The first models to be imported into the UK used a simple engine size naming, the 1000 (Sunny), 1300/1400/1600 (Bluebird), 1800 (Laurel) and the 2000 (Cedric) were imported in lieu of their Japanese model names – this was a convention that applied to all exported Datsuns. The 1970’s range had a numerical badging system, which reflects the engine sizes – for example the 100A would have the 1 litre engine, through to the 240Z with the 2.4 litre engines. Dealer and some brochures would refer to the cars by their Datsun names, but it wasn’t until the late 70’s did Datsun export all of their cars with those names. It’s still not completely clear what the letters stood for after each number, but an educated guess would go with the status of the car, 100A being the city car, 120y being the compact family car, 140J representing the family car, the 180B being the business commuter model, the 200L representing the executive car, the 240K as the sporting family car, the 280C as the large luxury model and finally the 240Z representing the sports car. The Datsun range scoped way beyond the models exported to the UK but unlike Toyota who produced far more niche models, the UK Datsun line of imports were reasonably representative of cars sold on the Japanese domestic market. Some exceptions include the S10 Silvia sports models, the President which was a large ceremonial car for dignitaries, as well as some body various, such as mini-trucks, estates and high or low spec trim levels.
All Cherry models are FWD and are cheap entry points into owning a Datsun. UK engine sizes go up to 1.3 litres and all were available as 2 & 4 door saloons, coupes and 3 and later a 5 door estate.
The original Cherry, the 100A and 120A (E10 series) is engineered similarly to a Mini but similarities end there. The replacement model, the 100A and 120A (known as the F10) has the same A-series engines but in a bigger body and little more refinement. Both versions were never badged as Cherry in the UK. The last Cherry model of the 70’s (N10) is the final evolution of this model, with virtually no connection to the original design. This generation of Cherry’s utilised the new E-series engines.
Some people who are put off with the perceived complexity FWD set up or the relatively small size of the Cherry, might be enticed to a Sunny which offers economic motoring used a traditional rear wheel drive layout. Available in the same body options as the Cherry.
The original Sunny models (B10) are virtually extinct in the UK (2 known survivors) and sold here as the 4 door saloon body and 3 door estate. The replacement 1970 to 1974 1200 models (B110) sold in much higher numbers but it’s the 120Y Sunny (B210) that’s instantly recognisable and to many represent the typical Datsun Sunny. It was replaced by the mechanically similar, more refined but even more popular 120Y and 140Y Sunny models (B310). All Cherrys and Sunnys shared bigger A series engines units but the Sunny’s engines were longitudinally mounted to the rear wheels, despite the sharing of engines not all mechanical parts are common between them.
Bridges the gap between the Sunny and the larger Bluebird – it’s a compact sized car offering a plusher and more refined experience than the sunny using the bigger range of L series 1.4 litre and 1.6 litre engines that are derived from the Bluebird models.
Both generations of the 140J and 160J Violet both models are mechanically similar, the latter known as the A10. The original (710) models inherited the coke bottle style of the Sunny and Bluebird ranges and all UK imports were sold as either a 4 door saloon or a 2 door (A10 were 3 doors) SSS coupe. The Violet range of models provided the marque with rally wins throughout its production.
The next group are the medium sized models, available in the UK with the familiar L series engines. The earliest imported cars were 4 door saloons and 5 door estates known as the 1300, 1400 or 1600 Bluebirds (510) and have become legendary in American Datsun circles. Its replacement, is the bigger, more luxurious 160B/180B (610) and it’s late 70’s replacement were known as the 810 Bluebirds. Early 80’s (910) Bluebirds models can still be picked up for reasonable prices. All 2 door coupes are generally valued above the 4 door saloon and 5 door estate models. The Bluebird became FWD in 1984.
This model consists of the rare 4 door 1800 (C30) saloon (1 none survivor in the UK) which was derived from a Prince design. The replacement 200L 4 door saloon and 2 door coupe (C130) still have Prince roots (engines on earliest versions) The 4 door 200L and 240L Laurels saloon (C230) features the next evolution of the 6 cylinder L series engines, later examples were available with fuel injection. The Laurel lost its numbering system with introduction of the early 80’s (C32) model.
Another Prince model, the comparatively short lived series of models which became well known for their sporting reputation and is the direct descendants of the Nissan GTR. Structurally similar to the Laurels, and shared many components as well as the 2.4 L series engine.
The first imports only consisted of the 4 door 240K GT (C110). The later 240K GT Skyline (C210) was only imported just as a 2 door coupe. All versions are rare and sought after.
Never displayed with Cedric badges in the UK, this series of 4 door saloons and 5 door estate cars shared detuned versions of the generations of Z car engines. These models represented the top of the range family cars for the UK.
The Datsun 2000 (130), Datsun 240C/260C (230), Datsun 260C/280C (330) and square rigged early 80’s Datsun 280C (430) are heavy and thirsty cars but have an abundance of chrome and retro styling, something that the car was widely criticised for when new.
The range topper was the well known Z sports car range, which are now firmly in classic car price range. Early to mid 70’s models are the most collectable, with the larger 280ZX models being the cheapest to obtain.
The 240Z and 260Z (both S30) are usually the most plentiful Datsun on the current car market, as many have been cherished or restored. Some have also been sourced via the States in recent years. They were available with the largest and most powerful L Series engines.
Commercial vehicles 1975-1983
Classified as commercial vehicles in the UK. This covers the Cherry FII and Sunny vans, the pick up, the E20/E23/Urvan, the Cabstar and the 4WD Patrol.
As trade and working vehicles, survivors are very scarce but the pick ups have developed a following in redent years.