MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK - Giles Chapman

1 IT’S JA­PAN’S FIRST UKBUILT CAR DE­SIGN

Er, no. That ac­co­lade goes to the Honda Bal­lade, although we will col­lec­tively re­call it as the Tri­umph Ac­claim. The first of those rolled off a UK pro­duc­tion line in 1981, five years be­fore the first Blue­bird left Nis­san’s Sun­der­land plant. The Ac­claim was a Honda built un­der li­cence by Bri­tish Ley­land. The few changes al­lowed in the change from Honda to Tri­umph in­cluded slightly big­ger seats and some sus­pen­sion tweaks. It qual­i­fied as a Bri­tish car be­cause 70 per cent of it, by value, was lo­cally-sourced, even though the en­gine and gear­box came from Ja­pan.

2 IT KICK-STARTED UK MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING

Nis­san’s long-time im­porter, Oc­tav Bot­nar, was in­stru­men­tal in per­suad­ing Nis­san to set up shop in Bri­tain, which it did in 1986. Yet it was mainly an assem­bly oper­a­tion for the first few months. Ac­tual man­u­fac­tur­ing re­ally be­gan in stages as body panel press­ing, plas­tic-mould­ing and en­gine ma­chin­ing ac­tiv­i­ties were cau­tiously added to the oper­a­tion. It wasn’t un­til 1990 that en­tire cars were made in Sun­der­land. Fit­tingly – and some­what iron­i­cally – that car was the new Primera, which re­placed the old Blue­bird.

3 BLUE­BIRD EQUALLED MEDI­OCRITY

It may have 1980s retro charm to­day, but the Blue­bird never did much for the pulse of the car en­thu­si­ast. The only freak­ily in­ter­est­ing one was the Ex­ec­u­tive, which mixed a silly bodykit with Con­nolly leather up­hol­stery. How­ever, cus­tomers found it ro­bust and easy to drive, with de­cent han­dling and power steer­ing in all but the most ba­sic mod­els. Lit­tle won­der that older ones served as mini­cabs for what seemed like years. It was only ever a Blue­bird in the UK – it was called the Auster in Ja­pan.

A bit dull back then, but kind of cool – and ex­tremely rare – to­day.

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