Today’s Rare Ride comes to us — for the first time — from the nation’s capital. As we ponder what the owner was thinking, we’ll pore over a tidy Nissan Sunny imported from Japan. It’s rare, square, and almost exactly the same as the Nissan Sentra your aunt had in 1991. I’m really not sure.
I’ve seen a few B210s during my junkyard travels since we had this ’75 hatchback and this ’78 coupe in this series back in 2012, but most of the time I don’t find them sufficiently interesting to photograph. A bewilderingly labeled 210 or 310 or B310 or whatever it was that Nissan called their American Sunny for several months in the late 1970s, sure, I’ll shoot that. I overlook these cars, I must admit, because I came of driving age in the early 1980s, when these cars (and early Colts, and Pintos, and Vegas) were the bottom-of-the-barrel misery boxes that young people bought for $150 and loathed driving— let’s call them the Ford Tempos and Chevy Berettas of the Late Malaise Era. This B210 looked so old, sitting in the snow among the Camrys and Volvo 940s at my local Denver yard last winter, that I decided to add it to this series. Enjoy.
Names for various flavors of the Nissan Sunny got very confusing during the 1970s and 1980s. Starting in the 1978 model year, the front-wheel-drive replacement for the B210— known as the B310 within Nissan— kept the “210” name in the United States (meanwhile, you could also buy “510s” that were actually A10 Violets), later evolving into the car that became the Sentra. These were cheap but reliable (for the time) misery boxes, competing with the likes of the Chrysler Omnirizon, and so very few of them escaped The Crusher when they started wearing out in the early 1990s. Here’s a rare example that I found in Southern California in January.
Back when I was coming of automotive age, in the early 1980s, most of my peers who got hand-me-down cars from relatives ended up with Vegas, Pintos, Colts, and Datsun 210s (for some reason, I don’t recall anyone at my high school getting a Civic, and very few got Corollas). Almost all the 210s are long gone these days, since there’s little interest in restoring them and you can get better fuel economy and reliability from a 1990s Tercel or Metro, but every so often I see one in a self-service wrecking yard. We saw this ’79 four-door in 2011, and today we’ll be looking at a ’79 two-door.
The California streets of my childhood were full of Datsuns like this one, and the B210 remained a common sight in (rust-free parts of) America until well into the 1990s. Then, without anybody really noticing, nearly all of them disappeared. Every so often, I’ll find one in a self-service junkyard; there was this slushbox-equipped ’74 last year, and now this mustard-yellow ’75 has drifted into range of The Crusher’s jaws.
Yesterday, we saw an once-ubiquitous 80s Japanese econobox that has nearly disappeared from the face of the earth; at the same Denver junkyard, I found a once-ubiquitous 70s Japanese econobox that also hasn’t been seen on the street for many years. The little fastback B210 was once everywhere.
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- Arthur Dailey So how much more unreliable is a 50 year old Italian made vehicle in comparison to a 5 year old Italian made vehicle? After 50 years wouldn't most of the parts and areas most prone to failure have been fixed, replaced and/or addressed?Asking for a friend? ;-)
- Pig_Iron This is happy news for everyone in the industry. 🙂
- Dukeisduke Globally-speaking, in August, BYD was the fourth best-selling brand name. They pushed Ford (which had been fourth) to sixth, behind Hyundai.
- 2ACL Some of the reported issues sound expensive for all but the most committed wrenchers. Scant documentation on some of the previous work is also a minus. I wouldn't mind something like this, but whereas the seller is trying to make room, I don't have any for something this intensive.
- Merc190 Any Alfa has a unique character built in, so there's that, once you get it running properly, until it doesn't...