Datsun Matsuri a celebration of vintage Japanese tin

By Dave S. Clark

Every Victoria Day long weekend, Datsuns from across Western Canada converge on Kelowna, BC for Datsun Matsuri (which translates to Festival in Japanese), a car show honouring the Japanese classics that is run alongside the historic Knox Mountain Hill Climb.

Despite decades of snowy Canadian winters doing their best to rot away the rust-prone Datsuns, many of them survived and got into the hands of enthusiastic owners. This year, I was able to join those owners in Kelowna with my friend Dave Myers from MyAutoProject.com, who hosts the show.

This is the third year Dave has hosted the show and I was pretty excited since I hadn’t been able to make any of Dave’s Datsun meets since I drove my old 280z to the All Alberta Datsun Meet in 2011. It was a memorable day as it was barely above zero and my driver’s side window had been smashed out two days prior to the meet, which meant I had to drive to the meet windowless in order to buy a spare one off a fellow Datsun owner. 

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Like any good car show, it started with a cruise and for us, that meant a 10-hour drive from Edmonton to BC’s Okanagan. A convoy of a Roadster, a 521 pickup, and a RB25-powered 260z joined us as we made the scenic route. We all had a good laugh over the driver of the 521, who was originally just supposed to meet up with us in Edmonton, but then decided to keep going a little bit further and then a little bit further. He eventually made it to Golden, BC, which was about half way there.

It was a picturesque drive through the mountains. I hadn’t driven further west than Lake Louise for as long as I can remember, which is a shame because it is a gorgeous part of the country. A long day of driving was capped off with a few beers in the parking lot as all of the Datsuns started to trickle in for the show the next day.

Datsun-Fairlady-roadsterAs for the show itself, if you love Datsuns, this one had a little bit of everything. I was surprised at how well represented the Roadster community was. Although Datsuns aren’t particularly common to see on the streets, I still do spot the occasional Z and very rarely the odd 510. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Roadster that wasn’t either at a Datsun-related event or being driven by my friend Dave. There was also a wide variety of S30s, from beautifully restored, to tastefully modified and everything in between. I was a bit disappointed that the lesser known Datsun models which have been at the show in the past weren’t able to make it. Maybe next year!

One great thing about Datsuns is that they appeal to all ages. There were some owners who would have been around long enough to remember the first Datsun-branded cars arriving in North America. Others weren’t born when Nissan dropped the marque back in 1984. Regardless of age, everyone in the Datsun crowd seemed to be pretty down to earth and approachable too, so it was fun to talk about rebuilds, restorations and road trips.

Admission for Datsun Matsuri show also gets you into the Knox Mountain Hill Climb, which is a huge bonus. Read the full story on the Hill Climb here! For more information on Datsun Matsuri, check out MyAutoProject.com.

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