QotW: What’s the greatest nostalgic Nissan?

209-DL0587_Nissan Bluebird 510 Safari Rally

Last week we learned that an R35 GT-R is not the only Nissan that knows how to steal a supercar’s thunder. It’s hard to believe, but we haven’t yet asked what the greatest nostalgic Nissan is. We’ve inquired about the greatest Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, and even Suzuki (your winning answers here, here, here, here and here), so let’s rectify that right now.

What’s the greatest nostalgic Nissan?

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What car of the Nineties will be the next sought-after classic?” 


This week’s question brought out a lot of impassioned comments, and it was hard to choose just one. Tom Westmacott waxed lyrical about the FD3s RX-7, Kevin made a surprisingly strong case for the AE92 front-drive Corollas, while dickie wrote an entire screenplay trumpeting the virtues of the SW20 MR2.

Meanwhile, Chris lamented the rarity of the DSM, a phenomenon Satori coined “Destroy Until Rare.” Byron Chiu started off strong with a list of oddball off-road buggies, prompting Ant to second the RAV4. As much as we would’ve loved to mess with speculators who know nothing about JNCs by declaring the Toyota cute-ute as the next big collectible of the 90s, in the end we had to pick Evan Opgenorth‘s heartfelt case for the Honda Beat:

The Beat has all the charm, quirks, design hubris, and most importantly, a special story that the “next collectible from the 90s” should have. Rear-drive Hondas are special by default, but this car didn’t get attention state-side because, well, it never made it to the states! Even though the Beat is not rare by virtue of production numbers or sought after because of it’s legendary power, I think it’s important to mention that out of the plurality of designs the Honda of today could have given the green light, Honda’s top brass decided to make second incarnation RWD, Mid-engined, convertible Kei car with the S660, a path blazed boldly by the Beat. Perhaps Honda settled on the S660 because the Beat is the last car with which Soichiro Honda had given his seal of approval: a slightly off-kilter (no turbocharger, zebra cloth seats), affordable sports car for the masses. Even if the Beat doesn’t become the next nostalgic car worth collecting, I hope the Beat can have a bit of a rebirth here after it becomes importable to the states in 2016.

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20 Responses to QotW: What’s the greatest nostalgic Nissan?

  1. KiKiIchiBan says:

    Fuji, the little Datsun 210 really changed peoples opinions of Japanese cars when it came 1st in class, 25th overall in the Australia rally. Circumnavigating 16,000km!

    • Daniel says:

      For me, it’d have to be the DR30 Nissan Skyline, yes its a four cylinder. But what a fantastic,strong,powerful and burbly 4 cylinder it is. Most would point to the R32 GTR as to what reignited the Skyline name. But wedged between the under powered and heavy C210, and,well, the R31 GTS. Came one of the nicest looking 80s heroes, The perfect example of pillar-less, angry looking, angular Nissan coupe perfection, but also one of the fastest. Even today 200HP from a 2 liter turbo isn’t bad at all, and this was way back in 1984. This car is the perfect harmony of lightweight, high performance Nissan goodness, and a body that looks good from any angle. I want one terribly.

  2. KillyBamp says:

    Got to be the Hakosuka GT-R for me. That S20 engine, the awesome race pedigree. True legend.

  3. invinciblejets says:

    Gonna have to go with the first gen s10 200sx. It has all the Japanese quikyness from the squared out wheel wells to the big bubbly rear end with wrap around taillights…huge round headlights. The Interior dash layout is perfect and come on.. plaid seat covers…
    Not to mention it’s the baby of all the s13′ s which are being slid into walls while I type this!
    I’d wager most s13 owners have no clue it even exsits!
    Too bad number of s10’s on the road in the us is probably less than a hundred. 🙁

  4. Mister K says:


  5. Citizen Patrick says:

    Think of the great marques in automotive history: Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, etc. Almost uniformly, their legends were burnished on the racetrack. A competition pedigree is a carmaker’s ticket to immortality. If we apply this rule to Nissan (and get a little liberal with what actually CONSTITUTES a Nissan) then the answer becomes so obvious it’s kind of silly: the 1964 Skyline GT which, in that one magical lap at Suzuka in which it led the mighty Porsche 904, pointed the way toward half a century of motorsport glory for both Nissan and for the Japanese motor industry as a whole.

