MOTORMAN

SUC­CESS IN SIM­PLIC­ITY

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents -

THESE SMALL JA­PANESE CARS FROM THE ’70 SH AD THE RIGHT FOR­MULA FOR THE TIME, AND, AS DONNA ND ER SON RE­CALLS, NISSAN IN NEW ZEALAND WENT ONE BET­TER THAN THERE ST OF THE WORLD

Cheap and cheer­ful they might have been, yet the Datsun 1200 and 120Y were landmark cars for the Ja­panese in­dus­try. And while now some poke fun at the some­what odd-look­ing, over-styled 120Y sedan, those who were around when the lit­tle Dat­suns were in their prime have more than a pass­ing re­spect for their qual­i­ties.

Most driv­ers on our roads to­day were born in the ’60s and ’70s, so they prob­a­bly find it baf­fling to un­der­stand the sim­plic­ity of main­stream cars pro­duced half a cen­tury ago. How­ever, to­day there are much-loved and re­stored ex­am­ples of both the rear-wheeldriven 1200 and 120Y, but few re­mem­ber that New Zealand boasted its own unique sports ver­sions that earned their stripes in rac­ing and ral­ly­ing.

These two Dat­suns, in both stan­dard and up­rated forms, were a sig­nif­i­cant force as Nissan pow­ered ahead in mar­kets like New Zealand and the UK. The pre­vi­ous B10 was a 1.0-litre notch­back sedan launched in 1966, the year the ‘Sunny’ name was adopted for the Ja­panese mar­ket and later ap­plied to other ter­ri­to­ries in­clud­ing our own. In 1969,

Nissan launched the B110 1200 sedan in New Zealand late in 1970 soon af­ter its in­ter­na­tional de­but, with lo­cal assem­bly at the Camp­bell In­dus­tries Thames plant, right along­side op­po­si­tion Toyota Corol­las. There were 1200 pickup utes, and vans or wag­ons in three- or five-door forms as­sem­bled at Waitara.

The 3820mm long 1200 had gained 75kg over the feath­er­weight B10 but was still a trim 700kg, and its clean de­sign, hand­some pro­file, and lack of un­nec­es­sary frills at­tracted early appeal. Fed by a sin­gle down­draught Aisin car­bu­ret­tor, the pushrod over­head-valve four-cylin­der 1171cc power unit gained ex­tra ca­pac­ity over the 988cc B10 with a longer stroke, and power rose from 46kw to 51kw at 6000rpm.

To­tally con­ven­tional, with light cir­cu­lat­ing­ball steer­ing, drum brakes all round, and a solid rear axle with semi-el­lip­tic leaf springs, the stan­dard 1200 was a lively and com­mend­ably quiet per­former. Priced at $2752, the 1200 came as stan­dard with ef­fec­tive re­vers­ing lights, two-speed wipers with elec­tric washer, a clock, and a courtesy light that op­er­ated only on the driver’s door.

The Mikan orange 1200 sedan that I road

Above: Donn An­der­son’s 1200 coupé on the Skip­pers Road bridge near Queen­stown in 1972 Be­low: Press ad­ver­tise­ment for the Datsun 1200 SSS in 1972

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.