The Bluebird was branded in Japan as a Datsun until 1979/80 at the release of the 910 series, the Sunny until 1980/81, a year before it changed to front-wheel-drive, and the Fairlady until 1969/70, when it was replaced by the Fairlady Z.  The specs sheet hereunder, handles the post-war Japanese Datsuns and successors (including the hand-built Silvia, announced at the September 1964 Tokyo Motor Show for Japan as Datsun Coupe 1500, but eventually sold as Nissan Silvia at its introduction in April 1965, presumably because of its elevated price).


Whereas the mid- to late-fifties commercial derivatives simply were based on the sedan with its separate chassis (a stretched utility was added in 1958), the early-sixties 320 series commercial derivatives all were on the longer chassis with torsion bar front suspension, after the sedan/wagon, now called ‘Bluebird’, had switched to a semi-monocoque body with coils in front.  With a weight of over 1,000 kg, the 320 commercial line (including a 2-door wagon) used 14 inch wheels, and kept the 4-speed transmission, while the Bluebird 310 series passenger cars had only 3 forward speeds and 13 inch wheels.  In a country like South Africa, the pickup (‘Mossie maar man’) would soon become the best selling in the utility field.

A similar chassis layout was used for the next 520 series in 1965, 8 cm wider than the 410 Bluebird, with a long-wheel-base pick-up model added later in the year, while in Taiwan, a 4-door double cab pick-up and a 4-door wagon were created by Yue Loong.  Again, in 1966, 1967 and 1970, this 1-ton pick-up was the best selling utility in South Africa, thereafter beaten by the Toyota Hi-Lux.

This series was replaced in 1972 by the 620 (single and 2- and 4-door double cab) pickup.  Yue Loong again created a 4-door wagon, as well as a 2-door wagon with side benches, and a stylish short-wheelbase 4-door double cab pick-up.

Datsun Bluebird

An independent front suspension with coil springs, was initiated in the 1959/60 310 Bluebird sedan still with the rigid leaf suspension at the rear, and continued in the 1963/64 410 series, which now had a full monocoque body, slightly narrower than its predecessor, and would remain Japan’s best selling car until 1965, when Toyota’s lustier Corona (incl. utilities) had arrived, 5 cm wider than the Bluebird.  Lifting the sloping rear end of the Bluebird sedan in spring 1966 didn’t help, also as Toyota had added a hardtop, and even a hatchback to its line.  Nissan would make its 1965 pick-up and wagon/van derivatives 8 cm wider than the 410 passenger car line, and denominate it the 520 series, rather than 420, and without the decreasing character line of the Bluebird wagon.

Then for 1967/68 came the illustrious 510 Bluebird with struts in front and a rear semi-trailing coil suspension, but the wagon kept the rigid leaf rear suspension, that was originally intended for the sedans as well and used in Latin American and South East Asian countries like Mexico and Taiwan, and for the taxi in Japan by 1971/72, to be succeeded by the 1973 Nissan Violet (710).  The 510 series was called as such in the USA and 1300/1400/1600 in the export, and would continue for a year next to the 610 series.  In Japan from September 1970, a year before the arrival of the Bluebird-U, the L18 1770cc engine was introduced in the SSS for a year. 

The 1971/72 Bluebird-U (export Datsun 160B/180B, initially also 1600/1800) 610 series retained the semi-trailing arms at the rear, except for the wagon.  In the United Kingdom, ‘Bluebird’ was added to the number/letter designations.

The 1976/77 Bluebird (810 series) reverted to the rigid leaf rear suspension for the Japanese domestic and general export markets, except for the SSS and 6-cylinder models, and then after a year changed to Nissan’s first live axle with coils, earlier in 1977 introduced in the Laurel.  In Europe and Australia the semi-trailing independent rear suspension was retained, and in some markets like Australia and Sweden replaced by the live axle as well by 1977/78 for the sedan models.  By 1979, the ‘Bluebird’ name was generally adopted in Europe.  The Datsun 810 cars for North America (6-cylinder) kept the semi-trailing arms.  In all cases however, the wagons had the rigid leaf rear suspension.

The next generation 1979/80 910 series Bluebird arrived as a Nissan in Japan, but was elsewhere still a Datsun until 1983/84.  By 1982, the ‘Bluebird’ name was adopted generally in the export worldwide.  From 1982, wagons for Japan (but not the business-oriented ‘van’), Europe and USA/Canada adopted the 4-link coil rear suspension.  Six-cylinder models were now reserved for North America.

