DSport Tokyo Auto Salon Tour 2017 Days 1 and 2 - Nissanity! Part 2

Hello again and welcome back to my DSport Tokyo Auto Salon Tour 2017 travelogue! I was hoping to get this second post up days ago but the huge number of photos took a while to go through. Anyway, we pick up where we left off back at Nissan's DNA Garage in Zama, Yokohama and we'll start this time with another cute and quirky car from Datsun's past. What? You were expecting a sexy, swoopy, drool-worthy monster of a Super GT race car right off the bat? Tsk, tsk, mon ami. Anticipation is the best spice - as many a chef...or lovely lady...might say, so feast your eyes on this little charmer:

I present to you the Datsun Baby!  It may look like an MG that's been put through the wash a few too many times but it's a car rarer than most exotics. It's harder to find than a Nismo R32 or even a Kenmeri GT-R! The tour skipped over this car - probably because Shimizu-san was worried we'd catch diabetes - but I was so intrigued I had to research what the heck it was.

Nissan only made 100 of these adorable little cherry Skittles, not for road use, but as children's rides at a Yokohama theme park called Kodomo no Kuni - "Kid's Land" in English. Even though they were meant for half-pints to tool around in, the Baby amazingly featured 4-wheel independent suspension and a 2-speed automatic transmission. This was no under-engineered car despite the target user. The 200cc engine may sound dismal until you realize many road cars in Japan at the time made do with just 360cc. Wrap-around bumpers and a 30kph limiter kept your favorite munchkin out of trouble but it was a fully-functioning car designed for kids nonetheless. How cool is that? If I were a kid back in 1965 this might have made those awful bowl haircuts and minuscule shorts of the day more bearable.
Now, if you were the proud owner of a Japanese child back in the '60s there was a good chance you drove one of these - the first generation Nissan Sunny, whose successor would make it to our shores as the Sentra. As the former owner of a B14 Super Saloon and B15 SE-R Spec V the Sentra is near and dear to my heart. Sure, this 1965 Sunny B10 may only have wheezed out 62hp from it's 1 liter engine but it was a cheap and cheerful rear-wheel drive compact sedan - a recipe that's sorely missing nowadays. Oh, and the Sunny was made in this very same factory back in those days so this one is back in its birthplace.

Do I have your attention again? That sexy thing is the very first Nissan Silvia, the progenitor of the 240SX that every drifter in America wants to molest. The 240SX may be seen now as a "My First Drift Car" in the US but back in 1965 when the first generation was introduced it was very much a rare and expensive car.

Amazingly the CSP311 as this model was called had hand-beaten body panels and cost the equivalent of over ninety-thousand dollars in today's money. That high price meant only 554 were made in three years. Aside from the classy styling and high price, the Silvia's main claim to fame was being the first high-speed patrol car used by the Japanese police. It's top speed of 165 kph (102 mph) and 90hp output may seem quaint by today's standards but the highway speed limit in Japan was only 80kph and even the legendary Hakosuka GT-R of 1969 topped out at only 200kph (124 mph).

Speaking of the po-po, Zama has this 1972 240Z-G patrol car preserved in gorgeous shape  looking ready to go all Sheriff Bufford on wannabe-Japanese Bandits at any moment. The Z-G could supposedly get up to 210kph and this example was used by the highway patrol of Nissan's home prefecture of Kanagawa. A prefecture in Japan by the way is like our states here in the US but with more limited self-governance versus our system. It's a remnant of the old government structure where power ultimately rested with the Emperor and helps avoid any provinces getting weird ideas like trying to secede all because of some pesky debate over civil rights, or politics, or whether 2D girls are better than real ones.

Maybe you'd have had better luck escaping the man by going off-road in one of these pristine second-generation Nissan Patrols.  They may not have been fast but they were hardy and they have the honor of being the first Nissans ever sold in the States officially since until the '80s when Datsun made the change only these first trucks were badged as Nissans.

