Datsun, not Austin


Wherever you read, whatever you read about the very first Datsun, every time you are made clear that it was an Austin Seven built in Japan for the Japanese market. Unfortunately, that's nonsense.

The DAT Corporation in Yokohama has been producing cars since 1914, but it was realized in the 1920s that profits were made from government assignments. They were heavy trucks. In Japan, it was arranged in 1930 that a driver's license was not required if a car with an engine with a cylinder capacity of less than 500 cm3 was driven. Moreover, such a car was allowed on the road at a greatly reduced rate in terms of motor vehicle tax. DAT moved to that market in 1931 and called it "Datson", the "son of DAT '.


It later became Datsun to distinguish itself from trucks and larger passenger cars. In addition, "are 'in Japanese' loss' and that did not fit directly into the company's strategy. It was hardly surprising that the new Datsun Type 11 was almost a copy of the Austin Seven. An Austin engineer - hoping for expansion in Japan - already summarized all drawings and data from the Seven in 1929 in a book that "The British Light Car was called - left there. Only in 1935, when production was already well underway, did Herbert Austin find out, but did not take action because the Austin Seven would go out of production in the same year ...

In retrospect, Herbert Austin would have been well advised not to take action, because in the early 1950s the Austin Motor Company entered into a deal with the Nissan Motor Company - which DAT had already taken over in 1934 - for the Austin A40 Somerset for the Japanese market. Such a success that the Austin A50 Cambridge followed. Incidentally, this brought a lot of knowledge to Nissan with which they could later produce their own Datsuns and say goodbye to the British car manufacturer in a responsible way. Nissan used the Datsun brand name until the early 1980s. In 2013 it was decided to breathe new life into the Datsun brand name.

For the photo: Datsun Type 11, a 'private' car and not a licensed Austin Seven




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  1. Yes, Datsun. In 1971 I bought a Datsun cherry 100A, the first 4 drs. In the Netherlands, which stood 6 weeks dressed up at the then dealer Nonnekes in the center of Hilversum. So with the narrow rear lights, headrests in the back seat and just like the mini a plastic air tunnel next to the engine with radiator, this made a lot of noise! Believe that 2 months later a change came with the radiator with an electric fin. This has been adjusted by Datsun free of charge for my 100A! In 1972 engine replaced by an 1200 copy of Jan-Speed, car weighed 670KG and with about 85 / 90 hp that laughter the front tires were on quickly! Technically you know, the link was replaced within the 15 minutes, how I can tell that later.
    My Datsun is 20 years old with about 310.000km and four owners, he was good in the Dinitrol anti-rust but the last owner brought him to the demolition because the windshield was broken !!

  2. I have had a Datsun Stanza, one of the last Datsun models from '83.
    The successor, the Bluebird, was already a Nissan.
    Datsun is now seen as Nissan's budget brand, like Dacia is Renault's… but they were fine cars on the same level as their parent brand.

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