Over the years, Nissan has had several agreements and with other car manufacturers but one of the most important to the company’s development was their deal with Austin of England in the 1950’s. All Japanese motor manufacturers were looking towards British cars at that time as their designs were better suited to Japans narrow roads and post war lack of materials and fuel than American cars. Several other companies eventually had tie-ups with European manufacturers, most notably Hino who assembled Renault 4CV’s and Isuzu who built the Hillman Minx. The Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) who had been formed in 1949 had placed severe restrictions on overseas imports and on foreign investment to help rebuild Japan’s manufacturing after the war. These limitations meant that for foreign manufacturers, the only way to get their cars into the Japanese market was to have some kind of tie-up with a Japanese manufacturer.
“Datsun made Austin 7’s under licence”
I don’t know how many times I have heard this one but it’s certainly very common. I’ve read it in the media countless times and even heard it from Datsun enthusiasts on numerous occasions. It is however, quite untrue! So where could it have come from? Somewhere along the line, somebody got things mixed up and this myth has existed ever since. I have a couple of theories that may shed a little light on it.
First, a little background. The first DAT vehicles were designed by Hashimoto Masujiro around 1913-1914 but the first Datsun (or Datson as it was initially known) of 1931 was the work of Goto Takashi, who later became a managing director of Nissan. This was the Type 10 which was replaced by the Type 11 as a production model. The Type 14 which replaced it was a development of this original car. The Type 11 maybe did bear a passing resemblence to the Austin 7 but then so did most small cars of the period.