Getting back to the sexier stuff we have a rare beast indeed - one of only 197 KPGC110 GT-Rs that were produced from 1972 to 1973. The Kenmeri GT-Rs were famous thanks to the "Ken and Mary" TV ads that gave them their nickname but tightening emissions made the second-generation GT-R the shortest-lived...and it would take 16 years before another Nissan would wear those legendary three letters again.

Except for the citrusy paint job it would have been easy to ignore this nondescript little sedan but Shimizu-san stopped briefly to point out that it was a 1970 Datsun Cherry X-1, significant for being the first front-wheel drive car Nissan produced. Prince engineered it before the merger but it was released only after they became a part of Nissan Motors. This first-gen E10 model wasn't sold in the US but the succeeding F10 became our first FWD Nissan.

Oh no, more cutesy kei cars! Bear with me, I promise these are the last ones before we get to the really cool stuff. These are some pretty cool cars in their own right though. The four vehicles here are the complete set of Nissan's "Pike" cars sold from 1987 to 1991. A product of a special projects group called the Pike Factory these cars were essentially a styling exercise and were based on the Nissan Micra chassis. In the top pic from left to right are the Figaro, the Pao, and the Be-1. In the bottom pic is the S-Cargo, which was inspired by the famous Citroen 2CV. With tiny 1-liter engines (1.5 in the case of the S-Cargo) the Pikes weren't fast but they were fast sellers. They were actually so popular that Nissan had to institute a lottery system for prospective buyers. Oh, and Eric Clapton owns a Figaro so you know they're cool.

Speaking of style, Nissan had it in spades back in the late 80s and early 90s with this car being a prime example. Sadly it was never released in the States because we had the Maxima but the A31 Cefiro sold from 1989-1994 invented the "four-door coupe" look before ze Germans cooked up the term over a decade later. Adding to the cool factor were the advanced features for the time like projector beam automatic headlights, auto dimming mirror, steering wheel radio controls, electric seats, electronically adjustable suspension, HICAS, and available ATTESSA-ETS AWD. Under the hood you could find an RB20DE or DET, or a non-turbo RB25 (or a diesel in some markets) and it was even sold in correct-side drive (i.e. left-hand drive) in Latin America and Asia. Our guide Shimizu-san didn't include this car in his tour but I remember lusting after one of these in the Philippines as a kid and if I can find a clean, used one back there I'd import it in a heartbeat. 

The Cefiro was sexy but the king of cool in 1989 was of course this baby. You should know what this is in one glance if you're a regular reader of 23GT and if not GTFO! No wait, come back! I'm kidding! The 1989 R32 Skyline GT-R should be easily recognizable though. With that 276hp (supposedly, we all know it was closer to 300) RB26DETT under the hood and the surefootedness of HICAS four-wheel steering and ATTESSA-ETS all-wheel drive the R32 ushered in the next chapter of the GT-R legend after 16 years of absence by going undefeated in the All Japan Touring Car championships.

That legendary string of 29 victories out of 29 races was mainly down to this version of the R32, the limited-edition Nismo R32 GT-R. I know what you're thinking - "That can't be a Nismo Oliver! You've said so yourself, they were all Gun Metal Gray and that one's blue! You own one, you should know better! I'm never believing another word you say, you anime-loving, J-pop-listening, Panda Express-eating loser!" Chill, my brother and feast your peepers on this:

This one's been repainted. You can easily tell from the GT-R badge since the insert is the same Gun Metal Gray they all came in originally. And that Nismo sticker isn't factory of course either. 

If you're wondering why a Nismo R32 that's part of Nissan's own collection isn't in more original condition it's probably because many of the road cars in Zama's care are actually the result of private donations. If I had to guess this car was one of those donations. Maybe someday when I turn into earthworm food Nissan will agree to take in at least one of my GT-Rs for future generations to gawk at! Oh, and by the way that info sign was one of the few at Zama with an English translation. Most of them were like this one:

Never heard of a Nissan Langley? Neither did I, which is why I took that pic. Apparently it was a higher-spec, sportier coupe version of the subcompact Pulsar that was sold only in Japan.

