Nissan’s earliest manufacturing base was little more than a wooden shack with only a handful of cars made each year but their growth was phenomenal and by the mid 80’s Nissan had huge manufacturing bases all around the world with production in the millions. Below you can take a look at some of the various models built over the years in various stages on the assembly line from the very beginnings though until the end of the Datsun era around 1982.
The photo above was taken around 1921 and shows the factory of what was the Dat Motor Vehicle Co, as the fore runner to Nissan was then known. The vehicles outside are a Nissan type 51 sedan and a “DAT” based commercial vehicle.
Here we see the factory again but this picture shows it some nine years later. Here you can clearly see the name “DAT” over the main entrance which was the name of their product line and the name which was to become Datsun.
Above is an early production line photograph showing the assembly of body and chassis of the Type 15 Datsun sedan. All production at this time was done manually so production rates were very low.
Now we jump forward to the post war era and the production of the Datsun DS2 or “Thrift” sedan, circa 1950. These cars were still essentially pre war chassis but with slightly more modern bodywork. Again, very labour intensive assembly meant limited numbers were and subsequently this model is very scarce today.
A large part of Nissan production in the 1950’s was commercial vehicles. Here we see a Nissan Diesel 380 truck on the assembly line in around 1952. This truck was the basis for a huge variety of not only specialized trucks but also the successful buses too.
Again, around 1952 the Datsun DB range was produced. Here DB4 sedans are being built. Notice the complete lack of any kind of production line as such, just a workshop full of cars. The car nearest the photographer appears to be almost finished and was likely undergoing final inspection.
Another Nissan Diesel assembly line, this time from 1958 with the 390 model almost complete and ready to roll. This was another successful commercial vehicle for Nissan. Notice the truck behind is s much smaller Nissan Junior.
An unusual shot now, taken around 1961 in Nissan’s body pressing facility. This huge press is churning what are most likely roof panels, possibly for the new Datsun Bluebird model, the 310.
Still in 1961, we see the next generation of Nissan Diesel trucks coming off the line. This is the model 680 which came with either a 4 litre straight six petrol engine or strangely a 3 cylinder 3.7 litre two stroke diesel engine. This truck was also the basis of the 690 bus.
The 1960’s heralded a new era for Nissan with the launch of many popular and sucessful export models along with their move into the luxury market with the Nissan Cedric. Here we see model 31 Cedric bodies being mated with their chassis on their way to final assembly.
Here is an unusual shot, probably from around 1965, showing the former used to manufacture the body panels for the CSP311 Silvia. The Silvia body was completely hand made in the tradition coach building fashion using a full size wooden former. Obviously this method was extremely labour intensive and as a result very few CSP311’s were ever made. It’s interesting to note too that due to their hand made nature, each CSP311 is unique ..so much so that body parts and panels do not readily interchange between cars.
Moving along to the mid 1960’s now we see the Datsun Bluebird, 410 model under construction. At this stage in the process the bodies are being fitted with all of the interior trimming but have yet to receive the main running gear.
Again we have a picture of the 410 construction process. This time we see a built up body shell passing through the automated painting process. The 410 was Nissan’s first really successful export model.
Another successful model in the 60’s was the Datsun Sunny 1000, B10 model. This cars are having their suspension assemblies installed on the line, most likely around 1968 as the cars are face lifted models but not the last style built in 1969.
Here’s a couple of interesting shots from around 1970 in Australia. This local assembly plant was based at the Martin and King Complex at Westall. The plant had been a Volkswagen factory since 1959 but declining sales led to the facility being sold to Nissan which resulted for a short time in the curious sight of both Datsun 510’s and VW Beetles rolling along the production line together.
By the mid 1970’s, large parts of the production system were automated so a high rate of production was attainable …essential to feed hungry export markets. Here Datsun Bluebird 610 models undergo final checks including the testing of braking systems.
Above we see a line of Japanese domestic market E10 Cherry’s undergoing the same final testing and inspection. Note the similarities in the equipment on this line to those of the 610 line above.
Moving onto 1976 and here we have Datsun 620 pickup truck cabs being welded on a fully automated production line. The accuracy and speed of production on this kind of system ensured huge numbers of trucks could be built to satisfy the demand for this very successful model.
Again an automated production line from around 1978 rolls along, manned by very few staff. This time the cars underway are Datsun Laurels, otherwise known as 200L or 240L (model C230). Here the fully assembled body shells are ready to enter the painting process.
This N10 would most likely have been built around 1980 by which time Nissan production facilities were highly automated and very efficient. Bare body shells would be chemically etched to resist corrosion prior to priming and paint. In this picture it’s like the body is passing through a rinsing process after being chemically treated.