Nissan / Datsun
In 1914, the Kwaishinsha Motorcar Works (Kaishin Jidosha Kojo), established three years earlier, in Azabu-Hiroo District in Tokyo, built the first DAT.

 

The new car's name being the acronym of the company's partners' surnames:

  • Kenjiro Den (Den Kenjiro)
  • Rokuro Aoyama (Aoyama Rokuro)
  • Meitaro Takeuchi (Takeuchi Meitaro)

In 1926 the Tokyo based company merged with the Osaka based Jitsuya Jidosha Co., Ltd. as DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co. Ltd. In 1931, the first DATSON meaning "Son of DAT" was produced. However, the last syllable was changed to "sun", because "son" also means "loss" in Japanese.

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Like Hino and Isuzu, but unlike Toyota, Nissan partnered with a European company to gain access to automobile and engine designs.  Nissan chose Austin of the United Kingdom, which later became the British Motor Corporation.  Nissan began building Austin 7s in 1930, though the legitimacy of their license is debated.  The company soon began producing a variety of Austin derived models like the original Austin A50 based Datsun 1000.  These designs were apparently covered by a 1952-1960 license agreement between the companies.

 

Even after Nissan introduced its own models in the 1960s, its engines continued to be derived from Austin's A and B family designs. 
 

In 1966, Nissan merged with the Prince Motor Company, bringing into its range more upmarket cars, including the Skyline and Gloria.  The Prince name was eventually abandoned, with successive Skylines and Glorias bearing the Nissan name.  However, "Prince" is still used in names of certain Nissan dealers in Japan.  Nissan introduced a new luxury brand for the US market in the late 1980s called Infiniti.

 

For most people Datsun is synonymous with the Z Cars, starting with the 240Z which grew into the 260Z and finally the 280Z.  The 240Z was introduced in 1969 with a 2.4 liter straight 6 engine, rear wheel drive, and a stylish coupe body.  The engine, based on the Datsun 510's 4 cylinder produced 150 hp (112 kW) and came with a 5 speed manual transmission (USA models received a 4 speed manual).  A 4 wheel independent suspension consisted of MacPherson struts in front and Chapman struts in back.  The 240Z and 260Z used twin one-barrel side-draft SU like carburetors.  The carburetors were changed beginning with model year 1973 to comply with emissions regulations, but the earlier carburetors were far superior for performance.  Fuel injection was added for the 280Z in 1975.  This was primarily in order to cope with the difficulty faced in getting enough power using carburetors while still meeting US emissions regulations. 

 

Due to its relatively low price compared to other foreign sports cars of the time (Jaguar and Porsche), it became hugely popular in the U.S. and was a major success for the company.  

 

In 2004, Sports Car International named this car number two on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s.

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