How did Datsun become Nissan?

26. March 2019 12:13 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Those of us of a certain age will remember that the brand name Nissan was unheard of, and Datsun was synonymous with small Japanese cars. However, there is a substantial history to both companies. Datsun itself was founded in 1911. Part of the name, DAT, comes from the company founders. Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama, and Meitaro Takeuchi. Mergers and minor name changes occurred, and in 1931, produced a car called Datson, son literally in the sense of meaning “son of DAT”. These were built at a time where cars with a certain engine size could be driven without the need for a license. However, as son may also mean “loss” in Japanese, it was changed to Datsun. Nissan was founded in 1928, as a holding company named Nihon Sangyo, with the company governing manufacturers such as Hitachi and, crucially, Tobata Casting. The conglomerate was known as Zaibatsu. Ni and San came from the Nihon Sangyo names and were quickly joined to become the name Nissan. Datsun itself had been merged with another company, Tobata Casting, in 1933. This gave rise to both brands expanding, with Nissan hitting the American market soon after. It was 1934 that saw Yoshisuke Aikawa, the founder of Nihon Sangyo, created a separate automotive parts division of Tobata Casting. This was called the Nissan Motor Company Limited. Prior to WW2, Datsun’s passenger car manufacturing was expanding well, however the Japanese-Chinese war saw Datsun manufacturing mainly trucks for the Japanese Army. A need for cheap cars was seen after WW2 and both companies would soon be heavy hitters in this market. Cars such as the Patrol, the 240Z, and Bluebird came into being. Nissan entered the US market in the late 1950s and sold cars under the Datsun brand name. It’s about here that Nissan saw Australia as a potentially untapped small car market also. The same was occurring in Europe and the U.K., with small cars such as the Sunny and Cherry gaining a strong market share. This came at the same time that British Leyland’s manufacturing woes saw their products not regarded as reputable. It appears that the merge and rebranding of Datsun into Nissan was due to some internal politicking and a desire to have a “one brand” presence. It was in the first half of the 1980s that the rebranding was undertaken, with a rumoured cost of US$30 million at the time to change signs at dealerships whilst other associated costs such as manufacturing plant changes totaled over a half billion. Datsun as a brand was resurrected in 2012 for low cost cars in just a few regional markets such as Indonesia and Russia. What is your favourite Datsun? Let us know in the comment section below this article on Facebook. 

Rare Spares D’Alberto Car Collection

With great wealth comes great responsibility. That’s what Bill Gates said. He should know, having been one of the all time wealthiest people. But define wealth? Is it purely a monetary value? Or can it be a little philosophical and be of something untouchable, like the love a parent has for a child? Perhaps that wealth can be something others covet and envy. If it’s this, then the D’Alberto family certainly had wealth. This came in the form of a collection of motor vehicles that, in some cases, had barely a thousand kilometers worth of driving. The Echuca, Victoria, based family owned a car dealership group, spread across four locations in Victoria and New South Wales, and had amassed a considerable amount of cars over the past decades, including a 1927 Chevrolet ute, a 1927 Buick Tourer, a 1921 Model T Ford, and an absolute gem in the shape of a 1988 VL Walkinshaw Group A SS. Build number 333, if you don’t mind. Never registered it had still somehow covered some kilometers, but just 1308 of them. Part of the collection of cars that was auctioned off by Mildura based auction house Burns & Co, its new owner handed over $305,000 plus auction fees. The auction itself wasn’t just about moving rolling metal however. Plenty of boxes full of marketing material and posters were available, such as the evolution of Holden from the 1960s to the 1970s, Peter Brock and Holden Racing Team items, driving lights, user manuals for vehicles, trim pieces, and spare parts. It’d be fair to say, however, that it was the astounding collection of cars being offered that attracted the most eyeballs. Cars such as a 48/215, a Corvette Stingray, even a Sydney Olympic Torch Relay fitted out Commodore were there for the asking. A 48 year old LC Torana GTR went for an eyewatering $165,000, a similarly aged HT Monaro with a naturally aspirated 5.0L engine lightened the wallet for $170,00, while some more modern muscle in the form of a 1992 VN Group A SS saw $210,000 against its name. The D’Alberto brothers certainly had an eye for quality and made sure that as many as possible of the cars were in as best a condition as possible. Hence the responsibility part of the opening quote. A quick look through the online catalogue showcases shiny and well maintained cars, including a lovely 1970 Monaro GTS with a 186ci straight six cylinder. With the speedo reading just 313 miles travelled, it sold for $240,000. Do you have your own piece of Australian motoring history in your garage? Tell us about your pride and joy in the comments section on our Facebook page. Keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of Rare Spares by following us on social media, and by tracking news via our blog.

