The Nissan Gazelle was very much a glamour car of the 1980's, superbly designed and well built, it was also rather exclusive in global terms too, being manufactured only for the Japanese and Australian domestic markets. A sister car to the Nissan Silvia, there were only a few minor cosmetic differences between the two cars.
Available in two door coupe or three-door hatchback configurations, the wind-cheating design was ahead of its time, and featured slim low-profile bonnet lines incorporating retractable headlights, wrap-around park/indicator lamps and a slimline grille.
Under the bonnet was Nissan's highly advanced twin-spark electronically fuel-injected 2.0 liter four, a single OHC unit that achieved an excellent power to weight ratio thanks to the use of lightweight alloys throughout.
The hemispherical combustion chambers and "high swirl" intake ports, coupled with electronic fuel injection and two spark plugs per cylinder achieved a highly efficient combustion with good fuel consumption and very good engine response.
The transmissions were also highly praised at the time. You could choose a slick, smooth and fast five speed manual or three-speed lock-up auto with electric over-drive. The lock-up torque converter ensured direct drive from the engine to transmission, eliminating power robbing slippage. The Gazelle also came standard with cruise control, a rare feature at the time.
Handling was precise and light, thanks in no small measure to the 185/70 radials that provided good grip with plenty of driver feel through the rack and pinion steering.
Inside the Gazelle was plushly finished, quiet and comfortable. The dash layout was straight forward and easy to read, with plain analogue instrumentation, Nissan not following the temptation to follow some manufacturers that were introducing pimped up and very troublesome digital displays.
The options list on the Gazelle was suprisingly short, as Nissan had included so many features as standard kit. The three main additions included air-conditioning, a manual sun-roof (liftback) or power sun-roof (coupe) and alloy wheels. For its time, the Gazelle was a modern, elegant and feature packed vehicle that, from an engineering perspective (both in exterior design and mechanically), stood head and shoulders above the rest. There are too few cars from the 1980's that remain appealing, most designs mimicking a "box-on-wheels" approach. The Nissan Gazelle is a rare exception. In 1988
the Gazelle was replaced by the S13 Silvia.