History

HISTORY: The story of Datsun, Nissan & Prince Switzerland – Part 2 “The different companies”

This is the second part of a multi-post series about the (hi)story of Datsun, Prince and Nissan in switzerland.  Check out the other parts HERE

This post might get a bit nerdy, but once i started to investigate the story, i found more and more companies involved and thought it makes sense to give you an overview first, before we go into the story itself.
In the upcoming insights of what was later known as Datsun (Suisse) SA and today is known as Nissan Switzerland the different companies will be mentioned every now and then. So this is kind of a “map” to understand the rest of the story in detail.

1. Introduction
I tracked down more than 350 commercial register records of all the 32(!) different involved companies and puzzled them together with some additional Datsun switzerland internal documents
This story will cover all the important companies, plus a few less relevant. It was a lot of work, but also very interesting.

For your better Understanding:
AG (German) = SA (french) = Corp. (english)
GmbH (German) = Ltd. (english)

To make life a little more easy, i made an chart of all the companies. But since it’s probably a bit too small. klick this LINK to get a full high-res pdf File.

2. Detailed veiws
Let’s follow the chart above from left to right and have a little more detailed look into the different companies and their purposes.

2.1 Titan AG (Old)
The Titan AG Was founded in Zürich as long back as in 1909 by Robert Bilgeri & Jakob Fries and is therefore the oldest of all the companies in this post.
The business purpose was to import and wholesell Automtove vehicles and spareparts. But in the following years, they started to sell all kind of goods (including spare parts) like Bicycles, Radios, Sewing machines, etc..

An 1909 Trademark Registration in the swiss commercial register from 1909, which already includes “Automobile”

Over the years they offered a variaty of Bicycle brands, and from 1948 to 1950 they even had their own radio-production line (Minerva, built in Licence)
In 1928 Emil Fehlmann (an very active businessman) stepped into the company… and got part of the board of leaders. You’ll find this name a few times in this story.
In 1930 they moved to the Stauffacherstrasse 45 in Zürich. This address will pop up a few times more in the next chapters.
In 1970 the company got renamed to “Lindoro AG”, which still exists today, but also had a changed business purpose to buy and sell properties….

2.2 Titan Auto Service AG (TASAG) -> Titan AG (New)
In the 30ties when car sales and -service started to slowely accelerate in switzerland, the owners decided to make a separate company focussing on the Automotive sector since the original Titan AG had shifted away to a multi purpose goods selling company. So they started up a second company in 1933, at the very same address in zürich (Staufacherstrasse 45), which was called “Titan Auto Service AG” and was mostly focussing on car related services and sales.
At some point they relocated to the Badenerstrasse 527 in Zürich. While not directly linked to the Datsun brand, they were owned by the same people and later even became part of the Datsun switzerland group as a official dealership, but then got sold again later. Even though it always was an separated company, the links between Titan AG and Datsun / Nissan Switzerland or the FMG was pretty close.

According to this 1972 Job advert, they were looking to hire people for sales of SAAB, Rover and Range-rover vehicles, and you can see the FMG Logo (see next chapter) with a sentence saying that it is part of the Fehlmann-Motor-Group. In another ad (not shown), also the Datsun brand is mentioned.
In 1970 when the old Titan AG (owned by the same people) closed, the TASAG got renamed to “Titan AG”. It still exists today, but is now a BMW / Mini Dealership and workshop, belonging to the Binelli group…

Picture from google streetview (Badenstrasse 452 Titan AG 2021)

 

2.3 E. Fehlmann & Co AG
Emil Fehlmann Senior (A busy businessman involved in various companies) founded this company in Urdorf in 1957 to import and sell cars.
Only 2 years later Emil Fehlmann Senior died and Emil Fehlmann Junior took over the company, including a few other relatives.
While all the other companies had a specific other purpose, the E. Fehlmann & Co AG, was the main import company that had all the brands under it’s roof. It was kind of the Holding.
In 1972 the company registered the Fehlmann-Motor-Group “FMG” Logo and trademark. As you can see in the commercial register entry below, the address was Badenstrasse 527 in Zürich (Same as the titan AG above)
After the Fehlmann Motor AG was founded in Urdorf in 1972 (see 2.8), and the business activities where handed over (after all it were mostly the same people involved), the company changed it’s business purpose to Property sales, etc. and moved it’s location to Uitikon. it still exists today.

