50 years of Datsun UK
Oldest UK car is rediscovered
There are a number of significant motoring milestones in 2018, but one anniversary that has escaped notice belongs to Nissan/ Datsun. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the marque’s introduction to the UK.
There are no major events planned to celebrate, but one car has come to light that was there at the start. The Datsun brand was officially launched at the 1968 Earl’s Court show with sales starting the same month. Prior to this a batch of six cars representing the full range intended for the UK market were imported for evaluation and publicity purposes, these cars being made available to the motoring press of the day including Motor,
Autocar and CAR for road-testing.
The only surviving example from this batch of consecutively registered press vehicles belongs to Mark Ashbridge of East Yorkshire. ‘OKJ 213F is a Datsun 1000 (B10) and it was this car that featured most prominently in the Datsun adverts during 1968 and ’69,’ Mark told PC. ‘It is the sole surviving UK example of a B10 saloon and the oldest surviving officially imported Nissan/datsun.’ After its press duties, the car was transferred to Surrey dealer AF Tann where it remained, latterly as a showroom exhibit, until the franchise closed its doors in 2000.
‘Thanks to the foresight of proprietor Rob Tann in recognising the significance of this car, it has survived all those years in extremely good condition,’ said Mark, who obtained the car in 2005. It shares his garage with Rob’s other Datsuns; a 1974 Violet and 1983 Sunny,
plus a 1967 Triumph 1300. ‘Japanese cars are now increasing in recognition in the UK thanks to their relative scarcity. Survival figures for some pre-eighties models are now down to single figures.’
Early Datsun has a tiny 988cc engine.