‘Stanza’ entered the English vocabulary getting on for two centuries before Dr Samuel Johnson wrote his famous Dictionary. Originally, this was an Italian word for ‘standing or stopping place’ or even ‘room’ but our usage has always meant a group of (usually rhymed) verse lines, or what is often (wrongly) called a ‘verse’ of a poem. In recent decades some sports commentators have come to refer to a ‘stanza of play’.
But nobody expected the Datsun Stanza, in entry level guise arguably one of the least poetic cars of its era.
At least there was poetry in Nissan’s intentions. That’s because the Stanza – otherwise the Violet or the Auster in Japan or the 160J and as the 510 (after the famous 1600) in the US – was designed as a latterday version of that celebrated 1600. The 1600 was rightly acclaimed in its own era as a standout car, a car worth stopping in a nearby stanza to take a gander at! In this work of near engineering genius, Nissan’s product planners and engineers took inspiration from the BMW Neue Klasse 1500 and packed it in a crisply styled and bargain-based car.