It may look similar to other small cars of the 1930s, but the 1935 Datsun Type 14 is an unusual machine with a remarkable history and has just gone on show at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Type 14 marked the birth of the Japanese car industry and the company that became Nissan, though the car was never sold in the UK and this example was shipped from Japan to Britain by car manufacturing magnate Sir Herbert Austin to check every detail for possible patent infringement because the car looked similar to the Austin 7 Ruby.
No action was ever taken by the Austin Motor Company but the car was never registered for the road and was put into long-term storage.
Car-building giant Nissan can trace its history right back to this extraordinary little car. Today, many of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers are Japanese and huge numbers of cars built by Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Mazda, Suzuki and more can be found on roads across the globe.
The Nissan story starts in 1914, when a fledgling Japanese motor manufacturer launched its first car, named the DAT after the initials of the company’s three investors. By 1931, a new, but much smaller car was unveiled, and dubbed the ‘son of DAT’, or Datson. When this diminutive car went on sale the following year, its name was changed to Datsun, in honour of Japan’s rising sun symbol.
Type 14 of 1935 was the first mass-produced Datsun, starting the manufacturer on its way to producing millions of Datsuns and Nissans over the following decades.
With bodywork inspired by other European and American cars of the era, this compact saloon could propel four people at up to 51mph, owing to the 15bhp produced by its 747cc engine.
The Datsun Type 14 can now be seen in the National Motor Museum as part of a visit to the whole Beaulieu attraction, which includes On Screen Cars, the World of Top Gear, the 13th century Beaulieu Abbey and grounds and Palace House, which has been home to the Montagu family since 1538.
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