Back to the Sunny page 1968-1970 (B10) 1970-1973 (B110) 1978-1982 (B310)

The Datsun 120Y became one of the most recognisable Datsuns in its heyday, and soon became Datsun UK best selling car. Imports into the UK started in October 1973 and volume sales were sparked off by an efficient sales campaign. This was aided with immediate delivery dates, comprehensive standard equipment and the fast growing reputation for reliability. There were 4 body styles available, the 2 and 4 door saloons, 5 door estate and 3 door coupe were available from the start. The 3 door van version being imported into the UK from late 1975. This model was always badged as the 120Y in the UK and was only available with one engine in the UK, the rear wheel driven longitudinally mounted A series 1171cc. The design remained relatively unchanged over its 4 year run, with a minor spec and trim update arriving in early 1976. The 120Y regularly featured in the top 10 best selling cars in the UK, averaging 5000 sales a month throughout the mid 70’s, suggesting that the ornate styling had been mostly over looked by the public in lieu of impeachable reliability, ease of driving and equipment, however the high waists with narrow windows, sombre interiors and poor rear visibility were picked up on by the press.

b210_21975 UK spec Datsun 120Y 2 door saloon, with earlier hubcaps and smaller 12″ wheels
 b210_41977 UK spec Datsun 120Y 4 door saloon

While its predessor, the B110 1200 models featured clean European influenced styling, the 120Y sunny was styled very much of its era, with numerous curves, folds and styling embelishments to give the visual affect of making the car appear to be bigger than it actually was. As the norm for Japanese cars, the mechanics were an evolution of the previous generation, engines were carried over as well as many mechanical parts but the body and interior was all new.

 b210_coupe1978 UK spec Datsun 120Y coupe
 b210_estate1975 UK spec Datsun 120Y estate

US markets (where the car was badged the B-210) also included 1288cc and 1397cc engines and like the previous model, it also accommodated both A and L series engines. There was also a 3 door estate, which would have been classified as a commercial vehicle being legible for cheaper commercial vehicle tax in its target countries. An one off L series engined 140Z and 160Z made specifically for the South African market featured the 1595cc twin carburetor set up, restyled grill and different rear lights. In some markets production of the B210 overlapped that of its successor, with South African B210’s still being assembled in 1980. Survivors today are rare in Europe and the States, with export or rust taking the majority of cars off the roads. They’re still relatively popular in many parts of Africa, Oceania, South America and Asia, still providing unremarkable but dependable transport to the masses.

 b210_usUS spec Datsun 210 (brochure image)
b210_van1978 UK spec Datsun 120Y van
 b210_zSouth African spec Datsun 140Z coupe
 b210_ausAustralian spec Datsun 120Y (web sourced image)

Model History

Sunny 120Y (1973-1978)
A12 4 Cylinder 1171cc OHV
2 door saloon, 4 door saloon, 5 door estate, 3 door coupe
October 1973
120Y 2 door, 4 door saloons, 4 door Estate and 3 door coupe launched in the UK
November 1974
master vacumn brakes and anti-dieseling solenoid on carburetor
November 1975
7 cwt Panel van introduced
February 1976
Wheel size increase from 12″ to 13″. New nylon seats. Larger brakes.
March 1977
Standard saloons known as GLS Saloons. upgraded headrests and clock, restyled grill.
August 1977
Brake level indicator replaces oil pressure gauge.
March 1977
Standard saloons known as GLS Saloons. upgraded headrests and clock, restyled grill, Coupe rear quarter grill now silver grey
Jul 1978
Discontinued. Replaced by B310.