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For the New Zealand rock band, see The Datsuns.

Datsun was an automobile marque. There never was an actual "Datsun" company, as the brand name was used in production only by DAT Motors and its successor, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. The name was created in 1931 by the DAT Motorcar Co. for a new car model, spelling it as "Datson" to indicate its smaller size when compared to the existing, larger DAT car. Later, in 1933 after Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. took control of DAT Motorcar Co., the last syllable of Datson was changed to "sun", because "son" also means "loss" (損) in Japanese, and also to honour the sun depicted in the national flag, hence the name "Datsun": Dattosan (ダットサン, Dattosan?).. The Datsun brand was discontinued in March 1986. The Datsun name is most famous for the sports cars referred to as the Fairlady roadsters and later the Fairlady (240Z) coupes.

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The origins of Datsun

Further information: Nissan

Before the Datsun brand name came into being, an automobile named the DAT car was built in 1914, by the Kwaishinsha Motorcar Works (快進自動車工場, Kaishin Jidōsha Kōjō?), in the Azabu-Hiroo District in Tokyo. The new car's name was an acronym of the company's partners' surnames:

  • Kenjiro Den (田 健次郎, Den Kenjirō?)
  • Rokuro Aoyama (青山 禄朗, Aoyama Rokurō?)
  • Meitaro Takeuchi (竹内 明太郎, Takeuchi Meitarō?).

The firm was renamed Kaishinsha Motorcar Co. in 1918, seven years after their establishment and again, in 1925, to DAT Motorcar Co. DAT Motors constructed trucks in addition to the DAT passenger cars. In fact, their output focused on trucks since there was almost no consumer market for passenger cars at the time. Beginning in 1918, the first DAT trucks were assembled for the military market. The low demand from the military market during the 1920s forced DAT to consider merging with other automotive industries. In 1926 the Tokyo-based DAT Motors merged with the Osaka-based Jitsuyo Jidosha Co., Ltd. (実用自動車製造株式会社, Jitsuyō Jidōsha Seizō Kabushiki-Gaisha?) also known as Jitsuyo Motors (established 1919, as a Kubota subsidiary) to become DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (ダット自動車製造株式会社, Datto Jidōsha Seizō Kabushiki-Gaisha?) in Osaka until 1932.

The DAT corporation had been selling full size cars to Japanese consumers under the DAT name since 1914 (Madely, pg. 19), but in 1930 the Japanese government created a ministerial ordinance that allowed cars with engines up to 500 cc to be driven without a licence. (TOGO, pg. 11). DAT Automobile Manufacturing began development of a line of 495 cc cars to sell in this new market segment, calling the new small cars "Datson" - meaning "Son of DAT". The name was changed to "Datsun" two years later in 1933.(Madely, pg. 20)

The first prototype Datson was completed in the summer of 1931.(Nissan). The production vehicle was called the Datson Type 10, and "approximately ten" of these cars were sold in 1931. (JSAE). They sold around 150 cars in 1932, now calling the model the Datson Type 11(JSAE). In 1933 the government rules were revised to permit 750 cc engines, and Datsun increased the size of their microcar engine to the maximum size allowed (JSAE). These larger displacement cars were called the Datsun Type 12.(Nissan Heritage)

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