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Japan’s carmakers raid the vaults

Japanese auto makers are reaching back – way back – to add a patina of past glory to some of their newest products, reviving long-dormant names to tap nostalgia and hold down marketing costs.

Take Nissan Motor Co. When Japan’s No2 auto producer on Tuesday announced a new line of vehicles targeting fast-growing emerging markets, it didn’t tout a neologism born of an army of consultants, focus groups and intellectual-property lawyers. Instead, Nissan reached into its corporate history and resuscitated the Datsun brand, which had been mothballed in the early 1980s.

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