Ace Trumps: Japanese Cars

Surely, this is the best Trumps card game set ever. I like how literally half the pack are Datsuns, such is their awesomeness! These were printed by a West German company called Altenburg-Stralsunder. I would guessthey date from about 1974, or shortly after, judging by the cars depicted… particularly the inclusion of both the Datsun 1200 (B110) and its successor, the 120Y (B210), which hit the European market in ‘74. A lot of the cars have German registrations, so it’s likely the set is based on models sold there. Does this mean the Mazda Chantez was sold in Germany? Really? Also, note the inclusion of the rare Toyota 10000 (sic). I bet that goes well. Check out the full set after the jump…

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I’m not really a collector of things in the true sense… just a hoarder. The value of the stuff I hoard isn’t monetary, it’s more in the nostalgia. I just like old stuff. Model cars, garage equipment, old stereos and electronic games, vintage cameras and books, car sales brochures and toy garages. Most of all, I like car stuff. Like any avid buyer of other people’s junk, the natural domain for me is the car boot sale or flea market. I just love finding some cool piece of automotive tat and paying peanuts for it.

I swear one day, I’ll have a mini museum of my own to put all this stuff in. A big garage with a few nice cars, surrounded by the mass of stuff I’ve hoarded over the years. I guess I must have about three and a half thousand or so toy cars by now which alone would make a great display. Add to that the toy garages and accessories, slot cars and track, model kits, brochures, signs, posters, books and films and it’d add up to my little bit of old car heaven. Just to give an idea of the kind of stuff I’m talking about, here’s an example of the sort of junk that catches my eye at a car boot sale…

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Hot Rod Trumps

I love Top Trump cards. They are like little colour snap shots of dubious motoring history with the techie bits whittled down to merely those about which small boys care, namely engine size, power and top speed. And occasionally value. Whenever I see an interesting old set that’s car based I buy it, so I was pretty chuffed to find these diminutive Mini Trumps Fact Cards, Particularly as they seem to feature an assortment of sometimes slightly goofy home brewed British Hot Rods from the early 1970’s. Curious really, as the card set is made by a West German company. The cards are pretty small at just 57mm by 37mm so they aren’t easy to scan, and the images aren’t all that sharp, but I’ve done them anyway as I figured they are interesting. There’s actually a couple of these old Rods I recognise, namely the American built “Andy’s T” and the green Opus, but most of the rest are totally unknown to me. Check out the full set of cards…

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Reims Salon – Swapmeet

As I’ve previously mentioned, the swapmeet at the 22nd Salon Champenois du Véhicule de Collection in Reims was a little pricey, but offered a staggering array of parts and memorabilia, much of which would be hard, if not impossible to find outside of France. Obviously the bulk of the parts on offer, from both business and private traders, catered for French and European marques. I saw very little on offer to suit Japanese cars but that’s hardly surprising really. I did see a nice metal “Datsun Concessionnaire” sign but it was sadly way to large to fit in our car! The sheer quantity and variety of the automobilia on offer was awesome, from enamel signs to pedal cars.. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many pedal cars in my life! Below, you can take a look at some of the wares on offer. I can thoroughly recommend this swapmeet, but if you do attend, take plenty of Euros!

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Mystery Cup

I just came by this cute little promotional Datsun cup and saucer via the wonders of eBay. I was rather hoping there would be some indication on it as to what it was promoting exactly, or even how old it was, but alas there’s nothing. I figured I’d post it up in case anyone out there knows. It’s beautifully decorated but what’s particularly curious is it’s size. It’s tiny! This makes me think it may possibly be an espresso coffee cup. It being marked with both Datsun and Nissan logos on the base doesn’t really provide any clues to it’s era as in Japan both of these logos were used right back, right from the start of Nissan Motor Company. If you know any more about this little cup and saucer let me know!

Nippon Datsun Club

Some time ago, this unusual brass car badge came into my possession and I decided only recently to do some digging, to see if I could ascertain its origins. After some fruitless searching using the conventional methods such as Google,  I resorted to using Japanese search engines, with the help of the excellent translator at OCN. Finally, after much translating back and forth, Japanese search engine Goo brought forth the answer. Surprisingly it’s not from some kind of national Datsun enthusiasts club as the name would imply…

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Golden Wonders

Hoarders of Datsun and Nissan related merchandising and collectibles may already be familiar with with these cigarette cases, based on various models built by the company. They appear to date back to at least 1959 and it seems that virtually every model sold since then has been represented by one of these cases… well into the 1990’s it would appear. The earliest examples I have seen are modeled on the 310 series Bluebird and 30 model Cedric, but cars as late as the Nissan Cima and R33 Skyline are also represented. It’s impossible to say whether every variant of every model series built is covered, but there are saloon, coupe and even estate versions, so perhaps they are?

All feature the same basic design which consists of a very heavy, one piece cast metal body, usually around 1/18 scale, with a removable roof to allow access to the cigarette tray and match holder inside. Generally they are plated in a gold finish, although a few appear with a silver or pewter finish.  Many even include a small clockwork music box which plays a tune when the roof is lifted off. It’s unclear exactly what marketing purpose these served, but it seem likely that they were issued to distributors and dealers of the companies products rather, than to the general public, as they certainly are not that common.

Below, I’ve gathered together a gallery showing some of the various Nissans modeled in this way. There are dozens more and it would appear that some other Japanese marques were captured in the same way, most notably Toyota.  Best place to find them is Yahoo! Japan Auctions… but be prepared to part with a fair bit of money if you want a nice one!

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Billet Beauty

At over £180 (¥38,000), this KPGC10 Skyline GT-R miniature is definitely going to be one for the connoisseur with deep pockets, but those lucky enough to acquire one of these will not only be getting a very limited edition miniature, but also something extremely high tech. Why? Well, unlike most metal miniatures which are usually die cast, the craftsmen at Iriso in Japan actually machine this one from a solid block of aluminium, using sophisticated CNC machinery! The miniature is quite small, maybe a little smaller than a Matchbox car, but the detail is incredible, right down to the badges. And even more amazing, is that parts like the fender mirrors and rear wing are also hewn from the same chunk of aluminium as the rest of the body!

For a company that have machined a dice from brass that is so small (0.3mm!!) it requires a microscope to see it, the detail on this model may seem like child’s play, but for us mere mortals it seems like an unimaginable feat of precision engineering. There will only be 500 of these made and each one comes packaged in a small tin with a certificate to authenticate it. These won’t be available until April, but to pre-order one check out or Targa.


I regularly browse through Yahoo! Japan auctions and it never ceases to amaze me the weird and wonderful Datsun related items that pop up on there. In particular, the assorted collectible items and ephemera associated with the brand. Take this curious figure pictured on the left. This cheeky chap, standing just shy of a metre tall, must have been used for publicity for the Sunny range, possibly in a dealer showroom, as he proudly wears the logo across his chest. But what possible purpose could it have served? Sadly the auction listing gave little away in it’s description so I guess it’ll remain a mystery unless someone out there knows?

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