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If you were born in the 1980's and beyond, you may not be familiar with the Datsun brand but, at one time, it was more recognized and respected outside of Japan than the name of the company that owned it, Nissan. In fact, from the time the Datsun brand came to be in the 1930's, up until the 1960's, Nissan didn't even use its own name on a vehicle other than a truck or bus. In addition, from the onset of its foreign expansion in the 1950's until the brand was phased out in 1986, the Datsun name was used on most Nissan vehicles that were exported to other markets as well. Unfortunately for Datsun, Nissan had a change of heart in the 1980's and decided it wanted to strengthen its own name at the expense of Datsun. It was phased out completely in 1986, and the rest is history. However, in a stunning comeback, the brand was re-launched in 2013 but there are no plans to bring it back to the U.S.

We here at 1A Auto have not forgotten about Datsun though. If you are in need of parts for your Datsun car or truck, you have come to the right place! It is our mission here at 1A Auto to supply you with the right parts you need to keep your Datsun working in tip top shape, at a great discount. You'll find a large selection of new, high quality aftermarket Datsun auto parts, including headlights, weatherstripping, carpets, dash pad covers, and more, as well as genuine OEM replacement parts - the very same ones you would receive if purchased from your local dealer, but without the inflated cost. However, we don't only just sell replacement Datsun parts online here at 1A Auto; we also carry a selection of new parts like bike racks for your Datsun automobile as well.

Our product development team spends over 8,000 hours a year researching the best Datsun auto parts, and they are carefully selected by our trained engineers so you can rest assured that you are getting the correct, high quality part you need for your car or truck, at a discount price. If we wouldn't put the part in our own vehicles, we won't sell them to anyone else. A new aftermarket replacement Datsun part from 1A Auto will save you 30-50% on average over a comparable new OEM replacement Datsun part that you would get at a dealership, and our new aftermarket Datsun parts are also extremely durable and reliable. Don't overpay for Datsun parts and save yourself from a lot of potential headaches by shopping at 1A Auto.

You can shop for all of your Datsun car and truck parts online and buy safely and securely right here on our website, or you can call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about any of our parts, or to buy over the phone. With over 150 years combined experience, 1A Auto's customer service representatives are the most qualified to answer your questions about all of our new, aftermarket, and genuine OEM Datsun car and truck parts. Our representatives answer 99.9% of phone calls in less than one minute and emails are responded to within the hour because we know you need answers quickly to get your beloved Datsun back in working order again. We also know you want your part fast for the same reason; 98% of in stock Datsun auto parts ship from our warehouse within one business day so that you can get back on the road in no time, and all ground shipping in the continental U.S. is completely free. And, in the unlikely case that you are unhappy with your Datsun auto part for any reason, 1A Auto also offers the only No Hassle return policy for unused items in the industry. Simply put, our competitors can't beat the 1A Advantage. Don't just take it from us - take it from over 50,000 satisfied customers!

Look no further than 1A Auto for your aftermarket, original equipment (OE) replacement, and new Datsun auto parts and get your car or truck the new parts it needs today from Datsun enthusiasts just like you! If you happen to be an enthusiastic Datsun owner, have a deep passion for Datsun vehicles, or just want to learn more about the automobile manufacturer, continue reading below for a detailed look at the brand's history and some of its past and present models.

Overview

Datsun is a Japanese automobile brand owned by the Nissan Motor Company since the 1930's, and was the predecessor to the Nissan brand. The first vehicle to carry the "Datsun" name, which was originally dubbed the "Datson," was produced and sold in 1931, though the brand's origin can be traced even further than that, to the Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works, which produced the DAT car in 1914. From the outset of its expansion into foreign markets beginning in the late 1950's, and continuing until the early to mid 1980's, most of the vehicles produced and exported to other countries by Nissan were sold under the Datsun brand. In fact, it wasn't until the 1960's that the Nissan brand name was even used on a vehicle other than a truck or bus, in any country, when the company started to brand some of its high-end cars as Nissans. In 1986, Nissan completed a phase out of the Datsun name worldwide in favor of the Nissan name and it remained dormant until 2013, when Nissan announced that it would be revived as the brand name for a line of budget vehicles it was planning to manufacture for emerging markets such as India and Russia.

