During the late 60’s and early 70’s, Nissan's catchphrase to sell Datsuns in Australia was ‘Get that Datsun Difference’. It suited them perfectly. Nissan was building their cars differently to everyone else, they brought their cars over to the U.S, Europe and Australia. They were cheaply priced but not cheaply made. They were reliable, affordable and fun.
However, before the late 60’s, before Nissan released the 510 and 240Z, sales had been trickling in, and although it gave Nissan enough money to go racing (in particular the 1958 Mobilgas Rally in Australia, which they won in their class), it wasn’t much compared to what lay ahead.
Enter Yutaka Katayama, the man we can thank for the Fairlady Z, 510 and Nissan’s success. Referred to as Mr. K, Katayama was a racing aficionado and Nissan’s US President.
Upon studying the U.S market, and BMW’s Neue Klasse 1600, Mr. K managed to influence the design of the new 510 to be more like a ‘driver’s car’, featuring a powerful (for its day) 1.6 litre SOHC engine and fully independent suspension.
Unlike the conservative Nissan employee’s back in Japan, who wanted to build a cheap, reliable car, Mr. K had managed to make sure the 510/1600 was a driver’s car, meaning that it appealed to the overseas market more than any previous Datsun or Japanese car for that matter.
It was Mr. K that made people want to buy Japanese cars.
The Z-car was also like this. Powerful, fun, reliable and cheap. In the U.S, 1 million of the S30 were sold in a decade. In comparison, it took the mighty Corvette 25 years to reach those numbers.
Although the Fairlady Z and 510/1600 are Datsun's most popular cars, they made many others that are just as cool.
This includes the Datsun 1200 range, which included a pickup, coupe, sedan and wagon.
The Kenmeri Skyline, or Datsun 240K as sold in Australia, is also a popular model. It even raced at Bathurst.
In 1982, Nissan decided to drop the Datsun name from their cars. This would be a three-year process from 1982 to 1984.
With the Datsun name gone, Nissan could focus their attention on their new line of cars, including the R30 and R31 Skylines.
And the original Godzilla, the R32 Skyline.
Speaking of Skylines, here's a very clean example of the V35 Skyline Coupe.
In addition to the Skyline range, Nissan released the popular sports car line that was the Silvia range, conducting of the 180SX, S13, S14 and S15.
50 Years of the Fairlady Z
2019 will mark 50 years since the first Fairlady Z was released. The original S30Z was and still is a massive hit with enthusiasts, thanks to its muscle-like straight six, independent suspension and classic looks. The car came in three versions, the 240Z, 260Z and 280Z, with the latter two coming with the option of two rear seats.
After the luxurious yet sporty 280ZX came the Nissan 300ZX Z31. This came with a redefined engine, a 3 litre V6 with an optional turbo rather than the 2.8 litre straight six.
Then, in 1989 came a big change for the Z-car in styling, performance and power. The 300ZX Z32 came with a more refined V6, with dual overhead camshafts and a twin turbo option. The Z32 was one of the first cars designed using CAD software, meaning Nissan could stuff all that power under the relatively short bonnet.
In 2002, Nissan finally released a new Z-Car, the 350Z, with a 3.5 litre V6, and in 2009 the 370Z (pictured above) was debuted with an even larger 3.7 litre V6. The 370Z is still yet to be retired, but Nissan has teased that they are already working on a new Fairlady Z. To say I'm excited would be an understatement.