| Before the very first Datsun was built,
the 1932 Datsun 11, there was the Datson 10.
The history of the Nissan Motor Company, and the origins of Datsun,
is a ludacriously complicated tale of mergers and takeovers, all of which
is explained in more detail in the Pre-Datsun section of earlydatsun.com.
But the shortened version of what happened is that in 1912 a gentleman
by the name of Masujiro Hashimoto started a business called Kwaishinsha
Motors, with the aim to produce a Japanese built car.
His first prototype met with little success, so he went about
building a second prototype, which was completed
in 1914. This car, the 31, was deemed good enough to put into production.
Hashimoto had trained in the United States as an engineer, and was certainly
qualified and talented enough to build this new car, but he lacked the
finances to do it alone. He sought investers to get the company up and
running, and managed to find three people willing to invest. The first
was Kenjiro Den, who helped set up the original company,
second was Rokuro Aoyama a friend from childhood, and thirdly was Meitaro
Takeuchi, who was a cousin of a former prime minister who helped arrange
To honour his financiers Hashimoto
decided to change the name of the company from Kwaishinsha, which wasn't
exactly an inspired choice of name, to DAT, which is the initials of the
surnames of his three investors, Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi.
DAT continued to build cars and trucks through
the 1920s. DAT was also the Japanese word for hare, or fast rabbit, which
gave it a nice automotive link to a quick animal. The
DAT cars were fairly large, and were aimed at a more upmarket clientele.
In 1929 DAT decided to try their hand at building a small lower priced
car, and built a prototype model called the DAT 91. Because this car was
going to be a 'baby' version of the big DAT, they called this model the
Datson, meaning "son of DAT".
The DAT 91 prototype was completed in 1929, and was deemed to be a success,
and in 1930 the production version went into production as the Datson 10.
The car was designed by a DAT engineer called Takayoshi Gotou. The
car was a fairly conventional design for it's time, and was powered by
a 4 cylinder side valve DAT engine with a displacement of 495cc. It produced
10hp at 3700rpm, but it moved along well due to the fact it only weighed
The DAT 91 prototype featured a polished alloy bonnet, which
was painted on the production Datson 10. The 91 also sported a leaping
greyhound radiator emblem that was purchased from Lincoln in the USA. This
didn't make it onto the production version. The 91 had huge chariot wheels
with six massive spokes, the 10 had much more attractive smaller wheels
with eight slots. Because the 10 had smaller wheels it also had smaller
front guards, that were much lower. As a result the headlights were mounted
lower as well.The Radiator grille on the 91 and the 10 is completely vertical.
It has a chrome surround and the corrugated insert top and bottom is painted
the same colour as the body. The 10 has no badge on the radiator, the later
Datsun 11 has a Datsun badge on the top corrugated section. The 91 has
a DAT badge under the corrugated top section. The body on the Datson 10
is all but identical to the one on the Datsun 11, the only major difference
being that the bonnet vents on the 10 and the 91 are horizontal, while
the ones on the Datsun 11 are vertical.
The Datson 10 was not a success at first, with only ten being
sold in it's first year in 1930. Figures aren't available for 1931, but
production increased significantly. It wasn't until the Datsun 11 was released
that sales really took off.
The Datson name didn't last for long. 'Son' in some dialects
sounded like the word meaning loss. This was
taken as a bad omen at the time, and when a hurricane destroyed the factory
in 1931 it became obvious that it was a really bad omen, and the name was
changed. The -son suffix was replaced in 1932 with -sun changing the name
to Datsun. No longer the 'son of DAT', the sun part of the name paid hommage
to the rising sun symbol of Japan. The possitive connotation of the sun
in it's name was hoped to act as a good omen as well.
The Datson 10 was in production during 1930 and 1931, it
was replaced by the Datsun 11 in 1932.
A Japanese language sales brochure for the Datson 10. The
brochure seems to have been prepared prior to the Datson 10 entering production,
and instead shows a photo of the DAT 91.
Datson 10s being built in the DAT factory
Length - 2710mm
Width - 1175mm
Height - unknown
Wheelbase - 1880mm
Weight - 400kg
Top speed - unknown
Transmission - Floor
change 3 speed
Model - DAT
Side Valve 4 Cylinder
Capacity - 495cc
Bore & Stroke 54x54mm
Power - 10hp@3700rpm
Compression - unknown
Carburettor - unknown
Final drive - unknown