1978 Datsun Sunny Road Test

“Datsun leaps ahead!” Archie Vicar has a look at the exciting new 1978 Datsun Sunny in what appears to be a verbatim transcript of a period review.

1978 Datsun Sunny saloon: source

The article first appeared in the South Caledonian News Inquirer, October 31, 1978. Douglas Land-Wimdermere [sic] took the original photos. Owing to the poor quality of the archive material stock photos have been used.

The Japanese marques don’t appear to give the impression of ever looking like they rest on their laurels (which, funnily, we also find in the Nissan range) so naturally enough, before we became accustomed to the old Sunny, a new Sunny has come along. And a jolly good thing too, I hear you say. For the old one had many good qualities and these have been built-upon in the new model.

Since 1975 many customers have bought the reliably-selling 120Y, making it Britain’s most popular import by a broad margin. The new Sunny takes on a refreshed guise, sporting a simpler and even more tasteful appearance. In its dark yellow paint, blacked-out front grille and its dapper wheel covers, it stood out against the dull concrete background of Worthing where Datsun have their head offices. It certainly will grace many a driveway for sure.

Being such an important car, the editor needed little persuasion when I suggested a full continental road test – and only that – would suffice to Continue reading “1978 Datsun Sunny Road Test”

A Photo For Sunday: Highlights

Lines: edge lines, shutlines, graphic lines and most elusive of all, highlights. 

Concentrate on the white band of light running from the wheelarch flare, up to the roof and down the A-pillar onward.

Yes, it’s a Nissan Juke which is a polarising car. It’s highlights tell us that the steel pressings are good and the tolerances tight. How? The highlights flow with little interruption across the gaps. I looked at this for several minutes and decided to Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: Highlights”

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? Continue reading “Nice Old Datsun With Italian Flavour”

Speaking Micra

A chance sighting prompts something approaching a defence.

Image: Driven to Write

Since we created Driven to Write three years ago, I have undergone something of a re-education about cars and particularly when it comes to their design. Even though we might actually only rub shoulders about once a year, I often feel as though I have a virtual Herriott at my ear, urging me to look at that innocuous looking tin box over there with fresh eyes. Going about my business yesterday, I happened past a stationary 2016 Micra. Not a car to which I’d normally give more than the most cursory of glances, but given some of the damning responses to the example featured earlier in the week, I felt I ought to give it a second glance. Continue reading “Speaking Micra”

An Elle Of A Car

As promised here is a small snippet on a special edition you may have missed.

2012 Nissan Micra Elle logo: a logo on a car.

Quite coincidentally, Jimi Beckwith at Autocropley has been musing about the subject. Dreamcar.dk reported the momentous news of the Nissan Micra Elle as follows (in Nov 2012): “Nissan and the world’s most popular fashion magazine, Elle, have joined forces to develop a special edition of the popular city car, the Micra. The goal for both partners is to

Continue reading “An Elle Of A Car”

Nissan March Bolero

While the Irish car market is characterised by quite pronounced conservatism, there is a mad streak in there. There are people who buy cars like this:

image

Most of it is a Nissan Micra but it has a different grille and bumper. The rear and side are much the same as the Micra. It has a 1.2 litre, 4-cylinder engine and as such is stock Micra.  Continue reading “Nissan March Bolero”

Everything You Know Is Wrong

While the mainstream UK motoring press likes to pretend it tells it like it is, they often don´t.

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Dented and unloved. 2002 Nissan QX 3.0

The 1995 Nissan QX served as a butt of jokes at Car magazine who reminded us ironically that “it exists“. Autocar took a more charitable view, summing it up as a superbly built revelation on the road. Apart from this this, the QX is quite forgotten. Not by me for whom these kinds of neglected cars are some kind of mild obsession. I suppose it’s the fact the press told us not to bother that makes me want to know what it is that we must ignore.  Continue reading “Everything You Know Is Wrong”

Concept Car Du Jour

What’s hard to believe is that this design was the product of seasoned designers.

