Evolution of the Sports Sedan

There are many ways to celebrate car culture and historic vehicles. One is in museums, the other on the road. For this year’s Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Nissan is taking a pair of museum cars – a 1967 Datsun 411 and 1972 Datsun 510 – filling the tires and gas tanks and putting them on the road. Throw in a showroom-fresh 2016 Nissan Maxima and you’ve got a rolling exhibition called “The Evolution of the Sports Sedan.”

P1310473The low-key tour is scheduled to depart Los Angeles on Thursday, August 13th to make the 300-mile drive to the Monterey Peninsula, home of the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Monterey Motorsports Reunion vintage sports car races.

“We’re looking forward to joining the weekend celebration of legendary automobiles and race cars with our trio of old and new sports sedans,” said Pierre Loing, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. “The Datsun 411 and Datsun 510 helped establish Nissan in the United States, while the Maxima today continues as the flagship of our sedan lineup. We think the three vehicles will attract a lot of interest and we look forward to sharing them with car enthusiasts from all over the world gathering for the weekend’s various activities.”

The three Datsun/Nissan sedans will be driven from Los Angeles to Monterey by a group of automotive media and Nissan employees, accompanied by a Nissan NV support vehicle – but no trailer. The leisurely pace will likely be set by the Datsun 411, which at 48-years old should provide quite a contrast to the ride, handling and comfort of the brand new 2016 Maxima.

P1310375The next day, Friday, the trio will be on display and available for media drives at locations in the downtown Carmel area between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. On Saturday, the road show moves to the track for display and hospitality at the Nissan Garage.

The Nissan Garage will also be home base for the No. 75 Nissan 300ZX racer that in 1994 won the IMSA GTS class at the 24 Hour of Le Mans (including 5th place overall) and the 12 Hours of Sebring, along with the 1994 IMSA GTS Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championship. The No. 75 made its Monterey Motorsports Reunion debut last year in honor of the 20th anniversary of its historic season.

“I had so much fun last year, I had to bring the car back – this time with a few more of the cobwebs shaken out of the engine and chassis,” said Steve Millen, who piloted the car during its racing glory years. “I’m also looking forward to taking the 411, 510 and new Maxima for spins around the paddock. I think the new Maxima could give some of the race cars back then a run for the money today, straight from the showroom.”

About the Datsun 411 and Datsun 510
The Datsun 411 was produced from 1965 to 1967 and featured a body designed by Italy’s famed Pininfarina studio. It shared its 96-horsepower 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with the sporty Datsun 1600 Roadster and featured standard front disc brakes and 13-inch wheels and tires. Car and Driver magazine, in its May 1967 review said, “From what we were able to deduce, it handles creditably well, though its makers have a lot to learn about the subtleties of shock absorber calibration.”

By the time the Datsun 411 was replaced by the Datsun 510 in 1968, the Italian-designed body was gone but the blueprint was set for all future Nissan sports sedans. The Datsun 510 became known as nearly unbeatable on the race track and a popular alternative to European sports sedans in garages all over America. The 510 was named by Road & Track magazine as “one of the most important cars of the 20thCentury.”

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