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Datsun Type 14: A small car with a big history

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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 it has just gone on show at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

The 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.

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.

Decades later, with the help of Nissan Europe, this historically significant but barely used car is now part of the National Motor Museum collection.

Car-building giant Nissan can trace its history right back to this extraordinary little car.

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.

The 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.

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