The name Nissan originated in Japan, when founder Yoshisuke Aikawa became president of Nihon Sangyo in 1928. Primarily dealing in foundries and auto parts, Nihon Sangyo debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by its ticker name NISSAN in 1933. Nissan expanded beyond its Japanese roots from there, and officially came to the U.S. as Datsun in 1958.
Not only are Datsuns the first mass-produced Japanese vehicles, their unique automotive style makes a major impact on the U.S. market when Datsun sedans and compact pickups are first imported in the late '50s.
The Datsun Type 15 is the first mass-produced Japanese vehicle. Other Type 15 models include a phaeton, mini pickup and delivery van.
The Nissan Skyline is the predecessor to the revolutionary Nissan GT-R®, the Skyline was first introduced in 1957. The rear-wheel drive coupe has never been commercially available in America, but it has always been a highly sought-after import. The modern Nissan R35 GT-R was introduced to the world, and made for sale in the United States, in 2009.
Sharing much of its DNA with the British Austin of the day, the first Datsun introduced to the U.S. market in 1958 was the Datsun 1000 Sedan. It utilized the same platform as the Datsun pickup truck. The 1000 sedan sold 146 units in the US from 1959-1961 until replaced by the 1200 sedan, which sold 1,318 units.
The first Datsun compact pickup was sold in America. Originally imported in 1958 with a 37-hp 1000-cc engine, it was soon given a boost with a 48-hp 1200-cc engine. This quarter-ton pickup firmly established Datsun in the American market. Approximately 220 American servicemen purchased this truck and imported them back to the U.S. from Japan.