The 1986 model looked like this. With a name like Langley I thought it was some special car for undercover CIA agents that had rocket launchers and ejector seats and a built-in wine chiller to help seduce hot Soviet operatives but sadly there was no evidence of that. Turns out it was named after American physicist, astronomer, and non-fan of the Wright brothers Samuel Pierpont Langley. Boring! At least it wasn't called the Nissan Percival Lowell...
More pulse-quickening is this little gem - the 1990 Pulsar GTi-R. Built as a homologation special for the World Rally Championship and equipped with a 227hp SR20DET motor and ATTESSA all-wheel-drive this little hatchback was already a Japanese rally special for the streets before the Subaru WRX and Lancer Evolution even came out. They're importable now to the States - and much cheaper than an R32 GT-R - so if you need your JDM AWD fix but don't quite have the budget for Godzilla then this may be your pet kaiju.

I wanted to ogle the Pulsar more but I got distracted by this and that's no surprise. If there's one car that ignited my GT-R passion it was the classic Bayside Blue R34 GT-R that I first learned about from playing Gran Turismo 2 on the original Playstation. This pristine 2000 V-Spec II would be an example I'd love to own. I wonder if President Trump will throw us a bone and repeal that stupid 25-year import restriction. I know, I know, that's about as likely as me getting a Valentine's Day date with Chinese beauty Jing Tian but a man can dream right?

Oh, and some readers may know that Zama has other R34s in their collection including a very rare M-Spec Nur but at our visit the blue V-spec 2 was the only road version there.
Shimizu-san wrapped up the guided portion of our tour by going over some of Nissan's rich racing heritage. Nissan's done a lot of racing over the years so he couldn't possibly have discussed every car in detail but he briefly went over Nissan's endurance racing cars, then Super GT and other road racing cars, and finally concluded with these vintage rally machines. After that he let us loose to ogle the collection ourselves for about an hour and a half which to a Nissan nerd like me didn't feel nearly enough but I tried to get as many pictures as I could and I'll share some of those with you now.
If there's one picture of mine that sums up just how packed full of awesome cars Zama is it has to be this one. Buried among a huge assortment of other amazing vehicles was this true unicorn of a car - the only one its kind, the Nismo GT-R LM. Built strictly to homologate the R33 GT-R for the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans, this was the sole example ever built and although it still has the same RB26DETT motor as a regular R33 it was converted to rear-wheel drive and had bodywork that was a massive 4 inches wider than stock. It didn't win Le Mans but against such monsters as the Mclaren F1, Ferrari F40, and Porsche 911 GT1 that's nothing to hold against it. It did win many of the hearts and minds of budding young gearheads thanks to being the "God Mode" car of the very first Gran Turismo game.

Speaking of unicorns, here's another one. The R390 GT1 shares the same raison d'etre as the R33 GT-R LM - it's a one of one homologation special for Le Mans. Wikipedia claims there were two made but Shimizu-san made it clear theirs is the only real one. With 550hp on tap from a mid-mounted twin-turbo V8 allowing it to run up to sixty mph in under 4 seconds and go on to a top speed well over 200 this was a hypercar in every sense of the word.

Sadly the overall win at Le Mans has eluded Nissan despite many attempts, repeated class wins, and success in other endurance races. Nevertheless the R390 still managed to get Nissan's best finish ever, a third place in 1998 for the number 32 car in the bottom pic. I also consider the R390 one of the prettiest race cars ever, especially in that sleek black and red paint of the 1997 car on top. If you look closely at the number 32 car you'll notice one interesting thing about the race cars at Zama - a lot of them, especially the more significant ones like the championship winners, are unrestored and retain the grime and scars they sustained when they competed. As much as I like seeing a pristine car the unrestored look really gives a sense of the significance of these cars and the effort that was put into their successes. 

