• Yokohama’s motoring jewel: Nissan global HQ gallery

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    The Prince Skyline Sport of the 1960s (left) and the 2000 GTX.

    TOKYO: The cold air breezes on the streets of Yokohama, located just south of Tokyo, with not even a single traffic jam to be seen, and not a lot of people walking on the sidewalks and pedestrian lanes either. Especially when you get to Nissan’s Global Headquarters Gallery, located near the Yokohama Bay, and is a five-minute walk from the Shin Takashima station of the Minato Mirai train line.

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    Opened on August 8, 2009, Nissan’s Global Headquarters Gallery hosts a collection of Nissan vehicles from the pages of its history, including current models like the Nissan GT-R and the current generation Z34 Fairlady Z (known as 370Z outside Japan). Before Nissan relocated its global headquarters to Yokohama, the headquarters was stationed in Higashi-Ginza (Higashi meaning east in Japanese). The opening of the new headquarters coincided with the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Port of Yokohama for foreign trade.

    The building is noticeable even from afar, especially when you get out of the train station to pay a good visit, and the kind staff there don’t charge you for a visit to see the brand’s historic models in their untouched glory. The whole gallery boasts an area about 4,000 square meters, enough for more than 20 cars on display. Nissan said that the current gallery in Yokohama is four times larger than the one located in East Ginza.

    A showcase of technology
    Within the high walls of the gallery are four zones, from the “Products Zone” that showcases models from the pages of history, to the current generation models on sale; a “Technology Zone” for engineering and technological marvels used on engines of certain models, and a very special corner that pays homage to Nissan’s motor sports heritage. A boutique shop is built for the hardcore Nissan fan who wants a souvenir, from clothing and jackets to diecast models on sale, to smartphone cases and calendars that show Nissan no longer a stranger to motor sports with its frequent entries in FIA GT3 and Super GT. A heritage hall was also built for visitors to look into the fabled Japanese marque’s origins, including a timeline of its cars in the form of scale models, from production cars to racing cars and concept cars. A café was also built offering a view of the Yokohama Bay under the setting sun.

    Visitors upon entry would definitely be greeted by the sight of the GT-R and the Fairlady Z, two of Nissan’s greatest hits that went on sale for almost a decade now, even with their facelifted, updated forms. A small area is dedicated for cars modified by NISMO, the marque’s in-house motor sports and tuning division, showcasing the new Fairlady Z in its NISMO-modified form, and the NoteNISMO, Nissan’s small hybrid hatchback, complete with a racey bodykit and bucket seats up front. The brand’s fabled Skyline marque also deserves its own zone to celebrate the model’s 60th anniversary, with four picked models from each decade: from the Prince Skyline Sport of the 1960s to the second generation “Ken-Mary” Skyline GT-R of the 1970s, to the “tekkamen (iron mask in Japanese)” Skyline RS Turbo of the 1980s, up until the present Skyline 350GT hybrid sedan, powered by a V6 and an electric motor.

    The spotlight here goes to Nissan’s R92CP: an 800-horsepower twin-turbo V8 powered Group C monster that waged war with competitors in its class in IMSA and the former All-Japan Sports Prototype Championship in 1990. Long-time players of the Gran Turismo racing game franchise can already recognize the car with its signature Calsonic blue and red livery that was also used in the controversial front-wheel drive GT-R LM NISMO that waged war in the LMP1 class in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sitting alongside it is the naturally aspirated NP35, powered with a 3.5-liter V12 that only made one appearance in the All-Japan Championship.

    Visiting the Global Headquarters Gallery can leave a lasting impression that Japanese carmakers in general can do so much more than just humble city cars or massively fast racing cars, especially when looking at the scale models and the wall timeline at the Heritage Hall section.

    The Japanese carmaker was founded in 1914 by Masujiro Hashimoto, and was known as Kaishinsha Motor Car Works. It was renamed DAT Jidosha and Co. Limited. Nissan Group, a powerful business group took control of DAT and was renamed Nissan Motor Corporation in 1934, when it began producing cars.

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