Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mid-1960s Datsun Bluebirds

My first encounter with a Datsun 310 Bluebird was as a distinctly ill-at-ease passenger in one of Yokohama's famous kamikaze taxis as the driver snaked back and forth between the passenger car portion of the street and the central streetcar zone, narrowly averting the trolly passenger-waiting islands.

"Damn good car," I thought.

Months later, I rode a Tokyo taxi, perhaps a new Datsun 410, though the trip was less scary because traffic was so thick the driver couldn't speed.  It seems I have a soft spot for Datsuns from the time I was in the Army in the Far East.

The Wikipedia entry on the Datsun Bluebird (its name in Japan) line is here.  It mentions the change from the Datsun name (a contrived one -- no meaning in Japanese) to Nissan, a change that displeased me.  I dislike the name Nissan because I find it harder to pronounce than Datsun.  Besides, it has a weak sound to it, whereas Datsun has spark when spoken.

As for the styling of those early-1960s Bluebirds, it was neat and practical.  I think the 410, produced starting in 1964, was the better-looking car.


The 310 appeared for the 1959 model year and lacked the fussy ornamentation found on a number of Japanese cars in the early postwar years.  I think the greatest visual failing has to do with the small wheels.

410s seem to have slightly larger wheels, and the wheelhouse openings have ridges around them, adding interest (contrast with the plain-sided 310).  Another improvement is the indented section along the sides.  It also adds interest and makes the car look a little longer and less tall, though I might quibble with the extent of its drop-off aft of the rear doors.

I include this image because its shows the rear of the 410 (click to enlarge).  For its time and market position, the 410 was a nicely styled car.

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