Rare Rides: A Very Malaise Datsun 200SX From 1977

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

A fourth-generation Nissan 200SX surfaced previously in an edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, where its squared-off good looks went up against two other Japanese coupes from 1986. Today, we step back two generations and have a look at an 200SX from the Seventies.

Maybe you can figure out if Datsun achieved what it was aiming for with this design.

The lineage of the 200SX started with a coupe known as Silvia, which was beautifully shaped, largely hand-built, and largely sold within the confines of the Japanese domestic market (less than 60 escaped to other countries.) Sales were an issue, as the original Silvia was about twice as expensive as the closest model in Datsun’s lineup. Between 1965 and 1968, just 554 coupes were produced. Datsun was filled with regret.

Management decided to head a different route with their next Silvia model — a mass-production route. The next car to wear a Silvia badge began production in 1975. It was sportier than the old model, less luxurious, and critically, cheaper.

Datsun selected its new S platform to underpin the second-generation Silvia. The S was a development of the platform found beneath the Sunny, which Americans knew as the B-210. The aim was to give the Silvia some Skyline-adjacent styling, while at the same time steering less traditionally minded customers away from competition at Mazda and Toyota.

Buyers in the Japanese market received the 1.8-liter inline-four engine from the Datsun 610. American models received the requisite large bumpers required by legislation, some 200SX badges in place of the Silvia ones, and a larger 2.0-liter engine from the Japanese market Skyline. Offered in all markets was a three-speed automatic and a five-speed manual.

It turned out a unique looking coupe with fastback styling was not what buyers wanted at the time. North America and other markets alike turned away from the 200SX and its rear leaf springs, instead choosing the Toyota Celica on offer next door.

The second-generation 200SX lasted only through 1979, when it was replaced by a much squarer and more brougham 200SX for 1980. Today’s silver beauty is for sale right now. It asks $6,900 with 125,000 miles and an automatic transmission.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • -Nate -Nate on Feb 10, 2019

    "Nostalgia tends to blind you to reality. " What ? no ~ I was there and , Oh yeah, that's right, I conveniently forget, never mind . -Nate

  • JimC2 JimC2 on Feb 15, 2019

    Whoa... that redline!

  • Redapple2 I think I ve been in 100 plants. ~ 20 in Mexico. ~10 Europe. Balance usa. About 1/2 nonunion. I supervised UAW skilled trades guys at GM Powertrain for 6 years. I know the answer.PS- you do know GM products - sales weighted - average about 40% USA-Canada Content.
  • Jrhurren Unions and ownership need to work towards the common good together. Shawn Fain is a clown who would love to drive the companies out of business (or offshored) just to claim victory.
  • Redapple2 Tadge will be replaced with a girl. Even thought -today- only 13% of engineer -newly granted BS are female. So, a Tadge level job takes ~~ 25 yrs of experience, I d look at % in 2000. I d bet it was lower. Not higher. 10%. (You cannot believe what % of top jobs at gm are women. @ 10%. Jeez.)
  • Redapple2 .....styling has moved into [s]exotic car territory[/s] tortured over done origami land.  There; I fixed it. C 7 is best looking.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Of course they should unionize. US based automotive production component production and auto assembly plants with unionized memberships produce the highest quality products in the automotive sector. Just look at the high quality products produced by GM, Ford and Chrysler!