After over three decades of waiting, Nissan has brought the legendary Datsun brand back to South Africa with the birth of the new Datsun Go.
Many enthusiasts will be questioning where the brand disappeared to for all that time. To find that out, we need to take a look at its history…
Datsun’s history is one that begins over a century ago, when in Tokyo, 1911, Masujiro Hashimoto, began his dream of engineering Japan’s first regular production vehicle.
In 1914, he achieved his first real success, building a prototype for the DAT model 31.
The initial investors in this project, Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama and Meitaro Takeuchi formed the origins of the production name DAT.
The 1930’s was a decade that saw the DAT name develop into a genuine automobile giant in Japan under its new label – Nissan.
Nissan developed the prototype model 91, which was to be the first vehicle to go into production under the Datson name in 1931.
The spelling of ‘Datson’ was later altered to that of ‘Datsun’, due to the unfortunate circumstance of the name sounding similar to that of a local phrase which means “to lose money”. The “sun” name change also instigated the use of a rising sun for the vehicle’s emblem.
After difficulties post Second World War, Datsun recovered in the 50s with the release of a series of sedan, station wagon and convertible vehicles that proved to be extremely popular.
In 1958, Nissan Datsun hit the US market, appearing at the Los Angeles Imported Car Show. Here they received 35 requests about dealerships after the first show.
By the late 60s, Nissan Datsun was selling tens of thousands of vehicles in the US with figures rising each year.
As the automotive company went into the 80s, Nissan began to phase out the Datsun name, replacing it with new brands, such as Sentra, Maxima and Pulsar. The Datsun name was eventually taken away in 1983.
Datsun fans, however, were to be given a welcome surprise when on March 21, 2012, Nissan announced the return of the Nissan Datsun to the market.
The Datsun GO not only marked the return of one of South Africa’s favourite automotive brands to the continent, but also boosted the manufacturer’s brand into the upper levels of the entry level car market.
Main image credit: datsun