In a non-descript warehouse inside one of Nissan’s many factories in Kanagawa Prefecture is one of the most mouthwatering car collections on the planet. This isn’t a museum or anything, but rather a private collection that Nissan has put together over the years – accessible only by invitation.
There is nothing secret inside, and in fact, a lot of the cars are on constant rotation at various displays that the company organises throughout the year – many of which have previously appeared on Speedhunters. But while seeing them at events like the Nismo Festival is quite impressive, nothing can ever prepare you for the sight of almost every single Nissan car and racer ever made under one roof…
Open that red door and I guarantee your jaw will drop to the floor – mine did. Where to start? Which direction to head in? The production cars? The race cars? The classics?
It’s nothing short of mesmerising to see so many Nissan and Datsun cars all neatly sitting in the same space. In fact, during my visit there were actually quite a few cars missing, as they had been moved elsewhere while the warehouse was undergoing a renovation – but it was still very impressive.
Nissan may not have a public museum to show off all of these cars like Honda has at Motegi with their Collection Hall, but at least they’re doing a good job of collecting them and keeping them all in tip-top condition.
Believe it or not, but most of the maintenance on these cars is taken care of by a group of retired ex-Nissan employees who put time aside every once in a while to come in and work on them. Everything from general upkeep to full restorations are completed here, as well as the archiving all the documentation and paperwork on the cars.
Where did I begin? Well call me boring but it was the Skylines I was instantly drawn to, starting off with this 1987 KHR31 2000 GTS-R which was sitting in a very long line of Skylines spanning all the generations.
I then checked out this BCNR33 V-Spec and the BNR34 M-Spec sitting next to it. It was fun looking over a couple of bone-stock GT-Rs and getting that whiff of new car smell from inside the san-yon!
The final piece of the puzzle wasn’t too far away: the 2007 R35 sitting right next to its Super GT counterpart.
Because the racecars are probably the most interesting and impressive part of this collection, I’ve decided to make a separate post on those – coming later this week – so that I can share as many images as I can with you guys.
Ah, don’t you just love homologation regulations? For racing purposes, they have helped manufacturers create some of the craziest cars ever to grace the road – and the R390 GT1 was one of them. This car was one of only two road car examples built to homologate the race version for Le Mans, and the other one has since been sold off to a private collector. Words can’t describe how imposing the thing is – it sits half as high as the R33 GT-R next to it and just looks nuts. Is it me though, or does that front grille remind you of a Primera from the same era?
Okay, so if you know your Nissans then you will have noticed that the R33 next to the R390 is actually another homologation special. And like the badge suggests, this BCNR33 was built for Le Mans too.
Like your cars wide? Then the Nismo GT-R LM won’t disappoint… Aside from the fattened body, what actually makes this car special is the fact that it’s rear-wheel drive.
The body was designed and developed by Nismo to boost the car’s aerodynamics, with an RB26 providing the power of course. If you’re a long-time Speedhunters reader you may remember the Spotlight I ran on this very car when it was on loan to the old Prince and Skyline museum in Ibaraki.
Fuel Cell X-Trail? I actually drove this car many moons ago during a technology-oriented event that Nissan held for the media. I remember it having a massive hydrogen tank in the trunk so that enough high-pressured gas could be stored. Nissan ended up going with electric power in the end, but they are still continuing their R&D with fuel cell technology.
And from way back before the Nissan alliance came to be there was of course Datsun, which had been making cars in Japan since 1914 when it was still called DAT Motors.
There is pretty much the entire line-up of Datsun cars from the ’30s here, starting off with the Datsun 12 Phaeton.
I often wonder what amazing cars would come to be if Japanese manufacturers joined forces with Italian designers. Well, it turns out I wasn’t the first to think of this, and many years before I was even born Prince collaborated with Giovanni Michelotti who penned the lines of the two-door Skyline Sports in 1962. Only 60 cars were built, but it was by far one of the prettiest machines to wear the Skyline badge.
