Jidosha-Seizo Kabushiki-Kaisha (“Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd.” in English) was established on December 26, 1933, taking over all the operations for manufacturing Datsuns from the automobile division of Tobata Casting Co., Ltd., and its company name was changed to Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. on June 1, 1934. The founder was Yoshisuke Aikawa, the brilliant leader of the Nissan combine. He had grand plans to mass-produce 10,000 – 15,000 units per year, and was about to putting his plan into practice.
The first small-size Datsun passenger car rolled off the assembly line at the Yokohama Plant in April 1935, and vehicle exports to Australia were also launched that same year. Datsun cars symbolized Japan’s rapid advances in modern industrialization in those days, as evidenced by the contemporary slogan, “The Rising Sun as the flag and Datsun as the car of choice.”
Nissan has always had a good sports car or two in production to satisfy that automotive enthusiast itch. Pretty much anyone who knows anything about the world of automobiles knows about Nissan’s Z cars, SXs and GT-Rs.
Some of our favorite Nissan sports cars include:
1969-1973 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R. The original Skyline GT-Rs. First arriving in 1969, the Skyline GT-R came equipped with a 160-hp 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. In 1973, a second generation of the Skyline GT-R would arrive powered by the same 2.0-liter six-cylinder, but only last a single year before being discontinued.
Nissan 280ZX/300ZX Turbo. The first model was the 280ZX that came with a 2.8-liter six-cylinder engine making 145 hp. In 1981, a turbocharger would be added as an option, increasing power to 180 hp. In 1983, a second-generation ZX arrived, now offering a 3.0-liter V6 in naturally aspirated or turbocharged form. By the end of this model’s run, the turbo engine made anywhere from 200 to 227 hp depending on the market.
In 1989, the final 300ZX would enter production. A two-seat or 2+2 configuration were available as well as a 300-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine. It was one of the iconic Japanese sports cars of the 1990s, a period of time in which many consider the golden age for Japan’s auto industry.
Nissan 240Z/260Z/280Z: Nissan’s Z cars have an iconic status that few other sports cars have achieved. When the 1970 240Z (Fairlady Z in Japan) came on the market, it was instantly heralded as a poor man’s Jaguar, which had a lot to do with its similar styling.
Powered by a 2.4-liter six-cylinder engine, the original Z weighed just more than 2,300 lbs and made 151 hp. In 1974, the engine was enlarged to 2.6-liters and thus the car’s name changed to 260Z. Just one year later, an even larger engine became available in the 280Z. Although the car’s weight had increased, power was now up to 170 hp.
Nissan GT-R. Nissan created a car that blew away the supercar elite. A turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine and grip that tore roads apart, the GT-R was the best pound for pound sports car fighter the world had probably ever seen. Originally making 478 hp in 2008, the GT-R can now produce upwards of 600 hp. But power is just one aspect of the GT-R’s incredible performance. The dual-clutch transmission and advanced all-wheel drive system make sure laps around the track are completed as quickly as possible.
Nissan R390 GT1. In the mid-1990s, if a manufacturer wanted to race in the top tier at the 24 hours of Le Mans, the racecar had to be based on a road going vehicle. This led to crazy one off creations like the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, Porsche 911 GT1 and the Nissan R390 GT1.
With a 3.5-liter V8 hooked up to a sequential six-speed transmission sending power to the rear wheels, the R390 GT1 looked like a Le Mans prototype for the streets because, well, it was. Only two cars were ever built, but one is in the hands of a private owner. With a top speed of 220 mph and the ability to dispatch the quarter mile in just over 11 seconds, the R390 GT1 was one of the fastest cars of its time.
See All Nissan Cars, News & Reviews