The main hall with the engine collection was right in front of us on the first floor and includes just about every engine worth mentioning from Nissan’s past and present. Undoubtedly the jewel in the crown would have to be the GRX-II V12 engine found in the R382 race car with its flowing exhaust manifolds and pipes extending back above the gearbox. This was one of a few engines to feature cut-away sections showing the insides of the heads and block and even the sump in some cases. Each engine is accompanied by a information plaque in Japanese and English.
While engines took up most of the space in the main hall, there were also two vintage cars, the Datsun Model 15 Roadster and the Datsun Truck Model 220 taking center stage. These along with the R35 GT-R, the Z34 Fairlady Z and the Cima were the only cars included in the museum. Also in the main hall were exhibits featuring Nissan’s 10 Best Engines awards for the VQ series, a look at the history of the humble piston and a timeline covering all of Nissan’s engines throughout its history. I could’ve spent the best part of an hour in the main hall reading up on the wealth of information written on each plaque but as time was running out we had to move on after 30 minutes or so.
After viewing the main hall, guests are directed upstairs to the the remaining rooms including one which explains the process of machining and assembling engines in the engine plant across the street as well as a large model room with small scale models of practically every car Nissan has ever produced. Ignoring the conference rooms to the right once getting to the top of the staircase, we head to the engine plant room. There are two CR14DE engines on display featuring Xtronic CVT transmissions which kind of set the theme for this room, the ecology. In the middle of the room are a collection of large boards explaining the environmental protection activities of the Yokohama plant and its efforts to reduce C02 emissions. I felt that without actually pushing Nissan’s environmental stance into visitors faces, this was about as obvious as you could get without the company being overly enthusiastic about its obligations. That’s not a bad thing at all, it’s just with all the polluting glory present downstairs in the main hall, it’s somewhat of a quick reality check to come upstairs and see where Nissan is heading.
Across the hallway there’s the final exhibit, the model car room. As mentioned it showcases just about every car Nissan has ever made in 1:43 scale (or thereabouts) in varying levels of detail. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little when I was checking out an incredibly detailed model of a 1970s Nissan Cedric when I look next to it to see what looked like a 200 yen pull back plastic model of a another more recent Cedric. I guess when you set out to display every model in the company’s history, sometimes you just have to take whatever example of a scale model comes your way… There were a couple more cabinets displaying models like the Fairlady Z and the Datsun Model 15, each with period memorabilia on show. It’s upstairs where you realize how old the building actually is, also that there’s enough of the original interior remaining to make you feel like you could actually be there in the late 1930s among hordes of Nissan employees busily going about their work. The pre-war architecture and ambience definitely give the Nissan Engine Museum a unique quality.
As it was almost closing time we quickly filled out out questionnaires and handed them in. To my surprise the lady behind the desk places two Tomica R35 GT-R die cast cars on the counter for us to take home as a memento of the visit! OK, these can be had from practically anywhere for a few hundred yen but it was the thought that counted. As I turned around to leave the lady asked in English how it was that we knew about the Guest Hall. From 7Tune.com of course!