Contents

1. Origin
2. Building the Datsun Brand
3. Foreign Expansion and Beyond
4. The Datsun Name is Phased Out
5. Datsun Today

Origin

Before Datsun became a brand, there was the DAT car, which was built in 1914 by a company called the Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works. This company was established in 1911 by Masujiro Hashimoto, an American trained engineer, and immediately set out on its mission to create an automobile for the Japanese market. The company produced its first car in 1914, the DAT, which was based on Hashimoto's own design. The car's name came to be by combining the initials of the surnames of the three men who had invested in the company: Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama and Meitaro Takeuchi. In 1918, the company, which had grown quite a bit by this time, was renamed to Kwaishinsha Motor Car Co., Ltd. It released another vehicle, the Model 41 DAT, the following year. It had also started to produce trucks around this time as well, in addition to its DAT passenger cars, geared towards the military market. This demand would lead to the company focusing predominantly on building trucks, as the demand for cars by consumers was extremely low at the time.

In 1919, an American engineer named William R. Gorham developed a three-wheeled vehicle which drew the attention of a businessman in Japan. A company called Jitsuyo Jidosha Co., Ltd. was then established with the purpose of manufacturing these three-wheeled vehicles, and future aspirations to expand. The mechanical equipment, parts, and materials used to build the vehicles were ordered and imported from the U.S. The following year, the company produced a four-wheeled version, and would also go on to produce light cars and trucks under the name of Lila. In 1925, Kwaishinsha Motor Car Co., Ltd. changed their name to DAT Jidosha & Co., Ltd. (also known as DAT Motor Car Co. or DAT Motors). In the 1920's, DAT was forced to consider merging with other automotive companies due to the low demand for their cars. In 1926, it merged with Jitsuyo Jidosha Co., Ltd., (also known as Jitsuyo Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd. or Jitsuyo Motors) to form DAT Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd. (also known as DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd).

In 1928, another important event happened. Yoshisuke Aikawa, a Japanese born and educated man who also lived in the United States for a time where he developed casting skills, founded the holding company Nihon Sangyo Co., Ltd. (also known as Nippon Sangyo Co., Ltd. or Japan Industries). Aikawa had previously established another company, Tobata Casting Co., Ltd., in 1911 following his return to Japan, which will also play a big role in our origin story. The Nissan name would eventually originate from this company during the 1930's, as it was used as an abbreviation on the Tokyo stock market for the company. Nihon Sangyo was originally created as an offshoot of Kuhara Mining Co., Ltd. (which is present day JX Nippon Mining & Metals), which Aikawa had taken over as president of from his brother-in-law Fusanosuke Kuhara, after a reorganization of his assets due to the bankruptcy of the Kuhara zaibatsu  (combine consisting of Japanese business conglomerates) following World War I. Nippon Mining Co., Ltd. was established a year later to take over mining, smelting and refinery operations of Nihon Sangyo Co., Ltd.

Nihon Sangyo would ultimately morph into the famous Nissan zaibatsu, which included foundries and auto parts businesses like Tobata Casting and Hitachi (which began in 1910 as an in-house venture of Fusanosuke Kuhara's mining company in Hitachi, Japan), and eventually grew to include an automobile manufacturing company of which it is now known for - the Nissan Motor Company (more on that later). By World War II, Nissan eventually grew to include a large number of member firms from various industries, some of which were the most technologically advanced in Japan at the time, and became the fourth-largest combine in Japan leading up to World War II. Following the war, the zaibatsu was dissolved in Japan, although not completely, and was reformed into Nichiyo-kai, otherwise known as the Nissan Group, which of course still exists today and owns the modern day Nissan Motor Company. In addition to its automotive manufacturing business, which it primarily became known for outside of Japan, the Group also got heavily involved in the real estate industry, which was its core business until the real estate crash of the early 1990's. Since then, the company has, for the most part, gotten out of the real estate industry and has focused on manufacturing and insurance.

