This Nissan Cedric Is Nominative Determinism on Wheels

Custom Classics Automobiles

Unless you’re descended from one of the Dodge Brothers, or from Abraham Lincoln, or your parents named you “Tiguan,” then there probably isn’t a car out there with your name on it. My name is Cedric, and I’m one of the lucky ones.

From 1960 to 2015, the upscale Nissan Cedric was sold in the Japanese domestic market as a sedan, a wagon, a van, and a commercial taxi. For one year only, 1964, Nissan exported around a hundred left-hand-drive variants to the U.S. and Canada, but sales were apparently a disaster, and the experiment came to a swift end. Conveniently, I happen to own one of those rare 1964 sedans.

1964 Nissan Cedric
Introducing … the Cedrics! Sam Prokop

For 43 years, I was a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Tulane University in New Orleans. I retired in early 2020, just as the pandemic was raging, so there was no opportunity for a party or event to commemorate my career at the university. But that summer, one of my former students, Jim Dillard, happened to see a worn but complete, U.S.-market 1964 Nissan Cedric in the RM Sotheby’s catalog for the 2020 Fall Auburn auction. After sharing his plan (secretly) with my wife, Julia, he bought the Cedric for $2750 with an eye toward getting it restored and presenting it to his favorite college professor as a retirement gift, once gatherings were allowed.

1964 Nissan Cedric unrestored above
Custom Classics Automobiles

Dillard is a well-known collector; he won best in class at the 2020 Amelia Island Concours for his meticulously restored 1958 Ducati 125. He shipped the Cedric to Custom Classics Automobiles in Island Lake, Illinois, where owner Bryan Reehoff and his great team brought it back to as-new condition in a year-long process.

In November 2021, during Tulane’s homecoming weekend, I was on campus for another event when I was lured to an outdoor party where the car was under wraps and many of my colleagues and former students were gathered for the presentation by Dillard. A Tulane news release called it “the gift of a lifetime” and even quoted me after the event: “Every time I sit in the car, I’m reminded of how a professor is so privileged to be able to form lasting connections and friendships with former students like Jim Dillard.”

Cedric (the car) has its original 1900-cc four-cylinder engine, a two-barrel carburetor, and a three-on-the-tree shifter. This export version has a speedometer and odometer calibrated in miles. The name badges on the body all identify it as a Nissan though the VIN plate in the engine compartment says it’s a Datsun. Interestingly, all of the fasteners are SAE-spec rather than metric, because the tooling for production came from Austin in England. The color is not original but is now a beautiful custom tint chosen by Custom Classics.

1964 Nissan Cedric rear 3/4
Custom Classics Automobiles

I enjoy bringing my namesake Nissan to local cars and coffee shows, where it attracts a lot of attention. The car drives easily in traffic and has plenty of pickup on the highway. I’ve been a car guy all of my life, and I still own the 1961 Corvair I used in my driving test the day after my 16th birthday. This Cedric is a testament to 1960s style and engineering, but it is also a lasting tribute to a special friendship between a student and his mentor. I couldn’t have received a more thoughtful gift.




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    On the topic of car’s with your name on it, I have a whole company sharing my name, thanks to the Cole Motor Car Company, active from 1908-1925. Apparently only 77 of their cars are left in existence, though, so I’m not likely to ever see one! (All information from Wikipedia)

    IMO, two reasons it didn’t sell: 1) Leftover anti-Japanese World War II sentiment. 2) Nice-looking car, but that ’50s A-pillar dated it in ’64.

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