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The Nissan Vanette is a van produced by the Japanese automaker Nissan Motors since 1978. The van has also been sold as the Nissan Sunny-Vanette or Nissan Van. There was formerly a separate model sold in Europe under the same name, however it was unrelated instead being based on the Nissan Serena. The passenger version is called the Vanette in most markets, and came equipped with multiple engine and drivetrain configurations.

Engines for Japan included A12S, A15S, CA20S, CA18T, LD20 and LD20S. 2WD and 4WD versions were produced, with manual, automatic, floor and column shift options available. While no longer produced for the Japanese market, it was still available in other markets around the world such as Malaysia. Production ended around 2010, eventually being replaced by the Nissan NV200.

Eventually, the car was replaced by a version of the Mazda Bongo (or E-series), sold as the Nissan Vanette under an OEM deal.

1st generation (C120/1978-1988)

Introduced in October 1978 as a replacement for the 1969 Nissan Cherry Cab/Sunny Cab C20, the first Vanette was exported as the Datsun C20 (later the Nissan C20) or as the Nissan Datsun Vanette (later the Nissan Vanette). In the home market it was initially marketed as either the 'Nissan Sunny Vanette' or the 'Nissan Cherry Vanette', depending on the distribution network. These two models had somewhat differing front-end treatment. In March 1980 a Datsun Vanette version was also added, sold through the 'Bluebird' dealer network. The Datsun Vanette received twin headlights, while its sister models had single headlights.

Initially it was available in three lines: a truck version, vans (usually with passenger accommodation), and as a 9-seat minibus (Vanette Coach). The Coach received a 1.4 L (1,397 cc) A14 four cylinder, producing 75 PS (55 kW) at 5,400 rpm. The van and truck versions originally had to make do with the lesser A12 of 1.2 L (1,171 cc) and 64 PS (47 kW) at the same engine speed. Later, the 1400 engine became available in Van and Truck versions as well. In July 1979 a high-roof version was added, as well as a long wheelbase van and ten-seater Coach version. This was stretched by 33 cm between the front and side doors, LWB versions were never available with the A12 engine. Some versions received separate air conditioning outlets for the rear.

In June 1980 the Coach version changed from the A14 to the larger (1,487 cc) A15 engine, offering 83 PS (61 kW). There was also a luxurious SGL version of the Vanette Coach added, with an available sunroof and swivelling captain's chairs in the rear - both firsts for the segment in Japan. To indicate it's luxurious nature, the SGL received double square headlights for a more modern appearance. In June 1981 the LD20 diesel engine was added, as was a 2-litre gasoline version (Z20) for the top-of-the-line SGX version.

In October 1982, minor changes occurred (along with the introduction of the bigger "Largo"). The dashboard was redesigned, while the base 'CT' model received front disc brakes, the optional air conditioning system was modernized, and an inexpensive 'FL' Coach version was added. In October 1983 a DX-A version was added, followed by modifications to the transmission carried out in August 1985. The next month, production of Van and Coach models ended as they were replaced by the C22 Vanette. The truck versions of the C120 Vanette remained in production (with light modifications carried out in August 1986) until September 1988.

Vanette Largo

The Vanette Largo (GC120) was introduced in October 1982 and was a wider (by 90 mm, to stay just beneath the important Japanese 1,700 mm tax threshold) and somewhat longer version. This was called the Nissan/Datsun Vanette Cargo in most export markets, where it largely supplanted the smaller Vanette versions. Engines were the A15 and Z20 gasoline versions, accompanied by the diesel LD20 (also available turbocharged). There was a minibus 'Coach' version of the Largo as well, with a luxurious "Grand Saloon" version topping the range.

The Largo continued in production until a GC22 successor arrived, in May 1986. In the Japanese market, the car was either marketed as the Datsun Vanette Largo or as a Nissan with the Cherry and Sunny prefixes.

Trivia

In the original incarnation of the Transformers action cartoon, Autobot Ironhide transformed into a Vanette and Autobot Ratchet transformed into a Vanette ambulance.