The Datsun 200B is an Australian-market mid-size car sold from 1977 to 1981. Continuing with the Japanese styling, the first 200B's were all fully imported in sedan, station wagon and coupe, the latter retaining the SSS badge. In January 1978 local assembly began for the sedan, followed shortly by the wagon. The sedan trim levels were GL and GX, while the coupe remained as a hardtop, however unlike the previous model, Datsun added an opera window in the rear pillar. The coupe was discontinued in Australia in 1979.
Almost immediately the 200B became Australia's top selling four-cylinder car, a position it held until it was displaced by the Mitsubishi Sigma. Its popularity however remained strong right through the production run, family buyers appreciative of the plentiful interior room and standard features. It may have been somewhat conservatively styled, but the effort Nissan had put into the engineering of the car made it reliable and tough, qualities most Australians rated higher than a more advanced design.
The engine for the 200B was a larger version of the L series engine from the 180B, dubbed the L20B its capacity was increased to 1952 cc, making it good for 72 kW (97 hp).
Only the early fully imported 200B sedans and coupes retained the independent rear suspension from the 180B, locally assembled 200B sedans instead switched to coil springs with trailing arms, while the wagon had a live axle in the rear with leaf springs. Seen as a giant step backwards, the reason for the change was certainly not a cost-cutting measure, but simply the need for Nissan to reach an 85% local content quota that the then Federal Government demanded of Australian car manufacturers. However, in practice the live rear axle, being an Australian development, proved to actually benefit the car's overall handling dynamics.
The biggest downside to the 200B was the noise the driver would have to endure. The 2 litre overhead cam engine could be very loud when pushed up through the rev range, and to make matters worse there was always plenty of drive line vibration. These issues prompted an exhaustive correction programme to be undertaken by the parent company in Japan, and thankfully later models were somewhat improved.
A sportier version of the 200B sedan was released in June 1978. The new SX featured a revised grille, front spoiler, alloy wheels, revised door and seat trim (striped seat inserts) and tachometer, while the suspension was altered to improve handling. The colours available for this model were simply blue, white or red, and the only transmission available was a 4-speed floor shift. Significantly the SX was a unique model to Australia, the added input from Nissan's Australian design engineers signified a step away from just assembling cars. This in turn led to the locally built Datsuns, and later Nissans, being re-engineered to better suit Australian conditions, with many components being sourced locally a tradition that would continue right up until 1991, when Nissan ceased local manufacture.
In October 1979, the 200B was revised with a new grille, bumpers, seats, trim, and dashboard. The seats were a unique Australian design for the locally built cars. This facelift was penned by Paul Beranger, a former Holden designer - years later he would style the 2006 Toyota Aurion.
In 1980, a limited edition 200B Aspen GL sedan was released featuring distinctive shadow tone paint available in green, blue, or grey. Both the 180B and 200B models were extremely popular with Australian motorists, although it is rare to see one on the roads today. The time is fast approaching when 1970s nostalgia buffs will lust for a good clean example, only to find there are none.
The 200B was discontinued in May 1981, replaced by the Datsun Bluebird.
Australian comedy band, Tripod, have written a song about the 200B, called "200B."
New Zealand 160B/180B/200B
This model was also released to New Zealand in 1977, assembled CKD in 4-door sedan and 5-door wagon forms. A coupe model was also released, imported built-up from Japan. Unlike the Australian models the sedans used the independent rear suspension system of the Japanese specification models.
For the first two years of assembly the cars were fitted with a 1.8L unit, hence they retained the 180B nameplate.
During 1979 a number of changes were made on the car, namely an engine enlargement to 2.0 (renaming the car 200B), and a mild facelift, using new dual rectangular headlights and a new grille. Due to New Zealand's favour for smaller engined models, a 1.6L 160B variant was also introduced.
Production of the New Zealand 160/200B continued until late 1980, when it was replaced by the Datsun Bluebird.