Classic Cars Wiki
Classic Cars Wiki

Nissan Sunny

The Nissan Sunny is a small car from Nissan. It was launched in 1966 as the Datsun 1000 and although production in Japan ended in 2004, it remains in production today for the African, American and Sri Lankan markets. In the US, the later models were known as the Nissan Sentra; in Mexico, the Sunny is known as the Nissan Tsuru. The Sunny fitted neatly into the Nissan model line. It was larger than the supermini Nissan March (Micra) models, but not as big as the compact Bluebird models. The latest versions of the Sunny were larger than the early models, and may be considered compact cars. Earlier versions (through at least the B11 series) were subcompact cars. All Sunnys through the 1982 model year (except as noted below) used Nissan A engine motors.

Confusingly, the "Sunny" name has been used on other Nissan models not part of the Sunny (B-series) family, notably various export versions of the Nissan Pulsar model line.

B10 series[]

The first Datsun Sunny, exported as the Datsun 1000, was launched in September 1966, with two body styles, a two-door sedan (B10) and a van/station wagon (VB10). These were available in both a "Standard" and "Deluxe" version, featuring drum brakes, conventional leaf springs at the rear and wishbone type independent front end. The front end used a single transverse leaf spring. In Japan the car was sold at a dealership sales channel established just for the Sunny, called Nissan Saito Shop

The car featured a 4-cylinder in-line engine – the A10 – with a total displacement of 988 cc and a 4-speed gearbox. The 1968 model, introduced in October 1967 added to the lineup the four-door sedan (B10) in both DeLuxe and Standard form. October 1968 saw the new 1969 models released with a new coupé (the KB10) added. Marketed as a "Sunny Coupé" in Japan, it was available in a wide variety of levels from "Standard", to "GL" (ostensibly Grand Luxe). The range of factory options and accessories was by this time vast. Total horsepower in the 1968 model was claimed to be 62 hp (46 kW) at 6000 rpm.

All of the other models got new grilles and larger tail lights, which now included reversing lights in the van/wagon model. B10 Sunny Coupé

The only other country that seems to have received the coupé is Australia, where it was marketed as the "Datsun 1000 Coupé". It was well equipped, and was available only in the Deluxe level of trim. The Australian Deluxe model came standard with many inclusions that were available only as options in the Japanese model. The engine in the coupé had higher compression, a different Hitachi carburettor, and a dual outlet exhaust manifold. These changes increased its power output to 66 hp (49 kW); a 4 hp, or 6.5% increase over the lesser models. Unlike the sedans and wagons, the coupé was only ever made in right drive. Four-door sedan, rear view

July 1969 saw the release of the slightly different (cosmetically) 1970 models which left the 1969 model run at only nine months. No additional models were added, and production ceased in December 1969, cutting the 1970 model run at only six months.

B20 series[]

The Sunny Truck debuted in October 1968 and was the light commercial truck variation of the B10 passenger models. It was based on the VB10 Van chassis, and is a body style which is correctly known as a (Japanese: Coupé Utility). This is known as a "Ute" in Australia and "Sunny Truck" in Japan.

Being a commercial model, these were only ever available in Standard trim. The equipment was basic, but this kept the price low.

The B20 used the same wheelbase and running gear of the Datsun 1000 VB10 van.

B110 series[]

The second-generation Sunny launched in 1970 and was also known as the Datsun 1200. This new model was slightly larger in all dimensions to match its market rival, the equally popular Toyota Corolla.

The Datsun 1200 featured MacPherson strut front suspension with optional disc brakes and an economical 1.2-liter A12-series engine. A 5-door station wagon was added to the Sunny range in addition to the 3-door wagon. In April 1970 a GX Grand Luxury trim with twin-carburetor engine was added for the Japan domestic market. In January 1972 a minor facelift occurred in the Japan market with a new hood, grille and other small modifications and equipment fitting. In August 1972, the GX-5 model was added in Japan, which improved on the GX by fitting a direct-fifth (non-overdrive) five-speed manual transmission. For the 1973 model year, USA models were re-specified with energy-absorbing bumpers, fire-resistant interiors and other government-mandated safety items.

The B110 made its racing debut at the Fuji 200 Mile race November 23, 1970 in the TS1300 class. In this class which was effectively a Toyota Corolla monopolistic state it was challenged by only one Nissan works car, but with beautiful victory for driver Suzuki Makoto.

In Australia and New Zealand, the Datsun 1200 was highly regarded for conversion to a 2WD rally car. The Datsun 1600 generally rated highest among entry-level Datsuns, and the 1200 a close second.

The Datsun 1200 was the most fuel-efficient vehicle in the United States in 1973, as rated by the government at 28.7 mpg-US (8.20 L/100 km; 34.5 mpg-imp) in overall driving pattern. It achieved 37.9 mpg-US (6.21 L/100 km; 45.5 mpg-imp) in highway driving. At its United States introduction, it was the lowest price car at $1866. (Road & Track magazine, November 1970)

In South Africa, the B110 was sold through 1976. A pick up (bakkie) derivative, featuring a 1400 cc engine, was sold until 2008 when emissions laws forced the end of its production. Over 275,000 were sold to customers who appreciated the rugged rear-wheel-drive design.[6]

In New Zealand, a special edition Datsun 1200 SSS 4-door sedan with twin side-draft Delorto 40 mm carburetors and other racy features was marketed.

In Portugal, a special Datsun 1200 S1 2-door sedan was marketed.

In North America (US and Canada), there were an average of 44,000 Datsun 1200s sold each year for three model years, 1971–1973.

PB110 series[]

April 4, 1971, halfway through the model year, the Sunny Excellent (PB110 series) debuted for the Japan domestic market. It was based on the B110, but with new hood, fenders and grille, and featured a SOHC 1.4-litre Nissan L engine. The front overhang was extended 130 mm (5.1 in) and the wheelbase 40 mm (1.6 in). In Mexico this was marketed as the Sentra 1400.

At the Tokyo motor show, October 19, 1972, a Sunny Excellent with Nissan's two-rotor Wankel rotary engine was exhibited (Article on Wheels magazine drove this car on the race track.

B120 series Sunny Truck[]

The B120 commercial truck debuted in February 1971, based on the B110 passenger car chassis. The B120 used the same wheelbase and running gear of the Datsun 1200 sedans, coupé and wagon models. Initially it used the same stainless steel grille as the 1200 sedan, and the rectangular gauges of the Standard model B110s. Both regular (B120) and long-bed (GB120) models were offered. After the 1200 car series ceased production the B120 continued. Interestingly, in certain markets the B120 was actually badged as 120Y, to correspond as part of the updated 120Y range. The B120 ute was sold in Australia until 1985. It was marketed in New Zealand during the 1980s in two trims: RoadStar and SportStar. This model was known as a bakkie in South Africa. It's capable of 49 mpg-US (4.8 L/100 km; 59 mpg-imp)).

In 1978, in the Japan market the B121 model replaced the B120, with the most notable change being a switch to a plastic grille of the type used by the B110 Coupé. Also notable was a change to upscale round instrumentation. Nissan GB122 Sunny Truck

In November 1989, an updated B122 and GB122 (longbed) models replaced the B121. Prominent among changes was a switch from round headlights to rectangular ones (along with new grille to accommodate this change).

B140 series Bakkie[]

The Sunny Truck lived on in South Africa for a total of 37 years (launched there in 1971). The B140 variation, with 1.4-liter A14 engine, was manufactured up until 2008 by Nissan South Africa as the Nissan LDV 1400 (Light Delivery Vehicle). The 1400 Bakkie saw many changes in its long career. The main ones were a 5-speed manual gearbox, power assisted disc brakes, and a roof height extension to accommodate taller South Africans. A sport model of the 1400 Bakkie was marketed as the "Champ". This model had appropriate side striping, individual seats, a rev counter, and central handbrake. This vehicle had two popular local nicknames, either just plain "1400" or "kanniedood" which translated from Afrikaans means "Cannot Die", a testament to its reliability. The 1400 Bakkie was replaced late in 2008 by the "NP200", a derivative of a Romanian Dacia passenger saloon (sold as a Renault Logan in the same market). A major departure for the "Nissan Bakkie" is that the new model is front-wheel drive (FWD), whereas the original was rear-wheel drive (RWD) - a major selling point of the vehicle in South Africa where it was the only RWD bakkie in its class for many years and where "RWD" adds a lot of ownership macho. A long standing marketing credo was "put the power where the load is" (similar wording). The 1400 Bakkie was assembled by Nissan in Rosslyn, South Africa (Nissan). Another assembly location for the model was the AYMESA plant in Quito, Ecuador which assembled it under the Datsun brand name as the 1200 PickUp.

