Inside Nissan’s Heritage Car Collection

/ 09:24 PM February 07, 2012

THE 1932 Datsun 12 Phaeton, the second car to go on sale from the company. The name means son of DAT—D, A and T being the initials of the three investors.

Heritage and DNA are words inevitably paraded at every car launch, but what does it really mean? A look at a carmaker’s history through words and pictures tells some of the story, but a chance to actually see its historic cars sets the record straight.

A two-hour drive from central Tokyo, Nissan’s Zama Operations Center in Kanagawa prefecture (its capital is Yokohama) is a massive complex of industrial buildings. Established in the 1960s, Zama was once Nissan’s most advanced assembly facility. Now it serves as an engineering center and a storehouse of some of its greatest treasures.


1972 Fairlady 240Z took part in Rallye Monte-Carlo, aka the “snow and ice rally.” Front engine, rear-wheel drive cars are notoriously difficult to control, so the 240Z’s third place caused a sensation.

With an exterior as nondescript as Aladdin’s cave, the Nissan Heritage Car Collection building contains some of the greatest and most iconic cars ever built. Once inside, an eye-watering and jaw-dropping collection of the brand’s most important vehicles awaits the visitor. Though we had barely a couple of hours to stand among giants like the Fairlady Z Monte Carlo rally car and the R390 Le Mans racer, we could have spent days just walking among the gleaming steel and carbon fiber. Each car was in pristine condition and reportedly ready to run with the push of a starter button.

In Nissan’s case, the heritage collection not only told of the carmaker’s history, it offered a look into its very soul.


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TAGS: auto, Motoring, Nissan, Nissan Heritage Car Collection
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