9 March 2020

More than an old car #135: Datsun Bluebird 310

It is always a pleasure to find classics that I had never thought would exist here, especially older Japanese cars. People often wax lyrical about the golden age of Japanese motoring in the 80s and 90s, but I decided to show love to them as well, such as this 1963 Datsun Bluebird 310 DeLuxe!

Introduced in 1959, the 1st-generation Bluebird was also known as the 310 series, following its previous 110 and 210 series cars. Interestingly, its name is derived from the 1908 play L'Oiseau bleu (The Blue Bird) by the Nobel-Prize winning playwright Maurice Maeterlinck. The then-president of Nissan Motors, Katsuji Kawamata, named it as such after changing it from 'Snowbird', which was slang for 'drug addict'. As with cars of that era, it adopted styling cues from larger US cars

Initially released in sedan form, an estate version was introduced in 1960. In 1961, the engine was upgraded and cars were known as the 311. In the same year, a facelift was done to the front grille and the headlights and it was known as the 312, along with a larger engine upgrade: Nissan learnt from the success of the VW Beetle and felt that a more powerful car could be a game-changer. The 310 was available with a variety of trims, the highest being the DeLuxe which sported a full-length stainless steel strip on the body. It was powered by a 1189 cc E-1 i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 120 km/h with an acceleration of 24 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 3915 mm long and weighed 900 kg, with a fuel consumption of 11 litres/100 km.

Production of the Bluebird 310 ended in 1963 with about 210,000 units made. They were sold in Singapore from 1959 by Tan Chong Motors, back when we were still part of Malaya. It sold for RM 5,975 [S$11,432 in today's money], which was a manageable price at that time. This unit was recently imported from Japan and is currently on sale, although there does not seem to be any takers yet.

It is indeed a very quirky little car to own, and the fact that not many Japanese cars from the 1960s survive does speak volumes about its durability. On the other hand, this unit is most likely one of the few that still exists worldwide. Will there be any takers? Who knows, maybe you may consider getting this when it is still available!

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