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Going Back to My Roots! – Maybe not such an odyssey
Before we delve into the ‘chasm’ that is the history and pedigree of the GT-R, I thought it prudent to shed a little light on the Japanese motoring history.
The first ever motor car to grace the shores of Japan came in the form of a four wheeled passenger car, presented to the then, Crown Prince Yoshihito as a gift in honour of his marriage. In a world where Rickshaws (which at the time were indigenous to Japan) and horse-drawn carts ruled the roads, a spark was ignited. For the Japanese, the motor-car was born. Four years later in 1904, and the first recorded domestic car in Japan (steam powered) was built. This was the 10 seater passenger ‘Yamaba’ Steam car. Torao Yamaba was commissioned to build this vehicle by a wealthy businessman from Okayama.
By 1907, the first gas powered car was produced in Japan and was called the Yoshida-shiki, more fondly and perhaps aptly nicknamed ‘Takuri’. So called by the locals for it’s clattering sound when it ran.
From the early 1900’s onwards, the Japanese soon became alive with their fascination of the auto mobile. Auto mobiles from Europe and the US were starting to populate the regions and although the production of Japanese vehicles was still in its early stages, small companies were starting to emerge. Young engineering students tinkering with cars and parts that had been imported into the country had set a trend in building what surely became a landmark for the future of the Japanese Auto mobile.
The Arrow, Otomo, Toyoda, Ohta and many other car makers soon became benchmarks in the history of the Japanese market. Datsun, who’s roots relate back to early 1900’s started out as the ‘Kwaishinsha Auto mobile Company’. Started by an American taught engineer called Masujiro Hashimoto, a car called the DAT model 31 had emerged. The DAT name, most likely generated from the three company backers at the time, namely Kejiro Den, Rokuru Aoyama, and Meitaro Takeuchi were the beginnings of the commonly known ‘Datsun’ range, then at the time called “Datson”. In 1930, the DAT company were bought out by the Tobato Imono Company, and it was then that the president of ‘TIC’ (Yoshusike Ayukawa) changed the ‘son’ to ‘sun’ to honour the sun in their National flag. By 1933 when the Auto mobile laws changed, engines up to 750cc were available. In the same year, TIC merged with the Nihon Sangyo Company and started producing cars briefly under the name of Jidosha Seizo. By the following year this was again changed to ‘Nissan Motor Company’. The ‘Ni-san’ coming from how the Nihon Sanyo Company was known on the stock market.
Meanwhile, in other quarters of the Auto mobile industry, the war had raged, taken it’s toll, and an emergence of re-organised, rebuilt companies had reared their heads. The Prince Motor Company (formerly the Tachikawa Aircraft Company) responsible for the Zero fighter planes of WW2 , had started producing premium quality sedan cars.
In 1952, came the Prince Sedan AISH-2 . Named the ‘Prince’ in honour of the then newly crowned Prince Akihito, this Sedan was designed and built in just a year. First exhibited at the 1954 Tokyo Motor Show, the young Crown Prince took a liking to the car. Even back then the technology of the auto mobile was making fast progress. This Sedan was the first of any Japanese car to feature a syncromesh mechanism on several gears other than first or second.
The company name changed several times before residing back to the Prince Motor Company in 1961. By 1966, Nissan had taken over, although to this day, the Prince name still exists within the Nissan Dealership Network.
So there we are, until the next instalment. A somewhat simplified and very shortened journey to the birthplace of a pedigree we have all come to love and cherish……………..until,next time!!