Here's another interesting tidbit about the #32 car at Zama - there's actually two of them...and a third someplace else! Nissan fielded four R390 GT1s in 1998 with the 32 car in this Calsonic Xanavi livery finishing best of the group in third while the #30 Clarion car finished 5th, the #31 Unisia JECS car in 6th and finally the #33 JOMO car in 10th. In the years after the #32 and #30 were put in storage as is while the #31 and #33 were restored and turned into replicas of the podium-finishing #32. One of those replicas now has a special role greeting visitors to Nismo Omori Factory where it's the first thing you see when you walk in - and it's a pretty impressive display! Come back later on for my post on our visit to Nismo HQ if you want to see that car.
Le Mans may have been an elusive target for Nissan but in other forms of endurance racing the company shone with the cars in this series probably being the brightest stars. The R90C series ruled the Japan Sports Car Championship for three straight years with the final version being these R92CPs from 1992. That same year Nissan entered the 24 Hours of Daytona with the R91CPs from the previous season and won the race overall, becoming the first Japanese car to do so.

Daytona wasn't the only American venue where Nissan showed off its prowess. This low-slung rocketship is the 1985 Nissan GTP-ZX Turbo, with an engine based off the roadgoing 300ZX. After some development work this car would eventually dominate the IMSA GT sports car series, dethroning the vaunted Porsche 962 and giving Geoff Brabham three straight driver's titles from 1988 to 1990 and Nissan the constructors championships in 1989 and 1990. Its successor the NPT-90 successfully defended those titles as well.

To GT-R fans the GTP-ZX's rivalry with Porsche should come as no surprise since the two manufacturers have a long-standing grudge match for Nurburgring lap records. What may be a surprise is that Nissan has been butting heads with Porsche well before the '80s and '90s. The sleek car above that looks kind of like a Japanese version of a Ford GT40 is the Nissan R380. Originally developed by Prince in response to the Porsche 904 before the Nissan merger, the R380 won the Japanese Grand Prix in 1966 using a GR-8 straight six adapted from the Skyline

The white and red car beside it that looks nearly identical is one of the improved R380-IIs that had to settle for second behind Porsche in the 1967 Japanese GP but set several land speed records later on. Nissan would come back with new cars - the R381 and R382 - and take back the top spot in the Japanese GP in 1968 and 1969 despite stiffer competition from Porsche and the new Toyota 7. Both of those cars are part of Zama's collection but were sadly missing on the day of our visit.
Near the R380s sat this example of Nissan's crazy Super Silhouette racers from the '80s. The regulations were a far cry from the detailed and strict rulebooks of today and essentially said the car had to have the same basic side profile (hence the silhouette part) as its road version and had to use the same engine block as the road car. Everything else was fair game so this 1983 Silvia resembles the stock car about as much as I resemble Vin Diesel, and it thundered around with 570 angry horses from its four cylinder motor. Yes, 570 rampant stallions from a four-banger back in 1983! That's totally cray-cray! You'll notice the big empty spot beside this car which should have held the famous red and black R30 Super Silhouette Skyline driven by Nissan legend Masahiro Hasemi. Oh well, something to look forward to on a future trip!

The cars I spent the most time drooling over though were the Super GT GT-Rs. This particular one should be familiar to long-time readers since I talked about it at length in my first Auto Modellista post. The 2003 Xanavi Nismo GT-R won that year's GT500 championship with Micheal Krumm and Satoshi Motoyama at the wheel and started off my large 1/43rd scale diecast car collection when I bought a model of it that same year. I've long since added dozens of other models but this car remains my second favorite GT-R racer because it still retains the overall brutish look of the R34 but is sleeker and lower-slung due to the improved profile allowed by the tube-frame chassis introduced that year.

Shimizu-san had stayed after he finished our guided tour and he was kind enough to open up this car and let a couple of us have a peek inside. For that I owe him many thanks because seeing this car for real was just like meeting one of my heroes!

The sister 22 car was there too and comparing the two shows off the unrestored look I mentioned of some of the cars. The championship-winning 23 car has a faded front and battle scars from when it ran in anger while the 22 looks factory fresh.
I mentioned the 2003 Xanavi Nismo GT-R is my second favorite Super GT car and right behind it was my third favorite - the 2008 #23 Xanavi Nismo GT-R that I talked about in my second Auto Modellista article. This car was utterly dominant in its debut season with Satoshi Motoyama and Benoit Treluyer winning three of the nine rounds that year on the way to the driver's title.

