For many South Africans, the word Datsun conjures up fond memories of the first car they ever owned, the first taste of mobility, freedom and adventure on the long open road.
Whether it was a Super Sport Sedan, the so called SSS, that made them feel like a race car driver, or a station wagon with room for the whole family, and the dog, on a never-ending road trip full of fun and games! Datsun definitely has a special place in the collective memory of South African road users. With the modernised Datsun GO, you can now relive those special memories. But let’s take look at the company’s long, colourful history.
For anything to last more than a century, they must be doing something right! DAT GO (meaning the Dat Car) originated in Japan around the time World War I broke out in 1914. The word DAT is made up of the first letters of the three financiers’ names, namely Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi. Fortunately, it also means ‘lighting fast’ (or ‘to dash off like a startled rabbit’) in Japanese.
When Nissan took over the business in 1933, the vision for the brand was “mobility for all” and so the light-weight, economical car was named the “son of Dat” or “Datson” which later became the well-known global brand: Datsun; a name we as South Africans know very well.
When the 120Y model hit the South African market in 1976, it opened up a world of possibilities for young drivers looking for a way to achieve stylish, yet affordable car ownership – much like the Datsun Go is doing today. The well-priced, sporty 120Y made it possible for many South Africans to upgrade from fairly unreliable public transport, to their very own ride to cherish and enjoy.
During the 1960’s and 70’s young people were living on the edge and pushing the boundaries. It was a rebellious time of liberation movements, hippies and rock music. It was also the era of amateur rally driving and the 160 Super Sport Sedan and 240Z were the cars to watch. Both performed very well at competitions in Southern Africa and made them very desirable cars for those in search of adventure. This was undoubtedly Datsun’s heyday locally with the company taking market leadership in its segment during the late 70’s.
These models made sports car driving possible for those who couldn’t afford the more expensive models of the time. The fact that so many of these much-loved vehicles are still available as collectors’ items testifies to the brand’s durability and lasting popularity.
Part of the rally craze was to personalise your ride with body striping and decals, as well as trim and interior details to make your car truly unique. This popular tradition was reintroduced recently with the all new Datsun Go model, offering buyers the option to select finishes and upgrades according to their own taste, whilst keeping up with contemporary trends.
After a lengthy absence, Datsun was relaunched in South Africa in 2014 with remarkable success. Thanks to the hip and happening Datsun Go, the car maker managed once again to offer sheer driving pleasure, with every mod con you can think of, at a fraction of the price you would normally pay for such a rewarding ride. It has that distinctive front grille and athletic shoulders as tribute to its proud rally heritage.
This exciting new model is both modern and robust, with enough space to live the way you want to live – sharing life with friends or family and packing just enough stuff in the boot for your fun weekends away!