Mention Nissan and most Thais will think of it as a pickup maker or perhaps as the pioneer of the Ecocar, the March hatchback that subsequently spawned the Almera saloon. Some may even associate the brand with the eco-friendly Leaf electric vehicle even if it isn't on sale in Thailand yet.
The copy-cat game continues but this time with American flair. The third-generation Gloria, powered by a straight-six engine, has a twin-deck front end resembling a Pontiac GTO. A version called the Nissan Prince Royal was tailored specifically for the Japanese Emperor in the late '60s.
But to car enthusiasts, Nissan is more than just a maker of pickups or politically correct EVs. The GT-R supercar, for instance, is an impressive reminder of Nissan's sports car heritage.
And despite Nissan's absence from the Thai motor sport scene, many fans know how active the brand is in global motorsports _ not only now, but the role it has played over several decades.
Brunch had a rare opportunity to revisit Nissan's past by visiting the company's makeshift museum in Yokohama, Japan, home of the marque's global development centre.
Of course, we weren't given the chance to peek into the future because all of Nissan's prototypes were under wraps to fend off the inquisitive eyes of the world's media. What we were able to relish, though, is what Nissan calls its ''treasures of the past''. Nearly 300 cars _ including several from private owners _ were on hand to be seen and driven.
Since the place is more factory than museum, the cars were crammed together side-by-side _ hardly ideal for viewing, but there was nothing hindering the in-car experience.
This is the roadster version of the Datsun 16 of the '30s sporting a 16hp 0.7 litre four-cylinder engine and three-speed gearbox.
The more modern iterations of the GT-R line up for a photo. From left: A Nismo upgraded R33, called the 400R; the R34, popularised in the movie The Fast and the Furious; and today’s high performance R35.
With an Italian name, the original Silvia of the ’60s owed much of its looks to the Lancia Fulvia. The one tonne Silvia had a 96hp 1.6 litre engine and four-speed manual transmission.
After an absence of four years, the GT-R returned to the GT500 category of the JGTC series in 2008 _ the year the current generation of road-going models was launched to world acclaim.
This is the rally car that preceded the 1600 SSS — the 1300SS based on the Bluebird 410 model that took part in the 14th East African Safari.
During its time, the R383 looked very futuristic with its aerodynamic design borrowed from Can-Am cars. It was powered by a 900hp 6.0 litre V12 designed for the 1970 Japanese Grand Prix.
Visiting journalists were given a rare treat with a short ride in the pioneering Skyline GTR. The most nostalgic moment was hearing the carb-fed six-pot engine being revved around the Nissan facility.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor