12 March 2018
More than an old car #58: Datsun Sunny 1200
Many of you would be familiar with Nissan even if you are not into cars. From Uber/Grab cars, to Cabstar lorries or even your parents' car, chances are that you would hit a Nissan if you were to throw a rock randomly. However, Nissan's history stretches way back and it was renowned for producing classics such as this 1971 Datsun Sunny 1200.
In 1911, Masujiro Hashimoto founded the Kaishinsha Jidosha Kojo ['A Good Company Automobile Manufacturer'], and in 1914 it produced its first car called the DAT. The car's name was an acronym of the company's investors' surnames: Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama and Meitaro Takeuchi. The company's name was later changed to Jidosha-Seizo Co. Ltd in 1934, which later became part of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd in 1934. The Nissan name came about as an abbreviation of Nihon Sangyo, the holding company.
At this point, you may be already confused by Nissan and Datsun, but remember that they are the same company. The Datsun name was phased out in 1985 and subsequent cars are produced under the Nissan name.
The Datsun Sunny 1200, also known as the B110, was produced in 1970 as a competitor to the Toyota Corolla. Back in 1965, Nissan held a national campaign to name its newest product and after 8 million suggestions, the name 'Sunny' was chosen after being nominated 3,105 times. Variants included a 2/4 door sedan, a 3/5 door station wagon and even a pick-up truck. Its popularity increased when it performed well in Japanese rally events, and fulfilled a market gap for small cars in places like Australia.
It was powered by a 1172cc Nissan A12 i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 150km/h with an acceleration of 14.8 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 3830mm long and weighed 715kg.
Production ended in 1973, where it was replaced by the Datsun B210. I believe there are a few more out there on our roads, although this specimen is the most visible as it makes regular appearances at car meets. This specimen has been restored quite lovingly, along with a front lip spoiler. Fender mirrors also add a touch of classic JDM feels--this feature is something you don't get to see often. However, it can also be a nuisance to adjust if the mirrors become misaligned inadvertently. It is really cool to see such classic machines that once ruled our roads back then, and it is really commendable for the owner to save an otherwise nondescript vehicle. Do keep a lookout for it and appreciate its uniqueness behind its boxiness!