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[Datsun 1200 encyclopedia]

Driving the Datsun Rotary

From Datsun 1200 Club

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Categories: Magazine Articles | Tech Section | Nissan Engines

See also: Rotary engine

Magazine article from Wheels magazine February 1973
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Nissan joins the Wankel club
Driving the Datsun Rotary
As we predicted mid-72, Nissan's new Datsun rotary was displayed at the Tokyo Show. What's more, our man in Japan has driven the prototypes. And now we can say that the engine will be in production later this year.

116 lb/ft torque at 4400 rpm.
120 bhp at 6500 rpm.
112 mph at 5200 rpm in fifth gear.

THE DATSUN ROTARY is alive and well and living at Nissan's Murayama test centre where our correspondent Yuki Yamagishi has driven in. He reports:

   "The Nissan rotary has performance characteristics more like those of the NSU Ro80 than the Mazda RE.
   "It's very smooth right through the range, but lacks useful torque under 1500 rpm. In the five-speed manual coupe I drove, the performance was relatively weak under 4000 rpm. But it really flew from there on up to 7000 rpm where an ignition cut-out device prevents over-revving.

Above: The Datsun rotary will also be offered with automatic transmission, a combination which Yamagishi drove in an experimental sedan—again based on the 1200.
   "On the test track I saw 112 mph in fifth gear, and the engine was pulling so easily and strongly that there was obviously a lot more available.

   "I also drove a sedan version with automatic transmission. In this, the performance was a little less spirited overall, but felt more consistent through the range. The automatic tends to compensate for the flexibility aspect. But it, too, displayed some engine-snatch on steady throttle at 2500-3500 rpm."

   "Like NSU, Nissan has opted for peripheral intake ports, as against the side ports favored by Mazda. Nissan also uses the same special iron material as NSU for the apex seals. Similarities to the Mazda engines are found in the use of two distributors, a four-barrel down-draught carburettor, and two spark plubs per rotor. Again like Mazda, Nissan's employ rotors of special cast iron, alloy rotor housings and cast iron end/centre housings.

   The new engine is comparible in capacity to existing NSU and Mazda models. Chamber capacity is 500 cc.
   Nissan stresses that the rotary is still in its developmental stage, but it's an open secret that there'll be a production Datsun sports coupe with Wankel engine before 1973 is out.

   The engine is now fitted in 100 models because that is about the size of car the engine will eventually appear in.

   Very significant is the fact that a new agreement has been reached between Nissan and NSU-Auto Union. The original license rights covered automotive engines of 80-120 bhp and permitted marketing in Japan only.

   The new deal enables Nissan to produce Wankels of 20-230 bhp for cars, and marine units of 30-150 bph, while allowing worldwide sales.

Above, top: Coupe model driven by Yamagishi had five-speed manual gearbox giving rousing acceleration, but needed revs kept up. This prototype uses 1200 body.

36   WHEELS  February  1973

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