1993 Nissan AQ-X: source
1993 Nissan AQ-X: source

The 1993 Nissan AQ-X has several small and large errors that add up to something of a disaster. But we will learn from this. Being charitable, it’s a packaging car. The rear compartment has stupendous legroom. The doors open wide for easy ingress and, when you need to, egress. Up close the vehicle is finished to a professional standard (I mean at about 10 cm distance). At 10 metres you begin to wonder whether the person who had sketched the car had sketched many cars before this. Continue reading “Concept Car Du Jour”

Our Cars – Nissan Cube : End Of Year Update

Following his Final Report from 2015 and his subsequent Update from last April, here’s another one from Sean. Until the penultimate, absolute final update report he plans for late 2017 or thereabouts.

sm-cube
There was always the worry that, with time, the scales would fall from my eyes and I would see the Cube as the embarrassing and rather fatuous novelty that others see it as. Certain respected visitors to this site have made their abhorrence of the car apparent, and others have possibly implied it politely, by evading the subject entirely. However, for me, the satisfaction of ownership hasn’t worn off. Of course, city dwelling, and my rag-bag of alternative vehicles, means that I’ve only done about 7,000 miles in it over 18 months but, for me, it’s an excellent thing to have. Spacious inside, compact outside, good all round view. It’s perfect in town, and perfectly tolerable on long journeys. A hypothetical electric Cube might be preferable but, when I consider the alternatives actually available, I have no regrets. Continue reading “Our Cars – Nissan Cube : End Of Year Update”

DTW Trifecta: 1982 Nissan Laurel, Givenchy Edition

At Curbside Classics I found an article about this remarkable rarity. It combines three themes that we have been considering in recent months: engines, Japanese design and special editions.

1982 Nissan Laurel Givenchy edition: source
1982 Nissan Laurel Givenchy edition: source

Precious little visual information exists regarding this car so please excuse the slightly rough images. What is fascinating is that it reminds me of Patrick Kavanagh’s line that “through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder”. The photo suggests enough to let your imagination to just Continue reading “DTW Trifecta: 1982 Nissan Laurel, Givenchy Edition”

2002 Nissan Murano: Americo-Japanese Rationalism

Few Murano’s roam about Jutland. I’ve always liked this car even if I am not a fan of softroaders. 

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The Murano shows what we might call Japanese design rationalism although the designers did their work in California. The bit we ought to notice is the very intelligent shutline management of the tailgate, rear lamps and rear quarter panel. The tailgate is oversized so as to eliminate the need for the roof panel to join to the C-pillar. Continue reading “2002 Nissan Murano: Americo-Japanese Rationalism”

Theme: Japan – Nissan SilEighty – Sideways Thinking

Scouring the varied cars of Gran Turismo yielded a JDM gem – the Nissan Sileighty.

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Don’t go scouring your collections of official Nissan brochures for a SilEighty though; this one is special. Torquepost describes it thus:

“Drifters and street racers who… raced their Nissan 180SXs found that replacing their front ends when they became damaged was very cost prohibitive… due to the pop-up headlamp assemblies. To remedy this… the Nissan Silvia S13’s cheaper parts, including the lighter panel headlamp assemblies, front fenders, hood, and front bumper would be installed instead. Thus, the car would have the front end of an S13 Nissan Silvia, and the rear badge of the original 180SX. And so, the name SilEighty emerged.”

So there you have it: the Nissan SilEighty. An ingenious piece of sideways thinking from Japanese drifters. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – Nissan SilEighty – Sideways Thinking”

Theme : Japan – Nissan Cube Update

Although I had put the running report on my Cube on hold, based on the fact that there wasn’t much else to write about it except that I like it, I’m writing something in line with this month’s theme.

Cube Engine Bay

Actually, I had intended an April 1st piece detailing the work I’d had done by a sympathetic body shop, cutting mine and a LHD Cube down the middle and mating the two sections in order to impose symmetry. But I missed the deadline. Continue reading “Theme : Japan – Nissan Cube Update”

Theme: Japan – 1989 Nissan S-Cargo

I mentioned this car in a thread to an earlier article and felt the need to show some pictures and make a comment or two.

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The S-Cargo was launched in 1988 at the Tokyo Motor Show. It was one of a series of limited edition cars from what was known as the Pike Factory section at Nissan. I remember the instant like I had for what I saw and it has never faded.

