The Japanese auto giant Nissan (NSANY +0.47%) is resurrecting the Datsun, the once-ubiquitous line of roadsters that had its heyday in Britain and America in the 1970s. The new Datsuns will be released in India, Russia and Indonesia as part of Nissan's push to expand in the fiercely competitive emerging markets.
Why were Datsuns so popular? The peak of Datsun's popularity came in the 1970s as the Arab oil embargo of 1973 caused prices at the pump to spike. Datsuns stood out for being affordable and fuel-efficient and were "packed with up-to-the-minute technology" that enticed a younger crowd, says Ray Massey at Britain's The Daily Mail. Datsuns also featured a sporty look that reminded consumers of more costly BMWs (BAMXF -2.25%) and Porsches (POAHY -1.65%).
Why were Datsuns shelved? Nissan has owned the Datsun name since 1933, but it began fazing it out in 1981 "as part of a global strategy to strengthen the company name," says Caroline Winter at Bloomberg Businessweek. The decision "proved to be a disaster." Everyone in the West recognized Datsun, but few had heard of Nissan. The company's worldwide sales plummeted. Nissan likely lost hundreds of millions of dollars, and in the process fell behind its two main Japanese competitors, Toyota (TM +1.24%) and Honda (HMC -0.08%)
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I remember people would "soup up" the 120Y. make it look like a muscle car, .