Vindication. It’s a good feeling. Earlier this year when Ryan published a Consider the Following article about the many charms of the Nissan Stanza Wagon, the comments section got rather heated. Some couldn’t believe a Pulitzer-esque publication like JNC would sing the praises of the Prairie, which — shocker — is apparently not a cool car to some eyes. Well guess what, nonbelievers. Nissan has taken our side.
Last month we revisited Nissan’s headquarters gallery in Yokohama. And while there were more Leafs on the ground than a New England autumn, one small corner of the showroom was reserved for classic models of historic importance, in an exhibit called Game Changers. You’ll never guess which Game Changers happened to be there. That’s right, a Bluebird 510 and an M10 Prairie.
The 1969 Bluebird 510 was an obvious choice. After all, it did revolutionize the way the world thought about cars, thanks to an advanced four-wheel independent suspension decades ahead of its competition (and in many cases cars above its weight class). That made it a force to be reckoned with both on the asphalt and off, transforming the way Americans thought about Japanese cars, opening doors (and wallets) to the many Nissans, Toyotas, Mazdas and Hondas to come.
And right there alongside the 510, sharing the stage, was a 1984 Nissan Prairie JW-G, resplendent in two-tone paint, dog dish hubcaps, and Mondrian door handles. Nissan says that when it was introduced in 1982, the Prairie pioneered what in Japan is called the multipurpose RV class, which led to the now-ubiquitous minivan. It sat up to 8 passengers, and its front-wheel-drive layout allowed for a low floor and sliding rear doors that predated Lee Iacocca’s Chrysler Town & Country by two years.
Prior to the Prairie, the only vehicles that could seat that many people were based on commercial vans. The Prairie was the first car of its kind to be built specifically for family use. It didn’t even have a B-pillar, and as we all know, cars without B-pillars are the coolest.
Obviously Nissan has more Game Changers than just these two. The exhibit, which continues on through January 9, 2018, rotates cars two at a time for a couple weeks at a time. What else is on the list, you say? Glad you asked. In order of display, the were: the SP210 Fairlady roadster, 1969 S30 Fairlady Z, 1988 Nissan Cima, 1988 Nissan Elgrand, B10 Datsun Sunny, Z10 Nissan Cube, 1969 Hakosuka Skyline GT-R, R32 Skyline GT-R, 1935 Datsun Type 14, and 1987 Be-1.
Those cars are displayed in pairs, so Fairlady and Fairlady, GT-R and GT-R, and so on. The 510 was paired with the Prairie for reasons we don’t fully know, but we happened to catch them together at the right rotation. So there you have it — Nissan Stanza Wagon, Game Changer. Now go out and save them.
Bonus images, so you can gaze upon its grandeur. Also, some nifty gift shop items like Nissan Laurel document folders and Pao T-shirts: