by Dominic Franco
The Datsun 180B was replaced in October of 1977
with the 200B, the car that Nissan hoped would continue
the great sales success that its predecessor had
enjoyed since its introduction in 1976, and spearhead
the company’s move to become a fully fledged
Continuing with the Japanese
styling, the first 200B’s were all fully imported
in Sedan, 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. Unfortunately the coupe was discontinued
in Australia in 1979.
Almost immediately the 200B
top selling four-cylinder car, a position it held
until it was displaced by the 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.
for the 200B was a larger version of the L series
engine from the 180B, dubbed the L20B its capacity
was increased to 1952cc, making it good for 72 kW.
Only the early fully imported 200B sedans and coupes
retained the independent rear suspension from the
180B, locally assembled 200B sedans instead switching
to coil springs with trailing arms, while the wagon
had a live rear axle with leaf springs.
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 per cent local
content quota that the then Federal Government demanded
of Australian car manufacturers.
The biggest downside
to the 200B was the noise the driver would have to
endure. The 2 liter 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
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 colors 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 Datsun’s, 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.
The first significant
change came in October 1977, with the introduction
of the NAPS-Z (Nissan Anti Pollution System) engines,
and a change to large bumpers with rubber end caps.
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. In 1978 the range was updated with new dual
rectangular headlights and a new grille - although
this update did not appear in all markets.
a limited edition 200B Aspen GL sedan was released,
it 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 70's nostalgia
buffs will lust for a good clean example, only to
find there are none.