Rare Spares Holden Torana GTR-X Concept Car

Holden has a very strong history when it comes to designing and engineering concept cars. Of recent years there’s the immaculate Efijy, and the reborn Monaro. Both two door cars, interestingly enough, as two other concept cars were also two doors. There’s the Hurricane, and the Torana GTR-X. The latter came oh so close to being put into production, and the chassis itself was based on the LC Torana XU-1. The low slung, fibreglass bodied, slinky looking, machine even had the same engine, the then potent 186S. Exterior design was eye catching, with a long bonnet that started with a flat, shovel-like nose, pop up headlights, a steeply raked windscreen, and a sharp tail with hockey stick tail lights. These were design elements that were later seen in two of Italy’s best from Ferrari and Maserati. Inside the cabin featured laid back bucket seats, milled aluminuim sheeting, a plethora of gauges for oil temp and pressure and the like, and a short throw gear selector for the four speed manual. That was connected to the straight six which produced 119kW and 265Nm. They’re hardly groundbreaking numbers now but for a car built in 1970 that weighed under 1050kg, they provided more than enough punch. Unique at the time were the disc brakes to be found at each corner. It’s unclear exactly how many versions were built; some say three, some say four, but it’s known that just one example of what could have been an inspirational car survives. Holden has a museum at its Melbourne based headquarters, where the sole survivor lives in cosseted luxury. Why wasn’t it ever sold? The population of Australia in 1970 was just over twelve million and Holden’s numbers indicated that wasn’t enough to justify what would potentially be a low volume seller. Considering how well received the Datsun 240Z was when it was released just a year before, and how it’s perceived still after nearly fifty years, one could say this was a somewhat shortsighted view. Have you seen the Holden Torana GTR-X? What do you think of the car? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Aussie Motorsport Classic: The Channel 9 Camaro

October 3, 1982. Reid Park, Mount Panorama, Bathurst. Lap 27. Kevin Bartlett. Camaro. A time, location and car that are forever etched into Australian motorsport history. KB is up with the leaders in the famous Bathurst 1000 when one of a batch of fourteen wheels the team had bought for the Camaro fails. It’s the rear left. Instantly, the tyre deflates, pitching the Channel 9 branded car’s rear into the concrete safety wall. The left front bounces off as the nose swings around and it’s just on a right hand curve on an uphill run. Unsettled, there’s momentum enough to cause the Camaro to roll over to the right, landing on its roof. The car skids to the other side of the track and quickly a trackside official is there to assist a shaken Bartlett out of the inverted Camaro. He’s ok, points at the clearly ruined wheel and tyre, and walks into the crowd. In context, it was a miracle that Bartlett and the Channel 9 sponsored car were in the race at all. In practice just a couple of days before, co-driver Colin Bond was at the wheel when a ball joint nut on the front left wishbone came adrift. The front left suspension collapsed and flung the corner into the wall. The location? Almost exactly where the wheel would fail two days later. As KB says: “it was a miracle that my crew and the TAFE smash repair team had it back together in time for qualifying.” However, there’s more to the story in getting the car on track in the first place. Bartlett bought the car, a brand new 1978 built machine, from an American dealership and imported the car into Australia. The intent was to race it in what was then the Group C regulations. Once the car landed, Bartlett says, a lot of work was needed to get the car down to the weight as stipulated. The leaf spring suspension was replaced with fibreglass units, super strong Kevlar for the front guards and spoilers, but CAMS insisted that the car use drum brakes at the rear, instead of the optional disc brakes. In case you’re wondering why the car looks different to a 1978 model, it’s because CAMS also said the car had to run with bodywork from the ’74 to ’77 models. Bartlett still shakes his head in disbelief. But there was a hidden benefit as it turned out. The earlier bumpers were aluminium, not steel… Is the Channel 9 Camaro your favourite Aussie Motorsport classic? Or maybe you're a GTHO or Torana sort of person? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and tell us about your favourite cars to hit the Australian motorsport scene!

