All the pre-war Datsuns built between 1932 and 1945 were shod with 4.00-16 tyres, which is a very peculiar size and could be even unique in the tyre history. As far as I casually checked the nearest thing seems the 4.75-16 used on the export model of Austin Seven during 1936 and ’38, for example. As the production of this size had long ceased, those owners of the pre-war Datsuns in Japan were forced to use utterly unsuitable 4.00-16 tyres built for wheelbarrows! So, there has been a dire need for replacement as some forty pre-war Datsuns still exist in this country. Recently Car Graphic and Classic Car Club of Japan successfully persuaded Yokohama Rubber Company to manufacture a batch of 4.00-16 covers and tubes to the original pre-war pattern and delivery has just started. Yokohama Rubber went so far as to build it new mould since the old one had long been scrapped. Considering this, the retail price of Y15,000 (say £30.00) per set does not seem unreasonable at all. Anybody who would like to purchase these are requested to contact me as soon as possible.
I wonder how many pre-war Datsuns are in captivity abroad. Hurrah’s has one of course and a 1935 tourer owned by the South African Datsun dealer has been very active in international rallies in the recent years. I am particularly interested to hear about the fate of an example which originally Lord Austin brought to Longbridge to see if it might infringe upon his patents. I am quite sure that he was satisfied (or disappointed?) to find out virtually nothing parallel between the designs of the two! Incidentally, in an interview I have had with Mr. Keigi Gotoh who designed the original Datsun around 1930-31, I asked him if there were any particular cars that he closely consulted. After some pause he said, “Yes, there was one. It was not the Austin Seven but the Benjamin, a French light car. It was a 750 c.c. car with the gearbox in unit with the rear axle.” I have never inspected a Benjamin closely enough to say anything definite but at least the Datsun engineer does not seem to have learnt very much from this unorthodox French car either.
Tokyo – Shotaro Kobayashi (Editor, Car Graphic)