The Sunny/B Series
What do you do when your smallest car, the 1.3 liter Bluebird 410, is now
somewhat large for a home market used to 1 Liter cars? You introduce a new line
of course. That's exactly what Nissan did, with a little help from the public.
The Sunny B10
A contest was held in Japan to name a new small Nissan car, the result being
the winning Sunny moniker. The B10 Sunny 1000 was introduced in April 1966 as a
new entry level car for the now automobile Japanese public. Initially available
in 2 door and wagon, the B10 Sunny was powered by a 988cc A10 engine that
produced 56 horsepower. A slightly fancier version, the Sunny DX(deluxe) came
into production in September '66. The first Sunny series wasn't offered in the
US, but it was sold in Canada, Europe, and elsewhere in the world.
The next real styling change came with the March 1968 arrival of the 2 door
Sunny Coupe, the KB10. Enhancements under the hood including a new cam and
bigger carb got horsepower up to 60 without increasing the engine size.
May 69 saw the introduction of the Sunny GL, which appears to be a chromed up
version of the standard car. The first Sunny Series production tailed off in
December 1969, with the introduction of a new series set for the following year.
The new Sunny B110 hit showroom floors in January 1970. This car was larger
than the B10 series, but not noticably. Initially it came with the A10 engine,
with a larger A11 engine and Twin SU's on the GX model that was unveiled in
April that year. The B110, or Datsun 1200, was offered in the United States in
1971 in sedan and coupe form and achieved very good sales in it's less than two
year run there.
Nissan introduced a Sport Coupe to the line in April 1971, with the Sunny 1400
GL/ KPB110. This is a division of the line a bit here with a series of 1200 and
1400 cars in Standard, Deluxe DX, GL, and GX Sport varieties. The 1400's were
not your standard A series engined cars, with a 1428cc SOHC engine that
delivered 85 or 95 hp, depending on Whether it was equipped with the Hitachi
DCG306 DD carb or twin SU's.
A funny story about the "Sport" designation on Sunny cars. This is according to Syed, a Datsun Sunny owner from Pakistan. Back in the late 60's, Toyota launched the Corolla in direct competition with the Sunny series. The Corolla had a slightly larger engine than the Sunny, and Toyota used that as a selling point in an effort to outsell the 1000cc Sunny. What drivers who drove both cars soon found out was that the Sunny was more agile and peppy than the Corolla, even with the displacement disadvantage. Siezing on this, Nissan started putting the "Sport" designation on all the Sunny models as a way of saying the "Sunny is sportier than the Corolla".
A sport version of the A11/1200 cars was added in August 72 and was dubbed the
Sunny GX-5. The second generation Sunny line ended its run in April of 73, just
over a year after its introduction to America.
The third series of Sunny is the one that most people outside of Japan are
aware of, the B210 series. The B210 came on line in May 1973, with 2 door, 4
door, 2 door Hatch, and various Standard Deluxe, GL(KPB210) and GX versions
B211 1200 GL
The series continued pretty much unchanged until Febuary 1976 when new engine
choices where added, giving new buyers the choice of A12, A14, and A16 engines,
with various new trim and sport packages. A Sunny 1400 GX-T was added in July
76, and I'm still trying to figure out if the T stands for turbo.
310 1400 SGX
310 1200 GL
The 4th Sunny series was the 310 group of cars. Three styles were offered
including 2 door Hatch, 2 door coupe and 4 door sedan. EFI versions of the now
standard A14 engine were added in February '78.
1400 SGL wagon
The 1400 SGL(E-WHB310) Sunny wagon rounded out the line up with it's
introduction in January 1979. In October of that same year, Nissan began
offering 1200/A12 versions of the Sunny line, perhaps in response to the second
Oil crisis. Not much changed style wise until the line ceased production in
September '81, with the exception of an engine upgrade to 1.3 and 1.5 liter
units in November 1980.
The final series of Sunny's produced under the Datsun brand were the B11's.
The B11 series were a front wheel drive car using the new 1270cc and 1487cc E
series engines, and sold under the Sentra badge in the US. The Sunny/Sentra
Series continues to this day, with the SE-r models being the only ones
generating any real excitement.
The Sunny was always meant to be the car for the entry level buyer, but like
the Bluebird line, it eventually moved up a step when Nissan decided to get
back to basics. The Nissan Micra/March replaced the Sunny on the bottom rung of
the Nissan ladder in the mid '80's. Early B10 and B110 series cars are now
somewhat collectable, especially 2 doors and Coupes, though they don't seem to
have the following of the other Nissan enthusiast cars, not yet anyway.
These photos are of Rodny Alexander Barrientos Miralda's very nice HL-B11 Sunny from Mexico
So what did the little Sunny do? It launched the "My Car" era in
Japan, a time when every Japanese finally felt they could own their own car. It
was entered in the East African Safari Rally, along with rallies elsewhere.
A B110 won the 1973 SCCA C Sedan Championship and launched Don Devendorf and
Electromotive into racing history. Backed by Nissan USA, Devendorf and
Electromotive B210's would go on to win the '74 and '75 C Sedan titles before
letting Damon Pleasant win in 1976. Damon in turn handed the torch off to Dick
Davenport who took 3 straight C Sedan titles in a row from 77 to 79. The B210
even set a land speed record at Bonneville. Sunny's also won several SCCA
titles in the late 80's and early 90's;
1988 GT5David Schaller1200
1990 GT4 Richard GrantB210
1990 GT5Jeffrey Clinton1200
1991 GT4Hubert DePrezB210
1991 GT5Jeffrey Werth (1)210/B310
1992 GT4Juan MontalvoB210
1992 GT5Jeffrey Werth (2)210/B310
1994 GT5Jeffrey Werth (3)210/B310
Watch the SCCA Run Off's and you're still likely to see one chasing a Mazda
R100 or an Austin Mini around the track.The Sunny may not have been the Giant
Killer that the 240Z or the 510 were, but for a little mouse of a car it had a
hell of a roar.