It’s not everywhere that one gets to experience a car manufacturers roots, their bread butter and racing glory all under one roof. Nissan invited a select bunch for a dekho into their past glory and here’s what we saw as we toured the Zama factory museum
So while we were out for the brilliant Tokyo Motor Show 2015, Nissan was kind enough to provide us with a guided tour of some of their facilities in Japan. While all of them were interesting in their own right, our ears stood up when we heard about the visit to the Nissan Zama Heritage Collection. Now most of us car fanatics have grown up with the terms Skyline, Fairlady, Z and the likes and just the thought about getting to see them all under one roof together was enough to make us feel like kids headed to a toy store.
Located on the grounds of Nissan’s Oppama Motor Plant, the area houses some pretty stunning collection and is not normally open to the public, so I felt quite lucky to get a chance to wander through it. In fact I was so ecstatic that the shutter button on my camera came under immense stress. So I hope you dear readers enjoy the pics. Coming back to this holy place, the moment we entered we shown a video of how Datsun and Nissan came into existence back in 1911 and was then called DAT. Datsun is actually the older of the two marques, having produced its first car (called the DAT) in 1914, while the name “Nissan” originated during the 1930s as an abbreviation used on the Tokyo stock market for Nihon Sangyo. The Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. was officially founded in 1933 and its Yokohama manufacturing plant began producing cars shortly after.=
This amazing collection started as a storage and exhibit venue for the 1933 Datsun Model 12 Phaeton, but now has grown to as many as 400 plus cars. The collection consists of not only passenger cars but also trucks, vans, electric vehicles, taxis, fire engines, police cars and a mindboggling 114 racing and rally cars. Let me put across a few.
1969 Skyline 2000GT-R
This brilliant machine was launched in 1968 and came with a DOHC, 24 valve S20 engine. It was capable of hitting 200 km/h with a quarter mile time of 16.1 seconds and even won its debut JAF Grand Prix. And Nissan was kind enough to give us a shotgun ride in this beauty.
1962 Prince Skyline Sport
The 1962 Prince Skyline Sport is perhaps a bit more of a true spiritual forefather to the G-TR, being a coupe and having a powerful (for its day) 1.9-liter engine that produced about 94-hp and had a top speed of 150 km/h. Only 60 of these were built.
The 240 Z’s
This icon has always been and still is one of the most sought after cars. Combining good looks, and powerful performance, this much loved Z car sold in huge numbers and spawned high performance versions and was used by the police as well.
Another gem was the East African Safari Rally 240Z. In its first entry in the 19th East African Safari Rally (1971) the Datsun 240Z won the Over-all Victory, Class Victory, Team Victory and Manufactures Championship. This victory also set new records as NISSAN became the first company to win back to back Victories in all three categories. The driving team of Edgar Herrmann / Hans Schuller also became the first team to win back to back over-all victories! Another significant note is that the Datsun 240Z was the first vehicle to capture an Over-all victory in its first year of competition
1987 Nissan MID 4 concept car
Now here’s a strangely familiar looking machine. Honda NSX, maybe? Nope, this is the 1987 Nissan MID 4 concept car exhibited at the ’87 Tokyo Motor Show. It never went into production, but was viewed by Nissan as both a concept car and experimental vehicle. It was designed as a 4WD Super Sportsmodel with maximum maneuverability in mind, this Type II version featuring a vertically mounted 330-hp VG30DETT engine.
1989 marked the launch of the 4th generation Fairlady Z, the Z32 300ZX joining that defining group of Japanese sports cars including the FD RX-7, Mk IV Toyota Supra and Honda NSX that turned an entire generation of young car enthusiasts into diehard JDM fans.
1998 Nissan R390 GT1
NISMO's "Le Mans challenge" continued for two years, 1995-96, but it is difficult to win at Le Mans with a production car like the Skyline. So from 1997 to 1999 Nissan took up the challenge using a purpose-built GT car. In 1998, the R390 GT1's second year at Le Mans, car No.32 (Hoshino, A. Suzuki, Kageyama) came in 3rd overall - Nissan's best result in this event.
1982 K10 Nissan March
Standing alone, this ’82 K10 Nissan March caught my eye. Of course the road-going March was a basic econobox, but this Super Silhouette version built by NISMO with a hotted up E15 engine pumping out 160-hp is as cool as ’80s hot hatches get.
After being exhibited at the 26th Tokyo Motor Show, the Be-1 was launched two years later in January 1987 (the canvas top model debuted in March). The "nostalgic modern" design concept stressed relaxation and comfort. At the time Japanese society was shifting towards more individualism, so this car was well received. Production was limited and it was so popular that, at its launch, buyers were chosen by lottery.