Predicting the Future: The NRV-II

I recently acquired an old press release from Datsun UK relating to the NRVII (Nissan Research Vehicle II) from 1983, which lead me to take a closer look at this concept. This car was an incredibly advanced project for its time, featuring all sorts of technology which is now commonplace, such as a navigation system, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, tyre pressure monitoring, as well adaptive cruise control. Based on the 5th generation Nissan Sunny B11 Sunny (Sentra in the US), the NRVII was powered by a turbocharged 1300cc (E13ET) engine, which was fuelled by methanol and put out a creditable120bhp. This kind of power, alongside with the weight savings afforded by the use of plastics for things like the windows, fuel tank and even the wheels, must have made this slightly anonymous looking Sunny into a very lively performer!

While the outside wasn’t greatly different from the conventional production B11 Sunny, the interior got some suitably futuristic looking additions. I really love that digital dashboard display and especially the button pad in the centre of the steering wheel which remains stationary while the wheel rotates. Somehow the RVII could even measure your brainwaves and alert you if you became drowsy. Quite how that worked is a mystery! The navigation system required you to pre-plan your route and would then give you instruction to follow your chosen route using a voice module alongside the map displayed on the console mounted CRT display. This same unit could also display the time and information relating to the in car audio. It even had a touch operated screen!

The Australian Science and Technology TV program, ‘Towards 2000’, ran a short feature on the Nissan NRVII back in 1983. It is surprising just how advanced this project was and how well developed and functional all of the the systems appear to be, although I suspect the boot was probably full of the electronics needed to run everything… maybe the reason that Nissan declined to let the program makers have a look in there.

In a way, the most surprising thing to me about the RVII, is that Nissan would choose to package such remarkable technology into such an plainly styled and unremarkable looking car! I guess the purpose may have been to present it all in a form that people could relate to, so they could see that this was research genuinely intended for the consumer, rather than just pie-in-the-sky dream-car stuff. Check out some scans of the original press release below…

70s Nissan

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At the start of the 1970s, Nissan was very busy developing all manner of advanced projects and concept cars. Fortunately for us, it was also very keen on producing quite elaborate and informative brochures depicting them. This one, from 1970, is absolutely packed with interesting stuff, although naturally the text is all in Japanese. There’s the wild concept cars from that year’s Tokyo Motorshow, the Nissan 126X, the E10 Cherry based 270X and the 315x electric car. There’s also some lesser known projects, such as the 130 based Cedric EL Special, which made use of complex (for 1970!) electronics technology and the 150 model President Proto-AX, which featured advanced emissions controls. There’s also Nissan’s experimental  gas turbine engine, a mention of air bags… and craziest of all… a steam powered 510 wagon! Plus, there’s a beautifully illustrated guide to Nissan’s model line up at the time. Click through to take a look…

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The IDx Concepts

I have to confess that I do find it hard to get excited about new Nissan models these days, particularly the everyday regular cars, but the new Nissan IDx concepts are a really interesting idea and one which I hope signals some change of direction in styling. Ironically, in this video it seems they that, whilst they talk about designing these cars for people who aren’t interested in cars, they have actually created something that interests car enthusiasts a great deal! Just imagine these with a lively DOHC up front and rear wheel drive… a budget driver’s car of the kind they haven’t really built for years.

Clearly these concepts have a retro vibe to them, and certainly evoke the spirit of the legendary Datsun 510, especially the Nismo IDx with it’s BRE style graphics. I actually prefer the IDx Freeflow to the Nismo version, and were it to be brought into production looking as the concept does, I’d seriously want to own one…. providing of course that it wasn’t utterly dismal under the skin! As with all good things though, I’d wager there’s next to no chance of getting something from Nissan that’s this exciting, and even if the concept should move forward, it’ll no doubt be re-worked and cost-cut until it was just another Nissan Note or Pixo. It’d be nice to be proved wrong….

1975 Nissan AD-1

Many Nissan enthusiasts regard it as a tragic loss that the Mid-4 concept of the late 1980’s never reached production, despite extensive development and some very favourable reviews in the media. However, the Mid-4 wasn’t Nissan’s only still born mid engined sports car. A decade earlier, in 1975, the Nissan AD-1 had gone on public display for the first time but despite getting positive feedback, it never reached production. The AD-1 was a neatly styled and economic little two seater coupe with a mid mounted transverse engine, a recipe which would be repeated with Toyota’s MR2… but not until until some nine years later…

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Japanese Showcars

It seems every Car Graphic publication I come across is incredibly comprehensive and excellent value and this new set of books on Japanese Showcars displayed at the Tokyo Motorshow down the years is no exception. The series is divided into four parts covering the periods from 1954-1969 in part one, 1970-1979 in part two, then 1981-1989 for part three and finally 1990-1999 in part four. Each book runs to around 150-170 pages with hundreds of black and white and colour photographs of cars from all Japanese manufacturers. So far I have picked up the first two volumes and can say they are well worth getting hold of, particularly as although they are a Japanese publication, they also have plenty of text in English. All the usual concepts and showcars were are familiar with are covered, but also a great many that are all but unheard of. Also, many of the photographs of well known Nissan concepts such as the 126X, 216X and 270X are ones I have not seen before and include some engine bay and interior shots. If you don’t have a supplier of Japanese books and magazines locally then you should be able to find these books available on eBay without too much difficulty.

Retro Roadster

Retro styled cars are becoming popular with motor manufacturers, so I began to wonder which Datsun could be modified to look ‘new’ with subtle changes, much like the Rover group achieved with the MG R-V8 back in 1992. In fact, considering the manner in which the RV8 was done, how about doing the same with a Fairlady Roadster? I did this somewhat hasty edit to give an idea of what could be done. At first glance it doesn’t look too much different to the original, but that’s the idea. The changes are comprehensive though…

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