Nissan Motor Corporation wasn’t officially organized until 1934, though its origins go all the way back to 1911. Its earliest car, the 1914 DAT, eventually led to the Datson and, in 1934, the name Datsun. The firm’s late-Thirties models were mostly scaled-down British and American designs (including a true “joint-venture” car patterned on the American Graham Crusader), while reworked British Austin A40s, built under license, led a halting recovery in the early postwar years. Amazingly, Nissan didn’t get around to a new postwar design of its own until 1958, the Datsun Bluebird sedan.
But bigger and better things weren’t long in coming. The very next year brought a new open two-seater, catering to a traditional Japanese fondness for such cars. Designated S211, it replaced the original Datsun Sports that had been built in small numbers for domestic sale since 1952.
It was also the first Datsun to bear the poetic Fairlady name that’s still in use today, though the car itself was nothing to write sonnets about. Carrying a 60-horsepower 1189-cc four, it was sized like an Austin-Healey Sprite yet wasn’t as peppy or agile. Worse, it tried to look like a big Healey. Somehow, production continued through 1963.