Question: What should be the first model under the Datsun brand if it comes back?


It’s been a few months. Time for another cycle of Datsun revival rumors! The media has been awash with speculation on the return of the Datsun brand for the past week. We’ve heard it before, last OctoberJuly and beyond, so instead of just regurgitating the fact that Nissan president Mr. Bean neither denied nor confirmed the gossip and leaving it at that, we’re going to have some fun with it. Here is your Question of the Week:

If Nissan does revive the Datsun brand, what should be the first model to wear that badge?

If the Silvia hadn’t been killed off, it might have made a good 240Z, but its name would obviously conflict with the brand equity built on the 370Z. Perhaps the Cherry, since neo-Datsuns would likely be front-wheel-drive entry-level cars. Anyway, put your two cents in the comments below. The best answer one week from now will get a Nissan tchotchke from Japanland!

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40 Responses to Question: What should be the first model under the Datsun brand if it comes back?

  1. Jay said:

    I’d love to see a revival of the Fairlady 2000 roadsters, something like the original Miata, small, cheap, front engine and rear drive.

  2. Tj said:

    They could, in a nod to it’s heritage call it “11″

  3. Trev Johnsen said:

    Bring back the Datsun Roadster! similar in size/concept to miata/s2k/new86 please.

  4. Will said:

    A strong name for the market would be a good call, so picking a name from the past without conflicting with already existing Nissan models is tough. Bluebird, Violet, Sakura, and Silvia have strong heritage tied to the names. Cedric, Gloria, and Cherry are also strong lines of cars, but I fear the names might be a bit dated for the modern market.

    Also, Nissan President Mr.Bean LOL

  5. Yuri said:

    The best possible first Neo Datsun would be a compact pickup. This would fit in perfectly with the establishment of Datsun as an entry level brand, and reflect how Datsun first became established in the US. By focusing on a no frills small truck, it would set the standard for Datsun building no-nonsense simple machines that are designed first and foremost to do a job, and do it well. This would eventually translate into other possible models, such as simple inexpensive and frugal small sedans, and eventually into enthusiast vehicles. Right now there isn’t a real compact truck sold in the US, and by addressing this un-catered to market, it would be opening up the possibility of other ignored markets, mostly people who want a good simple vehicle that is awesome at what it does, but don’t really feel like paying for anything beyond, say, air conditioning. With sports cars like the Miata shying away from the simple formula that made it such an original break out hit, the door is open for a new Datsun to rush in and fill that gap with a simple fun to drive sports car. But first, Datsun needs a true compact pickup to bring itself back to its roots, and set its mission as a builder of simple reliable tools for living.

  6. Derrick said:

    Agree with Yuri, in that there is a market for simple, smaller sized vehicles that do a job. This is what Datsun brought to the USA the first time, and should do again. I believe a limited first time line up with a truck (4×4 available, please), sedan (wagon available, please), and coupe (rwd, please) would be just great.
    I don’t think it would behoove the marketing folks at Nissan to bring up names like Cherry or Silvia, since the public at large would not have a clue.

  7. Nigel said:

    So a Violet turbo, would be awesome.
    And keeping away from the Stanza name is also helpful.

  8. emmanuelb110 said:

    they should bring the Datsun Sunny Coupe with that awesome classic shape like chevrolet did with their camaro. RWD, LSD, simple look, small car, 1.6-2.0 NA engine…. but no modern and unusefull things to make it cheap, toyota did a great job with their 86 but it does not look so classic at all and its a little expensive for some people :)

  9. bert said:

    The 510. No question. Keep it simple, as a Scion rival with rear wheel drive four banger, low weight, options and cost. 4 door, coupe, wagon. The same formula that made it so popular the first time! But PLEASE, no tacky retro design?!?!? Most car companies can’t seem to get the retro thing right!

  10. matt said:

    Considering it won’t be in the U.S. (more in russia, india, etc) I think it would be something similar to say…a 411? bare bones, fwd (we can wish and hope, but cheap is cheap). I’m imagining something comparable to the Lada right now in my head lol.

  11. Dachshund said:

    …Maybe it doesn’t matter if it’s called a “Datsun” or not, but 250z? 3.7 liters is far too big for a Z; 3.5 liters was too big before, and I know that when (if) the next “400z” rolls around, then that will have completely lost the plot.