B210 series[]

Exported as the Datsun 120Y and Datsun B-210 (in North America), the third generation (1973–1978) Sunny was extremely popular as it debuted during the gas crisis of the 1970s. Six body styles were offered: the four-door sedan, two-door sedan, two-door hatchback coupé, three-door wagon, five-door wagon, and a two-door van. The coupé still retained fastback styling, but now featured a full hatchback door rather than the small trunk lid of the previous generation Sunny. The wagon and van were not offered in North America.

The Sunny continued to be the fuel-economy leader in North America and one of the least expensive cars available. This was in part due to the light metal; small A12 or A14 engine with OHV technology and a very basic vinyl interior used in its construction. At the time, their body styles were popular with buyers - mainly the hatchback coupé as the sedans were considered by some to be less appealing. American B210s were the first Sunny's to have the larger 30 mph collision bumpers- due to the US's safety standards at the time. Other markets continued with the more tightly fit chrome bumpers. 1974–1979 Datsun 120Y (B210) coupe (Australia)

The "Datsun Honeybee" and The "Datsun SSS" were limited edition B-210s; the Honeybee being released only in North America and the SSS in New Zealand and Australia. Both only featured minor aesthetic differences to the regular B-210. Nonetheless these models are now considered collector's items among Datsun enthusiasts.

Although regular production in Japan as well as sales in most countries ended with the 1978 model year, the B210 series continued to be produced by Nissan South Africa through 1980.

The 1978 B-210 (American model) with 5-speed transmission was rated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ at 50 mpg-US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg-imp) highway fuel economy.

The 120Y was sharply criticized by magazines such as Wheels of Australia, which felt that it offered no true improvement on its predecessor, not surprising given that the B110 platform was carried over, but used a slightly revised A12 engine. Like some Nissans of this period, it tended to be overstyled.

The related Sunny Excellents continued as PB210 models, fitted with a 1.4-litre L14 engine. In 1976 Nissan changed the Sunny Excellent from a distinct vehicle model (PB210) to simply a trim-level option for the regular B210, now fitted with the 1.6-liter L16 engine.

Road & Track was somewhat critical of the B-210 in their 1975 test. They criticized the "modest performance" of the "peppy" engine, but were impressed with its 27 mpg-US (8.7 L/100 km; 32 mpg-imp) fuel economy. B210 pricing started at US$2849 that year.

This chassis formed the basis for the S10 chassis on the Nissan Silvia.

US-market models were fitted with these A-series engines (years given are model years):

1974: A13 engine, 1.3 L (1288 cc) OHV I4 1975–1978: A14 engine, 1.4 L (1397 cc) OHV I4, various horsepower ratings from 65-85 hp

In most markets, the B210 line featured as the only engine option a re-designed A12 engine. However, in the South African market they also featured L14 and L16 engine options, as well as a special edition of B210 coupé badged as a 140Z and a 160Z. The 140Z and 160Z featured twin SU carburetors and a 5-speed transmission.

A highly modified "ground effect" 120Y fastback coupe is the fastest Datsun/Nissan in the world. Tom Burkland's "411 To Bonneville" holds the B/BFCC record at Bonneville from 1985 to the present day with a speed of 294.868 mph. SCTA records.

Appearance on Monster Garage[]

Monster Garage converted a 1975 B210 into the "Honey Bee Drifter". It was one of the surviving 42 cars from the television series sold at auction by Barrett-Jackson in 2008, with direct link to the auction lot description still available here.

