Here's a bit of interesting folklore for you history-obsessed car buffs out there. Nissan (then selling Datsuns) was tricked into coming to America. Seems that Nissan never planned to sell cars here, as they felt that their diminutive, economical rides were too small and slow for the mighty U.S. market. However, one man felt different: Nobushige Wakatsuki.
The year was 1958 and Wakatsuki had a job with Marubeni Trading Corp. where he was charged with finding Japanese products to import into the U.S. Wakatsuki approached Datsun's management and asked them if they'd be interested in bringing the brand Stateside. After all, Toyota had just began selling cars to Americans in 1957. Wakatsuki was humiliated when he heard their blunt reply, "No."
But Cazy Nobe -- as Nissan execs would later refer to the then 29-year-old -- refused to let a good business opportunity go to waste. He went ahead and procured some cars from Nissan under the pretense of a marketing exercise and proceeded to put them on sale. All of this was done behind Nissan's back. Which really pissed them off. In fact, it took another full year of pestering before Nissan took over the dealer network Crazy Nobe established here in 1960. However, the joke is on them, as Nissan/Infiniti sold nearly 1,000,000 cars in the US last year.
Nobushige Wakatsuki died on November 13, 2009 at the age of 81. Thanks for all the good memories, Mr. Wakatsuki.
[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req. | Image: Fudge]