 1931.
In 1932, DAT Motorcar Co., Ltd. began manufacturing trucks and buses at its first plant in Yokohama. At this time, it was also known as ‘DAT Motors.’
The First Datsun
The first Datsun, the 1932 DAT-GO, was shipped to Japan in January 1933. The original meaning of “DAT-GO” was thought to be an acronym for “Datson Auto Truck.” Still, it was later explained as a transliteration of “Datil Automobile” from Spanish into Japanese.
The DAT-GO was produced by hand and featured a front engine and rear-wheel drive with two bucket seats and no doors. The engine is 10 hp (7 kW) with a top speed of about 55 mph (90 km/h). This model initially cost ¥250,000 but was sold for ¥130,000 at the time of its release due to low demand.
The Bluebird 310
In 1958, Nissan introduced their first compact car, the 1960 Nissan Bluebird 310 (rebadged as a Datsun 1000). The car was a success and helped to establish Datsun as a brand name on its own. Datsun had been producing cars since 1914, but until this time, it was just part of the more significant joint venture between Nihon Sangyo and Tobata Casting (Tobata Kogyo Co.).
The Bluebird 310 was affordable for the average driver, with enough room inside for four passengers or five if they were willing to squeeze. It had comfortable seating, lots of storage space, and extra luxurious features like fold-down armrests in front seats so you could relax while driving. The vehicle could reach a speed of up to 90 kilometres per hour with quick acceleration thanks to its two-cylinder engine, which produced 32 horsepower at 4200 rpm (rotations per minute). The engine was also highly efficient that it consumed only 8 litres per 100 kilometres, while most of the other vehicles at that time consumed about 12 litres every 100 kilometres.
In addition to being economical, these early models had an attractive design featuring chrome bumpers around each corner along with large taillights mounted high up behind them instead of near ground level, which made them look sporty rather than boxy like other economy cars available at that time.”
Datsun and Nissan’s Success
In May 1964, Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A. was established in California, USA, with the same name as its Japanese counterpart. The first Nissan dealership opened in Los Angeles on 11 January 1965, and the first Nissan vehicle sold in the U.S., a Datsun 1000 sedan, made its way to Oregon that same year. Over time, there have been many other models, including trucks and vans, as well as sports cars such as Z cars (240Z/260Z) which continue to be popular today!
The Datsun brand that you know today was launched in 1931 by Masujiro Hashimoto, but the name didn’t stick. In 1933, the company released its first vehicle under their new name: DAT.
The Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Company acquired control of the company in 1934 and continued to use it throughout World War II as they began manufacturing trucks and aeroplanes for military use.
In 1954, they rebranded yet again with a new logo featuring a red circle surrounding an “N,” which stood for “Nihon” (Japan). Though when translated into English as Nissan Motors Company Limited, it still used “DAT” instead of “DATSUN.” They finally adopted their long-standing branding around 1960 when their products shifted focus from commercial vehicles back to passenger cars after being rebuilt after World War II ended.
Datsun in Europe!
The very first Datsun car, a type 14, was shipped to Britain in 1935 using Sir Herbert Austin car magnate. The car was not meant to be produced; it was just a patent dispute part when Austin noticed several similarities with Austin 7 Ruby.
In 1968, Datsun-badged cars were exported by Nissan to the United Kingdom. With only a few cars imported, foreign cars were considered a rarity, including Renault 16 and Volkswagen Beetle.
The End of an Era
Nissan is one of the largest car companies in the world, with its headquarters located in Yokohama, Japan. Nissan has four brands: Nissan (since 1933), Infiniti (1989), Renault (1999) and Datsun (1981).
Datsun was a brand within Nissan from 1931 to 1986 before it was phased out. During this time period, Datsun became synonymous with inexpensive automobiles that were produced primarily for export from Japan to other countries; however, this changed when Nissan adopted “Nissan” as its worldwide brand name in 1981 due to strong resistance from consumers outside Asia who associated Datsun with cheap cars.
In 1986, the last Datsun rolled off an assembly line. It was a G20 that had been built in California and was equipped with many amenities at the time. The car itself has become something of a collector’s item now that it’s no longer being produced; however, it wasn’t always that way.
When Nissan bought out their former partner DAT, they gained access to over 100 years’ worth of automotive history as well as their name—which means, if you really want to own a Datsun, you can!
Nissan’s decision to end the Datsun brand was a major disappointment. Still, it also served as a reminder that even though history is written by the victors, it has no expiration date. The Datsun name may be gone from our roads now, but its legacy lives on in Nissan’s continued success and in all those classic cars that are still out there on the road today.