If one single car can be attributed to the success of Datsun in the UK, then it would be the Sunny range of models. While the smaller FWD Cherry enabled thousands of people to buy a new car for the first time, it was the Sunny that became the best selling Datsun in the UK. Pitched directly against the Corolla in its home market, the Sunny was competing in the toughest of the car sectors – the family small car market. Datsun had researched carefully what people demanded of their cars, and correctly assumed that practicality, a good level of equipment and low costs were key factors. The engineering was thoroughly conventional, using proven RWD technology with a brand new engine and crisp European influenced styling.
|1968-1970 (B10)||1970-1973 (B110)||1973-1978 (B210)||1978-1982 (B310)|
The first models into the UK arrived in late 1968, but it wasn’t until the 2nd generation and the formation of the Datsun UK dealer network did the sales start to make the British car industry take notice. Initial reports, particularly those for the B110 model, were positive and sited the car as a worthy competitor to lower engined Vivas and Escorts. The B110 coupe in particular was praised for its performance and all round packaging. Datsun replaced the car with the B210 (120Y) in 1973, which is when sales really took off on global scale.
However it became clear with each successive update the press became more indifferent to the Sunny and tended to notice while it was perfect for those who needed to simple travel from point A to point B with the minimum of fuss, the sunny was offset by the criticism that the cars lacked character or driver aspirations. The asthetics, particularly of the B210, also came in for some level of criticism regarding the ornate details and sombre interior. This asides, the car still maintained strong sales throughout its career and provided the public with undemanding transport.
The name Sunny was strong enough to survive into the 90’s, but like many of the Datsun range didn’t display the Sunny name until its 3rd incarnation. The A series engines which ranged from the original 988cc to the final 1488cc unit, was a well proven reliable engine. It was longitudally mounted to drive the rear wheels, remained relatively unchanged for almost 14 years of production and many mechanical parts were still interchangable. Datsun finally re-engined and totally overhauled the model in late 1981, fitting a new generation of FWD E series engines – which continued the success story into the 80’s. In Japan the car had always appealed to a conservative set of customers, hence a hatchback version not appearing until the 5th generation of cars in 1986 – by this time the range had been amalgalated into the Cherry models, and in some markets shared the same Pulsar names which had also been used on the later generation of Cherries.
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