Curbside Classic: 1978 Nissan Bluebird (811) 1800 – Pilloried Sedan

We’ve had some really good luck with JDM Nissans recently and there will be other great ones soon, but let’s be realistic, here: there were always a number of stinkers on Nissan’s roster. All carmakers make mistakes, but in the ‘70s, Nissan made it a habit. Datsunfortunately what we have here. (I’m already regretting setting the bar so high, pun-wise).

I’ve already dumped a fair amount of criticism at Nissan’s door for their 120Y / Sunny / 210 abomination, so I won’t re-hash now what I wrote then. The thing about that car was that, despite its looks, it sold pretty well indeed. The 5th generation Bluebird, on the other hand, was something of a disaster both in terms of styling and domestic sales. (It seems they sold well in Australia, but I won’t let that spoil my bile.) So if I may, I’ll just reach for my can of whoop-ass and let her rip.

The 5th generation Bluebird appeared on a sad morning in July 1976. Some described it as a malformed blob of a saloon, devoid of any redeeming features except the ability to make children run away in terror, force grown men to tears and repulse women at fifty paces, which appealed to sociopaths. Others were less kind, pointing out that the Bluebird’s uninspiring underpinnings, in the low end of the 4-cyl. range, were an assault on the buying public’s intelligence and that the higher end 1800cc engine’s prodigious thirst was only matched by its propensity for dieseling, throwing rods, leaking oil and passive-aggressively refusing to shift into second gear.

4-cyl. Bluebird 810/811 – left: 810 sedan (1976-78); right: 811 coupé (1978-79); below: 6-cyl. 811 sedan

I’ll put that can away now – please disregard the previous paragraph, it was a little less rooted in reality than the Wizard of Oz. In fact, it was just opinion with a helping of untruths. Let’s try a more factual approach. The 810 Bluebird was a car. It debuted about a year late due to Nissan’s issues with adjusting to the First Oil Shock. It had four doors (or two), a choice of a 1.6 or a 1.8 4-cyl. in short-nose form and a 2-litre 6-cyl. in long-nose form. The 4-cyl. engines were the new Z16 and Z18 crossflows, using the Nissan Anti Pollution System. In August 1978, it was mildly restyled (except for the taxi version) and its name was officially changed from “Datsun 810” to “Nissan 811.” It went out of JDM production in November 1979. And despite my best efforts, I can’t help but despise it. See? Factual. All true, no fabrication, no exaggeration.

Ok, that was a wee bit boring, so let’s try the sarcastic / ironic approach. The featured car is a really nice example of the, like, soooo popular facelifted second series. The US-style bumpers and square headlamps were a genuine esthetic improvement. The fact that you had to pay extra for disc brakes (front only) was 100% justified and the lack of a 5th gear was a super smart move on Nissan’s part. It’s a complete mystery why this car’s successor was introduced several months ahead of schedule.

Oh, and the button-tufted seats were totally in keeping with the car’s character. Where did they find these innovative ideas? The central armrest doily on the featured car is another winner. Outside of Japan, this Nissan Bluebird was also known, depending on where it was sold, as the Datsun 160B/180B/200B, the Datsun 810 and the Datsun 1600/1800/2000. This was pure marketing genius, both easy to understand and completely sustainable in the long run.

Right, getting tired of this. Let’s try something else.

How about a profanity-laced rant? Hope there aren’t too many who will be offended. And if you are, well TOUGH TITTIES. Er, I mean, just skip this paragraph. This turdmobile has a retarded amount of lettering on its fat arse. It reads: Nissan NAPS Z 1800 GF E. I shit you not. What in the holy living f*$k can all that even mean? Can’t say for sure, so let’s try and unpack this c@%ksu*%ing Scrabble draw: “Nissan” makes sense, but that’s about bloody it. “NAPS”? Nissan NAPS? And then “Z,” just to emphasize the NAPS? Go back to bed and give me a goddamn break. The “1800” I can live with, but what about this moronic “GF E” at the end? Does that stand for “Go F*$k Eurself,” perchance? What galactically stupid asshole came up with that brainfart? And you’re using SIX motherfucking typefaces to boot? Get bent, Datsun of a bitch. Blow this, Bluebird.

Sorry about that. Glad I got it out of my system. Now to finish this post… hmmm… limerick?

There once was a Nissan named Bluebird,

That left most car buyers unstirred.

On the JDM

One would seldom see ‘em

So within three years it was interred.

So yeah, that’s all I had to say about that Bluebird. There were other Bluebirds before and after this one that would not elicit this kind of response from yours truly, but this one…


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CC Outtake/QOTD: 1998 Ford Windstar Northwoods & 1980 Datsun 200B Aspen GL – Stumble Across A Forgotten Limited Edition Lately?, by William Stopford