Nissan Laurel/ Datsun 1800 (C30)
This was the first Nissan that from the start was a Datsun in the export (except for the low-volume 1965 Nissan Silvia, originally meant to be a Datsun in Japan, and with limited regular exports only to Australia). Though manufactured in the former Prince factory with a 1815cc Prince engine, the Laurel was a Nissan design, originally intended to be called ‘Bluebird Laurel’ as a senior car model in the Bluebird series. Nissan would create its 1.8 (1770cc) engine only in 1970. The trailing arm rear suspension that was designed for the Laurel (using some of Prince’s DeDion axle technology) found its way unexpectedly to the Bluebird a half year before. Its wheelbase was a substantial 20 cm longer, and other than what was the case with the Skyline S50, where the extra room was for the 6-cylinder engine, at the Laurel it mainly benefited the interior. The 2.0-litre that became available in Japan in mid-1970, together with Nissan’s first 2-door hardtop, also was a 4-cylinder Prince engine. Though somewhat wider than the 1968/69 Skyline GT C10, which used the same semi-trailing arm rear suspension, the rear tread of the Laurel was 2 cm smaller (but 2 cm wider than that of the Bluebird 510).
The Laurel was aimed as a personal car, to which Toyota didn’t yet have an answer. The Corona Mark II, released about a half year after the Laurel, and intended as the successor to the Corona, still had a rigid rear axle with leaf springs through 1971, even for its hardtop (and offered wagons and even pick-ups). Laurel and Mark II had about the same dimensions, but the wheelbase of the Mark II was eleven cm shorter. Set side by side with the Mark II sedans/hardtops, one out of six was a Laurel initially, but this would rise to one out of three by mid-1970, when Laurel hardtops became available, then constituting four out of ten Laurels. From here on this generation Laurel 1.8/2.0 would outsell the upper Mark II (1.9) models in Japan.
Nissan Laurel/ Datsun 200L (C130)
The second generation arrived in April 1972, three months after the new Mark II with both featuring a similar-looking “blown up” coke-bottle shape, suggesting much car for the money. The Laurel sedan now received a rigid rear axle with leaf springs, but the hardtop kept the independent suspension. The Mark II sedans/hardtops had all changed to a live rear axle with coils and a lateral track rod. In Japan, a 6-cylinder 2-liter became available from the start, but in the export it came instead of the 4-cylinder by 1975. The Laurel now exceeded the Mark II (also available with a 6-cylinder) in all dimensions and in price, and relative sales remained one Laurel for every two Mark II.
In Japan, the basic Laurel (1.8 DX) sedan was now only about 2% more expensive than the comparable Bluebird-U 1.8 DX sedan with its independent rear suspension, so the Laurel really wasn’t a top level Bluebird. One third of the Laurels were hardtops in the first year, but this declined to one fifth in later years (half as high as at the Mark II). The entry level Laurel also was about 2% more expensive than the comparable Mark II (1.7). When the Mark II 1.7 became a 1.8 in August 1973, the Laurel was the cheapest, but this changed again when Toyota entered a standard model at the end of 1974. In the course of 1974, the Laurel sales went closer to those of the Mark II.
Nissan Laurel/ Datsun 200L/240L (C230)
For the next generation, the hip up styling was tempered, but not lifted, just as with the Mark II, and both arrived around the turn of the year 1977. The Laurel had a clear wedge shape, and it surely looked better than its key competitor which nevertheless sold better. The chassis dimensions were the same as for the previous generation, but the solid rear axle now was sprung by coils in the sedans and 4-cylinder hardtops, for the first time at a Nissan. The Mark II (now called Cressida in the export) grew closer to the Laurel. Following the Cedric/Gloria, the 2-door hardtop shell was given two extra doors to create a 4-door hardtop, and this body style became available in the export by 1979 as a first for a Japanese car.
Nissan Laurel/ Datsun Laurel (C31)
This next generation saw the width widened to Cedric/Gloria level, with the wheelbase retained. There were now also sedans with the independent rear suspension. At the autumn 1982 facelift, the export models became Nissans, and all general export models, not for Europe, received a hood ornament (incl. the base model), as well as the Medalist and later Grand Extra models for Japan. Laurel now sold only half as much as Mark II, and about a quarter when the Toyota Chaser and Cresta siblings are taken into account. In the last years, three out of ten Laurel/Matk II was a Laurel, and only two incl. the Toyota siblings.
Nissan Cherry/ Datsun 100A/120A (E10)
Next to the Cedric, another Nissan model with strong resemblance to an Austin, was the Cherry, which front-wheel-drive layout was an obvious copy of Issigonis’ Seven, later known as Mini. Prince had started the development of this fwd model before the merge with Nissan. The Cherry was sold in Japan by dealers that earlier handled the Cony 360 micro van/truck, built by Aichi Machine Industry, which had started a business tie-up with Nissan in 1965.
Nissan Cherry F-II/ Datsun 100A/120A F-II (F10)
The second generation was no longer available in Japan with the 1-litre engine.
Nissan Pulsar/ Datsun 100A/120A/130A/140A/150A/Cherry (N10)
The Pulsar started as a 4-door fastback without rear hatch, and was deleted in Japan a half year after the release of the 5-door hatchback in September 1979, but in the general export the 4-door remained available. The facelift to rectangular headlights occurred in Japan in May 1980, and the switch to the ohc engine in March 1981, while in the export these changes took place in September 1980 and 1981 respectively, but North America had a 1.5 ohv engine for the 1981 model year.
Japanese Cars 1962-1977