April 18, 2012
Nissan CEO Ghosn Visits the Zama Heritage Garage
April 18 – Kanagawa – Who says nostalgia isn’t what it used to be?
Just a few weeks after Nissan announced the upcoming return of the much-loved Datsun brand, CEO Carlos Ghosn stopped by the company’s heritage warehouse for an unrivaled slice of automotive history.
Home to 400 Datsun and Nissan vehicles, ranging from the 1933 Datsun 12 to electric prototypes used during LEAF development, the giant garage in Zama is a treasure trove of car nostalgia.
In a timely reminder of how the company built its name around the world, the CEO went for an indoor spin in a 1938 Datsun 17 Phaeton, still rolling almost 75 years after its maiden voyage.
The Zama facility relies on a network of former Nissan staff and volunteers to keep about 70% of the former production models drivable.
Golden oldies such as the 1967 Datsun Sunny 1000 Sports Deluxe bring back happy memories, says former Nissan Executive Vice President Nobuo Okubo, a onetime chassis engineer on the car.
“When I joined Nissan in 1964, almost half a century ago, this car was the first car that I dealt with,” said Okubo. “About 80% of my memories are about this car.”
The CEO’s cruise in the Datsun 17 took him past many of the stars of Nissan’s history, including the 2007 GT-R he used to own, rally cars, and a collection of classic Zs including a former Kanagawa prefecture police car.
With Zama currently closed to the public, former Nissan Senior Vice President Kenichi Sasaki says he hopes more people will eventually enjoy cars such as the Datsun Fairlady SR311, which he worked on as an engine engineer.
“I appreciate [Mr. Ghosn's] visit to this facility very much,” said Sasaki. “It may serve in the future to make some kind of Nissan museum. I hope so.”
At a time when Datsun’s return is sparking interest in Nissan’s rich heritage, its warehouse wonderland is set to grow even larger.