Nice Old Datsun With Italian Flavour

This little number is up for sale in Jutland. It’s too good to fall under the rubric of Something Rotten In Denmark.

1966 Datsun Bluebird: source.

The photo is a screenshot (a deliberate choice). Bilbasen should adjust their web-page so as to show the complete photo; evidently the entire photo is uploaded but it is cropped to fit the box. A thumbnail in the screen shot shows the entire car. What about the design story?

1966 Datsun Bluebird: source

Nissan sold the Bluebird 410 between 1963 and 1967. This one was the first Datsun sold in Denmark. It had a 1.3 litre four-cylinder engine and weighed a little under 900 kg. What is interesting is the similarity to the Lancia Fulvia coupe and its Italianate style. Pininfarina is credited with the design. The Fulvia saloon appeared in 1963: so is this a rejected proposal originally intended for Lancia? And note the grille which predates the Fulvia III coupe by a good few years (seven?).

1966 Datsun Bluebird: source

The ridges on the bonnet resemble the 1967 coupe (credited to Piero Castagnero at Lancia). At the rear the horizontal lamps are more like the 1963 saloon.

So what we seem to have here is a 1963 Datsun with elements that appeared on contemporary and later Lancias. The bonnet turned up in 1965 and the grille theme in 1970. The overall stance of the car, however, says Alfa Romeo (the 1962 Giulia) with a hint of this is in the way the roof is shaped at the rear.

1966 Datsun Bluebird interior: source

So what is this? Is it a mix of a proposal for Alfa Romeo and Lancia which was sent to Nissan? And then it seems some of the elements made their way back to Lancia via Castagnero’s “inspiration”?


Japanese cars are often dismissed for their lack of design heritage. At the time their industry was maturing they were benefiting from the golden age of Italian styling. Cars like this one are gems, inside and out. This could have been heritage. If this

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

had actually been a Lancia or an Alfa it’d be the subject of a Buckley eology twice a year. As it is, Datsun’s next iteration of the series was a bland saloon of considerably less visual merit. The other point is that the carrozeria had no scruples in re-using their work when it suited them. Are these two details somehow linked?


1968 Datsun Bluebird: source

Post-script: the 1968 car is almost characterless except for a slight dog-bone effect over the headlamps. It’s quite modern, in a neutral Audi-way. 

[Slideshow credits: 1962 Alfa Romeo side view; others.]


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

8 thoughts on “Nice Old Datsun With Italian Flavour”

  1. Hear hear, Richard! The ignorance towards Japanese cars in terms of their styling is baffling. This is a sterling effort, as you correctly pointed out. The Datsun Silvia CSP311 could effortlessly be described as the prettier Fulvia.

    In case you’re planning another cross-country trip through Germany, Richard, you might want to include a stopover at Augsburg, where a Mazda museum has been opened recently (the first of its kind in Europe). I certainly intend to pay it a visit the next time I’m down southeast.

    1. Robertas: we can’t as we are all simply personas created by Myles Gorfe. You’ll never see us in one place. You might never even see one of us. We’re just words on a page.

  2. The ‘wedgetails’ at the rear are very 2000 Coupe. But overall, I see more Alfa than Lancia in the Bluebird.

    The inspiration for the S2 Fulvia grille/fascia should surely be attributed equally as much to Giugiaro at Bertone via the Mazda Luce. On this point, though – the way in which Japanese industry is structured tends to ensure it’s not a coincidence that contemporaneous product looks remarkably similar.

  3. There’s a Mitsubishi Colt which is almost a direct copy of the Fulvia sedan, but rather more othodox below. I can’t recall seeing any of these Bluebirds in Australia, but the previous version, which looked like a mid ’50s BMC product, wasn’t that unusual.

    1. The Colt is a not-unappealing mix of Fulvia berlina and Fiat 1500, no?

  4. This is a very nice find. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this car before. And it’s in a really good condition, unlike the Japanese cars I found last year for sale in Switzerland.
    I hope it finds an interested and caring buyer.

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