Getting back to Datsun, in 1931, DAT Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd. became affiliated with Tobata Casting Co., Ltd. (a Nissan company at this time), which by 1928 had begun casting car components and was supplying them to DAT Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd., thus becoming a subsidiary under them albeit not a wholly owned one at this time. That same year, the company produced a new, smaller car with a 495cc engine which it called the "Datson," or the "Son of DAT" in English. The development of this car came about from a 1930 ministerial ordinance created by the Japanese government which allowed cars with engines up to 500 cc to be driven without a license. DAT had already been producing larger vehicles for Japanese consumers for years now, but this ordinance created a new market segment which DAT Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd. felt it could cater to with this new car. The name of the car would be changed not long afterwards to "Datsun" because "son" also means "loss" or "disadvantage" in Japanese, and the sun is depicted in the Japanese flag and thus they wanted to honor it. Therefore, they decided to change the name to make it more appealing and the Datsun name was officially born.

During this time, Aikawa had been acquiring more shares in DAT Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd. as he desired to mass produce domestic vehicles in his homeland. In 1933, he set up an automobile department within Tobata Casting in order to produce the Datsun, which he had the manufacturing rights to. In late 1933, Aikawa established Jidosha Seizo Co.,Ltd., a joint venture of Nihon Sangyo and Tobata Casting Company. The new company took over all the operations for manufacturing Datsuns from the automobile division of Tobata Casting Co., Ltd. from this point forward. The shareholders of the new company however were not all that enthusiastic about the automobile succeeding in Japan. As a result, Aikawa decided to buy out all of the Tobata Casting shareholders using capital from Nihon Sangyo. At this point, Nihon Sangyo Co., Ltd. assumed full control of the company and the corporate name was changed to Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in 1934. This effectively ended both Jidosha Seizo Co.,Ltd. and Tobata Casting Co., Ltd., and was essentially the birth of the Nissan automobile manufacturing company as we know it today, with the Datsun brand being owned by Nissan.

Building the Datsun Brand

In 1936, Nissan purchased design plans and plant facilities from U.S. based Graham-Paige Motors Corp. which greatly helped the company to be able to produce larger vehicles. Car production was restricted in 1937 after Japan went to war with China that year and as a result, by 1938, the Datsun plant in Yokohama, Japan focused primarily on building military trucks for the Imperial Japanese Army. During the war, Nissan also built engines for the army's planes and motor torpedo boats. In 1943, the production of cars and trucks was completely stopped. In 1944, the company name was temporarily changed to Nissan Heavy Industries, Ltd. When the Pacific War (which was the Pacific portion of World War II) ended, Nissan turned their attention to providing trucks for the Occupation Forces. This would last until car production was resumed in 1947. Following the war, Aikawa, Nissan's founder, was imprisoned as a war criminal. After he was released he was not allowed to return to any corporate or public office until 1951. By then, the Nissan zaibatsu was dissolved and was reformed into Nichiyo-kai (the Nissan Group,) which was a new form of business grouping called keiretsu that emerged in Japan following the collapse of the zaibatsu. The Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. name was also reestablished, replacing Nissan Heavy Industries, Ltd. Aikawa was never allowed back into Nissan, though he went on to do other things. He died in 1967.

In 1952, Nissan entered into a legal agreement with the Austin Motor Company, an English automobile manufacturer founded in 1905. In the early 1930's, Datsun had built some cars that were closely patterned on Austins of the time. The agreement called for Nissan to assemble 2,000 Austins from imported partially assembled sets - which Nissan would have to complete - and sell them in Japan under the Austin trademark. The agreement also called for Nissan to make all Austin parts locally within three years and build the cars completely by themselves, a goal which Nissan eventually was able to meet. Nissan would produce and market Austins until 1960, when the deal expired. The agreement also gave Nissan the rights to use Austin patents, which it used in developing engines for its Datsun line of cars. Nissan also leveraged the Austin patents to further develop their own modern engine designs, beyond those of Austin, the apex of which was the A series engine in 1966. Other completely new engines followed, including the infamous four-cylinder Nissan L engine in 1967, and a six-cylinder version in 1969.

During this period from 1934 until the 1960's, the Datsun brand name was used on all of the passenger cars produced in-house by Nissan; the name was also used on some truck models as well. The Nissan name during this time was used only on trucks and buses.