So which one's my number one favorite Super GT car?  It's actually the current DTM-aligned Nismo R35 cars that won the championship in 2014 and 2015, and very nearly made it a threepeat this year. The 2008 GT500 R35 is very sleek indeed but the new-for-2014 regulations have made the GT500 GT-Rs look even sleeker. So did my rotten luck mean I missed out on seeing them? Actually no, because they were over at Makuhari Messe being readied for thousands of onlookers to drool over at Tokyo Auto Salon. Of course, I took plenty of pics when we went there the next day so keep an eye out for my post on TAS to see Nissan's latest Super GT racers!

Nissan's been the most successful manufacturer in Super GT history so that meant there were other significant GT500 racers to check out. Here's the 1998 #23 Pennzoil Nismo R33 GT-R resplendent in that famous yellow-and-black livery. Erik Comas and Masami Kageyama took the title that year with this machine.

Super GT came about though because of the staggering dominance of this car - the Group A R32 Skyline GT-R. From the first race of the All Japan Touring Car Championship in 1990 to the last one in 1993 no other car model won a single race. Because only Skylines could win against other Skylines the JTCC was abandoned altogether and replaced by the JGTC that would become Super GT in 2005. This particular car was the champion in that last JTCC season of 1993.
Super GT and JTCC weren't the only series that the Skyline was successful in though. Opposite from the Super GT cars was parked the Endless Super Taikyu R34 that won the series title in 2003. Super Taikyu may not be as famous as Super GT but the cars are more production-based with this car using a stiffened and stripped chassis from the road car and packing a Nismo-tuned version of the RB26. From its debut in 1999 to the year this car won the title Super Taikyu was dominated by the R34, with the title going to one team or another but always to a GT-R, despite competition from cars like the Porsche 911 and Lancer Evo.
As if all that championship-winning metal wasn't enough already this car happened to be nestled amongst the other GT-Rs. It's the #23 JRM Racing GT-R that was driven by Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr to the FIA GT1 driver's title of 2011. Although not as fast and sleek as its Super GT counterparts it's still a sexy beast packing a 5.6 liter VK56DE V8 that powered it to a win over rivals like Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and Maserati.
Parked across from the Endless R34 were a collection of Nissan's old rally cars. I was more interested in the road racers but this plucky little car deserves a mention. See that big dent in the right front fender? That was suffered in 1958 when this little Datsun 210 affectionately named "Fuji-go" (and its sister "Sakura-go", the pink car hidden by the sign) joined the grueling 10,000 mile Mobilgas Trial around Australia to prove that Japanese cars could be tough and reliable. As if the distance weren't grueling enough a local tree got into an argument with the little car but despite the damage both vehicles managed to complete the distance and Fuji-go won its class. Pretty impressive considering half of the 67 starters didn't even make it to the end! Those jokes about everything in Australia being out to kill you? The danger applies to cars too!

While I was taking pictures the group started having fun with this standee of current Nismo Super GT drivers Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda. I had to join in so that's me going "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" to Matsuda on the left while Kao defaced poor Quintarelli.

By the time we got done fooling around we were being called to gather up because our time at Zama was sadly coming to an end. I wasn't about to let any time go to waste though so I snapped a few last-minute pics of some other interesting cars.

One of them was this 1937 Nissan van:
Oh, sure it's a big delivery van. Big whoop! Unless this thing was used to deliver hookers to the local brothel there can't be anything interesting about it, right? Well, what if I told you this was the first proper Nissan production vehicle?