Here’s another example sitting next to the ALSID-1 (also known as the very first Skyline), which was built in 1954 under the Prince brand.
During the ’70s design gave way to functionality and actual performance, and the GT-R was born. The boxy shape quickly became synonymous with speed and success in racing.We Can’t Forget Datsun
The other legend was, of course, the Fair Lady. The model arrived in the early ’60s with this 1961 SPL213 convertible, which replaced the SPL212 ‘Sports’ with an updated twin-carb motor.
The car evolved and by the late ’60s it had become the choice for open-top performance motoring.
Eventually, the S30 chassis was born and the 240Z really put Datsun on the map. As the years have gone on, these cars have become increasingly sought after by a variety of enthusiasts – those that want to maintain them in their original condition, and those that have prefered to use the sports base for a modified build.
As tuning was beginning to get popular, the police too had to upgrade their pursuit fleet in the ’70s.
Follow the historic line up of Zs and eventually you get to the Z32 – the twin turbo V6 machine that’s still a favorite with some tuners.
But what about the Silvia I hear you ask?
Well, don’t worry about that. Alongside the rest of the generations, the very first model produced was sporting the nicest colour of the lot. Built on the SP311 Fairlady’s underpinnings, the 1966 CSP311 Silvia was manufactured in very low numbers and sold as more of a specialty car. It’s one of the prettiest cars that Nissan made in the ’60s.
The big selection of cars continued with every generation of Bluebird – each with their own interesting story.
Oh yes, and let’s not forget about the Sunnys!
It was, however, the more curious sightings that really made me stop and take special notice. The Hakosuka wagon is one of the rarest iterations of the C10 platform, and like you I’m getting all these images of RB26 swaps flowing through my head right now!The Best Of The Rest
Since we’re on the subject of rarities, check this luxurious beauty out. This is a 1964 Prince Gloria Super 6, and it was the first Japanese domestic market car to be powered by an overhead cam engine – a 2.0-liter straight six that became the preferred configuration for many Nissan models throughout the ’60s and ’70s.
Of course, no Nissan line up would be complete without the President – the flagship luxury car that was designed to take on the Toyota Crown in the mid ’60s. It shared its Y40 V8 motor with the Cedric Patrol.
Porsche had the 959, and Nissan had the MID 4. This car was a prototype built in 1985 to develop technologies for implementation in future sports cars. Unlike the 959 Prototype from 1983 the MID 4 was never put in production, but it might as well be considered the forefather of both the new-gen GT-R and the Fairlady Z.
The car was powered by a mid-mounted (hence the name) VG30DETT and sported an all-new 4WD system with a rear-biased torque split. Essentially, it was the first version of Nissan’s ATTESA, which was then further refined until it made its production debut in the 1989 BNR32 Skyline GT-R.
It also had an innovative 4-wheel steer system called HICAS, which as we know was used in the Z32 and all GT-Rs, as well as a string of other Nissan cars.
While the rare Kenmeri Skyline 2000GT-R was by far the most desirable of all vintage ‘Rs’ due to only being built in few numbers, there were many other cool versions of the car to choose from. This 1976 KGC111 GTX-E was the pick of the bunch, as it came with all the goodies from the options list as well as an electronic fuel injected L20E. This was the first Skyline to pass stringent new emission regulations introduced in Japan in 1976.
After a tour of the whole facility I eventually found the one car I was looking for: the Z432. Of all the S30 Fairladys, this is the one to have. This particular Z432 is an early car from 1969 and was sitting on a nice set of factory magnesium alloy wheels.
What made the 432 special was its engine: the S20 2.0-liter straight six from the GT-R. The ‘432’ name comes from the engine’s configuration, which features 4 valves per cylinder, 3 carburetors and 2 camshafts.
I’ll end this look at the production cars of Nissan DNA Garage right here, but make sure you don’t miss the second part to this awesome warehouse tour as it will be all about the racecars…
Dino Dalle Carbonare