The S-Cargo is clearly a homage to the classic 2CV van which was popular as an import to Japan in that era. Inside there are strong 2CV themes – minimalist features, strictly functional styling, and a dash mounted gear control enabling the two front seats to be set together. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – 1989 Nissan S-Cargo”

Theme: Japan – 1985 Nissan CUE-X

Japanese automotive engineering went into warp-drive mode in the middle 1980s. The Nissan CUE-X of 1985 remains an impressive tour de force of the purest styling and technical experimentation.

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Starting under the skin of this elegant and minimalistic design, we find electronic air suspension which controlled the spring rates, ride height and attitude. The damping could be altered as well making this a car which had the potential to fill a brief written by Citroen. Going further than Citroen did with their 1988 XM, the Cue-X also boasted four-wheel steering* The description of how it works is very similar to that of the XM: sensors sent signals to the vehicle’s central processor. The data described vehicle height, road speed, steering input, braking forces, throttle position and gear position. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – 1985 Nissan CUE-X”

Driven to Write’s Top Fifty Countdown: Number 7a

What is about the 1982 Cherry that continues to captivate? The virtually unique N12 Datsun Cherry conforms fully to Nissan´s forward-thinking approach to car design. This ties for seventh place with tomorrow’s 7b.

Captivation: 1982 Datsun Cherry
Captivation: 1982 Datsun Cherry

The 1982 Datsun Cherry (N12) carried on the success of the 1970-1977 version which helped establish Datsun’s presence in Western Europe. In particular it was able to capitalise on the appallingly designed and badly made products being offered in the United Kingdom, a situation that persisted until BLMC’s last fragments were closed. Datsun discovered that Continue reading “Driven to Write’s Top Fifty Countdown: Number 7a”

More On C-Pillars But This One Is Good

In 2013 Nissan showed the Friend-Me at the Beijing Auto Show. This one makes a nice job of the trick C-pillar. Why?

2013 Nissan Friend-Me: www.goauto.com
2013 Nissan Friend-Me: http://www.goauto.com

Because it is actually glazed as opposed to being painted. And the graphics and panels are correctly related. I don’t mind this one at all. This is what Nissan says: “Combining striking design with an advanced premium interior, the Friend-Me concept car is a fascinating exploration of how the car of the future may Continue reading “More On C-Pillars But This One Is Good”

More Commercial Vehicle News

While we are on the topic of pick-up trucks, Nissan have something to say about their newish NP300 Navara.

2015 Nissan Navarra: nissan.co.uk
2015 Nissan NP 300 navara: nissan.co.uk

Nissan call it the ‘world’s best pick-up’ which is quite a claim. Many Ford F-150 owners might have another opinion on that. The Navara did manage to win the International Pick-Up of the Year award so that’s something, I suppose. The price for one of these is a bit north of Ford’s ranger, nearly £18,500. The Navara comes in five trim levels and comes with a double or king cab so it’s ready to Continue reading “More Commercial Vehicle News”

Something Rotten In Denmark: 1993 Nissan 100 NX 1.6 SLX

This is not so bad. And it’s cheap. It’s the Nissan 100 NX.

Typical dealer photo, with too much pavement. 1993 Nissan 100 NX: www.bilbasen.dk
Typical dealer photo, with too much pavement. 1993 Nissan 100 NX: www.bilbasen.dk

As with so many of these types of cars, they dissolve into obscurity and when you chance upon them they look much better than you remember them. We have discussed in these pages design rationalism of the French and German types. In the Nissan 100 NX we see some more of this. The way the shutlines and panel gaps are set up is very disciplined indeed. Look at the way the bonnet shutline goes without interruption from one side of the window base to the other. Continue reading “Something Rotten In Denmark: 1993 Nissan 100 NX 1.6 SLX”

Final Report : Nissan Cube

He’ll never lose it in a car park but, after 4 months, how is Sean’s relationship with his Cube going?

Street Cube

So, how does the Nissan Cube measure up to the classic Cubes of history. Rubik’s Cube, The OXO Cube, the Sugar Cube, the 1997 science-fiction film Cube and O’Shea Jackson, AKA Mr Ice Cube. Well, it has one thing in common with the last named in that it is not truly a 3D object bounded by six identical square faces. But is it in any way exceptional?
Continue reading “Final Report : Nissan Cube”

Something Rotten In Denmark: 1995 Nissan Maxima QX V6

There is one of these on sale in Denmark and the dealer does not know how to sell it. Look at these photos.

