The original Datsun 240Z is the sort of car that inspires deep loyalty among its enthusiast owners. The iconic first generation of Nissan’s two-place sports car was first introduced in 1969, and stayed in production for another nine years. The long-nosed coupe bears a passing resemblance to the Jaguar E-Type in its proportions, but established Datsun as a bona fide sports-car producer. The car itself has inspired cadres of fans as dedicated as Mustang, MG or Ferrari aficionados.
California car guy Greg Scott is a 240Z fan who’s gone above and beyond even by enthusiast standards. His 1970 240Z, known as "The Green Hornet," has been evolving for over 17 years while remaining true to the car’s original specifications and spirit, and the result is a modernized classic that’s capable of holding its own among much newer cars. This video shows The Green Hornet mixing it up with Corvettes and Porsche 911s at Laguna Seca. Though it’s track-ready, Scott’s car is impressive because it’s also street-legal, lacking the temperamental nature of many engines built for the track. The Green Hornet is driven to the track, towing its own spares, tools and fuel. Scott has retained the car’s sound deadening so the car’s comfortable enough for road driving.
Yutaka Katayama, former president of Nissan USA, better known as the “father of the Z,” died last week at the age of 105.
Katayama, or “Mr. K,” began his career at Nissan in 1935, working in publicity. After World War II, Mr. K pushed for the creation of a domestic auto show to help promote Japan’s car industry, and in 1954, the first Tokyo Motor Show was held.
In 1960, Mr. K was sent to California to start the difficult process of building a U.S. dealership network. He worked tirelessly, bringing the brand huge recognition stateside. In 1967, the 510 was introduced, setting the stage for the creation of the beloved 240Z.
"How can we transpose the relationship between man and horse into the one between man and car? Even after I was sent to Los Angeles in 1960 to establish Nissan Motor in the U.S., this question never really left me,” Mr. K would later recall. “Eventually I came up with the concept of the Z-car. It was a sports car with a sleek body with a long nose and a short deck, designed so that it could be built utilizing some of the parts and components that were already used in our other production cars, and it was a car that anybody could drive easily and that would give the driver that incredible feeling of jubilation that comes when car and driver are as one.”
Continue reading to learn more about the Datsun Z.
Last month we told you the story of Scott Fisher and his continuing journey around the United States in his beautiful 1967 Datsun Fairlady Roadster. At that time, he had just left Nissan’s headquarters in Nashville and was striking out again along some dusty road less traveled. Well, one month, some 7,000 miles, and one nasty encounter with a deer later, the automotive and photography wizards at Petrolicious caught up with Fisher and his Fairlady. The video above is a masterfully shot peek at what the journey has held.
Fisher’s Fairlady is mostly stock with only minor modifications. A five-speed transmission was swapped in from a later year Datsun, a ticker-core radiator for better cooling, and an electronic ignition module and distributor remain his only upgrades. The 1.6-liter inline four with pushrod valves has proved its worth, having never left him stranded.
Unfortunately, Fisher’s Fairlady encountered a deer with its right front fender, hood, and headlight one late afternoon as the sun set in the distance. “I definitely want to fix the damage that my friend the deer helped me out with,” he says. “I would like to eventually do a full frame-off restoration on it.” Fisher says his next dream includes shipping the car overseas after its restoration and continuing his road trip around the islands of Japan.
Fisher has gained a sizable following on his blog at RoadsterRoadTrip.com where he documents his experiences in words, photos, and videos. Be sure to check that out, along with our previous coverage of his journey.
Nissan’s plan to relaunch its Datsun sub-brand is moving along nicely with the introduction of the redo-Go Concept, a crossover-riding hatchback that could make its way into the emerging Indian market sooner than later.
Although Datsun has no immediate plans of turning the redi-Go Concept into a full-fledged production car, the mere development of the ride does point to a positive trend moving forward for the recently re-launched Nissan sub-brand.
We remember what Datsun was when it was around years ago, and while it’s got a long way to go to recapture its old magic, this new concept vehicle is a good way to start off its reemergence. If anything, the redi-Go looks like a crossover hatch that’s ready for production right now.
That is if Datsun is prepared to take that leap after just getting back into the game. It might hold off on it for a little while, but rest assured, a lot of people in the industry will be keen to see how it’s return to the game moves from here.
Click past the jump to know more about Datsun redi-GO Concept
We cover a lot of automotive-related material here at TopSpeed. From the latest and greatest vehicles with promises of fast quarter-mile times, insane 0-to-60 sprints, and the occasional gravel-shredding off-roader, it’s all about the newest and fastest.
But sometimes, you just have to slow down and enjoy the drive — to bask in every last mile of a pure driving experience in a pure sports car. That’s exactly what one man set out to do.
