Laurel

1969-1972 1800 (C30) 1972-1977 200L (C130) 1977-1981 Laurel 200L 240L (C230) 1981-1984 Laurel 2.0 2.4 (C32)

Placed just above the Bluebird in the Datsun pecking order the Laurel attracted fewer sales than the smaller Datsuns in the UK. While the total sales of earlier cars never exceeded 2,000 registrations a year, it was clear to see that these cars used better materials than the smaller models and were considered solid well engineered cars, often attracting positive opinions from their owners meaning that range remained a permanent fixture in the Datsun and Nissan UK line up for nearly 20 years. It was also one of several Datsuns that were sold at bigger dealers, as the core demand was always for the smaller popular cars. In the UK the perception that Datsun made everyday family cars, not executive cars is illustrated by the indifference to these cars by the press and subsequent secondhand values. The first UK bound C30 Laurel model like the unrelated 510 models, were technically interesting but lacked the important badge kudos associated with this segment of car, so sales would been barely detectable and as a result the virtues of the car was even more unknown than the 510 series.

c130Development testing on a C130 Coupe

The second generation (helped by a revised and comprehensive dealer network reorganisation) proved to be more successful and filled the 2 litre/Ford Granada sector in the model line up. Mechanically it was fairly conservative utilising a traditional 4 door saloon body using 2 litre versions of the L Series engines. It’s styling was considerably more Americanised, (in keeping with the then current large Japanese car trends) than its European rivals, and its indifferent ride and handling was generally disliked by the press. The constant number of sales amongst private buyers often meant that the cars had lead unstressed and fairly long lives but could also easily deal with the high mileages associated with taxi cab firms. Later versions were suitably updated, in terms of engine sizes to include up to date technologies but its pseudo transatlantic styling would look at odds compared to the new generation of executive competitors.

The Laurel started life as a project that was overseen by the former PMC designers and developers as luxury saloon to slot alongside the Skyline models aimed at the middle market executive sector. The design and driving experience of the Laurel was to appeal to a more conservative owner with no options for an estate model – something that the Japanese believed that would help maintain a upwardly perceived image of the Laurel. As the design evolved the level of high grade and technological specification increased, with an impressive list of user comforts and innovations. This design brief remained part of the Laurels character throughout its life.

c230_1UK spec Datsun 200L