50 years of Dat­sun UK

Old­est UK car is re­dis­cov­ered

Practical Classics (UK) - - CLASSIC WORLD -

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.

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