A Look at Australia’s best Hillclimbs

Hill climbs are about as old as five minutes after the first time a bloke strapped on a horse, saw a slope, and thought “my nag can get up that”. Then the car came along and nothing changed except the bit the human was attached to. What’s a hillclimb? Hillclimb is a speed event, where one car and driver runs over a defined uphill winding course, from a standing start, against the clock.  In competition, cars are classified into categories so as to have cars of like potential performance competing against each other. Australia has a pretty strong history when it comes to hillclimb events and although there’s a few roads around that would be great as a hillclimb, such as Brown Mountain near Bega, there’s other, more established, runs around the country.   New South Wales It should go without saying that perhaps the Mt Panorama racetrack is also home to hillclimbing. Run in reverse direction (clockwise) to traditional motorsport when heading up towards The Esses (750m), or normal direction using Mountain Straight (1300m), it’s an opportunity for competitors to hillclimb Australia’s best known racing circuit.   Queensland Perhaps the best known hillclimb track in the north eastern corner of Australia is the Mount Cotton site. Owned and operated by the MG Car Club of Queensland it’s been in operation since 1968. A 50th anniversary run was held on the 18th of February and featured legendary Australian racing driver Dick Johnson unveiling a commemorative plaque.   Victoria There’s a number of hillclimbs to choose from here, with hillclimbvic.com.au a great place to visit to find out more. Bryant Park, in Yallourn, just north-west of Traralgon, is run by the Gippsland Car Club. It’s a tight, twisty, 1300 metre long track and has hosted the Australian Hillclimb Championship three times. The Rob Roy Hillclimb in Christmas Hills is another spectacular burst through the hills. Now owned by the MG Car Club of Victoria, Rob Roy was the host of the very first Australian Hillclimb Championship way back in 1938!   Western Australia North of Perth is the former Wanneroo Park Raceway, now known as Barbagallo Raceway. It’s home to the 1350m Jack’s Hill Hillclimb and is run by the Vintage Sports Car Club of W.A. 2017 saw Marcel Every race his Formula Toyota to a time of 50.01 seconds, in a car that he bought from third place getter, the appropriately named Ray Ferrari. Although not the tallest of climbs the amount of turns make this a challenging piece of road.   South Australia There’s the Barossa Valley in South Australia, famed for its wine and there’s the Collingrove Hillclimb track. Located approximately sixty kilometers north west, of Adelaide in Angaston, Collingrove has been running since 1952 and is owned and operated by the Sporting Car Club of South Australia. Drivers such as Norm Beechey have competed here. There’s nine turns along the shortish 750 metres of tarmac, yet rises an amazing 70 metres, The quickest time was set in 2014 by Brett Hayward, with a mere 25.15 seconds under the tyres. Collingrove hosted the Australian Hillclimb Championship in 2017.   Tasmania The North West Car Club hosts the Barrington Hillclimb. Complete with 31 bends over a 2.3 kilometre distance it’s a relatively new entry to the hillclimb runs for Australia. Have you ever competed in a hillclimb event? We’d love to see the cars you’ve competed in! Upload a photo of your hillclimbing weapon into the comments section below this blog on the Rare Spares Facebook Page.

