Masujiro Hahimoto, a graduate of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, was a major figure in the evolution of the Japanese automobile, commencing manufacture at a time when there were less than 300 cars registered in Tokyo. In 1902 he travelled to the USA as a government trainee studying the technology for manufacturing car engines. He established the Kaishiinsha Automobile Factory in Tokyo in order to repair, import, and assemble of foreign cars alongside the manufacture of Japanese cars. The company's first small passenger car was the Dat (‘Hare’, 1914), followed by the Dat31 (1915) and Dat41 (1916). In 1918 the company began the manufacture of military vehicles but later faced some financial difficulties and merged with Jitsuya Jidosha Seizo in Osaka, becoming Dat Jidosha Seizo. The 1920s was an uncomfortable period for the Japanese automobile industry since General Motors and Ford had commenced large‐scale automobile production of Model Ts and Chevrolets in Yokohama and Osaka in 1925 and 1927 respectively, each producing around 10,000 cars per annum. Dat Jidosha Seizo produced Datsuns (‘sons of Dat’) from 1931 though the company was taken over in 1933 (the year in which Hishimoto retired), changing its name to Nissan in the following year. Datsuns were manufactured at the company's sophisticated Yokohama factory and further technological developments in mass‐production techniques were developed through linking up with the Graham‐Paige Company in the USA. In 1936 the Automobile Manufacturing Industry Law was passed, leading ultimately to the closure of foreign automobile manufacturers in Japan and paving the way for domestic automobile production on a significant scale. The Nissan Model 70 saloon of 1937 was derived from the Graham 80 Crusader of 1936. Like a number of other automobile manufacturers such as Isuzu, after the Second World War Nissan developed links with a foreign manufacturer, in this case with Austin of Britain, and from 1953 began production of the A40. Its comfort was far greater than most contemporary Japanese cars and so it proved popular. In 1955 the Datsun Model 110 was launched in 1955, winning the 2nd Mainichi Design Award in 1956 for its novel design, manoeuvrability, and levels of interior comfort. During this fiercely competitive period Nissan products also gained a reputation for reliabilty. The Type 310, or first generation Bluebird, passenger saloon was launched in 1959, followed by the Fairlady Model SP310, a sportscar, in 1953. The Datsun Sunny was launched in 1966, the same year as the Toyota Corolla, and was aimed at the mass market. The name ‘Sunny was voted for by the public, 8.5 million of whom participated in the naming competition. By the end of 1966 it was selling at a monthly rate of 10,000. Since the 1960s Nissan has achieved worldwide sales and has extended its design research and manufacturing facilities in the United States and Europe.
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.