Scott Fisher and his beloved 1967 Datsun Fairlady Roadster are on a meandering mission to travel the United States in a clockwise fashion, while soaking in the experience on the timeless journey. No schedules needed.
Fisher started his epic journey last spring from his home in Las Vegas after selling his manufacturing business that he ran for 16 long years. It has since taken him over 30,000 miles through the American heartland, rolling over local highways and byways, while avoiding major routes and interstates “like the plague.” And it was all done in his beautiful ’67 Fairlady.
“I knew I needed to kinda’ get out, and unwind, and get my mojo back,” the 45-year-old man says. His journey has taken him north through the Pacific Northwest and over through the flyover states. Fisher’s goal was to stay up north during the summer months to avoid the extreme heat and sun exposure. “[It’s] allowed me to keep the top down, maybe 80 percent of the time.”
Click past the jump to keep reading about Scott’s amazing travels
Mission control: The Datsun launch is a GO. I repeat - Datsun is GO for launch. Ignition sequence…
The re-launch of the Datsun brand took a big step forward with the reveal of its new budget car, the GO. This compact, five-door hatchback will spearhead Nissan’s ambitions across some of the largest developing markets in the world, starting with India and Russia in early 2014.
The Datsun brand will form the low-cost and extra-reliable rung of the Nissan family that also includes the Infiniti luxury division. Datsun wants a piece of the huge sales numbers achieved by Maruti-Suzuki and Dacia with an eye on future expansion across Asia, Africa and South America.
The new Datsun ethos is fun, youthful cars that are extremely practical. The marketing is lifestyle focused with strong appeals to youth culture and breaking away from the norm. New brands and segments are easier to establish among young shoppers with fewer brand loyalties.
The Datsun GO must carve a careful niche to maximize its success in the Indian home market, where the car was also developed and will be assembled. A low selling price is king but customers will spend more to get the features they need, like a tailgate that opens for luggage access and of course, air conditioning. The slow-motion failure of the unpopular Tata Nano is a cautionary tale for the new Datsun brand.
How will Datsun’s launch model perform in challenging market conditions?
Click past the jump for the full preview of the 2014 Datsun GO, a new generation of compact cars from the legendary Datsun brand.
When word first broke out that Nissan was bringing back its once popular Datsun brand, the general feeling was a mix of intrigue and indifference. After all, it’s been a while since we last saw a Datsun out on the road yet the possibility of the return of the 240Z was too tantalizing to ignore.
Well, Nissan is dead serious about bringing back Datsun, so much so that they recently released the first teaser of the first model of the new Datsun. Unfortunately, Nissan has made it quite clear that Datsun will be an economy lineup for smaller markets, so don’t expect to see a 240Z revival any time soon.
The teaser doesn’t offer much in the way of giving us an idea of what the car is going to look like, but the first thing we thought of when we saw the teaser was that it resembled a Volvo. The angular headlights are there, as well as a vented hood and a small radiator grille with the Datsun badge attached to it.
About the only thing we’re interested in on this teaser is that Nissan is confident about turning Datsun into a brand with a strong independent identity. We’re not as confident as these guys are ,which makes it even more intriguing on how Nissan can pull this one off in time for Datsun’s expected 2014 return.
In the latest episode of his show, Jay Leno takes a break from all those supercars he usually has in his garage and turns his attention to a 1971 Datsun 510; not a standard one, but one rebuilt almost from the ground.
Alongside Jay you will see Greg Elliott, the owner of the 1971 Datsun 510 who is explaining all the updates he made to his car. Painted in a very cool blue, this 510 delivers a total of 150 horsepower and it is for sure a neat car to drive and a dream car for any car Datsun addicted out there. They also take the car out on the road for a test drive, with Jay driving of course!
Watch the video and see what Jay Leno has to say about this cool Datsun 510! Let us know in the comment section below if you agree with him!
We all know that Datsun is set to make a comeback and many of you likely started salivating over the possibility of seeing the resurrection of the compact, lightweight sports cars of yesteryear. Well, we’ll go ahead and curb your enthusiasm by telling you that Renault-Nissan wasn’t lying when it said Datsun would come back only as a low-cost competitor for second-tier markets, like India and Indonesia.
This is confirmed by a report that the first Datsun to roll on four wheels since the 1980s will be based on the ultra-low-fun and now-discontinued Lada Kalina. Per the reports, the Kalina’s interior and exterior will be changed to accommodate Datsun, but the mechanics will remain the same. This means it will feature a line of four-bangers that’ll pump out an unexciting 81 to 91 horsepower.
At one point, however, the Lada Kalina was the base for the concept car dubbed the Super 1600, which used forced induction to create somewhere between 200 and 300 horsepower, and 120 horsepower without the boost, so there is still some hope. But the chances of Datsun seeing anything like this are slim to none and slim is on its way out the door…
We expect to see the first Datsun putt-putt its way off of the production line in 2014.
Whether you love or hate Jay Leno as a “pop culture” late night show host, you still can’t help but love him in his position on Jay Leno’s Garage. In the latest episode, Jay makes it all the way around the world to Japan and test drives a Fairlady 240Z. Not only is the 240Z just one of those timeless and iconic sports cars, but it is revolutionary for the Japanese sports car world.
Jay then takes some time out to talk with his friend that heads up Nissan’s design team and he has a nice surprise for his friend, as he jokingly grills him on the rumored 240Z remake. We actually get a good glimpse at the preliminary design silhouette of what we can only assume would be a revived 240Z and a look at some of the concept drawings made of it and the current 370Z.
What’s cool though is that his friend does not play the denial act that most design heads would do. He all but confirms the fact that Nissan is planning something big for its 8th anniversary which comes about in 2013, and makes it clear that the 240Z revival may be said big thing.
Just seeing the Nissan design room was cool enough, but getting semi-confirmation of the 240Z – even if it was more of a non-denial than a confirmation – was pretty cool. Enjoy!
Not many Japanese automakers quite have the storied history of Datsun and Nissan. Even the now dominant Honda lineup is little more than a teenager in comparison to Nissan’s worldwide presence. With all of this history comes a lot of heritage, and it is obvious that Nissan and Datsun took and still do take this heritage very seriously, as they have over 400 various Datsun and Nissan vehicles dating back to the 1933 Datsun 12.
Recently, Nissan and Renault CEO, Carlos Ghosn, got to pay this warehouse turned pseudo museum a visit. He didn’t just waltz in and take a quick look at cars, as most of us do when we go to car shows. Nope, he hopped into a nearly 75-year-old, mint condition Datsun 17 Phaeton and went for a spin around the entire facility.
Seeing this warehouse full of classic cars that we rarely get to see is amazing in itself. The fact that Nissan takes special care to make sure these cars remain in impeccable shape truly shows how much Nissan respects its past. We all know that manufacturers hold back special models and keep them in good condition to show them off at later dates, but to see it on this scale and not dealing only with special models is impressive.
Nissan actually houses a staff full former staff and volunteers to keep about 70 percent of these classic imports operating. The warehouse also houses several classic Nissan rally cars and a wide array of Nissan-produced police cars.
The coolest thing about this whole visit is that Nissan filmed it and posted it online for all to see (the video is above). This is extremely unique, given the fact that the general public does not have access to this extravagant collection.
This lack of access may soon change, as former Nissan SVP, Kenichi Sasaki, stated that he hopes to see a Nissan Museum built so the public can enjoy these classic models. Our collective hats go off to Nissan for keeping these cars in this great of condition and allowing us a sneak peek into this restricted warehouse.
In the early-1980s, Nissan Motor Co. underwent a rather awkward changing process, as it dropped the well-known “Datsun” name in favor of its parent company’s name “Nissan.” Nissan added to the confusion by dragging the changeover process out for several years. For those present during the changeover, you will remember the confusing "Datsun by Nissan" days (i.e. Datsun by Nissan Pulsar, Datsun by Nissan 280ZX, etc.). Over the course of a few years, The Datsun name disappeared and it has stayed that way for three decades.
Surprise, surprise, Nissan has chosen to dig up the old “Datsun” name and breathe life into it, come the 2014 model year. Now, before you classic Datsun fans get too excited for the return of the 280ZX or the compact B210, for now the re-introduction of the lineup is only going to take place in developing markets, including: India, Indonesia and Russia. Given the recent trend of automobile companies experimenting in smaller markets before expanding to the U.S. market; don’t be surprised if a Datsun dealership opens up on U.S. soil in the next 5 to 10 years. Much like Fiat hung around in the European market for nearly three decades before reemerging in the U.S. with the subcompact 500.
From the looks of it, Datsun is going to be a big time competitor to the likes of Hyundai and Kia, as executives are claiming that the Datsun brand will feature vehicles in the $5,000 to $6,000 dollar range, which is a what we call "scary cheap." To date, there is no information on upcoming models, engines, design or any other specifics, but I think it’s safe to say that a revived 280ZX is not in the cards, at least initially.
Here’s to hoping two things happen. First, let’s see Datsun make a full comeback and make its way back to its fans in the U.S. Secondly, avoid conjoining two different names with "by," it’s really confusing guys…