Future Classics – 5 Australian cars with investment potential

It seems to be every couple of weeks we hear of a mint condition A9X Torana, Monaro or GT-HO hitting the market for a monumental price, and they don’t seem to be having many issues finding a new home. So, with the Australian car manufacturing industry officially closed for business, which cars of more recent years will replace the classics of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s in another 50 years’ time? Well, in this article we take a look back at the cars produced in Australia since the turn of the century, and create a very short list of cars that might just be considered a classic in the future. Ford Falcon FGX XR8 Sprint The FGX XR8 Sprint was the most powerful Falcon ever produced, thanks to a 10 second overboost feature that elevated power specs from 335kw/570nm to a mammoth 400Kw/650Nm in short bursts. It was a final farewell for a model that had a long and illustrious history on both public roads and the race track. The final Falcon was a fantastic representation of what the Australian car manufacturing industry was capable of; not only was the car blisteringly fast, it was comfortable, looked good inside and out and rivalled many of its European counterparts in refinement. It will hardly be a surprise when the value of this car increases over time. Holden CV8Z Monaro The CV8Z Monaro was the final offering of the reincarnated Holden Monaro in the 2000s. It featured a beefed up 5.7 litre LS1 producing an impressive (for the time) 260kw. While the car was essentially a coupe version of the SS Commodore, the more compact appearance made the Monaro appear a considerably more sporty option than its full sized brother. Prices are already rising on good condition CV8Z’s, with the 6-speed manuals the pick of the transmissions. HSV GTSR Maloo The HSV GTSR Maloo is the fastest V8 Ute in the world, and as such will hold a special place in the heart of local car enthusiasts for many years to come. Truly one of a kind, the supercharged V8 ute features a host of goodies including 20inch forged alloy wheels, oversized brakes, bi modal exhaust, an impressive suspension setup and a torque vectoring differential. All these goodies result in a ute that stands out from the pack, creating a monster that looks just as home on the worksite as it does cutting laps at a track day. A cult favourite among young males, the Maloo will remain a desirable purchase for the foreseeable future. Ford Tickford TS50 T3 In general, the AU Falcon was not a terribly attractive car, and thus nor was it a terribly popular car, so by the time the BA come along most were happy to see the back of the oddly proportioned AU. The shining light, however, of the AU range was undoubtedly the Tickford enhanced range of TE50, TS50 and to a lesser extent TL50 Falcons. The pick of the bunch was the TS50 T3, which featured a hand built 5.6 litre V8, lowered suspension, and an all at the same time outlandish but understated body kit. While power may have been down compared to its direct competition – the HSV Clubsport; an absurd amount of torque ensured that in real world situations, the TS50 could bat well above its average. While the AU may not be popular across the board, among die hard Ford fans, it doesn’t get a lot better than this! HSV W1 GTRS How could we end this list with anything other than the W1? Less than a year since it was announced, all 300 have been snapped up and the prices are blowing out on the open market, with some selling for around a hundred grand over their $169,000 asking price! With the Corvette ZR1 derived LS9 and performance mods everywhere you look, this car is a true track monster, producing an enormous 474Kw and 814Nm. Expect to see a number of these HSV’s tucked away under wraps, only to surface many decades from now with a truly ridiculous price tag. Do you have any cars that you think should be on this list? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.

Buyer Beware - Asbestos in Imported Classic Cars

Thinking of importing a much loved car (or motorcycle) from overseas? It might be worth taking a bit of time to weigh up the risks associated with such an investment before pulling the trigger. In 2017 Australian Border Force intercepted roughly 50 cars and motorcycles that contained traces of the potentially toxic substance, asbestos. Among those a host of classics, including a Jaguar E-Type, a Shelby GT350 Mustang, a Rolls Royce and a Bentley S3. While the cost of importing these classic cars in the first place is hardly a cheap affair, the real costs begin to add up once asbestos has been found. In Australia, since 2003 a total ban has been placed on the toxic substance and individual importers face fines of up to $3000 per offence. Removal of the asbestos effected parts is then the sole responsibility of the individual with costs for some reportedly blowing out to north of $20,000! The most common affected areas are brake pads, clutch linings and gaskets on specifically older makes and models of cars and motorcycles, so your new Right Hand Drive converted F150 Raptor is unlikely to face any issues. Imports are chosen at random for in depth asbestos testing, with microscopic analysis performed by an occupational hygienist. Australian Authorities are suggesting a thorough inspection of the vehicle before it leaves its country of origin to ensure nothing makes it through to Australian shores where it is almost certain to catch the attention of customs. So do your research on asbestos and save yourself a heap of time, effort and money before you import a classic car from overseas. Do you have your eye on an international classic? Or do you have your own import horror story to report? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Rare Spares Summernats 31 Wrap-up

