The History of the Datsun Bunny

Ehh, What’s up, Datsun?

A few weeks ago Group 1 Nissan posted this on their facebook wall:

 
And it got a lot of people asking, “What does a rabbit have to do with a Datsun?” At first this sounds a bit like Lewis Carroll’s riddle “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” except that this one has a real answer.

So after the post I did a bit of digging and found some great information about Datsuns at earlydatsun.com, including a comprehensive listing of Datsun models. But before I talk about the rabbit, let’s first look at the name Datsun.

Originally, in 1911, the company behind Datsun was called Kwaishinsha and when they produced their first model they used the an acronym of the first letter of the founding members’ names – Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi – so that their first vehicle was the DAT. By 1933 the company was recognized as DAT automobiles and was gaining popularity for its Datson, or “son of DAT.” However, in Japanese the suffix “son” has a negative connotation and suggests losing money, so they changed the suffix to “sun.”

But where does the rabbit fit into this? Many Japanese find the word “Dat” difficult to pronounce, instead pronouncing it “datto” (脱兎). Combined with a pun that only makes sense if you can read Japanese, you get “fast rabbit.”

In 1935, after Nissan had bought Datsun, they decided to incorporate the rabbit motif into their designs and came up with the fleeing rabbit mascot. Interestingly, in 1930 the Lincoln Motor Company had started using a greyhound as its mascot and there is some indication that Nissan based their design on it. Whether intentionally or not, there is a suggestion here that other companies, such as Lincoln, would always be chasing or trying to keep up with them.

However, the only car that Datsun sold that had the fleeing rabbit mascot on the hood was the Datsun 14.

Oh, and by the way, a possible answer to Lewis Carroll’s riddle is: “Because Edgar Allan Poe wrote on both of them.”


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