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The Rally History

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Datsuns began their rally history before WWII in Japan in as early as 1930. The first international rally appearance by Datsun was the 1958 Australia Mobil Gas Trial, basically an off road one lap of Australia that chewed up cars at an unbelievable rate. A Datsun 210, named the "Fuji-Go", won the rally. The team was initiated and led by a young up and coming Nissan exec from the marketing department, a certain Mr. Yutaka Katayama. Katayama, a car builder and racer in his own right, was one of many Nissan execs that believed racing and rallying was an excellent way to test and develop their cars and trucks. As a marketer, Katayama also knew that racing and rallying was a great way to sell cars as well.



Nissan made its first attempt at the East African Safari Rally in 1963 with a team of Cedrics and Bluebird 311's. No cars finished the race, but the Safari History is such a big story, that I've put it on a page of its own. Safari Page



In February 1967 a Bluebird 411 SSS ripped through Ontario, Canada, to win the Canadian Winter Rally... 101 cars entered the race, only 59 finished. 411's also took part in the Baja, along with at least one Datsun pick up.



Roadster entered in the 1968 Mont Carlo Rally



Nissan tried the Safari Rally with Cedrics again in 1967 and 68, again with little success. Finally they found a car that worked, the Bluebird 510sss which took class and team championships in 69, and won overall in 1970.

Frank Ball and Ron Thompsons SCORE rally 510, which also won the Baja.



The Z was entered in the 1970 RAC rally, but all 4 cars entered failed to finish due to differential problems. Edgar Herrmann drove one of the cars, another was driven by Tony Fall, and a third by Rauno Aaltonen.

In May 1971 a 240z driven by Tony Fall took first place in the Welsh Rally, came in 5th and tenth in the Monte Carlo rally and 19th in the RAC Rally.



The 240z, with Herrmann and Schuller, won the 1971 East African Safari Rally; Shenkhar Mehta brought his Z in second.



The Z managed to place 3 rd overall at the Monte Carlo rally in 1972, with Rauno Aaltonen at the wheel, but had little success elsewhere, finishing 5 th , 6th and tenth at the Safari rally. Aaltonen did finish second at the Southern Cross rally in Australia.



Back in America the 240z entered the US rally scene at the 72 and 73 Press on Regardless rallies, and with a 1973 BRE entry in the Baja.

Shekhar Mehta at the Scottish Rally





260z's were entered in the rally for 74, finishing in fourth and fifth. It would take several more years, and the Datsun Violet, before Nissan would see success at the Safari again.



Z cars would lead Nissan to 3 consecutive SCCA rally Championships from 1975 to 1977.



Just when it looked like Nissans star would fall in rallying, the Violet came along. Kallstrom and Andersson won the 1976 Greek Acropolis Rally, with Shenkhar Mehta and H.Liddon coming in third. This was only the beginning for the Violet.

The 1977 Acropolis Rally saw Kallstrom and Billstam place 3rd overall, with Siroco and Makrinos in 5 th . The charm was back on the Safari rally that year, with Rauno Aaltonen and Lofty Drews coming in 2nd overall in thier Datsun Violet.

510's still competed strongly in the SCCA's ProRally series, like Les Nelsons car pictured here. Check out Historic Pit Stop



1978 saw respective third place finishes in the Acropolis Rally and the Safari rally with Mehta and Mehta, and Altonen and Drews.



Greece was good again in 79 with Timo Salonen and Seppo Hajanne's Violet coming in second overall and Kallstrom and Billstam in 3 rd . Salonen and Stuart Pegg also came in 3 rd at the rally of Great Britain.



Then came the rise of Shenkar Mehta. Paired with co driver Mike Doughty, Mehta is the most successful Driver in Safari Rally history, winning 5 times outright, with 4 wins in a row from 1979 to 1982, all in the Violet 160J. No one has even come close to matching this win streak. Not only that, but Datsun Violets, led By Mehta and Doughty would sweep the Podium in 1981.


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