Remember how I said in my last post that until the '70s the Nissan brand was used only for trucks while Datsun adorned the passenger cars? Well, just like the first Datsun car was simply called a "Datsun", this Type 80 van was simply called a "Nissan". This particular one saw use by a Japanese department store from when it was new until almost three decades later. Lovingly restored by a team of Nissan engineers in 2002 it's hard to believe this truck would lead to all the sexiness in the previous photos.
Speaking of sexy Nissans, this was parked near that Type 80 van. At first glance you'd be forgiven for wondering how a Honda NSX managed to infiltrate Nissan's super secret lair but this is actually the 1987 MID4-II concept car. It was meant for production and with a twin turbo VG30DETT V6 mounted midships and ATTESSA AWD it would probably have been absolutely brilliant. Ultimately Nissan thought it was too expensive to put on sale and the project was shelved but a lot of the technology made it into the later R32 GT-R and 300ZX. It makes you wonder how Nissan's lineup could have turned out if this car had made it to production!
A car that did make it to production and did so for nearly 30 years is the classic Nissan Cedric Y31. Even though it debuted in 1987 and was already replaced by two newer Cedric generations and then by the Nissan Fuga, the Cedric was popular as a taxi in Japan and several other Asian countries for a long time and was being made up until 2015 so it's no real surprise Nissan has one at Zama amidst all the less-everyday metal.
Our time at Zama was sadly up by the time I took that picture of the Cedric but I wasn't about to end my discussion of the Heritage Collection with a taxi! So, we'll wrap up with the two R35s I mentioned when we first walked in. Remember how I had said that many of the road cars at Zama were donated by private individuals? Well, here we have donations from two very notable owners!

That silver 2007 R35 GT-R above was owned by none other than current Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi big cheese, future global overlord, and occasional Mr. Bean stand-in Carlos Ghosn.  The man has his own comic book and was ranked higher in a Japanese survey for possible leaders of the country than Obama and even their actual prime minister so no sh*t his personal GT-R is stored at Zama!
The gold car on the other hand is gold for a reason - it's one of only two Bolt Edition GT-Rs named after eight-time Olympic gold medalist and current "fastest man alive" Usain Bolt. 

Now, I'm not sure which of the two this car is. One was given to Bolt and the other auctioned off for charity and supposedly shipped to one lucky Australian owner. Since Bolt already had an R35 before he received his commemorative version my bet is that this is the one he received, now yet another private donation to the ever-growing Zama collection.

And with that it was time to turn in our visitor badges and say goodbye to Zama. Before I left though I quizzed Shimizu-san about the prospects of Nissan creating a proper museum to show off its history to the world but he said that sadly there were still no plans for that to happen. He regretted that only Nissan has no museum among the major Japanese car manufacturers (Toyota has one in Toyota City near Nagoya, Honda's is at Twin Ring Motegi, Mazda's in Hiroshima, Mitsubishi has one in Aichi, while the Subaru STi Gallery is in Tokyo) and that even Isuzu is opening one. The Zama factory area is currently being used to manufacture electric car batteries and electronic components and with more electrics being made the storage area may have to reduced if Nissan needs the capacity, so that apparently weighs on his mind too. 

That being said I hope fellow Nissan fans can go to Zama themselves and perhaps show Nissan that there are many people interested in the company's history so that Shimizu-san can get his wish of seeing a proper Nissan museum open to the public!

If you'd like to try your luck at getting on the public tour here's some info that I dug up that may be of help. First, here's the website to register (it's all in Japanese though):

Nissan Zama tour (Japanese) 

And here's an English map on how to get there:

Nissan Zama map PDF 
Waving goodbye to our hosts at Zama the charter bus then hit the streets of Yokohama again to go to our lunch stop. On the way we saw more amusing "Engrish" signs like the Sincerity Works bike dealership above. I guess they don't know that sincerity is a foreign concept to most dealerships in America. 

We'd have our lunch at the Grandberry Mall a short drive away from Zama. There we had the choice of a few restaurants and a McDonald's but many of us ended up having our first taste of proper Japanese bento or boxed lunches.
After lunch it was time for our next big stop - UpGarage. UpGarage is a big Japanese auto parts chain with over 100 branches. Before you conclude it's just a Japanese version of Autozone, it's actually way cooler by virtue of carrying a large selection of JDM performance parts, both new and second hand. We actually went to two of their stores - the UpGarage GT store above that Mike (DSport's publisher) said is usually a treasure trove of used parts, and their main store and headquarters, where UpGarage gave us each a gift bag and encouraged us to use two of their meeting rooms to rest up and relax with some snacks if we wanted.

