Mrs Ratdat has done well for cars in the last year or so and now has more rides to choose from then me. First I gave her a lovely little 1979 Daihatsu Charade XTE for Christmas ’06 and then during summer ’07, I built this mildly modified 1983 Datsun Cherry N12 for her as an everyday car. The car was smoothed off but removing the locks, badges and rubbing strips and repainted in the original red. The glass was lightly tinted and few customs touches added to the inside. Finally, a healthy drop on some old school Cosmic alloy wheels. When it was done, she decided the Cherry was too nice for every day duties so we got another one of her favorites, a 1984 Mazda 323 GT (BD model) . So now she has three nice cars… all roadworthy too. Well, whilst it’s in nice shape, the GT still needs a bit of work doing and in light of the rarity of it being a GT version, we decided she should after all use the Cherry every day and limit the mileage the GT does so as to preserve it better.
I have previously mentioned the excellent magazine that the guys over at Japanese Nostalgic Car have put together. Well, it’s finally ready to roll and what’s more it’s available for international subscribers. At only $19.99 for a years subscription (that’s four issues) to readers here in the UK, it’s an absolute bargain! You pay that for a car magazine here anyway so what are you waiting for? Get on over to Japanese Nostalgic Car and subscribe today!
The Violet has never been a terribly popular subject for model manufacturers and this is no exception in the world of plastic model kits. Whilst on the surface it might seem there is a reasonable number of kits of both the 710 Violet and later A10 in both Violet and Auster form, there really are very few. Most kits are simply reissues of previous kits and as such the quality of the later version has become somewhat diminished. Here we’ll take a look at what is available, starting with the 710 model. With the 710, like so many other Nissan’s, only the hardtop coupe version ever seems to be the subject of models. There are only a couple of kits of the KP710 currently available.
For as long as cars have been around there has been a market for accessories for the enthusiastic motorist, who would attempt to individualize his or her chosen means of transport with all manner of bolt on goodies. This is the same the world over and aftermarket accessories were as readily available here in the UK from your local dealer as they were in Japan, Australia and the States, although it has to be said, often not quite in the same quantity or variety. All Datsun dealers through the 1970’s and early 1980’s had on offer an array of items from the practical, such as seat covers, air conditioning and driving lights, to products for those who wanted to really customise their ride such as stripes, chrome trim and alloy wheels . Aftermarket parts was big business and a great deal of time was put into thinking up new ideas for saleable accessories, particularly in the Japanese market where a bewildering array of parts was available. The American market catered for every model in the lineup with a selection of parts suited to each as seen in this selection from 1979…
I’m posing this question in order to maybe shed a little light on the whereabouts of a couple of unusual Japanese spec Nissan hardtop coupes which appeared in the UK nearly ten years ago, only to disappear again, seemingly without trace. These cars were at one time in the Datsun Owners Club and one of them even appeared at a car show, but little has been seen or heard of them since. If you know anything about the whereabouts of any of these cars, or even if you own one of them, I’d be very happy to hear from you!
First up is this extremely rare C230 Laurel two door hardtop. These were never sold in the UK and this particular one was pictured in the Datsun Owners Club magazine back in 1999. At the time it belonged to John Gorman or Cleveland and was rumoured to have been a Hong Kong police courtesy car before being imported to the UK in 1981. A quick search on the DLVA’s website reveals that the road tax last expired at the end of May 2003 and it’s not market as exported, so where is it now?
Second is a car that put in an appearance at the Japanese Auto Extravaganza at Northampton back in 1998. This 330 Cedric two door hardtop is almost certainly the only one in the UK and is still out there somewhere. A DVLA check reveals it to be currently taxed until the end of August 2008 so it’s clearly still in use. It would be great to find out where this car is now and what sort of condition it’s in, ten years later. If you are the proud owner of this Cedric then drop me a line!
