CC Outtake: A Datsun Sunny On The Shady Side Of The Street

Sometimes, I wonder if people just drive their cars right off the showroom floor, into a time portal, and materialize in the present day. I spotted this Datsun Sunny (aka second-gen 210) being driven by an older couple, who undoubtedly are the original owners. If this were a Datsun Cherry, I’d say it was a peach but… well, I can’t think of a pun for this Datsun.

I sometimes forget this generation of Sunny exists but can you blame me? These followed the memorable 120Y (B-210 to North Americans) which, while noisy and ugly, was certainly distinctive. Datsun’s design language in the early 1970s was bold and brash but was toned down as the decade drew to a close. This left the early/mid-1970s as a rather anomalous chapter in a company history largely typified by conservative designs like this Sunny. Fortunately, this wagon has a little flair – ironically, more than the preceding generation’s wagon – but the same can’t be sad for the derivative sedan.

While this generation of Sunny built on its predecessor’s success in markets such as the US and UK, the Aussie Sunny was even more forgettable because of its interim status. The 120Y had been locally assembled but had been replaced with the Stanza, an Aussie-built version of the larger Auster/Violet/510. It proved to be a disappointing seller, in stark contrast with the larger 180B (610/Bluebird) and later 200B (810/Bluebird). So, Datsun introduced the Sunny to field another compact entry. It could never achieve the success of the 120Y, but that was also because it was hamstrung by import quotas.

These were a further refinement of the 120Y, with numerous enhancements like coil springs for the rear suspension (instead of leaf springs) and more powerful engines. Despite the Sunny name’s decades-long usage in Japan (and it’s recent resurfacing in China and India), this was the only generation so named in Australia. During its run, Datsun began importing the similarly-sized Pulsar (310) and that name ended up continuing into the 21st century. So too did the Pulsar’s front-wheel-drive layout, leaving the Sunny as the last rear-wheel-drive small car by Nissan.

This elderly couple’s Sunny has outlived the Pulsar nameplate in Australia, which has been discontinued once again. I wonder how long these folks will keep driving their little Datto. And I wonder if it’ll ever visibly age.

Related Reading:

Curbside Classic: The Humble But Well-Travelled Datsun 210

CC Classic: 1980 Datsun 210 Sunny – The Curbside Classic Manifesto