CC Outtake: 1980 Datsun Sunny Wagon – California Love

It’s not often I see a Datsun Sunny (210). Early last year, I saw a wagon in a church parking lot that belonged to an older couple. It was absolutely bone-stock and in showroom condition. This one is different.

The aftermarket wheels work on this particular Sunny, in my opinion. That’s because Aussie-market Sunny wagons, like the USDM 210 wagons, used the body of the Japanese Sunny California with its more rakish rear end. The California, like the fastback coupe and sedans, used a new coil-spring rear suspension.

The other style of Sunny wagon was more upright and was the basis of commercial van versions of the Sunny, retaining the rear leaf springs of its B210 predecessor. Some markets, like Japan and the UK, received both wagons. Conversely, Aussies got the California while Kiwis got the “regular” wagon. Although the sedans were boxy and the California and fastback coupe wedgy, the “regular” wagon has some slightly curves at the rear that make it look like it uses carryover sheetmetal from the B210 wagons. On closer inspection, however, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

This generation of Sunny used the series code B310. Confusingly, Datsun called it the 210 in North America and then introduced the Datsun 310, an unrelated albeit similarly-sized front-wheel-drive model.

It’s understandable why I’d see so few Sunnys, despite their reliability and our classic-friendly climate, because they were extremely short-lived here. Introduced in 1979, they were gone for 1981 as the front-wheel-drive Pulsar came on board.

Front-wheel-drive models like the Sentra and Pulsar ushered out the conservative Sunny from global markets but the Sunny name remained in certain markets. In addition, the B11 Sunny/Sentra continued with the split wagon strategy: rakish Sunny California and upright Sunny Van. Unless you wanted maximum load-carrying capacity, the California was always the way to go. Just look at how this B310 California can pull off those aftermarket wheels.

Photographed in Wilston, Queensland, Australia in January 2019.