By Rod Ward
We all have some memories of Nissan and Datsun cars, if it was only a Bluebird taxi that took us safely to the airport, or a Micra that seemed to last forever, outliving every other car in the family. To some enthusiasts the name recalls an exciting Fairlady sports car, a Silvia or one of the inimitable Z coupes. Others remember with affection an indestructible Patrol or a useful little Vanette, utilitarian vehicles in everyday use for their job of work. All of these, and many more, are described in this Auto Review publication. Now that Japanese car firms lead the world, it is hard to believe how late Japan was to arrive on the automotive scene. Japanese military expansionism in the early 20th century left little scope for development of a domestic market in motor vehicles. In 1936 almost two million cars were
registered in Britain; by contrast there were only just over 50,000 in Japan. In 1957 only 150 or so Japanese cars were exported to Europe. By 1971 this had risen to 200,000, with Nissan making a large contribution. Nissan was among the first Japanese vehicle makers, its products often badged as Datsun. Nissan later merged with competitors Prince and Aichi. Subsequent growth was phenomenal, aided by Nissan establishing assembly plants around the world. Nissan’s Sunderland factory became the most productive UK car factory of all time, building more than 500,000 vehicles in 2012, more than the entire Italian car industry. Production of the new Infiniti Q30 would begin there in 2015. A cross-ownership deal with Renault enabled Nissan to further capitalise on economies of scale, and the addition of the upmarket Infiniti brand facilitated penetration of the luxury market.