1995 Nissan Maxima, with the light coming from behind the car: bilbasen.dk
1995 Nissan Maxima, with the light coming from behind the car: bilbasen.dk

I wonder if is there money to be made in offering a photography service for cars? The seller is trying to flog this rather good car for about €7000 and has made every mistake possible in taking the photos. The photo above shows the car with the sun illuminating the side we can’t see. In this photo the car is just too damn big to Continue reading “Something Rotten In Denmark: 1995 Nissan Maxima QX V6”

The Forgotten Face of Nissan: 1995-2000 200 SX

While browsing through some old Autocars, I found a long-term test of the Nissan 200 SX. Hasn’t Nissan changed a lot since then?

1996 Nissan 200 SX. Rather unsettlingly, this is found at www.driftworks.com
1996 Nissan 200 SX. Rather unsettlingly, this is found at http://www.driftworks.com

The proportions are spot on and the pronounced boot is thrillingly conservative. Autocar complained the available volume was too small and the hinges intruded. They decided it was more of a GT than a sports car and who am I to disagree? I had utterly forgotten this car and indeed that side of Nissan that dared to Continue reading “The Forgotten Face of Nissan: 1995-2000 200 SX”

White Goods : Nissan Cube, Six Weeks On

I’ve now had my Nissan Cube for a month and a half. Any Regrets?

Cube & Van

In the spirit of our strapline, I’m presenting Part Two of The World’s Least Relevant Long Term Test, referring to a car that, although still apparently on sale in Japan, flopped in Europe and is no longer available in the USA. My Nissan Cube is a third series (Z11) example, a 2010 1.6 litre manual, petrol-engined Kaizen model in Pearl White. I bought it in June 2015 at just under 30,000 miles.

Why Did I Buy A Cube? Continue reading “White Goods : Nissan Cube, Six Weeks On”

Looking Back: 2001 Nissan Primera

I remember seeing the concept car upon which this car was based. They included it at the 2000 London Motor Show though it was originally unveiled in Paris. Nissan intended to make a car as bold as the previous version had been blandly, if neatly styled.

2001 Nissan Primera: autoevolution.com
2001 Nissan Primera: autoevolution.com

Automotive Intelligence said this: “The Fusion concept is based on an ambitious philosophy. The brief to the Nissan designers was to develop an innovative style which adds strong emotional involvement to the traditional technical excellence of Nissan’s products; and to integrate western taste and Japanese roots, interpreted in a modern and even futuristic way.” Continue reading “Looking Back: 2001 Nissan Primera”

A photo for Sunday – 1982 Nissan Cherry

There used to be a lot more of these sorts of cars in Denmark a decade ago.

1982 Nissan Cherry
1982 Nissan Cherry

Now they are rarer but here is a running and non-museum quality daily driver. I find such cars a puzzle as they are so unrelentingly charmless. What is about the car that means the driver keeps it going when a 12 year old Focus or 14 year old Polo can be had for about two weeks wages? Continue reading “A photo for Sunday – 1982 Nissan Cherry”

Theme: Evolution – 1985 Nissan Maxima 4DSC

Today the blogosphere is alive with comments about Nissan’s new Maxima, the one with the iffy decoration on the C-pillar.

1985 Nissan Maxima 4DSC: tomsforeign.com
1985 Nissan Maxima 4DSC: tomsforeign.com

Nissan has chosen to associate this new Maxima with the 4DSC tag, which means 4 Door Sports Car, a name which originated in 1985 with the Nissan Maxima 4DSC. What’s this got to do with evolution? It is more a case of a lack of evolution, at least in stylistic terms. It is not that the Maxima hasn’t changed but that it has had revolution not evolution. This lack of continuity from one generation to the next troubled me 25 years ago. I noticed Renault tended to Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – 1985 Nissan Maxima 4DSC”

Spot Check on the Motoring Press

A few months back Car magazine ran a very harsh review of the 2015 Nissan Pulsar. You can read the text here (undated) to see all that they said.

