Everything You Need to Know in 5 Minutes about One of Japan’s Oldest Car Manufacturers

A lot of people think that Japan’s car industry really came about after World War II. They certainly made an impact in the West in the late 50s and early 60s, when their small economical models found a ready audience. But the truth is that many of the companies were formed in the first few decades of the modern car era. Just because they weren’t front and centre in the minds of consumers in the West before that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. This is certainly true of the company now known as Nissan.


A Navara canopy is an indispensable accessory.

A History Replete with Twists and Turns

Today’s Nissan started out as a small company in Japan in 1911. It produced its first car three years later, known as the DAT. Doesn’t sound really compelling, does it? The fact is that the name spelled the first initial of the last names of the three founders of the company. Its initial success was not really its little car, as there was hardly any domestic market for it. They built their early success on their trucks, as well as farming machinery. By the mid-1920s, things were moving along nicely and the firm, at that point known as DAT Motor Car, merged with another local firm. A few years later, they produced the first new small car model, known as the Datson (literally, son of DAT). Taking their inspiration from Henry Ford, the company used American equipment and an American engineer to run things. At the time, American know-how was highly regarded, a model to be copied. Strangely enough, 50 years later, the trend completely reversed.

Nissan Appears

The majority owners of DAT decided to create a subsidiary specifically devoted to cars and it was thus that Nissan was born in 1934. But before they could get busy building too many cars, the Japanese war effort kicked into high gear and Nissan, along with other Japanese manufacturers turned their attention to producing military equipment. After the war, things returned to normal and the company found great success in the West during the 70s, when their small cars became much appreciated because of their fuel economy and compact size. It was during this period that the firm made its reputation, especially in the United States, with the iconic Datsun 510 and Datsun 240Z. Although not extremely powerful, the 240Z especially was a very sporty and sleek little two-seater and the American public fell in love with it.

The Move to the UK

Realising the importance of the European market, Nissan decided in 1988 to build a plant to address it. The company chose Sunderland in northeast England, due to its skilled workforce and proximity to ports. Ten years later, the plant was producing over 400,000 cars a year and was considered the most productive factory in Europe. By 1999, the company was facing major financial challenges and entered into a long-term relationship with the French car manufacturer Renault. It was their saving grace, allowing them not only to survive, but to prosper into the present day.

Making Your Nissan Truly Yours

Today, Nissan and Renault combine to produce one out of every ten cars sold globally. Nissan is especially well known for its trucks and even its upscale Infiniti models. Every Nissan buyer seems to really enjoy their purchase and yet they want to put their own personal stamp on it. As a result, they can choose from a wide variety of aftermarket accessories, such as a Navara canopy, to make their purchase as useful and practical as it can be.

The original Nissan founders would be impressed!

Image attributed to Flickr.comCjamesFotografia

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