The Nissan Crossing showroom in Ginza, Tokyo currently has an odd collection of cars on display. It’s typical for vehicles rotate in and out of the showroom from Nissan’s Zama warehouse for a few weeks at a time. More often than not though, they’re the latest models and concepts, which is why the eclectic mix currently on display is such a treat.
Nissan has had a presence at this intersection, one of the most famous in all of Japan, since 1963. The gallery started out in the San’ai Building across the street and in the glamour of late 60s Japan it was only fitting that Nissan, one of the top firms in the country, would stake a claim at this high-end shopping district. It was common for car companies to display their latest wares in areas with high pedestrian traffic, and Nissan’s plot of land in the most prestigious corner of Tokyo gave it a lot of cachet.
Having the original four-door Nissan Skyline GT-R that gave the Hakosuka its nickname (after all, it means “box Sky” in Japanese) on display makes it feel like the golden post-war era all over again. Especially with the Wako flagship store and its Seiko clock tower looming kitty-corner in the background.
Long before the internet ruined everything, imagine window shopping in Ginza on a sunny Sunday afternoon in 1969 and stumbling upon this sleek, modern sedan with a twin-cam, 24-valve, triple-carb straight-six. “Crimson and Clover“, which topped the charts a couple of weeks before the GT-R’s debut, would magically start playing in the background as the world began to move in slow motion. The memory would be forever seared into your head.
Elsewhere in the gallery a Nissan EXA conjures up the Bubble Era madness of the 1980s. Based on the N13 Pulsar, the EXA imagined a car whose modular back half could transform from an open-air notchback coupe to a wagon-like kammback (or shooting brake, as the kids say). Under the hood was a pretty standard twin-cam CA16DE inline-4 making 120PS, but the design was so novel that it helped the Pulsar line win Japan Car of the Year.
Funnily enough, the EXA’s swappable rear wasn’t legal in Japan. Buyers had to choose between the EXA Coupe or the EXA Canopy (as the kammback was called). The hinges weren’t compatible and screw mounting holes had different pitches to discourage mixing. However, enterprising owners were able to obtain US-market hinges in order to make their JDM cars full-fledged transformers.
Speaking of transformers the Nissan Roox Suite concept, which looks like one of the minor Cybertronians, was also on display. Revealed earlier this year at the Tokyo Auto Salon, it uses the Mitsubishi-built Nissan Roox kei van as a base but stretches it far beyond kei car dimensional limits. It has six wheels and features a massive gull-wing door on the passenger side. The driver has a conventional door, while the passenger luxuriates in the comfort of a business class reclining chair and footrest that takes up almost the entire length of the cabin. Naturally, it’s also equipped with an electronic shade and refrigerator.
The rear trailer opens up to reveal, of all things, a piano. Apparently a well-known pianist even gave a concert at the Nissan showroom. One of its designers said they “envisioned a car for parents of the bride to take to the venue of their only daughter’s wedding.” Talk about a niche market. More generally, it helps Nissan explore the possibilities of more luxurious kei cars.
So there you have it, four very different Nissans (there was also a standard-issue R35 GT-R on display) for four very different eras. It’s a rather unusual mix, but that’s what makes a stop at the Nissan Crossing interesting.