2015 Nissan Pulsar in Dig-T 115 Tekna X-tronic trim. Leather, autobox and alloys.
2015 Nissan Pulsar in Dig-T 115 Tekna X-tronic trim. Leather, autobox and alloys.

Ever since then I have been wondering how bad could it be so in the name of half-baked research I went to look at a real Pulsar but didn’t manage to actually drive it. Key to understanding the Pulsar is this part of the Car review: “The wheelbase of the Barcelona-built Pulsar, at 2.7 metres, is the longest in its class, no doubt helping the supple ride quality, and rear legroom (all 692mm of it) at least matches a Skoda Superb, and might even better it.”   Continue reading “Spot Check on the Motoring Press”

How Well is Nissan’s Pulsar Doing?

Not as well as the Qashqai but the Qashqai has outsold the Ford Focus in January 2015.

2015 Nissan Pulsar
2015 Nissan Pulsar

According to Nissan UK, the Qashqai cross-over/softroader has achieved sales of 19,500 units. The Pulsar has shifted 3,322 units in January. By comparison the Focus, (Ford’s evergreen mid-size family hatchback), does much better. Ford claim 14,500 vehicles sold. However, if we do not compare like with like, the Qashqai shows people are willing to stray out of the obvious categories when shopping for a mid-price, mid-sized car.

Some of those Qashqai buyers may very well have cross-shopped for a standard C-class car (Golf, Astra, Focus) as well as other soft-roader/crossovers. The Nissan costs £16,500 in the UK for a 1.6 litre model. A Focus begins at £16,445 (with a 1.0 litre Ecoboost) according to Car’s recent price list. CarBuyer claims it’s £1500 less and Ford UK says so too: £13,995. The Pulsar starts at £14,995.

With a generalising wave of the hand one can say these prices are not wildly dissimilar and once you’ve begun adding options and comparing non-quantitative elements, the distinction blurs to nearly nothing. Why did Car not list the lowest price Focus? (I looked in the January 2015 edition.)

We look forward to seeing how the Pulsar fares in what is a very competitive market sector. If sales drift along at 3000 units a month you might very well wonder if Nissan did not miscalculate with the Pulsar. I quite like the Pulsar’s no-nonsense “this is a car you can drive” approach but perhaps customers might want something more. A Qashqai, perhaps?

Interestingly, Renault are soon to offer their own entrant in what is Nissan’s most successful segment. Do they think they can add to the total number of cars sold or will they cannibalise sales? Will some people prefer to stay stuck in their meaningless ruts (that would be the Nissan buyers and everyone else) or will they go the Kadjar way and drive into a future of limitless freedom and soul-enriching self-empowerment?

2015-Renault-baptise-son-futur-crossover-Kadjar-343232

More Lost in Translation: 2016 Nissan Maxima

North American sports fans were treated to a look at the next Nissan Maxima during the Super Bowl intermission**. 

2015 Nissan Sport Sedan concept
2014 Nissan Sport Sedan concept

Many were impressed by the sentimental video and debate raged about the car’s overall style. Few disliked it. I noticed that a lot was lost in translation from the 2014 Nissan Sport Sedan concept to the 2016 car. Reminiscent of the Citroen Cactus concept car, the 2015 Nissan sport sedan concept had rather flashy glass work. The A-pillar was blacked out to look as if the glass of the windscreen Continue reading “More Lost in Translation: 2016 Nissan Maxima”

1985-1990 Nissan Sunny Estate

We were discussing design principles recently. Here’s a car that’s technically correct but unlike Audi fails to generate the slightest flicker of emotion or intellectual satisfaction. 

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I saw this Sunny parked near the Aixam Mega van. It’s neat and orderly. All the parts cohere in a professional way. Yet unlike an Audi of the same period there is missing an element to lift it above ordinary. Continue reading “1985-1990 Nissan Sunny Estate”

Japanese Limousine of the Day: Nissan President

From 1990 to 2002 this car represented the very best Nissan could be.