2.4 Auto Macchi AG, Root -> Auto Macchi AG
The “Auto Macchi AG, Root” has nothing to do with the Datsun brand itself, but was one of the companies owned by the Macchi Family which you will read about a lot more from in the next chapters
Located in root it operated from 1972, got renamed to Auto Macchi AG” in 1989 and liquidated in 1997. The incredible story of Heinz Macchi, his dream of an all-in-one go-to car shop and how it tragically ended, is definitively worth a read. Check out this Link
Luckily i know that most of the documents that survived this story are now in the Bettelbrünneli collection and will soon be handed over to the Mazda Museum in Augsburg

2.5 Garage Macchi AG, Luzern -> Garage Macchi AG
When the Royal-Garage GmbH (See 2.6) moved to Dietlikon, in 1964, the Macchi family founded a replacement company at the Old address at the Maihofstrasse in Lucerne, the “Garage Macchi AG, Luzern”, which still operated the Royal-garage.
In1989 the Company got renamed into “Garage Macchi AG”. At least at some point in the the Company (probably through the family links to the Fehlmann Motor group) they became a small-size “local” Nissan Dealership. I have a full documentation folder from that time. Below is a scan of the cover page, issued by Nissan switzerland:This was the official invitation flyer to the grand opening of their nissan dealership at the Maihofstrasse in 1992. Even though the Flyer says “Auto Macchi” it was clearly the “Garage Macchi” company:
This was only 6 years before the company closed in 1998.

2.6 Macchi-Barmettler -> Paula Macchi-Barmettler -> Royal Garage GmbH
Paula Macchi-barmettler opened up a little Service station at the Maihofstrasse 61 in Lucerne in 1931 under the Company name “Maccchi-Barmettler”. However the service station they operated was already then named “Royal Garage”.
In 1936 the Company purpose “car sales” was added and in 1939 the company name had to be changed to “Paula Macchi-Barmettler” due to a change in the swiss commercial law. Over the years the company purpose also included transport services, operating a gas station, Car sales, car repair services, taxi services, driving school, etc. and they were an Opel dealership at some point, too.

Picture shows an old Postcard with the Royal garage workshop. Picture courtesy of Timbuktu.ch

In 1948 the Royal-Garage GmbH was founded by the brothers Aldo and Paul Macchi at the same adress and the “Paula Macchi-barmettler” company taken over into this new company.
In 1949 the company applied for the transport permit and got approval from the government
In 1964 the company moved to Dietlikon and got replaced by the “Garage-Macchi AG, Luzern” (see 2.5), at the same location in lucerne
In 1971 Mr. Emil Fehlmann Junior steps in and transferred the business to the Fehlman Motor AG in Urdorf (See 2.8) in around 1972, so the company got be closed in1973

I found an old pictures on angelikawalthert‘s Website, wich shows the old Royal Garage workshop & Opel dealership and Shell gas station with the little helpers. It is Located in the Maihofstrasse 61 in Lucerne

On the same website (timbuktu.ch) it found this picture of how the same building looks today, as it is used as a restaurant, but still has the same significant outside styling, and what appears to be a former garage / workshop building attached to the right.

2.7 Datsun AG -> Datsun (Suisse) SA (old)
on the 13th Of October 1966, René Giezendanner Founded the “Datsun” AG in Rüschlikon at the Schlosstrasse 21. It appears this is a private address and was only used to register the company.
Only 4 months Later, the Company was renamed to “Datsun (Suisse) SA”, with the business purpose to deal with Cars and utility vehicles and spareparts of the “Datsun” Brand in switzerland.
One year later, in February 1968, the company moved it’s location to the Stauffacherstrasse 45 in Zürich, which was the same address as the Titan AG and TASAG (owned also by E. Fehlmann) used to have (See 2.1 and 2.2)
In 1972 the Company moved to it’s new location in Urdorf.
1975, (After the Handover to urdorf was completed), the company closed and got liquidated and replaced by the New “Datsun (Suisse) SA” (See next chapter). We’ll have a closer look to this in the next part of the story.

