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Although the brand has been manufacturing motor vehicles since 1911, it was not until the 1930’s that the Nissan brand was born.
Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works was founded in 1911 and by 1914 had produced the DAT, a small passenger car. The company went through a couple of more name changes before settling on DAT Motorcar Company in 1925. Their main focus was on trucks, but they did also manufacture the DAT and Datsun passenger cars.
By 1926, DAT Motorcar Company, which was based out of Tokyo merged with an Osaka based automobile manufacturer. Together they produced small trucks and cars until 1932.
The first Datson, or son of DAT, was produced in 1931. When Nissan gained control over the company, the car was renamed the Datsun.
Nissan began as a holding company who earned its name from its abbreviation on the Tokyo stock market. While they controlled auto parts businesses and foundries, it was not until their acquisition of DAT in 1933 did Nissan enter the automobile manufacturing business.
A year later the auto parts and manufacturing divisions of the holding were split off and completely bought by Aikawa. He renamed his new company the Nissan Motor Co. and began work on building a manufacturing plant in Yokohama. Upon its completion, 44 Datsuns were shipped to parts of Asia and South America. The Nissan Company also built trucks and engines for the Japanese military during this time.
Starting in 1934, Nissan was licensed to build Austin Sevens. By 1952 they had a contract with Austin to assemble 2,000 of the cars using imported parts. This went on for seven years during which time Nissan used that technology to manufacturer its own Austin A50 to be sold in Japan. The venture was a success and they sold over 20,000 by 1959.
In 1967 Nissan introduced their Nissan L engine inside of the Datsun 510. This highly advanced four cylinder overhead cam gained Nissan instant respect in the sedan market. A six cylinder variation was used two years later for the Datsun 240Z sports car. An immediate success, the 240Z brought Nissan to the forefront of automobile manufacturing, and by 1970 they had become one of the worlds’ largest exporters of automobiles.
Nissan took advantage of the 1970’s oil crisis by mass producing high quality economy cars. They also began building plants outside of Japan, including one in Tennessee, to enable them to keep costs down. In addition, they built a separate facility in England, which today is one of the most productive plants in Europe.
Today Nissan has one of the most extensive lists of models in their line-up. With everything from compact cars to SVU’s and race cars, they are able to fulfill any need found in the market.
GT-R – A modern version of Nissan’s 1966 Skyline, the GT-R is being called the most powerful Nissan ever built. Its 600 horsepower engine sits inside of a more sophisticated Nissan GT-R that has included a recalibrated suspension system that promises better handling capabilities.
Murano – Nissan’s first crossover car features a new design direction with a V-motion front end, boomerang lights and a floating roof treatment. With the Murano you are treated to an elegant vehicle inside and out without the opulent price tag.
Versa – Exceptionally roomy for a sub-compact vehicle, the Versa continues to impress buyers with its incredible gas mileage and sticker price starting at less than $12,000.
Armada – The epitome of the family oriented SUV, the Armada allows room for 8 in a spacious cabin area. For green minded drivers there is the option of using E85 ethanol in place of gasoline.
Altima – The Nissan Altima has been Nissan’s biggest selling model in the United States. Inside drivers will find NissanConnect, which allows for smart phone integration into the system.
Cube – Surprising spacious inside, the box shaped Nissan offers room for five in style and comfort. The 122 horse powers under its hood are provided by a 4 cylinder engine that is exceptionally fuel efficient.
Frontier – Nissan’s answer to the pick-up continues to be a favorite choice for American buyers. Its exceptional performance is seen both on the road and off with a powerful 4.0 liter, V6 engine that still gives you 23 MPG on the highway.
Juke – The versatility of a sports crossover has been very appealing to car buyers who relish the option of all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive that the Juke offers. The qualities of a sports car, such as dynamic handling, mix well with the features that an SUV offers.
Leaf – This fully electric vehicle give you an estimated driving range on a fully charged battery of 126 miles in the city and 101 on the highway. With its already low price being augmented by tax incentives, this green car can rival comparable gas powered vehicles in price.
Maxima – The Maxima still stands out in the mid size sedan category with its larger than life fender volume combined with sporty exterior proportions. With an exceptional safety rating and plenty of interior room, this car continues to be a favorite for families.
Pathfinder – Nissan’s most popular SUV still wows buyers with its best in class fuel economy. Now offered as a hybrid, this iconic vehicle appeals to the growing number of environmental friendly consumers.
Quest – Full surround glass makes this mini-van stand out above all others. This family friendly vehicle has innovative features like a conversation mirror designed for communication with passengers in the 2nd and 3rd rows and a blind spot warning system.
Rogue – A fierce competitor in the compact SUV market, the Rogue is built for comfort as well as functionality. With the unique flexibility of the EZ Flex seating system, two rows of seating is easily transformed into extra cargo space.
Xterra – The Xterra is marketed as an adventure vehicle, perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. It utilizes a long wheel base for a smoother ride, with a short front overhang that offers better maneuverability when climbing hills in off-road driving.
Sentra – A new aerodynamic design for the Sentra gives it a sleeker look as well as engine efficiency, and yet the dimensions are larger and there is more room inside then older versions. This new look also gives it a more refined appeal, making it a good choice for a buyer who wants the trustworthiness of the Nissan brand with a more professional attitude.
Titan – Active truck drivers are enthralled with the style and value of this full sized pick-up. With the array of comfort features offered inside, you would never realize that this truck is built for hard work.
370Z – The Z line is available as a coupe, the NISMO and the Roadster. The 332 horsepower, 3.7 liter engine can be paired with a 7 speed automatic transmission, or the 6 speed manual transmission.
After reviewing this line-up of cars, it is hard to believe that the Nissan Motor Company first entered the automotive market selling the Datsun. Their quick rise in popularity can be attributed to the attention to detail they put into their vehicles and their ability to anticipate what the public wants in their automobiles.