Datsun's history dates back to 1911 when the Kwaishinsha Motorcar Works was founded. In 1914, the "Dat" was the first car to roll off the assembly line. It bears the initials of the three company founders Den, Aoyama, and Takeuchi. From 1925 the company was called DAT Motorcar Co., which initially only produced commercial vehicles before DAT presented its first passenger car in 1931, the Datson - "son of the Dat".

In 1933 Nissan took over the Datson company and finally introduced the brand name Datsun. The Japanese were already working with Austin and BMC in the 1930s, and in 1958 the American market was introduced. Datsun started producing in Mexico in 1966 and entered the European market at the end of the 1960s.


The Beginning



The story of a company that is worth telling does not always begin with the day it was founded. It is usually a drastic event that gives the starting signal. Seen in this way, the beginning of Nissan's history was exactly 92 years ago. In December 1930, the Dat Jidosha Seizo Co. launched the first Datson model.

This marked the premiere of the brand on the automotive stage that was changed to Datsun two years later and played a significant role in automotive history from then until it was renamed Nissan in 1981.

The Datsun Z series, also known as the "Japanese E Type", is the most popular car of the brand. The long hood, compact passenger compartment, and short stub tail are the parallels to the British model. The story ended after 71 years in 1982 - Nissan gave up the Datsun brand name.




The dimensions of the Datson 91 were typical of its time. With a wheelbase of 6.1 ft and a track of 38 inches, it appears almost filigree today, but in fact, the "Son of the Dat" (Dat-Son) was a robust automobile powered by a 495 cc engine.

Roughly ten horsepower was developed from this tiny engine and it drove the little Japanese up to speeds of 38 mph. It might not be surprising nowadays but in the 1930s, anything that can pass 25 mph was considered a fast vehicle.

A few months after the first presentation, in 1931, the Datson 91 went into series production. A roadster and a phaeton, a convertible touring car with a folding top, were offered as body variants.


The Progress



As we explained, the "Dat" in Datson stands for the names Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama, and Meitaro Takeuchi, who founded the predecessor company Kwaishinsha Car Works in 1911 and produced the first automobile developed entirely in Japan, the DAT-go in 1912.

In the Japanese dialect, “dat” also means a bunny, which is why a bunny has adorned the radiator and logos of the first models.

From 1932 the Datson 91 was called the Datsun 91. The English word "sun" alludes to the old symbol for Japan ("kingdom of the rising sun"). The Datsun 91, also known as the Type 13, was now offered additionally as a closed two-door sedan.

In December 1933, the name Nissan came into play for the first time. When the Nihon Sangyo Co. bought the Jidosha Seizo Co. and the two companies merged into one, the new owner compressed his own company name into " Nissan ".




Nihon Sangyo, which can be translated as "Japanese Industry", owned more than 200 separate companies at the time, including the Datsun works. As a first measure, the Datsun 91 was revised completely and the engine's performance was increased.

As early as 1934, the company was renamed Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. At the same time, the export of Datsun automobiles began and the completion of the thousandth Datsun 91 was celebrated. A great success when you consider that in 1932 the entire Japanese automobile production was still limited to 880 vehicles.

In the decades that followed, Datsun celebrated major national and international successes and was Japan's most successful export brand for a long time. Nissan was not introduced as a brand for automobiles until 1960 and was initially referred to as the top Datsun model line.


The End



Datsun was retained as an export brand by Nissan Motor until 1981, from then on all vehicles were exclusively called Nissan. By 1981, 20 million copies had been sold in more than 190 countries.

The separation of the corporate brand ( Nissan ) and the automobile brand (Datsun) was only maintained in the export markets, but it was also too confusing for the customers there.

After economic difficulties at the end of the 1990s, Nissan was now one of the most successful companies in the automotive industry worldwide and regularly achieved one of the highest returns on sales among volume manufacturers.

However, the Datsun brand was kept alive unbroken among car fans, for example in the form of the legendary Fairlady 240Z, whose successor today, the Nissan 350Z, continues the company's great sports car tradition.


The Revival



In 2012, Nissan issued a statement reviving the Datsun brand. Vehicles for the Indonesian, Indian, Russian, and South African markets primarily appeared under the old label. The image of the Nissan Datsun, characterized by reliability and longevity, helped to quickly gain market share in emerging countries.

Since 2014, Nissan Datsun Go and Nissan Datsun Go+ were produced as spacious family vans and economy cars. Any other future plans were not announced whether passenger cars would also be sold under the Nissan Datsun name in Japan, Western Europe, or North America.


The Real End of Datsun



Less than ten years after the resurrection, the Japanese car manufacturer Nissan announced that they are burying the Datsun brand. Fans might feel sad to see the name go away but Nissan is adamant that they will finally end the brand completely this time around.

Nissan announced that the production of the Datsun Redi-GO at the Chennai plant in India will end soon but the service will still be provided. Datsun production in Indonesia and Russia had already been stopped in 2020.

Nissan first announced the demise of Datsun in 1981. In 2013, the then head of the company, Carlos Ghosn, decided to offer Datsun again as a cheap brand in developing countries – following the example of Renault's Dacia.

After Ghosn's fall at the end of 2018 and his flight to Lebanon in 2019, the new Nissan leadership decided on the new strategy of concentrating on fewer brands. Nissan will keep being the main company and Infiniti will continue its journey in the luxury field.

In 2021, only around 7,000 Datsun cars rolled off the assembly line, a Nissan spokesman told the AFP news agency. The sale runs until no more Datsun cars are in stock; the services for Datsun models would continue to be offered but there is no info on the timeline yet.




Tankut Basar

Tankut Basar is an ARA (American Rally Assoc.) Racing Driver and an FIA Bronze Category License Holder. His passion for driving began with karting like most racers. He started racing internationally at the age of 22. Tankut loves everything car-related and will keep enjoying the drive until the end.