Datsun to Make Comeback

I found this on forbes.com. I can’t tell you how excited I am by this. Growing up we had a ’78 280ZX 2+2 similar to the below picture.

If you were a car buff in the 60s and 70s, or love that era, you know about Datsun. And soon, a new generation of buyers overseas will know it, too.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Well, before there was Toyota, there was Datsun. Its first cars went on sale in Japan in 1931, a half a decade before Toyota’s.

Datsun was  a key part of the global car market until 1986, when Datsun’s owner, Nissan Motor Company, controversially scrapped the brand name in favor of its own.

But Datsun is now set to make a comeback.

Nissan said Tuesday that it will revive the Datsun name on a line of inexpensive small cars that will be sold in India, Indonesia and Russia. The announcement was made by Nissan/Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn, during a visit to Jakarta. Ghosn plans for Datsun to become Nissan’s third global brand, along with Nissan and Infiniti.

an orginal 1971 Datsun 240ZAn orginal 1971 Datsun 240Z (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By sticking to new models for emerging markets, Nissan most likely can avoid the headaches that it encountered in the United States when Datsun was shown the door in 1981.

Nissan’s decision to rename Datsun as Nissan is considered one of the most memorable brand moves in auto industry history. By then, Datsun had been on the market in the U.S. since 1958, when Nissan sent a pair of executives over to help build sales and brand recognition.

Like Toyota, Datsun got off to a slow start, but it gained followers through the fuel efficient B-210 compact (sold as the Bluebird overseas) and the Z sports car, still considered a classic. Its high-powered fans included Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who even appeared in a Datsun commercial.

So it was a shock to many owners when the company began the task of converting its American dealerships and badges to Nissan. It was a name well-known in Japan, where its parent company was an industrial powerhouse.

Nissan had little resonance in the U.S., however, and the switch caused tons of confusion among American car buyers, and it took years for people to become accustomed to saying Nissan. Some analysts believe the move probably cost Nissan valuable time in competing with Toyota and Honda.

Depending on how well the new Datsuns do, they could be sold in European and UK markets, but there are no plans for now to put them on sale in the U.S.

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