1990-2002 Nissan President
1990-2002 Nissan President

It’s the President. Like the Toyota Century the styling is very formal indeed. It has overtones of Jaguar XJ-40 and Chevrolet Caprice all fused in that unique way the Japanese have of synthesising. Since this version the President has lost its way and is now a variant of something also sold as an Infiniti. Continue reading “Japanese Limousine of the Day: Nissan President”

Theme : Dashboards – Japanese Prestige

I am indebted to Eóin for drawing my attention to the repugnant excess of the Mercedes S-class interior.

2015 Toyota Century interior (screen shot)
2015 Toyota Century interior (screen shot)

This has led me to Japan to investigate their approach to boardroom-level transport. Helping me along the way was an article at The Truth About Cars about the Tokyo car show of 1995 and a live web-page showing Nissan’s offerings then.

Apparently the web-page is still live, having been left running in all its 1995 glory these last 19 years. One of the cars on the list was the Nissan President of which I had Continue reading “Theme : Dashboards – Japanese Prestige”

Theme: Dashboards – 2011 Nissan Moco

A lot of expense can go a long way to making an uninteresting dashboard design seem acceptable.

2010 Nissan Moco: look at that cloth. It's brilliant.
2010 Nissan Moco: look at that cloth. It´s brilliant.

[Images courtesy of this excellent blog minimally minimal]

Soft touch plastics, chrome trim, lots of accessories: throw all that at some shapes and maybe the customer won’t notice how boring their car interior really is. The 2011 Nissan Moco is a kei-car and that means it’s small and cheap. The designers couldn’t use costly tricks and so did it the hard way: careful and creative styling.

Continue reading “Theme: Dashboards – 2011 Nissan Moco”

2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 Review

The received wisdom is that the Juke is an odd-looking vehicle with no obvious purpose. Is this true? I drove one in order to find out.

2011 Nissan Juke
2011 Nissan Juke

To avoid disappointing people I’ll get the driving stuff out of the way immediately. After three hours on a route that took me from Stansted Airport to almost exactly the dead centre of Britain I had covered every major road type available in England barring gravel and mud. On motorways the Juke in 1.6 litre flavour can keep up with traffic and proceed to license-losing speed and stay at that pace unbothered for as long as you care to Continue reading “2011 Nissan Juke 1.6 Review”

1967 Datsun 2000 De Luxe: Review

“Building on a new tradition!” In this item, we have something resembling a transcript of a 1967 review by Archie Vicar. He finds much that is agreeable.

1967 Datsun 2000 side
The 1967 Datsun 2000 De Luxe (also known as the Datsun Cedric) is one of Japan’s unsung landmarks.

By Archibald Vicar From “Today’s Driver”, November 1967. Photographs by Wentworth Henry. Owing to excessive camera-shake affecting the original images, stock photos have been used.

Rumours abound from the Midlands, such as rumours are, that Jaguar is considering replacements for the venerable, nay, antediluvian 240, 340 (née Mark 2), S-type, 420 (née S-type) and 420G (née Mark X) with a range of motor vehicles which will essentially depend on one single body. Our sources in Coventry hint that among the pressing reasons for this change is that nobody at Brown’s Lane understands which car is which or the purpose for which any of them are intended. Continue reading “1967 Datsun 2000 De Luxe: Review”

Theme : Cute – Farewell, My Cutie

“My Velma. She’s cute as lace pants”.

Figaro 02

Cute. I’d been hearing it a lot that day. Moose Molloy’s gaze shifted towards the window and his expression changed slowly. It was like watching a landscape erode but, after that eternity had passed, there was a big lake of a smile rippling across his face and, somehow, I knew I was going to hear that C word again.

“Hey Marlowe, is that cute pink Figaro outside yours?”

A guy like Moose was big enough not to need to humiliate you with your choice of wheels, but I thought it best to offer him some clarification.

Continue reading “Theme : Cute – Farewell, My Cutie”

Something Rotten […] in Denmark: 1973 Datsun 100A

It might not look dangerous but this car wiped out the dinosaurs.

1975 Datsun 100-A
What is significant about this car is not merely that it exists at all but that it inspired an unheard-of level of loyalty with its customers. Just as it was becoming apparent that buying European was not a guarantee of quality, the Japanese makers were beginning their exploration of exportation.

Continue reading “Something Rotten […] in Denmark: 1973 Datsun 100A”