Those who have been to Nissan’s headquarters building in Yokohama have no doubt experienced the gleaming showroom on the ground floor. The area displayed new, classic, and race cars, but whether visitors were welcomed by a fleet of vintage Skylines or a late-model Leafs depended on a constantly changing schedule. On September 26, Nissan has opened the doors to a new section dedicated to cars from its rich 86-year history and, most importantly, it’s permanent.
On August 2, 2009, Nissan moved to Yokohama from its old headquarters building in Ginza, Tokyo, its home of 41 years. The move allowed the company to be closer to its manufacturing hubs in Kanagawa, but much like Nissan USA’s 2007 move from southern California to Nashville, it was seen as another upending of tradition during Ghosn regime. However, one benefit of the shift was that the new 22-story tower on Yokohama’s waterfront had a much bigger lobby, allowing for a spacious and elegant 4,000-square meter showroom for its cars.
The newly founded Heritage Zone aims to teach visitors about Nissan’s history, and will showcase a rotation from Nissan’s DNA Garage, which contains several hundred cars. Also known as the Zama warehouse, it is a destination pilgrimaged by many an enthusiast, but it’s difficult to get to and special appointments must be made to grant entry.
On the other hand, the Nissan Yokohama headquarters is located within walking distance of Yokohama Station itself, and according to Nissan has seen 13 million visitors since it opened. That will allow many more casual visitors — there’s even a Starbucks adjacent to the showroom — to catch a glimpse of Nissan history. Also, its establishment coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Yokohama headquarters’ opening.
In addition to a display area for cars, the Heritage Zone features a wall-mounted 220-inch screen. It will play what Nissan describes as “seldom-seen footage” from its video archives, which would likely be well worth budgeting time for, and might be a bigger draw than the cars themselves. “Experience Nissan’s story through the eyes of people who were there at the time,” the press release states.
Opposite of the cars is an exhibition center, a museum-like area with photos and exhibits which will, per Nissan “be used to tell stories that focus on specific themes and perspectives from Nissan’s history.” At opening is a display focusing on, appropriately, Nissan’s founding during the 1930s.
The Heritage Zone will also contain a library of automotive books and magazines, including back issues, which visitors will be free to browse. And finally, for minicar otaku, there will be wall featuring over 100 1:43 scale model cars that cover the breadth of company history.
The opening ceremony featured three cars taking the spotlight, a 1934 Datsun Type 14, Roadster, CSP311 Nissan Silvia, and 1960 Prince Skyline Sport. Throughout the rest of the headquarters gallery, there will 19 Zama cars in total, the largest ever gathered at the tower. Famed Nissan driver and NISMO honorary advisor Masahiro Hasemi even pulled up in an 1964 Prince Skyline 2000GT to join the festivities.
The forming of the Heritage Zone is a welcome and long overdue addition to Nissan’s already significant historical efforts. History is an important and meaningful aspect of every carmaker, and now every visitor, tourist, enthusiast, or employee that walks through Nissan headquarters will have easy access to this relevant facet of the company. As with the Heritage Parts Program, it is rewarding for enthusiasts to see Nissan take a renewed interest in its history.