As welcoming as UpGarage was they didn't allow cameras inside the stores so all I have to show is that one picture. Trust me though when I say that both locations were piled high with cool stuff and many people scored some nice goodies. To help entice us UpGarage considered our purchases tax-free and would arrange shipping for any items too large to carry on the plane home. One of us got a used Recaro for 50 bucks while another got a like-new set of Nismo R33 floormats for half the price of fresh ones. I found several things I was interested in and had to fight hard against temptation to buy a brand new set of Nismo LM GT4 wheels for my R32 but I didn't want to blow my funds this early in the tour so I settled for a copy of HyperRev R35 GT-R volume 2. 

While on our way from the first store to UpGarage headquarters we spotted this cleanly-modded Supra. Modified cars were rarer on Japan's streets than I'd hoped so this one was a welcome sight. 
After visiting UpGarage's headquarters store it was time to mosey on to our final destination of the day - Nissan's own headquarters. On the way I saw my first Japanese Nissan dealership. I would have liked to have gone in one since I'm always curious how Nissan dealerships differ in a country I'm visiting but sadly I didn't get the chance.

Of course, I can't be too sad about missing out on perusing a Nissan dealership when we visited this building instead! Nissan's Global Headquarters may look fairly unassuming on the outside but that's pretty normal for big Japanese companies. 

It's hard to ignore the big sign in front though that spells out this is the head office for Japan's second-largest car manufacturer - nor the bright orange 2017 GT-R parked outside as a tester!

There's a lot more to see in the big ground-floor gallery. The first thing that greeted us was this display of Skylines.

Interestingly the theme for the display was the history of the Nissan-Prince merger and the signs behind recounted important events and had a schedule for the cars to be exhibited.
Most of us quickly booked it for this area though, the Nissan Boutique that carried a huge selection of goodies for the discerning fan. It was hard to settle on what to buy since they had everything from keychains to teddy bears to a full range of Nissan clothing and even a Nismo ceiling lamp. In the end I added yet another GT-R cap to my collection plus a set of R35 pins and some gifts for friends and family.

After doing my shopping it was time to check out the display area that showed off most of Nissan's current range of vehicles in Japan. Beside the boutique they had this display of Skylines new and old. You probably already knew this but the Skyline name is still alive and well in Japan even after its divorce from the GT-R badge. Currently represented by the V37 chassis the latest Skylines may have lost the GT-R lettering but they're still sexy cars in their own right.

 I checked out the Japanese-market Patrol a bit since I recently bought a 2017 USDM Armada and then quickly ogled the Elgrand, in both regular and Autech versions. Much better-looking vans than the blobby, mommy-mobile Quest we have right?

I spent quite some time checking out the Nismo Note. I've mentioned this before on the blog but I really wish Nissan would release these in the States. It's a very nice-looking small hatchback IMHO and I'd love to have one as a daily driver. It'd also make for a great B-Spec racer I bet!

Of course I couldn't ignore the R35. This was the first time I'd seen the latest version in black and it looked as good as I expected.

Some of us sat in this little thing. The seating is inline for two people and basically feels like a cozy golf cart.

After spending about an hour at Nissan HQ it was time to board the bus again. A lot of us wanted to stay longer but we couldn't complain about all the cool stuff we'd already gotten to do on just this first day of the tour. We got back to the hotel around 7ish and most of us were totally wiped from residual jet lag and all the walking around but we were happy! We broke up for dinner and I finally got to try the hanbaaga at the Tsubame Grill in front of the hotel and as Mike said, it was delish! After enjoying that it was time to crash and get rested up for an early start to attend Tokyo Auto Salon the next day! Prepare for the inevitable photogasm when I post about that next time!

Oh, and if you ever travel to Japan and need help getting to Nissan Global HQ, here's a handy map Nissan made:

Nissan Global HQ directions