2.8 Fehlmann Motor AG -> Datsun Suisse SA (New) -> Nissan (suisse) SA -> Nissan Motors Switzerland -> Renault-Nissan Suisse SA -> Nissan Europe.
The Fehlmann Motor AG was some sort of holding, which held the various companies under the “Fehlmann Motor group” label.
It was opened together with the new headquarter in Urdorf and meant to hold all the brands under one roof. It took over the business from the royal-garage AG (see 2.6) and the E. Fehlmann & Co AG (see 2.3) and also the “Fehlmann Motor Group” Label and Logo.
Under their FMG Brand, they imported RollsRoyce, Datsun, Saab, DeTomaso cars and under their “Titan AG” subsidiary also imported Range rover and Land rover cars
in 1975 The Company got renamed into “Datsun (Suisse) SA” and therefore replaced the old “Datsun (Suisse) SA” (see 2.7).
In 1984 the Company  changed ownership and got renamed into “Nissan (Suisse) SA” and only shortly later the Company got renamed again to “Nissan Motors Switzerland”.
In 2001 the Nissan Motor Corp. partnered up with Renault, and therefore also the swiss subsidiary became Renault-Nissan Switzerland SA.
After the split-up with renault in Post-Carlos-Goshn-era, Nissan in Switzerland is now today a subsidiary of Nissan Europe, located in Germany.
Again we’ll have a closer look at this in the next parts of the story.

2.9 Delmar AG -> Datsun-Aut0handels AG -> Nissan Autohandels AG
At the Same time when Fehlmann Motor AG was founded, Delmar AG was founded by E. Fehlmann in Urdorf in 1972 Based on the “Gebrüder Macchi AG, Automobile” (see 2.11). The business purpose was to Import cars of the swedish SAAB Brand to switzerland. which was previously done by the Macchi brothers. It isn’t directly Datsun related in the beginning, as this Company was purely focussing on the SAAB brand. But it was owned and operated as the same people who did so at DSSA and also belonged to the FMG.
In this addon page to a swiss SAAB 96 homologation it is noted that the original importer of the car (Macchi AG in 1971) changed to Delmar AG in September 1972:

In 1978/1979 the Company sold the SAAB-business to the newfound “ScanCars AG” in Basel, and renamed itself to “Datsun-Autohandels AG” and in 1984 to “Nissan-Autohandels AG”. The Purpose was then to run a variety of self-owned dealerships, garages and workshops which acted under the / Datsun Nissan brand and were not privately owned, but belonged to the FMG group. This also included the Titan AG (see 2.2) at some point. In 2004 the company got sold to Renault zürich After Nissan and Renault split up.

2.10 Sakurama Beteiligungs- und Finanzgesellschaft AG
The “Sakurama Beteiligungs- und Finanzgesellschaft AG” was a pure legal-company founded by the Datsun Importers of the Netherlands, to be able to make business in switzerland, when they were involved in Datsun switzerland. More on that in the next chapter.
It existed from 1975 to 1984. In 1978 E. Fehlmann Junior (who was also part of the founding group), left the board of leaders.

2.11 Royal-Garage Gebrüder Macchi AG -> Gebrüder Macchi AG, Automobile -> Macchi AG
Remember the Macchi Family? They were busy during this time (see 2.4 and 2.5) and Also founded the “Royal-Garage Gebrüder Macchi AG” in Zürich in 1959, Not to be confused with all the Other “Macchi” Companies and the “Royal-garage” in Lucerne. They where the general agency for SAAB Cars in swirterland. In 1963 the Company got a slightly shorter name which was “Gebrüder Macchi AG, Automobile”. In 1971 Emil Fehlmann Junior steps into the game, and immediately put the brand under the FMG Umbralla as seen in this 1971 ad from a (fittingly) swiss architecture magazine, where all the “SAAB”, Gebrüder Macchi AG” and FMG brands can be seen together:

In 1972, when the SAAB business was mostly handed over to the Delmar AG (see 2.8) the company got renamed to “Macchi AG” and remained as one of the bigger SAAB flagship dealerships. The Company was probably run relatively freely by the Macchi brothers, while still belonging to the FMG group under Mr. Fehlmann, but once he sold his Car business to the Dutch Datsun import company, their Sakurama Company (see 2.9) also took over this business. After Sakurame got out of the game in switzerland the Macchi AG was also liquidated. I didn’t look it up, but i guess there was a new SAAB dealership company founded at the same place later, but linked to the new Scancars company then.

2.12 Badertscher Autogarage AG
in 1977 the Badertscher Autogarage AG was founded in Berne as a car repair shop and dealership. Once Mr. Octav Bottnar and his team (including Silvio Cereghetti)  stepped into the game, they bought the company in 1979 and liquidated it in 1980.