B211 Series[]

Nissan Sunny (GL)-B211 is a rear-wheel-drive 4-door saloon and was manufactured from 1976 in Japan. The A12 (new) 4-cylinder 1.2 L (1,171 cc) engine, which was extremely smooth and durable, made it a highly reliable car. The popularity of the car increased due to its fuel economy (12–18 km/Liter). The car was much similar to the B210 (120 Y) car by its appearance, but there are several differences between two models. It had beige interior, fog lamps, chromium plated parts including buffers and rear windshield heater. B211 was equipped with a special catalytic converter called Nissan Anti-Pollution System(NAPS). The car came with a 4-speed manual gear box and the maximum power output was 68 PS (70 HP) at 6000 RPM. There are several sub models of B211 series which can be identified by its side badge.

B310 series[]

This is the last Sunny sold under the "Datsun" brand in Japan. The final rear-wheel-drive Sunny from model year 1978 to 1982 featured numerous variants, including a fastback station wagon as well as more squared-off, utilitarian models with three and five doors, a coupé, and two- and four-door sedans. These models appeared with Datsun 120Y, 130Y, 140Y and 150Y badges in some markets (depending on engine size) though Sunny was increasingly used for export, too. The North American version was marketed as the Datsun 210. The B310 was known for its high equipment levels and build quality at the time. It was available with the same A-series engines as its predecessor although the B210's optional 63 series 5-speed transmission was replaced with the smaller 60 series unit. The leaf spring rear suspension was discontinued and the live axle was now suspended using a coil spring four-link configuration. In 1980, the B310 was given a mild facelift, with a smoothed off front end, a grille with square headlamps, and a redesigned dashboard.

In North America, the only wagon offered was the fastback version. In Japan, this fastback wagon was a special model called the Sunny California, aimed at private buyers unlike the square-backed 3-and 5-door Sunny Van (although for the Japanese market these vans were always fully glazed and usually had a back seat) meant for the long-standing Japanese commercial wagon market. In most other markets the more traditional two-box wagon was offered, either alone or alongside the fastback, and some countries where "no rear side glass" was part of a legal definition of a "light truck" got panelled-in versions of the 3-door.

This model marked the first and only time the "Sunny" name was used in Australia. This chassis, along with the A10 chassis on the 160J/Violet/Stanza formed the basis for the S110 chassis on the Nissan Silvia.

In most markets, the A12 engine was the only, or most common engine offered. However B310s in various markets were fitted with the following A-series engines:

A12 (1,171 cc, not offered in North America) A12A (1,237 cc) A13 (Short Deck Engine) A14 A15

In North America, the Datsun 210 engine line ups were as follows:

1979 - A12A or A14 1980–1982 - A12A, A14 or A15

The special MPG model was a small-port A15 with 5-speed transmission and achieved 47 mpg-US (5.0 L/100 km; 56 mpg-imp) per US standards.

YLN 302/303[]

In Taiwan, Yue Loong continued building the B310 series until the 1990s as a lower priced alternative to more modern Sunnys. Originally introduced as the YLN 302, with SD or DX equipment (Standard, DeLuxe) it underwent a facelift in 1981 in parallel with Nissan's Sunny, becoming the YLN 303. After another facelift (in 1989), it became the YLN 303S. The station wagon was also offered in Taiwan, as the YLN 303W. The Yue Loong-built B310s were only ever available with the 1.2-liter A12 engine

B11 series[]

The B11s were the first front-wheel-drive Sunnys—predating the same shift to front-wheel drive by their main Toyota Corolla rival—and were exported to the United States as the Nissan Sentra from the 1982 model year onwards. Malaysian market Nissan Sunny 130Y of the late eighties

The B11 series was regarded as one of Nissan's most modern ranges at the time, and was the first to abandon the Datsun name formally (though a small 'Datsun' still appeared on boot lids for the first two years). The wagon was known in its home market as the Nissan Sunny California. It was launched in late 1981 and continued into 1985. After the succeeding B12 had been presented, the B11 Sunny soldiered on as the "Sunny 130Y" as a lower-cost alternative in certain export markets, including Malaysia; production there continued well into the nineties.

