MUSEUMS: The Petersen has a 130 Datsun Cedric in its Vault

Nissan Cedric 130 Custom Six Petersen 05

So the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles apparently has a Nissan Cedric 130 Custom Six. What’s more, it’s is a LHD example badged as a Datsun, with black California license plates. Was this staple of Japanese streets circa 1965 actually meant for US import?

Nissan Cedric 130 Custom Six Petersen 03

First of all, please forgive the crappy photos taken with a potato. We were given an impromptu tour of the Petersen’s famed underground Vault after recording our CarStories podcast last month and didn’t have a proper camera.

Nissan Cedric 130 Custom Six Petersen 02

The Cedric would have been a competitor to the Toyota Crown, and indeed eagle eyed JNCers might notice that there is, in fact, also a red S40 Crown parked behind it. However, we know that Toyota officially imported their then-flagship sedan to the US, but Nissan does not mention the Cedric when talking about its US imports of the 1960s.

Nissan Cedric 130 Custom Six Petersen 04

The Petersen receives many cars as donations, and this was one of them. According to the period correct California license plate, it was registered as late as 1984. The Datsun badge indicates that this was an official import by Nissan. We only recently found a living example of the previous-generation Cedric 1900 at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. That was imported only by east coast, back when Nissan USA was comprised of two separate distribution companies.

Nissan Cedric 130 Custom Six Petersen 01

Clearly the Cedric needs some restoration, which is why it’s stored in the Petersen Vault. Some of the other rare machines that never see the light of day in above-ground galleries open to the public include a Chinese Nostalgic Hongqi (pronounced hong-chee) sedan used for Communist Party dignitaries.

We’ll ask Nissan whether this Cedric was an official import and post as we learn more. In any case, even if Nissan did sell these in the US, it would have been in very small numbers for a very short time, making this one quite possibly the last of its kind.

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19 Responses to MUSEUMS: The Petersen has a 130 Datsun Cedric in its Vault

  1. mister k said:

    rumor is there’s a country just north of the united states that imported various japanese cars that were never imported into the u s of a

  2. cesariojpn said:

    Wasn’t there like a “wildcat era” where you could pretty much import anything so long as it had headlights/tailights and bumpers before Mercedes Benz decided to be dickwads and got the 25 year rule implemented?

    • AKADriver said:

      Before 1988 it was indeed much simpler than it is now; that’s why there are a few odd ’70s and ’80s JNCs in the US imported before they hit 25 years old, like a couple DR30s and a few Honda City Turbos.

      But, this has all the hallmarks of an official export… Datsun badges, LHD… but perhaps not an official export to the US. Maybe Europe?

      I’ll just leave this here:
      http://www.earlydatsun.com/nissan130front68a.jpg

  3. Michael McDonald said:

    AND, it has a British Borg Warner automatic transmission!

  4. John said:

    Side note, that “DATSUN” badge was lifted from a PL510. Was not around when this car was new, so someone added that. May not have been badged as a Datsun when new…

  5. Ben Hsu said:

    I’ve forwarded this to PR team at Nissan and they have someone looking into it. Should be an interesting story regardless of origin!

  6. RainMeister said:

    I wonder if this was imported by Nissan to test the waters as a contemporary competitor to the Crown.

    Nissan would also import the occasional JDM model for use in its company fleet from time-to-time. They imported several President models back in the 1970s for use by Soichi Kawazoe, who was then head of Nissan’s east coast sales arm. I got to ride in one in my youth, and it was the coolest feeling as a kid knowing it was the only President model in the U.S.

    Because they were imported as “test” vehicles, Nissan had to send the cars to the crusher each year. They did save the 4.4 liter V8 engines from those President models, which I understand formed the basis for the twin turbo power unit that propelled the unsuccessful Bob Sharp Racing IMSA V8 280zx effort.

    • Ben Hsu said:

      That is an amazing story. Do you have any photos from that time. Also, were the Presidents you speak of RHD or LHD?

      • RainMeister said:

        Unfortunately, no photos of the car (wish we had camera-equipped smartphones back then). The car was RHD (I don’t know if Nissan ever made LHD versions), which also made the car stand out, and Kawazoe san had a full-time chauffeur to drive it. I also recall from my brief time in the back seat that the windows came equipped with sheer side curtains for privacy. I wonder if we’ll see any Presidents at the upcoming Long Beach car show?

      • Ben Hsu said:

        Sounds like an awesome experience.

        There have been Toyota Centurys displayed before, and there’s at least a couple Presidents in the US, but I’m not sure if the owners are bringing them.

  7. max said:

    who cares , crush it

  8. FF said:

    a hongqi CA770! now thats seriously rare

  9. Otso said:

    We have those LHD cars here in Finland.

    I saw a LHD Nissan President for sale in Russia. Ad was in Mobile.de.

  10. yellowdatsun said:

    That Datsun name badge on the rear is actually a front fender badge for the 510’s. Someone had to have changed that, maybe the owner later on, since the 510 didn’t come around until 3 years after this car was sold.

  11. Jeff Koch said:

    I think Nissan must have donated that car when they moved out of Gardena. I remember seeing it in one of the back rooms there not long before they left.

  12. Seiko's Celica said:

    I was on this Vault Tour a couple months ago and vaguely remember them saying what it was for. I think it was something about Nissan importing it to test it on CA roadways but didn’t pass because it didn’t have enough power to go up a highway ramp and other various reasons. You can quote me on that because as I stated I don’t remember what they said that well…

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