Nissan 80

1937 80 and 90 Models

Nissan's first large truck, with a decidedly American base.


In 1934 Nissan was being run by Rokuro Auykama. Auykama was friends with a gentleman by the name of William Gorham, who was an American engineer who had moved to Japan in the 1920s. Gorham was a car enthusiast, and he even managed to start a business in Japan building his own cars, named the Gorham. Auykama was well aware that Nissan still had a lot to learn with regards to car manufacturing, and Gorham offered to return to the United States to try to recruit some more American engineers to work at Nissan and teach the Japanese more about mass production of cars.
While Gorham was in the United States he visited a recently closed factory of the American car manufacturer Graham Paige. Graham Paige had a fairly modern factory and equipment, which was now sitting idle. Gorham contacted Auykama back in Japan and suggested that Nissan should purchase the production line equipment from the Graham Paige factory. Auykama agreed to the plan and a deal was done that netted Nissan all the equipment, and the rights to build the big Graham Paige Crusader sedan, and also the cab-forward style Graham Paige truck.

By 1937 the factory was fully operational, and in that year production began on the Nissan version of the Graham Paige truck, which was to be known as the Nissan 80.

 The Nissan 80 was a large truck, being 4750mm long and 1905mm wide. It was described at the time as being a cab-forward design, though it would probably best be described as a semi cab-forward design, as it still had a conventional opening bonnet rather than having the engine mounted under the seat. The chassis and all the running gear are all a direct copy of the Graham Paige design. The engine is a Nissan built version of the Graham Paige engine, which was a 3670cc 6 cylinder 85hp side valve engine which Nissan designated the A type engine.

 The original Nissan 80 from 1937 was a very bold looking truck, and quite modern for it's time. It's grille consisted of fifteen chrome plated horizontal bars, with the bottom bar being the narrowest and every bar being slightly wider than the last as they rose upwards. Above the grille there is another chrome bar of the same profile as the grille bars, which travels from the front of the truck to the back of the cabin, across the doors. Above this bar is another two bars mounted on the doors.

 As Japan descended into war certain materials started to become scarce, one of these was chrome. By 1938 all the chrome on the truck was deleted, and now all those intricate chrome grille bars, and the bumber, were all painted the same colour as the body. By 1939 steel was becoming harder to source as well, and from 1939 onwards the bars on the grille were removed, and instead the grille consisted of 15 horizontal slots in the front of the vehicle.

 A bus version of the Nissan 80 was also built at the same time, which was designated the Nissan 90. The bus used the same chassis, engine and mechanicals as the truck, and also used the same front section ahead of the doors, but the rest was all a Nissan design.

 The Nissan 80 was rare in that it was one of very few classic era Nissan products to suffer from sizable reliability issues. The Graham Paige designed trucks may have been well suited to the highways of America, but they faired less well on the poor quality roads in pre-war Japan, and were especially troublesome for the military in rougher terrain. The Nissan 80 was in production until 1941, when it was replaced by the Nissan 180.


Model Variations


Nissan 80 - 1937

The first Nissan 80 had all the bars in the grille, plus the bars on the doors and the front bumber chrome plated.  


Nissan 80 - 1938

The second version of the 80 had all the previously chrome plated parts painted the same colour as the body.  


Nissan 80 - 1939

The final version had no bars on the grille, and instead had a series of horizontal slots for a grille.  


Nissan 90

A bus version of the Nissan 80 truck was also built, this vehicle was called the Nissan 90.  

1937 Nissan 80 Specifications

Length - 4720mm
Width - 1905mm
Height - 2500mm
Wheelbase - 2241mm
Weight - 1306kg
Top speed - 79kph
Transmission - Floor change 4 speed

Engine Specifications

Model - Graham Paige A
Capacity - 3670cc
Bore & Stroke 82x114mm
Power - 85hp@3600rpm
Torque- unknown
Compression - 5.7 : 1
Carburettor - unknown
Final drive - unknown

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