The B11 was the first Mexico-market Sunny to be named Tsuru, a nameplate still in use there.

A further spin-off from the Sunny line was the (Japanese: Nissan Laurel Spirit), which was essentially a rebadged and better equipped Sunny sedan designed to capitalize on the premium image of the larger Laurel line.

Yet another version of the Sunny line was the "Nissan Sunny Maxima", which was sold only in limited numbers in the United Kingdom. This was not in any way related to the much larger "Bluebird Maxima" (which was simply just sold as the "Maxima" in the United States). The "Sunny Maxima" line consisted only of upgrades such as a sunroof, enhanced exterior trim, only available with a five-speed manual, chrome tailpipe, dual waveband radio meeting United Kingdom radio authority specifications, and deluxe carpeted floor mats.

Nissan Vanette[]

A completely unrelated vehicle – albeit using a similar drivetrain to the previous B310 Sunny – the Sunny-Vanette, was introduced in 1979. This was exported to most markets as the Datsun C20 van. It later became the Nissan Vanette.

It was exported to most markets as the Datsun C20 van. Later, the name of this vehicle was changed to simply Nissan Vanette. Eventually, this van was replaced by the Mazda Bongo (also known as the E-series), which was sold under an OEM licensing deal as the Vanette.

Yet another vehicle, the Vanette Cargo, was sold under the Vanette name, in Europe as well. This van was based upon the Nissan Serena, and was unrelated to either the Sunny or the C20 van.

The Sunny 5-door station wagon was also introduced as a delivery van called the Nissan AD van, using the E15S, the E13S, and the CD17 diesel engine.

Appearances on Top Gear and Clarkson: Unleashed On Cars[]

In 1996, Jeremy Clarkson (of Top Gear fame) declared the Nissan Sunny to be the "worst car in the world, ever" and destroyed one by flinging it from a trebuchet pulled by a tractor. In 2003, on Top Gear, presenter Richard Hammond also proclaimed the Sunny to be the worst car ever, and had a Sunny incinerated by the exhaust fumes of a jet-powered funny car. Their main motivation being the dull design and driving experience of the Sunny making it a car of "no soul or character".

B12 series[]

From 1985, the B12 was not as widely exported, apart from the station wagon model. This line is characterized by its squared-off styling, which was very unfashionable by the mid-1980s. The angular styling was insisted upon by Nissan's design chief at the time and contributed to the automaker's increasingly poor sales of the period. A four-wheel-drive variant was introduced during this generation. It is also known as Sentra in some markets, and was sold in Mexico as the Nissan Hikari.

In October 1986, European markets saw the B11 Sunny replaced by a rebadged N13 Pulsar in hatchback and saloon form (the hatchback replacing the previous N12 Pulsar, which had been sold as the Cherry in this market). These were sold alongside the B12 Sunny estate and coupé. In some markets, such as Greece, the N13 Pulsar retained the "Cherry" nameplate.

The B12 series Sentra remained the mainstream C-segment Nissan in North America throughout its run, although the models available dwindled over the years. At launch, sedans were available in two-door base or XE or 4-door XE or GXE models, along with two trim levels each of the coupe and FWD wagon, a short-overhang 3-door hatchback and an AWD wagon; by 1990 only one model each of the coupe, 4-door sedan and FWD wagon, plus two 2-door sedans (one with the same trim as the others and one extra-basic price leader) remained.

In Malaysia, known as Nissan Sentra Super Saloon with E16 fitted engine (early version), it is used as a taxi in Genting Highlands, due to B12 sales was not ideal. Edaran Tan Chong Motor sold B12 to Genting Highlands Taxi in 1987. B12 was replaced by Nissan Pulsar N13 since 1987 in Malaysia. Malaysia did not offer Nissan Sentra B12 late version.

The "Sunny California"-style fastback was the only B12 wagon; the B11 "Sunny Van" continued in those markets where it was previously offered.