#Tokyo: Nissan Garage

Time 3:29 am, December 3, 2011

dna1TUCKED behind a huge red garage door on an unassuming industrial park in Japan is a mecca for Nissan fans.

In neat rows, glistening under bright neon lights, 405 cars chart the Japanese manufacturer’s past in a home dubbed the Nissan DNA Garage.

Le Mans race cars sit alongside rally stars, punctuated by many milestone motors from the firm’s impressive history.

Nestled among them is the company’s very first Skyline GT-R.

dna2The steel-wheeled sportscar, right, is the forefather to today’s modern day monster and features a 158bhp 2.0-litre.

One of the original engineers of that very car gave us a tour of the garage (he’s pictured in that first shot by the door) and he explained this classic GT-R is now worth £150,000.

Inside the dash is simple, but the famous GT-R badges are easily recognisable on the front and rear.

Not far away was the manufacturer’s very first car – the Datsun 12. The firm’s founder, Yoshisuke Alkawa acquired the Datsun manufacturing business in March 1933 and began producing the 12 with its 748cc, four cylinder engine.

dna5The simplicity of the car is staggering, with flag indicators, tiny seats and an engine about the same size as a modern car battery.

Another surprise was to find the Leaf isn’t the firm’s first electric car. Nissan has been dabbling in EVs for years – the very first hitting the road as far back as 1947.

After the war, fuel was scare but electricity plentiful so the Japanese authorities promoted the production of electric vehicles.

Nissan’s first EV was badged the Tama and had a range of 96km. It was used as a taxi and in similar roles until 1950.

Another line displayed the marque’s rally cars stretching back decades. Monte Carlo and Safari rally campaigners, still sporting the dents and dirt of battle, charted an impressive history of success on the world’s rally stages.

And the Le Mans cars, with huge wings, fins and tarmac kissing splitters looked stunning lined up in what must be a multi-million pound collection.

Even Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s 350Z – badged Fairlady – was on display. The car, chassis number 001, is owned by the boss and kept at the lock up for safe-keeping.

What was surprising about the DNA Garage, though, was the lack of modern motors. We couldn’t find a 370Z, Leaf, Juke or Qashqai anywhere – perhaps they’re not regarded as classics just yet…

Full set of pictures from inside the Nissan DNA Garage on Flickr here

More blogs: The Madness of Tokyo

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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