In 1911, Japanese entrepreneur Masujiro Hashimoto founded the Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works, the company responsible for building the first Datsun vehicle. Throughout several mergers and buyouts, the Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works would continue to design automobiles into the 1930s, until the company was finally purchased by Nissan. In 1934, the company name was officially changed to the Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. Smaller passenger cars continued to be made under the Datsun name, while larger vehicles took on the Nissan moniker until 1981, when the company discontinued the Datsun name. Here is a gallery of some of the most notable Nissan and Datsun vehicles throughout the company's history.
The 1933 Datsun Phaeton was one of the first cars that the Nissan Motor Company ever produced, and was named with the initials of the three original investors in the Kwaishinsha Co. (D, A, and T), according to Nissan.
The Nissan Motor Co. bought equipment from the American company Graham Page and built the NISSAN van in 1937. The van's cab design and a powerful engine made it a popular vehicle in Japan, Nissan said.
Its simplicity and durability made the 1938 Datsun 17 Sedan hugely popular in Japan when it released, said Nissan.
The Nissan Motor Co. used the Datsun brand name to denote smaller cars, while large vehicles were given the Nissan moniker. This 1938 Nissan passenger car was one of the company's first vehicles to be comparable in size to Ford and Chevy cars, according to Nissan.
In order to combat gas shortages after WWII, Nissan created the "Tama" electric car in 1947 after the Japanese government began promoting the design of electric vehicles.
The 1947 Tama Truck was available in electric and gasoline versions. "Tama" was the brand name used by Tokyo Electric Cars Co., which got its name from the Tachikawa Aircraft Company, said Nissan.
The 1952 Datsun Sports, also known as the "DC-3," featured an 860cc, 20 hp engine. Its stylish design and comfort made it a popular choice with buyers, according to Nissan. Production on the DC-3 was limited to 50 units.
The original 1957 Fairlady SPL212 was the first Datsun sports car imported to the USA.
The 1959 Datsun 1000 differed slightly in design from the Datsun 210, and featured greatly improved driving performance, gained in the Australian rally and the American market, said Nissan. This car was the basis for the Bluebird (Datsun 310).
The second generation 1962 Datsun Patrol was designed similarly to the Willys Jeep, and could be equipped with a soft or hard top.
The 1962 Skyline Sport was designed by the famous Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti. It became famous at the 1960 Torino International Motor Show. Approximately 60 units were manufactured, according to Nissan.
The 1964 Datsun Truck 1200 Deluxe was an important vehicle in post-war Japan, especially in helping to improve economic growth, said Nissan.
The 1968 Datsun Fairlady Hardtop traces its name back to the Datsun Sports (S211), which was launched in June 1959. Nissan's corporate history claims that Katsuji Kawamata, former president of Nissan, was so moved by the long-running musical, "My Fair Lady," that he decided to name the original SPL213 after it.
The 1969 Nissan R382 was the winner of the 1969 Japan GP, beating the Porsche and Toyota 7 to take first place.
The 1975 Laurel 2000GX had a 2-liter L20 engine; in October 1973, the 2.6 liter (L26) version was also included in the lineup, said Nissan.
The 1976 Cherry FII Coupe was the highest grade model available, a works car based on the GX Twin. However, Nissan only used the car for photo shoots.
The 1978 Nissan 280z featured a new exterior design, with the traditional long nose and short deck blended with sharper lines.
The 1981 Nissan Fairlady 280ZX was a turbocharged version of the previous year's model, and could be equipped with removable T-bar roof panels.
The third-generation Nissan Fairlady 300ZX (Z31) was launched in September 1983.
The 1998 Nissan 300ZX, also known as the "Fairlady Z" was one of Nissan's flagship sports cars. It was succeeded by the Nissan 350Z in 2003.
The fifth generation 1999 Nissan Skyline GT was one of the cars featured in the popular street racing movie '2 Fast 2 Furious.'
The 2013 Nissan Quest was named as one of Edmunds.com's recommended minivans and Kiplinger's 'Best Car of 2013' in the most fuel-efficient vehicle category.
The redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra focuses on design standards as well as efficiency in engineering, according to Nissan.
The 2013 Nissan Cube features a unique "box style" with increased rear visibility and seating room.
The 2014 Nissan GT-R is currently the company's most expensive sports car, retailing for nearly $100,000.