CC Capsule: 1976 Nissan Gloria 330 SGL-E Hardtop Sedan – I Will Survive

Since I moved to Japan 18 months ago, we’ve been through almost each of the Gloria generations of the ‘80s and ‘90s. In other words, the low-hanging fruit have been picked. It’s going to take a Nissanful of luck to bag the ‘60s and ‘70s Glorias, but I’m optimistic, because why not. Also, I ran into this beauty last December – so generation five, here we go!

Our dearly beloved and recently discreet CColleague, cookie connoisseur Prof. Don Andreina, wrote a couple of sublime oeuvres on the Nissan 330, which I wholeheartedly recommend (links at the end). Don was focusing on the Cedric variant of the breed, but there is not much of a difference: by this point in time, the Cedric and the Gloria were identical, save for badges, grille textures and other minor details.

The Cedric / Gloria 330 was launched in June 1975 in four body styles. The four-door saloons were of both pillared and hardtop variety, though they appeared almost identical save for that B-pillar.

The other two bodies were the two-door hardtop and the van / wagon; production lasted four years exactly, until June 1979. I’m not entirely clear on which cars got the big halogen headlamps and when. It seems that quads were reserved for lower-spec and earlier cars, though as always with Japanese manufacturers, baffling complexity is the cardinal rule.

As an example of said complexity, our feature car is an SGL-E – just under the top-level 2800 SGL, later supplanted by the Brougham. It seems the biggest option, a 2.8 litre 6-cyl., signaled its presence by a bunch of “2800” logos all over the car. Those are absent here, along with some of the other extras associated with this prestige engine (e.g. bumper guards), so our car probably has the 2-litre six. But a 2800 SGL-E also seems to have existed at some point.

The Cedric / Gloria was the Nissan equivalent of the Toyota Crown – or of the Ford Crown Vic in the US, or of the Mercedes W123 in Europe. Private owners were happy to shell out extra fistfuls of yen to add gingerbread on their pride and joy, while government agencies and taxi companies bought the miserly “Deluxe” or the ultra-barren “Standard” versions by the fleetload. Those would have had a 2-litre 4-cyl., just to make them more blue-collar, or a Diesel.

Clearly, that is not what we have here. Inside our green Gloria SGL-E is a beige and brown world of sub-Broughamized plushness – just a smidgen less gaudy than the fully-fledged version would have been. This car has the optional full console and bucket seats for added opulence, but I believe these came with column shifters and bench seats as standard.

The hardtop had its own specific dash, which I’m showing here in all its Gloria thanks to a factory photo, is quite a grand example of ‘70s Japanese luxury. It really is its own thing. Exterior styling was an unabashed caricature of Detroit, plain and simple. But inside, the American influence, though still quite perceptible, was more muted.

Rear passengers were not necessarily that well treated in those days. Legroom looks underwhelming and the massive beltline kink and fat C-pillar make for a slightly claustrophobic atmosphere. At least, compared to the designs of the previous decade. But compared to the double-glazed gunslits of the present day, this is not too bad (and the lack of B-pillar helps). Love the shag carpet, though – about as period-perfect as it comes. All this interior needs is a glitter ball on the ceiling, the Bee Gees on the 8-track and numb nasal passages to complete the time-warp effect.

I’m guessing that the gothic “B” on these wheels could mean Brougham, but these may have been an optional extra on the SGL-E. Not many carmakers made the wheels match the body colour. Mercedes-Benz famously did that, as did Rolls-Royce if memory serves, but I’m not sure who else – I’m sure the CCommentariat will have some names to add to the list. Well, aside from Nissan.

It’s a great pity that I was unable to photograph this exceptional Gloria hardtop in anything but a frontal view. The rear end, just as Detroitesque as the rest, is much less awkward that most mid-‘70s Nissan designs. The profile, windows down, is almost attractive.

The front end, especially in this quad-eyed version, has a strong whiff of early ‘70s Mercury, albeit with a less gigantic and intimidating feel.

Anything with such a wild and massive emblem on its hood is clearly not to be taken lightly. I read recently that the T-Bird-like Gloria logo is supposed to represent an origami crane.

This origami crane is no paper tiger. It’s the Gaynor of the Glorias. It has survived!


Related posts:


Curbside Classic: Nissan 330 Cedric Hardtop Sedan Brougham – Spirit of ’67, by Don Andreina

Automotive History: Nissan Cedric – When The Pupil Becomes A Master, by Don Andreina