    Even though I know they basically just use whatever V6 they have around, and the VQ37 has allowed the Z to stay within Camaro-killer territory, I prefer seeing more done with less, which could certainly be done if say, a smaller displacement, turbocharged VQ25 in a stripped down, no frills “250ZR” was offered, of course, alongside the big cube 370z.

    Or perhaps some sort of hybrid powertrain; anything, really, that would at least make the Z seem less forgotten about by Nissan and draw attention. Something more pure to the original Z concept, freeing them to do even crazier, more GT-R-esque things on the “big” Z to keep up with the competition and buff books, while the “small” Z would be more of a driver’s car.

    Hyundai does similarly with the Genesis coupe, and Nissan always used to offer small tax displacement versions of the Z in certain markets, so I really have no new ideas, huh :P

  12. Zechs said:

    Datsun Laurel C130 in a new jacket,
    keeps away from the Z what would have been first choice if nissan hadnt continue it.
    Also I would like to see a very lightweight body like the old ones had with fully electrical engine @least as option.
    Something that is fun for on the circuit but also very cheap to drive.

    Something like an electrical FT86 on a diet but cheaper and more retro.
    First affordable electric sportscar sounds real good to me.

  13. Matt said:

    as fun as it is to speculate, the probability is the new datsuns will be rebadged dacias

  14. ToolZ said:

    I am not really following this argument for a re-introduction of the Datsun brand so well and this is my reasoning.
    Datsun’s were rebranded Nissan cars for the export markets therefore if the Datsun brand name was re-introduced (as was) a Z34 Nissan Fairlady Z would simply be sold as a Z34 Datsun 370Z in the export market with the addition of some really ugly bumpers specifically for the USDM.
    This is not going to happen.
    The Nissan brand is well established internationally and will remain so.
    Infiniti has the luxury end of the market covered.
    This only leaves the “not as good as a Nissan” market to exploit.
    It’s “alliance” with Renault (Renault currently control 43.4% of Nissan) would mean that any venture in to the economy class car market would most certainly mean a shared platform with existing models which keeps development costs down.
    I have to agree with Matt on this one.
    If (let us pray it never happens) the Datsun brand is re-introduced it will most likely be re-badged Automobile Dacia.
    I have been to Romania.
    I have driven a Dacia.

    “The horror….”

    • Alan T. said:

      ToolZ, you seem to be one of the few people that really *gets* what’s been announced. Why are so many people getting the wrong end of the stick?
      This is not about America, and it’s not about any mooted revival of old models. It’s not going to impact many of *us*.
      It’s always amusing ( if not a little puzzling ) to see people writing that “Datsun did” such and such, and “Datsun made” that and the other. But Datsun never ‘did’ anything, and Datsun never ‘made’ anything. All these ‘Datsuns’ that people are being so nostalgic about were just Nissans with a ‘Datsun’ badge placed on them. They flew a flag of convenience, hiding from the perceived embarrassment of the ‘Nissan’ name, so prominently displayed on war materiel ( and fresh in memory ).
      The reasons for Nissan using the ‘Datsun’ brand this time have nothing to do with the reasons for them using it in the past. It would probably be better if the people who feel so nostalgic for the ‘Datsun’ brand actually started to embrace the Nissan brand as the *real* Datsun…

      • Matt said:

        mostly agree, but not entirely since the datsun name existed in domestic market as well. judging from be-emblem’d jnc’s & a significant amount of y!ja that pop up when you search “datsun,” the name nevertheless retains some value and credibility even today.

  15. Jim Mistick said:

    Here’s what I posted on the Grassroots Motorsports board just over a year ago:

    No, here’s a better idea. Nissan stays Nissan but they create a new brand like Toyota did with Scion. And, they call it Datsun. The mission of the new Datsun, build small, sporty cars that are retro inspired, get good gas mileage and are all rear wheel drive. Here’s the line up:

    The Roadster. A two seat convertible styled after the Fairlady roadsters that preceded the Z car. More minimalist than a Miata, no power folding hard tops, power windows or mirrors. Just an honest, fun and light sports car.

    The Truck. A real mini pickup, sized like the last of the Hardbody pickups. Give it a six foot bed, a regular or super cab, and make sure that it’s tough as nails. The sport truck guys are starving for something fun to drive and reasonably priced, plus all the projected fleet sales would be a big bonus.

    The Patrol. A two door, four cylinder, four wheel drive sport utility offered with real solid axles and a real low range. Small like the original Ford Bronco but not as small as the Suzuki Samurai. Soft top with an optional hard top. Basically build an inexpensive, stripped down Jeep now the Chrysler has taken theirs too far upmarket.

    The 510. Yes, bring it back. Coupe, sedan and wagon versions should all be available. Sized like the real deal, just updated for today’s market. It’s gotta look like a 510, handle like a 510 and most importantly, be factory raced like a 510.

    Bean counters and enthusiasts will rejoice if the Roadster and 510 share the same fully independent suspension front and back and give the Truck the same front suspension with a typical solid rear with leafs. Four cylinder engines for all, no sixes for options, just a turbo on the sportiest versions. All start off with a base line, then a sport which gives you a better suspension and wheels and a top of the line which is the GT with a turbo engine. No paddle shifters or tipronic BS, just an honest 5 or 6 speed manual and an optional automatic on the base and sport lines (not available on the turbo).

    Retro styling for all vehicles for the first generation with retro advertising (Datsun Saves, Drive a Datsun and Decide, etc). This puts Datsun back in all the Nissan dealerships where they won’t overlap any existing products and can cash in on the existing goodwill and name recognition the brand still enjoys after decades of being off the market. Keep prices low and offer dealer installed options like Scion. Throw some free vehicles to noted tuners and customizers so they show up at Sema, drifting events, custom car shows and get a ton of free PR.

    How is this not a winning idea? People are cutting back, gas prices are rising and classic Japanese cars are gaining attention. Nissan needs to try something new, target some new markets and build some niche vehicles that will garner some very positive press for them.

    In return for these awesome ideas, I only ask for a tour of the plant they build them in and a free Roadster. Nissan can PM me for details on where I want to take delivery of my car.

  16. Ken said:

    ^I agree with the above.. however one can still dream :) For the sake of this thread I’m going to assume this news as a fantasy land story of the Datsun brand being resurrected, catering to us enthusiasts.

    The Z heritage is still strong, no need to go anywhere near the Fairlady series. It seems to be all about compact vehicles now, I think the 510 would be a great choice sort of like how the Mini coopers positioned themselves. It has the racing heritage, enthusiast platform, and would still appeal to the ‘average’ consumer as something unique, just like the mini.

    Like other comments above, I guess it’ll all come down to styling on how they would revamp it. The domestics definitely failed at the design aspect, Mini did not (at least to me), keeping the aesthetics while updating. If they make it anything like the Juke though, I’m out.

  17. tkmedia said:

    simple use the march, micra and note! develop a light truck.

  18. Addison said:

    I totally agree with Bert, the 510 would make for an awesome rival to the Scion Tc and the civic as a sporty rear drive, and maybe even the small roadster hard top combo to compete with the AE86 concept. Hmmmmmm?

  19. bugout said:

    the 510 :0

  20. Ryan said:

    Jim – WOW I started reading your post and thought to myself “this guy has a real similar idea to what I’ve posted on my Patrol & Z boards in the last year.” Upon finishing it I was blown away because it was not only similar…..but spot on exact to a T. I am with you 100% on everything you just said and its scary just how similar your post is to some of mine. I think the 4 cars you mentioned in the retro style would not only do well….but blow the market away. As a matter of fact…..I would probably buy 3 of them….and the only reason I wouldn’t buy the mini truck is because I have an 85′ 720 4×4 that I just restored so I don’t need it ha.

  21. JamesE said:

    I’m hoping that Nissan is reading this! There are a lot of great suggestions.

    My first thought was a compact pickup truck, but Nissan already has the Frontier and they sell nearly as many as Ford does the Ranger! I doubt they would want to mess that up.
    http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2012/02/2011-pickup-truck-sales-recap.html

    • Pete240Z said:

      Are they reading this? No. They want to sell volumes of Sentra/Altima CVT cars with 4-cylinders. High volume with good profit.

      Leaf, Sentra, Altima, Maxima, 370Z, GT-R – All great cars but nothing like the Toyota 86 that is coming out.

