| In March 1948 Nissan unveiled a car
that was unlike anything previously seen in Japan. The car was the new
Datsun DB, and it was the first modern looking car built by any Japanese
car maker since the start of the Second World War. Unfortunately for Nissan
there were some Americans who had seen something like it before, and they
weren't too happy. The reason
some Americans had seen something like it before was because the Datsun
DB was a near perfect copy of a 1947 Crosley.
Crosley was an American car manufacturer that was started by Powel Crosley
in 1939. In 1947 Crosley released a very distinctive new model with an
unusual dorsal fin that ran down the bonnet and right down the front of
the car, between it's two seperate grille openings. History doesn't record
exactly how and when Nissan got their hands on a 1947 Crosley, but it was
more than likely something imported by the US occupying forces stationed
in Japan after the end of the war. The Datsun DB was a shameless copy,
although none of the panels are exactly the same as the Crosley it is quite
obvious where the design came from. The only significant differences were
to the grille design, the bonnet length and the windscreen shape. The gap
between the back of the bonnet and the windscreen is shorter on the Datsun,
because they needed a longer engine bay to fit the Datsun Type 7 engine,
as a result the overall bonnet length is shorter on the Crosley. The windscreen
opening is a rectangular shape on the Datsun DB with right angle corners.
This allowed Nissan to use less expensive flat glass with straight edges,
the glass edges on the Crosley were curved.
The Crosley had it's rather unique
CoBra engine, which had a copper braised sheet metal block. (Don't ask
me how that worked, I haven't fully figured it out myself !) For the Datsun
DB Nissan used the old pre-war 722cc 15hp side valve Type 7 engine that
had powered most Datsuns since 1935. The Crosley, rather conveniently,
had almost exactly the same wheelbase as the Datsun 2124 truck the DB was
based on, with the Crosley wheelbase only 26mm longer than the Datsun.
Powel Crosley let it be known that
he wasn't too happy about the whole thing, though no legal action was taken.
The US occupying forces were working hard to get Japan's economy back on
track, and were hardly likely to allow Nissan to incur any more financial
strain while the company was in a delicate rebuilding phase. Plus Powel
Crosley had enough other things to worry about, as his own car company
was in serious financial trouble. In 1949 Nissan changed the design of
the front of the DB to make it look less like a Crosley, though from side
on it was still unmistakable. The new model would be called the Datsun
The green car pictured above
is a 1947 Crosley.