2.13 Badertscher Auto Center AG -> Datsun Industriemaschinen AG
You may wonder why the bough the company in 2.12 only to kill it off shortly thereafter? I guess the reason was they only were able to buy the whole lot of companies from the Badertscher Family. These also founded the Baderterscher Auto Center AG in Berne in 1973 and ran it independantly, until Silvio Cerghetti (from Datsun Suisse) took it all over in 1979, and renamed the Company to “Datsun Industriemaschinen AG” in 1980 and moved it to Urdorf. The company remained active until 1996, when it got liquidated. Funnily they kept their “Datsun” brand in the company name until the end, even if the Datsun brand was replaced by Nissan many years earlier. I don’t know the reasons behind this whole move, but i guess the Badertscher company already had some experience with Datsun industrial machines (Forklifts, mini-buses, etc) and was therefore bought to integrate it into the official Business of Datsun switzerland and to further expand ther Datsun Industrial Machine service. We’ll have a closer look at their business offerings in a later post of this series…

2.14 Bazel Automobile Holding AG
During the Botnar-led times, the guys were quite busy founding a load of new companies to handle all the different businesses. Therefore the Bazel Automobile Holding AG was founded by the same people under the Name of Emil Fehlmann and H.G. Hinderling in Basel in 1978. It remained active until 2016. As the name suggessts,  it wa sa holding to keep all the companies under one roof.

2.15 Yenzel GmbH
A subsidiary of the Bazel Automobile Holding AG was the Yenzel GmbH, also founded in 1978 by H.G. Hinderling. Their Purpose was to handle the Yen-CHF Currency exchange at a stable rate (That’s probably why there’s “YEN” in the company name). So this company basically owned the whole risk for The various datsun companies. A smart business-move. since if the Yen-CHF exchange rate would have gone out of control, only this legal company would go bankrubt, but Datsun switzerland would not be directly affected and therefore had no risk. The company got closed in 1990, after Nissan got involved and simplified the whole bussines structure. Below is a screenshot from the commercial register record when the company was founded under the ownershop of Bazel Autombil Holding AG.

2.16 Bethel AG
This company was also founded by by H.G. Hinderling. I’m not sure how directly this was linked to the above companies, but it’s business purpose was to deal with shares, company ownerships so i guess it was some kind of a “Letterbox” or Holding company to handle all the different transactions and deals between the various companies and people. It got liqudated in 1984

3. Pension Funds
I didn’t really look up the details but both the Fehlmann companies and the Macchi companies had their Pension funds, which were active over a longer time and i wanted to mention it for completeness sake.

4. Other involved companies
The people mentioned above had a variety of other companies that they were involved into, but which are not directly linked to Datsun switzerland or it’s subsidiaries. I don’t want to go too much into them in detail, since it’s not really releveant, but nevertheless give you a short overview of what i came across (i’m sure there are more)
– E. Fehlman was also included in a company named Waren-Kredit AG (Later Bank für Warenkredite AG)
– The Macchi Family also had a Company called “AM Leasing-AG” which was of course there to handle leasing deals with their customers. (For example Saab buyers)
– Datsun Switzerland owned a variety of changing datsun dealershops and workshops in all areas of switzerland, which i do not want to show you in detail as it gets too complicated. nevertheless, some completely random garages may also be linked to The Datsun Switzerland group at some points which were run independantly under the “Datsun-Autohandels AG” and “Nissan Autohandels-AG” group. (see 2.9)
– It appears there was at one Point also an “Auto Vario Leasing” Company, which offered leasing services to people interrested in buying a Datsun in the early 80ies, but i wasn’t able to find any details.

5. Datsun Händler-Verband
I wasn’t really able to track down any detailed information, since associations are not required to be listed in the commercial register. However i found one entry in 1973 listing the swiss Datsun Dealers association. And i have plenty of documents regarding this, which i will show you in one of the next posts of this story, since it gets really interresting 🙂

If your you think this is too complicated, have no fear. In the next two or three chapters we will look closer at solely the Datsun and Nissan Brand in switzerland, without all the other companies. Some of the names may pop up in the other posts as well, to explain a variety of details…
Thanks for reading and whatch out for the next installments. I have at least 3 more history posts of this series to come with many interresting details.

As with all my knowledge posts, i tried my best to get all information from trustworthy and official sources. However i can not guarantee that above information is 100% correct. If you have any correction, input or additional information, i appreciate if you let me know. I’ll update this post whenever i find something to add or change.
Also i put countless unpaid hours of research and work into this post and spent quite a bit of money to buy a lot of original documents, so please ask, before you copy anything, including the pictures. thanks!

Big Thanks to Marcel from the Bettelbrünneli Collection, Gerard from Zonedatsun, Heiko from Datsun.ch, Lara from the Central Library of Zürich and the ETH Zürich team behind the E-Periodica Archives. Without all of you, this posts wouldn’t have been possible!
I Also was in contact with some people at Nissan switzerland, but still waiting for some information until today. If i get anything, i will of course update these posts immediately.

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