Summernats 31 came to an end after four days of tyre shredding action in Canberra on Sunday 7th January. A huge success, this year’s Summernats drew in an incredible crowd of 105,000 and a total of 2,105 vehicle entrants – one of the festivals greatest turnouts in its long and illustrious history.   “We saw fantastic cars, fantastic behaviour, a great program of events and despite the extreme weather that we have experienced here, our health and safety team worked diligently to make sure our all of our patrons came and went home safely,” said Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez.   The most prestigious award at Summernats is the Grand Champion and for 2018 the honour was awarded to Grant Connor and his spectacular maroon coloured 1967 Ford Falcon, impressing the judges for its near perfection in all areas of design and performance. For owner Grant, it was a special moment.   “What an unbelievable feeling. I never imagined I would ever win Grand Champion. I was hoping for a couple of smaller awards, but this is surreal. I have to thank my family and partner for all of their support.” For Rare Spares, the event was a huge weekend and a massive success! Offering 20% of all orders placed and paid for at the stand, the Rare Spares Traders Pavilion was abuzz with punters for the duration of the four days.   Headlining promotions for Rare Spares at the event was our ‘Rare Experience’ promotion, which will give winners the ultimate motorsport weekend at the 2018 Adelaide 500 in March! To enter, patrons were given a key by the Rare Spares girls at gate 7, which was to be taken to the Rare Spares pavilion where the keys could be entered into a lock. If the key unlocked the lock, then the patron was awarded a prize. The lucky winner of the Rare Experience was D.Clark from South Australia, who can’t wait for their ‘money can’t buy’ experience.   Once again proving itself as the nation’s best automotive festival, Summernats will return in early 2019 for the 32nd time, and at Rare Spares, we’re already counting down the days!   Were you at Summernats 31? We’d love to hear your stories, head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know about your Summernats in the comments section below.

John Bowe 2017 Touring Car Masters season review

Rare Spares Brand Ambassador and our long-time friend John Bowe has just wrapped up his 2017 Touring Car Masters campaign at the Newcastle 500 over the weekend. In what was a hard fought series Bowe and his Torana SL/R 5000 spent many rounds at the front of the pack and even led the series coming in to the final round. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as he could do little to stop the hard charging Steve Johnson on the tight streets of Newcastle’s East End. In this week’s blog, we’ll take a quick look at Bowe’s incredible season. The 2017 TCM season kicked off way back in March at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, and for Bowe the season started with a bang. Bowe was challenged early in both races 1 & 2 before recording victory in both, while a 6th in race 3 was enough to guarantee him the round victory. Round 2 at Winton saw one of the biggest accidents in the category’s history and unfortunately Bowe was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Race 1 went swimmingly for the number 18 Torana as Bowe worked from 23rd on the grid to take the win, a monumental effort around the short Victorian circuit. Race 2 was where it all went pear shaped for a large number of the TCM field as Jason Gomersall span in front of the following pack as he rounded the 2nd corner on the first lap. Gomersall span into the path of Eddie Abelnica and his XB Falcon before being collected by Mark King’s Camaro, leaving both cars with very heavy front end damage. The ensuing pack had nowhere to go, with a number of cars finding each other or the surrounding walls. Bowe was sandwiched in the middle of all the action and the resulting broken ribs ensured a non-start for race 3 and a short stint in hospital for the fan favourite. Bowe was able to make a speedy recovery from the massive shunt to line up only four weeks later at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin. It wasn’t quite a fairytale comeback as a gearbox issue left the Torana in a plume of smoke early on in the first race. Some quick work was done to the Torana and he was able to make it back on to the circuit for races 2 & 3, finishing in 2nd and 1st respectively. On to Queensland Raceway and after recording his 90th victory in the TCM category Bowe left the event sharing the championship points lead with Adam Bressington. The ‘paper-clip’ as it’s known in the industry provides a unique challenge to competitors with a number of difficult breaking sections wreaking havoc on the TCM field. Sandown provided a unique challenge to competitors as race 1 was run in terribly wet conditions. The conditions provided a shuffle in the running order with Bowe finishing in 8th. Race 2 was abandoned while Bowe was out in front after Gomersall parked his Torana in the tyres at the end of the back straight. Wrapping up the weekend with a 2nd in race 3, Bowe was able to take the lead in the championship over his rivals. While Bathurst wasn’t a bad weekend for Bowe by any stretch of the imagination, the event began the late season run of Steve Johnson. Scoring 4,2,2 finishes throughout the weekend was enough for Bowe to maintain the championship lead, however closing quickly was Johnson who took 2 of the 3 victories throughout the weekend at the mountain. Bowe entered the final round with a 5 point lead, however was only able to manage 3rd in both races, making up ground throughout the first half of the track but struggling to keep up with the big Mustang of Johnson and the Camaro of Bressington down the more open sections of the track. The championship went to Johnson who won both races and the image of Bowe congratulating Johnson post-race will be go down as one of Australian motorsports great moments of sportsmanship. As well as TCM racing, Bowe has kept busy piloting a number of different race cars throughout the country this year at a host of different events. Take a look at his Facebook page to keep up to date with all of the incredible cars John gets behind the wheel of – very impressive! What was your favourite moment of the 2017 TCM season? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Blast from the Past – The Supercars tracks of yesteryear

