CC Capsule: 1978 Nissan Skyline (C210) 2000GT-EX Coupé – Disco Sucks

We’re almost reaching the point where the full family of Skyline generations will have been featured on CC. Hey, gotta aim for something, right? The trickiest one will be the first generation, which I’ve never as of yet – but there is always hope; they do exist. The one we’re looking at today is the Skyline number five, the late-disco-era C210 “Japan.”

Yes, they nicknamed it “Japan.” That’s a reference to the ad campaign when this car came out in August 1977, in which this Skyline was said to have been “created by the Japanese climate.” Maybe something got lost in translation. Japan’s climate in August is dreadful.

Under the skin, the Skyline was a C230 Laurel, though more drivetrain variety was on offer. Engine options included three 4-cyl. (1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 litres) and the L-Series 2-litre straight-6 available in regular, fuel-injected or turbocharged flavours. A 2-litre Diesel four (only available on the base van) was also included, later joined by a 2.8 litre Diesel 6-cyl. Export markets were treated to a 2.4 litre 6-cyl. that Japan never got. It explains why this car was sold, in many markets, as the Datsun 240K.

The usual saloon and hardtop coupé duo were there at the 1977 launch, alongside the (literally) weird-ass van. It only became a wagon, thereby accessing better engine options and wood trim, after the mid-1979 facelift, during which the GT-spec 6-cyl. cars received blocky composite headlights (top right pic). The GTs, be they two- or four-door, were also the only ones allowed to sport quad circular taillights, which by now was becoming a Skyline tradition.

Our CC is a (sadly modified) early model top-of-the-line 2000GT-EX, so it would have come out the factory with the turbocharged 6-cyl., good for 145hp. Not sure whether the colour is stock (probably not), but I don’t mind it at all – it kind of saves the car’s appearance, actually. That and it’s as shiny and well-maintained as any CC is in Japan.

Still, this is a ‘70s Nissan, and it suffers from Datsun Dorky Design Disease (DDDD) like most of its brethren. There are a few exceptions to this rule (the Cedric / Gloria 330 or the Fairlady 240Z come to mind), but by and large, Nissan designers took a left turn to Uglyville circa 1969 that lasted a decade. This C210 Skyline, at least in the saloon and coupé form, is not the worst victim of DDDD by any means – the Silvia, Sunny or Cherry were much more egregious cases of this scourge. The long-roof variant, curiously, managed to snatch disease from the jaws of sanity. But our CC here, boy-racer mods notwithstanding, is relatively restrained. And boxy too, though it sure is no C10.

On the other hand, the interior is pretty flawless. Unlike some European cars, it’s not sparsely populated yet bedecked with so many acres of faux wood that one would start to panic about the extinction of faux trees. Nor does it suffer from Detroit’s ‘70s infatuation with horizontal speedos, dashes that curve in on the driver or the undue proliferation of idiot lights.

No, in the best Japanese tradition, this dash was both attractive and informative: an uncluttered design, yet chock full of switches, sliders and gauges. Our CC, curiously, seems to have the post-facelift (1979-81) instrument binnacle, so that’s what the above factory photo depicts as well. It’s a manual though – a 5-speed, as all GT-EXs ought to be.

I had photographed this car in-motion in one of my Singles Outtakes last year, so I was glad to be able to catch it for a more in-depth look. But this is not my favourite Skyline, as I trust this post has made clear. It’s not without its merits, but this C210 generation accumulated several missteps, such as dropping the GT-R badge in favour of GT-EX (for no good reason), having rather uninspiring styling and a boringly geographical nickname. The steak is pretty much the same as, say, the scrumptious C10, but the sizzle’s just not there.


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Cohort Classic: Nissan Skyline/Datsun 240K – “Like A Love; Like A Wind” – The Car That The “Ken & Mary” TV Ads Made Famous (With Video), by PN