  22. Brian said:

    The sad thing is, in todays market, the manual rwd just doesn’t generate enough to be a “smart” investment.

    While I would love the thought of bringing back polished/stainless/chrome accents and small cars with rwd etc. That’s just not going to pass the accounting office.

    The highest volume of japanese cars sold are the camry and the accord. They didn’t flood the market with them, they weren’t horribly cheap compared to other options, but that’s just what the people wanted.

    I’m not sure if the general populace is even able to go back to a manual rwd. So many people are accustomed to automatics and fwd. Hell, the new “sporty” option is the paddle shifting/tiptronic option.

    And despite the presence of the IQ, fiat, and smart car, making small cars is a nightmare. With certain restrictions to tail light/headlight height, presence of third brake light etc it just isn’t going to happen.

    But in the premise of dreaming and practicality, I hope they bring back the 510 and 240z. They can throw in a N/A SR, use a smaller wheel base and width and make a really cheap affordable coupe. If they kept it small enough, limited technology options (consider it a throw back) it would be fantastically successful. I mean if they kept the dimensions the same, parts could be readily made available for the classic models. They could even offer kits to bring classics into the modern age with separate hubs and struts.

  23. JIM BARTALONE said:

    I’m all for a simple, no frills compact truck…just like the 620 I drove during high school (back in the early 80′s.)

  24. Pete240Z said:

    Datsun 510, then the pickup, then a 240.

  25. kevin truong said:

    Jim mistick was right on. Would have suggested similar. Arent we experiencing another oil crisis now? By summer maybe we will see $5.50 to $6.00 a gallon. If nissan wants a big piece of marketshare its time to come out with some better cheaper options and remake some of these cars. To relaunch a datsun line start with the 510!

  26. cesariojpn said:

    Cheap commuter car, cheap small pickup, cheap ass sports coupe. K.I.S.S..

  27. RustRocket said:

    FWD entry-level car, you say… Why not call it an F10?

    After all, it will probably be a hatch based off of a re-badged Dacia, so let’s avoid using a name associated with Datsun’s racing legacy, and instead give the spotlight to the oft overlooked F10.

    I hope the Tchotchke fits in my Z.

  28. Drive510 said:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the “Datsun” name get a re-release. It would be interesting to see.

    I think cars that would most likely fall under the new name would include the:

    -PAO
    -The Fairlady roadster
    -The Silvia S16
    -The Altima/Silphy may get a bigger RWD brother aka the 510 offspring(with either the Bluebird name or slight variant of some sort like the 511).
    -Also possible the Micra/March might see a comeback(to please the hipsters and compete with the Yaris/Echo).
    -Perhaps a Stanza revival
    -I’m sure there would be a truck release with a number tagged to it as well(i.e. 621 or 720)

    *hint – I could really use some “okamoto” stickers

  29. Joaquin A. Aviles said:

    Actualy a while back 4-5 yrs ago I was looking at the Nissan Japan website and noticed that they sold the US made Frontier as Datsun in Japan. So probably they will start with a small pick-up truck and a small car. Just my .02

  30. 80Celica said:

    Cinco Diez!!!! (nice)

  31. Ty_Le said:

    I would have to agree with just about everything posted.
    Just affordable fun cars, hopefully to be Rear Wheel Drive, while Front Wheel Drive is always fine too.
    But I’d like to see cars like 510′s, the Wagons, the roadsters, and of course the compact Pickups with simple extended cabs as “king cabs”.

  32. Jarod said:

    My suggestions… a series of modernized, they very retro versions of the classics…
    Datsun Fairlady Z (a little something like this:)
    http://www.instablogsimages.com/images/2009/06/01/datsun-240z-concept-1_gB6QM_17621.jpg
    Datsun Fairlady Roadster
    Datsun Bluebird 510
    And a revival of the minitruck, by way of a new 620 Hardbody…

    That should make us plenty happy, yeah?

  33. nlpnt said:

    It’s hard to see Nissan building an FWD sedan that’s cheaper and more basic than the Versa is now (from what I understand, the Versa hatch hasn’t been updated becasue the next model’ll be further upmarket from the sedan and effectively replace the Sentra). So maybe it will be an FR-S competitor or a small pickup…

  34. jecsan porras said:

    datsun b110 sunny coupe 1200 1971

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