Bluebird

1968-1972 1300/1400/1600 (510) 1972-1977 160B 180B (610) 1977-1980 160B 180B (810) 1980-1984 Bluebird (910)

The Bluebird, in many ways had the hardest task to accomplish in terms of car sales. Smaller models sold on their value for money merits, while the larger Bluebird was pitched against the difficult Cortina sized markets. The Bluebird brand had traditionally been Nissans volume seller and had been updated and re-engineered 3 times before the Bluebird name arrived the UK. In Japan, it fought significant sales wars with Toyota’s Corona, so a considerable amount of development meant it was the one of the companies most resolved products. The Bluebird name had first been established in Europe in 1960 as Norway took on the first imports that year, by the time the UK received their first Bluebird models in late 1968 the model was on its 4th generation. It provided Datsun with an important foothold into the potential company car sector and the potential to show the UK public what the company were capable of.

510_factory510 leaving the production line

The first incarnation in the UK of the Bluebird was known as the 510 series (a Nissan factory code number) but was refereed to as the 1300, 1400 or 1600 – despite these designations not being displayed on the car. The car was styled using angular pleasing European lines, not unlike a design from Italy and offered the introduction into the UK to the L series engines. These SOHC non-crossflow engines were different units from the Sunny and mechanically shared very few parts.┬áIt was an all new design with crisp clean styling and impressive technical spec. As a bonus the car drove and handled well too, which was certainly noticed by the press.

610_rallyMid 70’s Datsun 610 competing in the Safari Rally

As the car progressed into the 70’s, body shapes followed the styling trends (following American rather than European styling trends) and the car grew, became heavier and eventually lost that initial driver appeal, despite the constant presence of the 2 door SSS (Super Sports Saloon) coupe in the line up. While the driver appeal may have been diluted somewhat, the quality of materials and comfort certainly pushed the model more upmarket, often sharing features in common with the Laurel range. When the Bluebird range finally became FWD in 1984, Nissan continued to used the Bluebird name such was the strength and reputation of the model. In 1986 a new model was built at the plant in the North East of England for European consumption – a sign that Nissan had finally decided to design and build a car for Europe. The UK produced car was a success and offered a better drivers experience than the previous models. The P10 Primera which replaced it in 1990, ended the Bluebird name in the UK, but was recognised as one of the better handling mid-sized cars in the market.