Nissan's Automotive Paradise

Tucked away in a memorial warehouse is a host of cars dating from the early '30s, including electric vehicles and one-of-a-kind race cars

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It might be officially called a warehouse, but for classic car enthusiasts, Nissan's Zama Memorial Warehouse is really more of an automotive paradise. There, tucked away in the auto maker's corporate collection, you'll find a host of vintage treasures that include Datsuns dating back to the early 1930s, electric vehicles from the post-World War II days, and one-of-a-kind prize-winning race cars.

The warehouse was established in 2000 in Zama City in Japan's Kanagawa Prefecture to bring Nissan's cache of old model cars under one roof and thereby preserve the company's heritage. When it opened, the facility had 3,200 square meters of floor space and 137 cars.

Since then the auto maker has steadily added to its holdings, and today the warehouse boasts 6,000 square meters and 360 vehicles.


  Although Nissan (NSANY) hasn't assessed the market value of most of these models, several of them are estimated to be worth upwards of several hundred thousand dollars. Oddly enough, however, the collection's most valuable auto is not the oldest or the most expertly restored, but rather a 1997 Nissan R390 GT1 that was specially designed by the company to qualify for Le Mans.

In order to qualify for the race, Nissan needed to come up with at least one vehicle that could actually be driven on public roads. The company hasn't recently assessed the value of the racer but says that when the restoration was finished the car was valued at over $830,000.

The vehicles at the warehouse also trace back the company's history, from its early roots as the Kwaishinsha automobile factory, established in 1911, to its name change to Jidosha Seizo in 1933 and then Nissan in 1934. It wasn't until 1981 that a new corporate identity program pushed the company to begin marketing all its cars under the Nissan name.

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