Foreign Expansion and Beyond

In the 1950's, Nissan decided to expand into other markets outside of Japan, feeling that their small Datsun branded cars would fill unmet needs in countries such as Australia and the United States. Nissan decided to use the Datsun brand name for its exports to the U.S. since at this time, it was a much more successful and recognized name than Nissan. Nissan also wanted to distance its name association by Americans with Japanese military manufacture, of which Nissan's involvement was substantial; the Datsun name on the other hand, had escaped the war with its name intact. The first Datsun sold in the U.S. was in 1958 and in 1960 the company formed a U.S. subsidiary, Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A. From the outset of its expansion into foreign markets and continuing until the early to mid 1980's, the majority of vehicles manufactured and exported to other countries by Nissan were sold under the Datsun brand name. It wasn't until the 1960's that Nissan began to use its own name on a vehicle other than a truck or bus, domestic or foreign, when the company started to brand some of its high-end models as Nissans, such as the Nissan Cedric in 1960. The Cedric name would eventually be dropped however for most export markets for a time and sold under the Datsun name with various series numbers, until the Datsun name phase out in the 1980's.

In 1959, the all new Datsun Bluebird 310 series debuted in Japan and was exported to other countries as well, a small number of which made it to the U.S. (simply called the Datsun 310). The Bluebird nameplate, which would become Nissan's most internationally known sedan, lasted in Japan all the way until 2001, at which point it ended production. In the 1980's, it became the Nissan Bluebird when the Datsun brand was phased out. Export versions were sold under various names in addition to the Datsun Bluebird, such as the Datsun 510, which was a series of the Datsun Bluebird and was produced until 1973, and the Datsun 810, which was an upscale version of the Bluebird produced from 1976 to 1979. Both the modern day Nissan Altima and Nissan Maxima, two of Nissan's most well known and successful models, are continuations of the Bluebird line.

Also in 1959, the Datsun Sports roadster, which was called the Datsun Fairlady in Japan, a name which was a link to the popular Broadway play of the era, My Fair Lady, was released. The first model was the S211 and the subsequent generation, the SPL212, was released and was the first Datsun sports car imported to the United States. The Nissan Fairlady series was the predecessor of the famous Z sports car in the Fairlady line. The Nissan S30 was the first generation series of the Z car, which debuted in 1969 in Japan as the Fairlady Z (this nameplate continues in Japan). It was first exported to the United States in 1970 as the Datsun 240Z sports car which used a six-cylinder variation of the L series engine. The Datsun 240Z was an immediate sensation and the coupe lifted Datsun - and Nissan - to world class status in the automobile market. The iconic car was named as number two on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970's by Sports Car International in 2004. Subsequent models were released in this first generation S30 series and other generations have followed in the Z car line.

In 1964, the world's attention turned to the 1964 Summer Olympics, which was held in Tokyo. To try and capitalize on this, Nissan established a showroom on the second and third floors of the iconic San-ai building in Tokyo's famed Ginza district. To attract visitors, Nissan started using beautiful female showroom attendants and held a competition to choose its five best "Miss Fairladys" which would show off the new model, the Datsun Fairlady 1500. The candidates for the Miss Fairlady positions were trained in etiquette and knowledge of the car to make them more effective spokeswomen for Nissan. The concept of the Nissan Miss Fairladys was modeled after the "Datsun Demonstrators" from the 1930's who used to introduce cars. Miss Fairladys are still chosen today and it is a very well respected position in Japanese culture.

In 1966, Datsun debuted the Datsun 1000 compact car, known as the Datsun Sunny in Japan. A second generation was released in 1970 and was called the Datsun 1200, and other series' followed. Following the phase out of the Datsun name, the nameplate became the Nissan Sunny which was produced until 2004. Also in 1966, Nissan merged with the Prince Motor Company, another Japanese automobile manufacturer which was founded in 1952. This brought more upmarket luxury cars, including the Skyline and Gloria, into the company's product line. In fact, The Prince Motor Company used to provide the Skyline to the Japanese emperor and the imperial family. The Prince name was eventually abandoned not long thereafter, and successive Skylines and Glorias were sold under the Nissan name. In the early 1970's, the Nissan Cedric and Gloria essentially merged and became the same vehicle, with the Gloria turned into a sportier, more upscale version of the Cedric. Just like the Cedric, the Gloria continued in production until 2004. The Skyline nameplate on the other hand, continues till this day. The first Skyline model exported to the United States was in 2001, and it was sold under Nissan's Infiniti luxury brand, which launched in 1989, as the Infiniti G35; subsequent generations followed. The Skyline had been imported to other countries long before this however. For example, models of the C110 generation of the Skyline in the 1970's were exported to other countries as the Datsun 160K, Datsun 180K, and the Datsun 240K.

