Nissan Day @ Donington park 2014
Nissan GB exclusively hired the Launch pad site at Donington park for the first Nissan Day, to promote the Nissan brand. An invite was sent out to a number of Nissan car clubs including Nissan drift cars giving passenger rides, New model displays and electric vehicles.
Typically high performance vehicles would be the main draw, but Nissan had also taken into account their Datsun heritage, as well as the Renault connections. A select number of De Lorean cars were also invited.
550bhp Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, winner of two major championships in 2015 by securing the Blancpain Endurance PRO Cup and Super GT GT300 wins.
On a similar thread but on another theme the Nissan Zeod, capable of reaching speeds of above 300 km/h and completed a lap at Le Mans using electric power only.
Nissan were keen to push the performance and sporting qualities of the brand, and surprised guests with this KPGC10 Nissan Skyline GT-R.
Other Skyline and Skyline derived cars were also complementing the KPGC10.
As well as the usual new model Z, Skyline and GTR clubs, Datsun Club UK displayed an impressive and varied line up of cars, each one significant for helping the brand become well known in the UK.
Imports started in 1968, with this red B10 1000 Sunny being the very first car to be registered by Datsun UK.
This important little car was imported in June 1968, along with the larger 510 Bluebird, it helped established the brand as a maker of well designed and thought-out cars. This particular 1000 was sold by the first Datsun dealer, AF Tann in Surrey – where it remained until 2001 as a showroom piece.
Selling on the virtues of a good level of standard equipment, such as reclining seats, tinted glass and 2 speed wipers, the Datsun brand soon started to attract sales and by 1972 – just 4 years after the first car, Datsun became the biggest importers of cars into the UK.
The 1000 was the first of a long line of Sunny models to be imported to the UK and became a best seller, these B10 models were not sold in huge numbers but its successor, the 1200 soon became a familiar sight in the UK.
The replacement 1200 model was introduced in 1970 and soon became common sights on UK roads and with the smaller 100A Cherry contributed towards Nissan’s early success.
By the mid-70’s Datsun cars were very common, and the range offered a car for every budget and specification. Each model were sold with the similar typical traits such as ease of driving, decent levels of equipment, immediate availability and total reliability.
The brand continued into the 80’s with continued success, despite the import quotas applied to Japanese cars in an attempt to preserve the dying British car manufacturers.
More information about Datsuns in the UK can be read here
The brand was renamed back to the parent company name, Nissan in 1983 and all imported cars from that point were known as Nissan. In 1986 Nissan GB selected a UK location to assemble their new T72 Bluebird models. Eventually the plant in Washington, in the North East became a self contained manufacturing plant and exported cars into Europe.
An interesting anomaly in the Nissan story is the Nissan Cherry Europe. Prior to the British built Bluebirds and Primera, Nissan teamed up with Alfa Romeo to build and sell a modified version of the N12 Nissan Cherry. Nissan sold both both Japanese and Italian Cherrys in their showrooms, with the Italian designed car badged as the Nissan Cherry Europe.
Alfa Romeo needed a car to replace their Alfasud, and Nissan were keen to increase sales in Europe. However, the range of 3 and 5 door hatchbacks were unsuccessful, the poor Italian build quality and conservative styling meant that the venture came to an end after only 4 years. There was a suggestion had it been more successful other models could have been designed.
This example is a genuine rarity as so few are know to exist in the world, more so in this condition. Despite its similar appearance to the standard (and relatively more common N12 Nissan Cherry) it shared very few external panels and is to all extent and purposes, an Alfa Romeo not a Nissan.
Nissan GB were also keen to provide high octane thrills, and offered high speed dashes in a number of GTR and Skyline models, but also allowed visitors to experience drifting. The Drifting scene arrived from Japan in the late 90’s, with RWD sports Nissan cars being commonly associated with the scene.
As well as Nissan themed vehicles, several examples of Nissans global partner Renault were on display as well as a selection of the recognisable De Lorean.