The pictures are actually quite old but interesting none the less. They were sent to me by a good friend who visited Majorca on holiday and show, in only a few pictures the amazing diversity of old Japanese cars there. The sad, vandalised Skyline is a real rarity being a short wheelbase C10 model fitted with a 1815cc G18 engine, hence the 180K badging. The 620 looks to be in quite remarkable shape considering how battle-scarred the smaller Sunny pickup is. 620’s were horribly rust prone so it’s no surprise very few remain in the UK. The two non Nissan vehicles pictured are a late 1970’s Subaru Rex and, amazingly, a Mazda T2000 three wheel truck which dates back to the mid 1950’s. This is probably the first picture I have seen of one of these outside of Japan. Just seeing these few make me wish for a holiday there myself!
I have had some enquiries as to what has happened to all of the old content that featured on Ratdat.com before it’s re-birth into a blog format. Well, initially I just wiped everything off the server to make it easy to start afresh with the new site but I still have all the data and will be restoring it to the site occasionally, along with all the new stuff.
I’ll start by re-posting some pictures that were one of the earliest things to be seen on Ratdat.com back in 2000. Back then we decided to welcome the new millennium in unconventional fashion by flying out to Egypt. We were stood in the desert in front of the great pyramids on the stroke of midnight as the year 2000 was ushered in to the strains of Jean Michel Jarre’s spectacular performance of “The Twelve Dreams of the Sun”. Memorable, I can assure you! We stayed in an around Cairo for ten days and like any good car freak, a good proportion of the sight seeing was of things on four wheels.
I have previously made mention of Nissan’s curious partnership with Alfa Romeo before on this site when I finally managed to acquire one of the unloved products that emerged from this tie-up, a Nissan Cherry Europe GTi. But the Cherry Europe was only part of the story as elsewhere in Europe the same line of models (the 920 series) was marketed by Alfa Romeo themselves as the ARNA. The model would most likely have been entirely sold as Alfa Romeos, had their UK importer not decided that the ARNA was too downmarket for their image in the UK, which meant the cars were adorned with Nissan badging and sold through Nissan UK dealers. UK Alfa Romeo dealers were not happy though, as they jealously watched Nissan dealers chalk up sales on a model they rightly saw as their own, and at the same time had no small model of their own to sell.
It seems every Car Graphic publication I come across is incredibly comprehensive and excellent value and this new set of books on Japanese Showcars displayed at the Tokyo Motorshow down the years is no exception. The series is divided into four parts covering the periods from 1954-1969 in part one, 1970-1979 in part two, then 1981-1989 for part three and finally 1990-1999 in part four. Each book runs to around 150-170 pages with hundreds of black and white and colour photographs of cars from all Japanese manufacturers. So far I have picked up the first two volumes and can say they are well worth getting hold of, particularly as although they are a Japanese publication, they also have plenty of text in English. All the usual concepts and showcars were are familiar with are covered, but also a great many that are all but unheard of. Also, many of the photographs of well known Nissan concepts such as the 126X, 216X and 270X are ones I have not seen before and include some engine bay and interior shots. If you don’t have a supplier of Japanese books and magazines locally then you should be able to find these books available on eBay without too much difficulty.
That American engineer being one William R. Gorham, a man who was hugely influential in the development of Nissan Motor Company in it’s early days and well as helping many other Japanese companies such as Hitachi and Canon to become the successes they are today. His extraordinary life makes a fascinating subject, one which you can now read about for yourself in his biography, translated from it’s original Japanese by his son Don Cyril Gorham. This book is a comprehensive and extremely interesting read and a must for anyone interested in the history of Nissan and Japanese industry. The book contains not only a good deal of information about Nissan and Gorhams work there but also his work with Tobata Imono, Toa denki, Hitachi and Fuji Motors as well as his own Gorham Engineering Company (GECO). It follows his life from his childhood In America, through his life in Japan in the early years of the 20th century and during the war to his short illness and untimely death at the age of 61.