    • ahja says:

      Nissan is hurt by the fact that most people would recognize the most nostalgic models as “Datsuns” rather than as Nissans. Still, the 510 is both known as an everyman’s compact that introduced many to Datsun. And it had some recognizable success in racing on top.

      But my real answer is the 240Z, it basically invented a new genre of car, that being the CHEAP compact, closed-body 2 door fastback category. And, thats the genre that eventually spawned the Supra, RX7, Starion, and every Z after it. Basically the who’s who of desirable Japanese cars (especially as the case was in the 1990s and early 2000s before every gaijin in the suburbs jumped on the Skyline bandwagon). And the 240Z was a towering sales success in its own time, and remains a desirable car to this day.

      Now Skylines are being retconned into being global performance icons for decades, when that simply wasn’t the case. They were unknown and unremarkable outside of Japan prior to the R32, and Americans didn’t even learn about the R32s existence for years after it went out of production. Until very recently, your average enthusiast new as much about a Skyline as they do now about a Gloria, Cedric, or Laurel. Everybody knew what a 240Z was the whole time. Everybody.

  6. Chris Tonn says:

    I’m a child of the Eighties in the Midwestern US, where so many great JNCs returned to the earth entirely too quickly. Dad had a string of Zs of every pre-Z33 flavor, Mom started driving in a 4-speed 510, and later had both a B11 Sentra and a S12 200SX Turbo.

    Easy answer is the Z, of course, followed closely by the 510. I’d argue, however, that these are timeless classics, and not as “nostalgic” since we still see them on occasion.

    No, my vote goes to the B210. A low-powered, low-frills econobox that hit American showrooms at the exact time a reliable, comfortable economy car was needed. Yes, it turned out to be a decent racecar like the legends, too, but the B210 was the perfect car for this country in 1973, and for that, I vote Sunny.

  7. Beans says:

    The 510, or as we lovingly named them in Australia the Datto 1600! why you ask? simple, its the peoples datsun/nissan. Sure others will name all the big guns like Hako etc but really if your like me the first time most of us were introduced to the brand was through the IRS squat of a tuned 510. Cheers!

  8. cesariojpn says:

    Super Z from Seibu Keisatsu.

    Yeah yeah, we also have Machine X, the RS Triplets, and the insane Nissan Safari “Kidotai” Truck, but for a purely cool factor, the Super Z is it. Even though it’s a 260Z, the fact that the gullwing doors and it’s double 20mm guns on the bonnet just makes it a unique and dare I say it, practical police car for such a macho elite police group? The gullwing doors did have a benefit for Daimon; he could have one door open and look out while blasting the baddies with the 20mm guns. Plus gullwing doors on a pedestrian coupe!! Not even Mercedes Benz can make such a unique item!!

  9. Lupus says:

    I, as a Wangan-beliver, will opt again for ABR Hasoki Z
    I said it once, and will say it again. The king of tuded cars, the archetype of Devil Z, the final step in L-series engines evolution. Capable of thing then unimaginanable. Even today it’s achivements are admiarable. Badass Lvl 99.

  10. John M says:

    Ah, to be young and carefree again. Enter the Ai no Skyline (Skyline of love), AKA Kenmeri Skyline. It wasn’t marketed for speed, but rather slowing down and enjoying life. It represented the joy of wandering and wondering – The Wonder Years of Japan. However, rather than Kevin and Winnie, this was achieved in large part through the Ken & Mary advertising campaign. Like the “Mean Joe” Greene Coca-Cola commercial, it remains instantly recognizable 40+ years later. (Note: I would be very happy to have either shirt). And as with the Coca-Cola jingle, the song took people to a happier place. As I strolled back in time at the Ikaho Toy, Doll, and Car Museum, I didn’t need to look at the TV to know images of fields and beaches were rolling by as the sound waves of “Ken to Mary – Ai to Kaze no Youni” gently lapped my ears. As Buzz sang in Japanese, “The wind continues to sing in an unknown town…pack your spoon and cup in a bag and let’s go before now has passed.”

    • DesignerD says:

      I’m with you on that. I love the Skyline 2000 GTX-E.s version as it has just the right amount of elegance. Dream car for sure… Now I just need to sell a kidney, and track one down in Japan

  11. Brian MR says:

    My WHITEBIRD (Link of my story below)
    I own a 1969 4 door Bluebird. I have always been into vintage cars with racing heritage. Classics that predate me by decades even. I am sure everyone will have their own stories, reasons and experiences for their greatest nostalgic Nissan. For me, its the Nissan/Datsun Bluebird/510 respectively. Particularly for my automotive journey its the 4 door variant. Its practical and joys I have sharing m car with my wife and daughter together are priceless. An amazing driver’s car potential, classic always in style presents, sport car suspension, underdog grit and limitless enthusiast interpretations. All with affordability for the average car lover to own, maintain and grow with as they find what makes them excited about cars. My Whitebird is not the first classic or enthusiast car I have owned and I am not the primary builder of it like my many others (I can hear my wife groaning as I think of the list lol), but it is my first keeper. I am now a caretaker of NISSAN history. So I say to you all, go find your own greatest nostalgic car, whatever it may be.
    Best Regards

  12. Tom Westmacott says:

    For the greatest-ever nostalgic Nissan, we’re looking for a car whose debut is still fondly remembered among the Japanese, even those who don’t generally pay much heed to cars; a car which was the first taste of power (and power oversteer) for a generation of drivers, and which remains dominant in its own particular branch of motorsports today, closing in on three decades since it hit the streets. A car which was cheap and practical enough to sell by the bucket-load, yet special enough for millions to desire, and which has more recently become a rare sight on the roads of Japan.

    We are of course looking at the 1988 Silvia S13, the ‘Art Force’ Silvia which at launch made waves with its signature line green two tone paint job, before going on to make black lines across the highways and byways of the nation. Desired by young men and women alike, with this car Nissan hit the mark, equally at home meeting your girlfriend for a date as it is meeting like-minded friends for some light-hearted nocturnal competition.

    In the sixties, booming young America found its perfect wheels in Ford’s Mustang; saloon derived, but looking and going like a sports car. Thirty years later across the Pacific, Japan had its very own boom generation, and Nissan provided their perfect wheels in the shape of the Silvia. Of course, this Japanese Mustang was full of advanced engineering; a twin cam turbocharged intercooled engine, four wheel steering, multilink rear suspension, heads-up display, and a chilled compartment for those (non-alcoholic) drinks to share with your date.

    Over and above the limited-production hero cars of the bubble era, the S13 Silvia brought the technology and optimism of the time to many more drivers; handsome from the factory, it was nonetheless endlessly personalisable with wheels, bodykits, spoilers, mix-and-match front ends with its 180SX sister, and endless engine swaps from RB to LS, such that no two need be alike but rather reflected the personality of their owners.

    The S13 was such a success that it overshadowed its successor; the sheer number of not-quite-so-young-any-more drivers out there, both in Japan and around the world, who still hold onto warm memories and blurry early-digicam photos of their beloved Art Force Silvias is what makes it the greatest nostalgic car in Nissan’s storied history.

    • Daniel says:

      ^ that was a good read 🙂
      They certainly deserve a successor, even though the original still serves as a good first car,even if im slightly biased….

  13. Dutch 1960 says:

    Beans and Brian nailed it, but I am going to throw a twist on their arguments. The 510 is the “Deuce Coupe” of Japanese cars in the USA. The ’32 Ford introduced Americans to budget, dependable V8 cars, and the ’32s were everywhere later on, for second cars, used as commuter beaters, and for the kids and the hot rodders. The Deuce was not the most capable, reliable or comfortable car, as technology and reliability moved fast in those days. But it could be fitted with a variety of power plants and drive lines, and could be equally at home as a boulevard cruiser, race car, dragster, or custom. They were cheap and widely available for decades, then the supply dried up, but they were still revered, as an icon in the history of modified and rodded cars. Stock examples are now almost nonexistent, except for those still rusting in barns or behind a fence somewhere. Now, substitute the 510 for the Deuce, and a twin Webered OHC four for the V8, and there you go. The story is almost exactly the same. The 510 was not the first or the best, the fastest, most beautiful, or the most comfortable. But it was the first universally desired and widely popular cheap Japanese modified cruiser/racer on these American shores. And John Morton’s BRE Trans-Am car was icing on the cake, just in case the 510 cruisers and racers needed something specific to aspire to. The BRE-built car defined a particular look, with Libres, a front air dam and suspension kit, a hunkered down body with a bit of negative camber all around, and the tri-color paint job if you want it. A marriage of Japanese and American, giving the world a unique and timeless interpretation of the Nissan “sky-box” look, that is recognized anywhere in the world. Not the best work Nissan ever did, even back in the day, but it was the one that put Nissan, and Japanese cars generally, “on the map”, at least here in the U.S.

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