Datsun Sunny

The 1966 Sunny had a transverse leaf wishbone front suspension, and a rigid leaf rear suspension.  The larger 1970 (110 series) models changed to front struts, retained by the 1973 (210) models.  The 310 series 1977/78 models received a live axle at the rear with coils, except for the wagon.  In 1979 arrived a wagon with lowered roof on the rear coil suspension, called Sunny California in Japan.  This generation became a Nissan in Japan for 1980/1981.

In South Africa in 1977, the (110 series) Datsun 1200 ½-ton pick-up or bakkie (load box) in Afrikaans, then sold as ‘Datsun 120Y’ was the best selling utility (often used as a private car), after the (210 series) 120Y/140Y car range had been the best seller there the previous year.  Toyota entered the Publica-based 1200 pick-up (also known as Corolla pick-up) in late 1977, for some years.  By 1980 Nissan fitted the 1.4-litre engine and renamed it the ‘Datsun 1400 Bakkie’.  During most of the 1980s it held the 3rd place in the commercial vehicle field, far outselling its front-wheel-drive competitors Ford/Mazda and Volkswagen (Golf).  In October 1985, after a production run of 125,000 units, Nissan raised the cab with 3 cm, and the rear window moved backward with 55 mm, while power front disc brakes were fitted.  Then, in March 1988, a 5-speed gearbox became available.  Production would end here in 2007, while in Japan, where the above amenities (incl. the 1.4-liter engine) weren’t included, it had stopped 9 years earlier for the export (with assembling in Ecuador ending in 1999).

With thanks to South African CAR magazine

Nissan Silvia

Based on the 210 Sunny, the odd-looking S10 model was over 5 cm wider, but kept its (leaf spring) rear axle tread.  Exports occurred only to USA/Canada, where the majority of the cars were sold.  Originally, a rotary engine was planned.

The later Silvia/Gazelle S110 model was based on the 1977 Violet, but was 8 cm wider and rode on larger wheels.  Silvia and Gazelle arrived as a hardtop, followed by a hatchback later.  Mexico took the opportunity to build the hardtop next to its (Violet) sedan, with the old 1.8 ohv engine. 

From 1980, after the hatchback had arrived, the Silvia alone would outsell the Celica in Japan, until a new Celica arrived in mid-1981.  Silvia/Gazelle combined outsold this new Celica, as Nissan had added a turbo shortly before.  After Toyota added one in autumn 1982, the Celica would dominate.  The Silvia was sold at the Sunny outlets, and the Gazelle (slightly more expensive and luxurious) at the Nissan Motor store, next to the Laurel and Cedric.  Three out of four was a Silvia.

Nissan Sunny (B11)  October 1981

After 15 years, the Sunny again had refined looks, and changed to front-wheel-drive.  The 2-door sedan now was denied to Japan, while restricted to Japan were a 1.5-litre injection engine, accompanied in September 1982 by one with a turbo.  The (2.5 cm) lower Sunny California was continued.  After the facelift in October 1983, the Japanese were offered a cute 14 cm shorter 3-door hatchback, replacing the slow-selling coupe, that was continued elsewhere.  This hatchback became available with the 1.3 engine only by April 1985, not to affect sales of the March.

For a limited number of left-driving markets Nissan installed the 988cc engine, used in the Cherry.  At the other side of the spectrum to better comply with exhaust regulations, the United States, where it was the best selling ‘import’ model (built there from May 1985), received a 1.6 litre carburetor engine with 3-way catalyst, that was also used from 1985 in selected markets in Europe.  Mexico also fitted the 1.6 engine and even added a turbo, keeping the carburetor.  The Sunny B11 was also assembled in Greece, where it was the best-selling car in 1983. 

The Nissan Motor dealer outlets sold from 1982 the up-market Laurel Spirit clone with one to every seven Sunnys sold through the Sunny outlets, reduced to every ten the next year.  The Sunny B11 was the second-best selling car in Japan and built in the Zama and Murayama (ex-Prince) plants.  The Laurel Spirit (and the Sunny for Europe) outlived the Japanese Sunny B11 for about a year.

In October 1982 arrived in Japan the higher Sunny AD Van with a rigid rear axle and leaf springs, and with Pulsar AD Van and Datsun AD Van clones for the respective dealer outlets.  In July 1983 came a 1.3 2-door Sunny AD Van, replacing the 310 model, with 2-seat windowed 1.3 and 1.7 diesel variants, followed by 4-door 2-seaters in September 1985.  A panel 2-door was available in the export.  In May 1988, the three car lines were united and called Nissan AD Van, to be replaced in October 1990.

The Sunny B11 was maintained at the arrival of its Sentra B12 successor in Chile (till 1993) and South East Asia (till 1995).  In Chile it became the best-selling car in 1989 and 1990 after it was imported from Mexico by 1986.  


selected specifications


Far East Auto Literature

3 October, 2019