By on December 27, 2011

Remember Sakura and Fuji, the two tiny Datsun 210s that went to “The World’s Cruelest Rally” and came home with a trophy? This story has a sequel.

In 1958, two Datsuns, named “Fujii” and “Sakura”  entered  the Mobilgas Trial, 10,000 miles all around Australia. Surprisingly, “Fuji” won its class title. “Sakura” finished fourth.

Half a century later, the cars were found in a warehouse in Japan.  A team of Nissan  volunteers set out to restore the cars. The restoration took place at the Nissan Technical Center in Atsugi, 28 miles southwest of Tokyo.

With the resources of Nissan’s engineering center, the restoration should go smoothly, you think? The team ran into the same problems any restorer has to contend with: Parts.

No car company stocks parts for cars made half a century ago.  Help came with James Haupt, usually based at Nissan Technical Center North America. He found some critical parts, for instance a very old ’50s British car speedometer that had been used in the original Datsuns.

“Sakura” was the easier job. “Fuji” had suffered significant wear and tear and was in bad shape. Finally, Fuji was like nw. Well, not quite: The dent in the front fender that came courtesy of a tree that was in the way during the 1958 race, was also faithfully restored.

Finally, in December, the cars were in running condition again. They were shown to 30,000 fans that cam to the annual Nismo Festival at Fuji Speedway. Half a century later, the cars that made Datsun famous and a country proud, were on  a racetrack again. This time, it was smooth and nicely paved, unlike the 10,000 miles of dust and dirt all around Australia.


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12 Comments on “Return Of Sakura And Fuji: The Dogged Datsuns Run Again...”

  • avatar

    “No car company stocks parts for cars made half a century ago.”
    BMW does.

    • 0 avatar

      BMW Mobile Traditions is one of those rare (and VERY profitable) anomalies in the automotive world. Last I heard they cover everything from the pre-WWII 328 in cars, and the post-WWII /2’s and /3’s. And the division makes money.

      It amazes me that no other manufacturer does this sort of thing.

      • 0 avatar

        Land Rover maintained a full line of Genuine Spares for Series Trucks from 1952 on, and a good portion of its other models. The sale to Tata ended a practice that was eroding under Ford. LRNA never participated – but the rest of the world benefitted.

    • 0 avatar

      Mercedes Benz does as well:

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      No company “stocks” parts for a 50-year-old car. BMW and MB will make as many parts for your 50-year-old car as you’re willing to pay and wait for.

      • 0 avatar

        The dealers may not stock the parts, but there is a warehouse in Germany for the parts. On the page I posted a link to are a couple of PDFs (Bimmers and Beamers) indicating that they are no longer back ordering certain parts. That implies they are stocked and not produced on demand.

  • avatar

    Can’t drop a small-block Chevy in there?

  • avatar

    Fell in love with the brand when I was stationed in Japan in 1962. Drove them for a long time. Only owned one Nissan till now. Presently driving my second Nissan. A 2011 Cube. I think the brand has just been top notceh came it came out.

    Why couldn’t we do that?

  • avatar

    Nissan doing this, and the story was just cool.

    Be great if every car company could be able to do this once every 5-10 years. But then, I don’t think every car company has something quite as Iconic as these two cars in the Mobilgas Trial.

  • avatar

    Hi gang, new to Apple here with an new i7, 4GB, 256GB, MacBookAir.

    I loaded FlashPlayer so I could watch the embedded YouTube vids, but Flash really seems to kill my battery. So I added the Click to Flash app.

    Both before and after plugging in C-t-F, this video seems to run haltingly, and varies between hair-sharp and fuzzy.

    Any Mac users out there that can give a brother TTAC’er any useful input here?

    • 0 avatar

      Unusual place to ask for help, but make sure you have all of the software updates for your new Mac. Use the Apple menu.

      You can also download Adobe Flash Player updates from Adobe’s website.

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