The Datsun Type 11, a small car was introduced for the first time in 1932. It was powered by a 495 cc, 10 hp side valve engine mated to a 3-speed transmission (JSAE). Type 11 was available in a wide range of body styles. In the debut year, 150 units of Datsun Type 11 were sold by DAT/Nissan. It remained in production for only one year as renewal in law permitted the Nissan to design a vehicle with a larger engine.
Since 1914, the DAT Corporation had been manufacturing cars, but in 1920s, the profitability of the company depended to a large extent on the subsidies offered by government on their large trucks. According to the ministerial ordinance of 1930, no driving licenses would be needed if the driven car had an engine displacement up to 500 cc and also low tax would be imposed on these vehicles. With this ordinance, the DAT deigned a new small car named ‘Datson’ (Son of DAT) which was replaced by ‘Datsun’ so as to differentiate it from the full-sized trucks and cars which had been produced by DAT in the previous years.
Relationship to Austin Seven
Austin Seven, a British vehicle about which a lot of information was available within the territory of Japan. The Type 11 shared the engine displacement and external dimensions with the Austin Seven. A paper called ‘The British Light Car’ was presented by the chief engineer of Austin during October and November 1929. The paper was assumed to provide a detailed account of mechanical components of the Austin Seven. However, it has not yet been concluded what exactly be the relationship between the two cars, i.e. Austin Seven and Datsun Type 11.
There were different views about the individuality of Type 11. Adrian Room claimed that it was a licensed copy of the Seven, while Mills, Rinsey thought that it was in fact a copy but not the authorized one. Certainly, Herbert Austin might had the thought for a while that the DAT may infringed on his patents. Following his concern, he imported a 1935 Datsun to have a closer examination of the car and eventually decided not to register a complaint against DAT. This was taken as evidence by majority of the websites claiming that Type 11 was not a copy of the Austin. However, there are websites that have suggested that the Austin decision of not to file a complaint against the DAT might be due to the changing design of the Datsun that started differing from the regular Austin.