In 1968, the Nissan Laurel was released, which was sold in Japan until 2002 (also called the Datsun Laurel in markets until the phase out). Exports of the car ceased in the 1980's and a version was sold in the United States in the 1970's called the Datsun 200L. In 1973, The Datsun 710 car was released in the United States; it was called the Nissan Violet in Japan and was a smaller companion car to the Datsun Bluebird 610. In 1977, the previous generation Violet was expanded and was joined by two badge engineered versions, the Nissan Auster, and the Nissan Stanza. The cars were also called Datsuns until the name was phased out for Nissan in the 1980's; the Stanza/Auster/Violet nameplates themselves were phased out in 1992. The Stanza was replaced by the Nissan Altima in North America; the Stanza was replaced by the Nissan Bluebird in Japan.

In the 1970's, consumers worldwide began to prefer small economy cars due to the energy crisis of the time. This crisis triggered an increase in the demand for the export of small Japanese cars, especially from U.S. consumers, which had a reputation for their great fuel economy and quality. To meet the growing demand, Nissan built new factories in other parts of the world like Mexico and Australia, and a factory followed in the United States in the 1980's. One of those small compact cars was the Datsun 310, known in Japan as the Nissan Pulsar. This first generation Pulsar was produced until 1982, at which point the Datsun name phase out was well under way. The Pulsar continued in Japan until 2000.

The Datsun Name is Phased Out

In 1981, the decision was made by Nissan to stop using the brand name Datsun in other countries including the United States and instead use the Nissan company name, in order to strengthen it. The thought was that doing so would help Nissan with its pursuit of a global strategy much in the same way as Toyota and Honda, for example, which were household names in other parts of the world, while Nissan was not at the time. Eliminating the Datsun brand would simplify things as all vehicles would be branded as Nissan. Many in the automotive industry criticized the decision initially because the company was substituting a then unknown brand outside of Japan for one that was well respected.

The phase out of the name was not immediate, rather it lasted for a few years. In fact, until 1983, Nissan vehicles in most export markets were still sold under the Datsun brand. At that point, the Nissan name was added and given more prominence. In some export markets, cars carried both the Datsun and Nissan name on them through 1985. It wasn't until 1986 that the phase out was complete and the Datsun brand was completely dropped. The company's decision to drop the Datsun brand name was a very expensive undertaking as dealership signs had to be changed, advertisements were run to proclaim the change, etc. Even after all that, the Datsun brand remained more familiar than the Nissan name for years to come. That however, has of course changed.

Datsun Today

The Datsun name was dormant from 1986  to 2013. During this time, Nissan had entered into a strategic alliance with Renault S.A., a French automobile manufacturer which was founded in 1899, due to the severe financial difficulties Nissan was facing at the time. The agreement was signed in 1999 and Renault took an ownership stake in Nissan, which has since increased, while Nissan eventually bought into Renault after a remarkable financial turnaround. The Alliance also gave the Nissan Motor Company more independence from the Nissan Group, and its successful turnaround was attributed to the fact that the chairman and CEO of the Alliance, Carlos Ghosn, was able to detach the Nissan Motor Company from Nissan keiretsu connections and debt while eliminating thousands of jobs from the Japanese workforce. The Alliance itself was incorporated as the Renault-Nissan B.V., equally owned by Renault and Nissan, in 2002 under Dutch law. It's important to note that the strategic partnership between Renault and Nissan is not a merger or an acquisition; the two companies are in an alliance together through a substantial cross-shareholding agreement. Each one of the company's acts in the financial interest of the other while maintaining unique brand identities and independent corporate cultures. The two companies collaborate, borrow, and share in order to strengthen the other company where appropriate, without forcing one company's identity on the other.

But what about Datsun? Well, in 2013, Nissan announced that after decades of being inactive, the Datsun nameplate would be revived as the brand name for a line of budget vehicles it was planning to manufacture for emerging markets such as India and Russia. However, Nissan has vehemently stated that the Datsun name will not be finding its way onto any vehicles in the U.S. market.


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