Nissan Heritage

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Almost 80 years of Nissan cars and racing vehicles are parked in a giant warehouse northwest of Yokohama, a heritage site marking the automaker's on- and off-road history.

Beginning with 1933's Datsun 12 Phaeton, some 400 autos of all shapes, sizes and speeds are at the Zama facility, going out for a spin from time to time with a little help.

More than a dozen models from the 1930s find equal space with the lords of Le Mans and dukes of Dakar, while the 747-cc Phaeton launched an eight-decade all-purpose driving legacy.

"By the time the Datsun 12 went on sale, Jidosha-Seizo was formed as an independent company in December 1933. The firm later changed its name to Nissan Motor Company, and that's why our company's birth date is commemorated as December 26, 1933." says Ryuji Nakayama, spokesman of NISSAN LIVE.

Motor sports have been a defining feature for Nissan since the Fairlady 1500 won the the first Japan Gran Prix in 1963, with safari rally champs as well as Monte Carlo and Daytona endurance cars also on the grid.

Kazuo Hioki, Technical advisor of Nissan Motorsports International, says demand to see the still private collection of rare vehicles is high.

"Many motor sports fans, not only in Japan but overseas people - those Nissan fans, would like to see many of the cars here at the Fuji Speedway, so we try to maintain the cars and restore the cars, and then show them, even to ask them to just listen to the engine sound, that's enough." says Kazuo Hioki.

No total value is known, but alone the Nissan R390 GT1, part of the Le Mans class of 1998 and capable of driving on public roads, is estimated at over $1.2 million, a crowning jewel among a treasure chest of cars as old as the automaker itself.

The Zama warehouse is not open to the public, but periodically some of the classic cars make pit stops at racing events and shows, adding traction to a history of motoring excellence.

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Issued by Nissan