(Note: Worry not my friends, you have not mistakenly clicked on a car blog… come on a ride with me. It will be worth it. I promise there will be art. Much of which, few have ever seen. We are going to the vault!)

Ahhh Datsuns. I love them. For you whipper-snappers out there, Datsun was Nissan before there was Nissan. (At least in the USA, Nissan goes way back in Japan. (As does Datsun.))

I have a history with these cars going back to my brothers 1981 Datsun 510. Here is me on the roof. Yup that’s me. Look at that glorious hair!! And you know. Football pants. Cause why not. They were comfy! Hadn’t played football in years, but I kept the pants.

The Datsun origin story goes: Mr K, from Nissan Japan, wanted to attempt to sell Nissan cars to the USA in the late 50’s. My foggy understanding is that Nissan thought it would fail and did not want to bring shame to the Nissan name, so they had the great idea to resurrect the ‘Datsun’ brand name from the ashes. (Which actually goes back to the 30’s.) This way if American consumers rejected the cars, no big deal, Nissan would still be cool.

1937 Datsun Type 15

But Mr K didn’t fail. Sure the 50’s Datsuns were not an instant hit. Tiny little cars (like London Taxies) with little engines, that moved more like tractors, was how it started. Even Mr K thought they were pretty scary out on the US highways with HUUUUUUGE V8 American Steel whipping by.

However Nissan took a risk, and entered a pair of these little bulldogs in the 1959 Mobilgas Trial, a 10,000-mile, 19-day odyssey around the perimeter of Australia. “The world’s cruelest rally.” And shocking the world, one of the cars finished first in its class and the other, 4th. Japanese cars were now on the international map.


With that success, towards the late 60’s, Datsun started getting buzz. And when the 70’s fuel embargo ‘gas crises’ hit, these little Japanese fuel sippers became huge sellers. Classics like the Datsun 510 were winning Trans Am races against Alfa and BMW. It was said only roaches, and the Datsun B210 would survive a Nuculear Holocost. And of course when the 240Z came out it totally redefined what a sleek straight 6 sportscar could be. (So if you whipper-snappers are familiar with the Nissan Z cars, you now know where they came from.)


Here is MR K with his Z.

And BTW he lived till 105 yrs old!! Datsuns did him good!

Matter of fact, Datsun did so well, Nissan eventually DID want their name on the cars. And for a hot moment in the early 80’s you could buy a car that had both Datsun and Nissan on it!

(About now you really are looking at the URL to be sure you didn’t accidentally click on a car blog like https://jalopnik.com/ right? Where is the art Fischer!!  OK here it comes.

Anyway, I started getting into Datsuns in the aughts. After 15 years of nothing but making art, I needed something else. I needed a hobby.

I bought a 1971 Datsun 521 pickup. It was an old mobile oil change truck. (And I regret selling it to this day.)

Had this cool little mascot on the side.

I know nothing about mechanics, but I liked the aesthetics of old cars. And in the aughts, one of the few affordable classics out there were Datsuns. I immediately started customizing pieces of it. (Before I got it running, lol!)


I got obsessed with my new hobby. You know that kind of obsession where you are searching FB Marketplace and Craigslist and Ebay, daily, for anything related to your ‘drug-of-choice’. Yeah that level.

Photoshop came into play soon enough when I couldn’t find any for sale… “Hey…” I thought, “I am an artist, and I know how to use photoshop. Lets get crazy! A little too crazy with this concept. Thank god my lack of metal skills kept me from doing this to my truck, lol!

Inevitably, the merging of two interests went to another level. And the hobby I’d started, you know, so I could have fun on something other than art, became art. I had to draw Datsun…

My Datsun 521 as a Sake Transporter.

In addition to the Datsun bug, my love of classic hotrods from the 30’s started consuming me. I wanted so bad to find a 1937 Datsun Type 17 collecting dust in some old farmers barn- so I could turn it into a fenderless firebreather! I spent an embarrassing amount of time searching the world for one on-line. But finding that car, even in Japan, is next to impossible. (Dang look at those lines though. Even you non-car-loving artists have to appreciate that beauty!)

So I did the next best thing I could, and after countless months searching, found one of those early, 1950’s Datsun 210’s, in the desert of New Mexico- and had it shipped to me in New England. Yup that is me again folks. Datsuns make me act strange. Sure do miss that hair in the earlier shot.

So I drew a picture of it. With Fenders…


And without… Mua-ha-haa!!! (That is a Nissan FJ 20 engine crammed in there in case you were wondering.)

But the inspiration from the 1959 Datsun didn’t stop there. I came up with a pitch for my own Children’s Art Show, called ‘Scotty Rocks’. And the ’59 was gonna be a huge player. Photoshop helped me prove it. Yet another example where the hobby merges with the artwork, aka the day job.


The pitch got as high as an upper executive at Nickelodeon, who ultimately passed. Would have been such a cool show!! I was also building Robots to go with my Datsuns! (Which we will swing back around to in a second.)


You see where this is going… I bought a 1971 Datsun 510 next. It was camo when I bought it!!! I took off all that spraypaint, and let him exist in his Ratsun Glory.

Here he is hanging with the obsession that came before Datsuns. Vintage BMX. This is a 70’s Yamaha Moto-bike.

And yes I was working on a show idea called BMheX, about mojo infused bike riders. Well I thought it was a great idea at the time.


Then I drew a picture of a 510. Well actually I drew this picture before I bought one. This art is the header for the infamous Ratsun.net forum. And in this case, the art inspired life, rather than the reverse.

Which was a good thing. Cause as you can imagine, I was running out of driveway space by this point. Thus I started drawing them before I bought them. It was weird, but somehow by drawing them, studying their lines, I felt I got to experience the car- without the need to stack them on top of each other in the garage!

And here is the thing. Before these car drawings, I was never really a ‘tech’ artist. I was a character artist. Monsters and human(oids), sign me up- but ask me to draw a concept car, or say, a robot, and I would have panicked.

I wondered if I could develop a cartoon about Datsuns. Wrote a whole pitch for it. Something like, “After a dirty bomb wipes out all circuit boards that keep modern transportation moving, the only thing left on the road are older cars from a simpler time. Welcome to a new age. An age where Datsuns rule once again!” (That is a Datsun 610 behind the girl. In case you were wondering…)


This got me thinking what else was possible when my hobbies, meet my hands.

Well I love hotrods. I love Datsuns. I love Robots. (And I was still bummed my kids show with the robot puppets went nowhere.) So I just started drawing.

When I couldn’t get out the garage I drew. To avoid going to the garage where I didn’t know how to actually work on these things, I drew. When it was winter and I was way too much of a cold-wimp, to touch frozen metal, I drew.

And over time, these drawings became an IP I was calling ‘Thrashbotz’. Which I worked on and off on for about 10 years.

At times it was a movie pitch. At times it was a novel. At times I attempted a graphic novel.

I talked to producers at Disney about it. Passed. Sony pictures loved it, but was working on a movie with Hugh Jackman called Real Steel. (Maybe you saw that one?) Passed. Power Ranger folks saw it, and loved it, but my robots were all beat up and rusty and they liked shiny new robots with chrome and bling. Passed.

But guess what happened? Eventually Cartoon Network saw it- and they bought my show. For real!!!  As you might expect, over the years it had evolved waaaaaaay beyond the art I am about to show you here into something much more animation friendly. Hopefully I can tell you that whole story someday.  These, however, were the first drawings. When the pitch read more like a major motion picture than a serialized cartoon. These were the birth. And they were born of Datsun.


Don’t get too excited for Thrashbotz though. As of now, the show is currently on a shelf somewhere at CN. Existing in some sort of limbo, like the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones. Not sure if it will ever see the light of day. But we never know. Nothing is dead till it is buried. After all, there are still vehicles on the road from that long forgotten car maker, Datsun. In fact, Datsuns have grown into a huge collector car market since the aughts. And Nissan has even brought the brand name BACK from the grave in some markets. Check out the Datsun Redi-Go concept! Once again I find myself inspired by Datsun, if for a completely different reason.

(Nice to see Datsun is keeping it weird!)

What is the moral here? This whole adventure of cars and art and the intermingling of the two?

It is this… When your hobby becomes your job, eventually you need a new hobby- which often works its way back into your job as some sort of inspiration. So you get a NEW-new hobby, and the cycle continues. Find inspiration everywhere folks. Not just in art or other artists. Ask yourself, “Whats my Datsun?” And get obsessed. (See I told you there would be art!)