In two weeks’ time the 2017 Supercars season will reach fever pitch as the championship comes down to the wire at the brand new Newcastle street circuit. The Newcastle circuit is undoubtedly going to prove to be one of the more picturesque racing locations on the circuit and a worthy replacement for the at times dull Sydney Olympic Park race. The Olympic Park location isn’t the first track in Supercars history to make way for a new and improved location, in this article we’ll take a look at some of the rounds that are no longer on the Supercars calendar. Calder Park Calder was staple on the ATCC and V8 Supercars throughout the 80’s and 90’s, and along with Sandown was one of two championship races within a stone's throw of Melbourne CBD. The Supercars utilised the ‘road’ circuit at the facility, bypassing the iconic Thunderdome, a feature which many feel could have added to the variety of racing on the Supercars calendar and potentially lead to a NASCAR style duel format of racing. Unfortunately racing ceased at the venue after the 2001 event when the racing surface and facilities were deemed not up to scratch. The circuit was also the scene of one of the biggest touring car crashes in recent memory when a young Craig Lowndes and his VT commodore went cartwheeling down the front straight after making contact with Steven Richards and Garth Tander. Oran Park Another iconic Australian racing circuit, Oran Park played host to battles from Brock and Moffat through to Ambrose and Skaife before closing down in 2008 to make way for a housing estate. A favourite of many drivers, the short and narrow circuit included one of the only ‘over-under’ bridges in Australian racing. Now unrecognisable to the average racing punter, the only remaining indicator of racing ever taking place on the site is the motorsport related street names. Hamilton Street Circuit Running between 2008 and 2012, the Hamilton 400 took the place of Pukekohe on the Supercars calendar and provided a happy hunting ground for 6 time series champion Jamie Whincup, who took 2 of the 5 race victories at the venue. The racing itself at the track was interesting enough, however bubbling away behind the scenes was a massive debate within the Hamilton City council when it was discovered the event had been operating at a significant loss in its final 2 years. Subsequently the event was relocated back to Pukekohe where it remains today as the Auckland SuperSprint. Mallala Mallala Motorsport Park flew the South Australian flag in the ATCC right up until 1999 when it was replaced on the calendar by the incoming Clipsal 500, which itself was also filling the void left by the Adelaide iteration of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. The track received mixed reviews from competitors with Dick Johnson openly criticizing the track’s lack of facilities and bumpy racing circuit; however such remarks were uncommon from Johnson who was renowned for being not much of a fan of any tracks outside of Queensland. On the other hand, Jim Richards suggested the tight track would even the competition up, ensuring close racing at a time when the RS5000 Sierra’s were dominating the competition. Racing at lower levels still takes place at the circuit; however with the passing of longtime owner Clem Smith earlier this year, the future of racing at the circuit is unclear. With a number of other circuits coming and going over the years including trips to Bahrain, Texas and local circuits such as Amaroo Park, Lakeside and the Canberra Street Circuit the Supercars championship has spread its wings far and wide, we’re just scratching the surface! Which former Supercars or ATCC circuit was your favourite? Which would you replace on the current calendar? Head over the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.