In 1968, Nissan launched a new model called the Nissan Laurel. It was placed just above the Bluebird 510 launched in 1968. Except for reduced dimensions, it offered the similar luxury feel as that of Nissan Cedric 130.
Nissan Tsurumi R&D Division built the first Nissan Laurel at the Musashimurayama Plant property of the former Prince Motors. It was offered in 2-door and 4-door versions. The car made its debut just after the Nissan merger with Prince.
Eight generations of Nissan Laurel have been produced since its first appearance in 1968. Nissan Laurel was not only available in the home market but it was also imported to some Asian and European markets as well. In 1989, the export was discontinued.
First Generation (C30) (1968–1972)
The first generation Laurel was introduced in April 1968 as 4-door deLuxe and Super deLuxe versions. Both the version came with 1.8-L, inline 4-cylinder engine and featuring independent suspension. A hardtop coupe was introduced in 1970 which was followed by a release of 2000 cc engine a year later. The Major competitors of Laurel at that time were Toyota Corona Mark II sedan and Mazda Luce (1996).
Second Generation (C130) (1972–1977)
The second generation Laurel appeared in April 1972. It was available as 4-door saloon and 2-door hardtop coupe called the Butaketsu Laurel (pig’s butt) due to its big rear quarter panels and tail section. The saloon featured as rear beam axle and lead springs, while coupe featured independent rear suspension. Apart from retaining 1.8-L and 2.0-L 4-cylinder engines, a new 2.0-L inline 6-cylinder engine was also offered. In October 1973, 2.6-L 6-cylinder engine was added in the lineup followed by the release of 2.8-L 6-cylinder engine in 1975. Due to strict emission regulations, the G20 4-cylinder and L20 6-cylinder engines featuring SU twin carburetors were discontinued in February 1976.
Third Generation (C230) (1977–1980)
In January 1977, the third generation Laurel was launched. This generation (C230) offered the saloon and hardtop coupe versions as well as the hardtop saloon without B-posts. Different engines options available were 1.8-L 4-cylinder, 2.0-L inline-6 (carbureted or fuel-injected), 2.8-L 6-cylinder or 2.0-L 4-cylinder diesel. Its major competitors at time were Toyota Mark II coupe and sedan. A facelift was released as C231 in 1978.
Fourth Generation (C31) (1980-1984)
The fourth generation Laurel was introduced in November 1980. It was offered as a 4-door sedan or hardtop. The engine options available for C31 were 1.8-L, 2.0-L L20, and 2.4-L L24 gasoline and 2.8-L diesel. The coupe version was dropped as it was replaced by Nissan Leopard F30. Cresta hardtop and the Mark II sedan were the two major competitors of the C31. In Japan, the limited ‘GIVENCY VERSION’ was launched in November 1982 of which Hubert de Givency performed a TV commercial.
Fifth Generation (C32) (1984-1989)
In 1984, the fifth generation Laurel was introduced. The whole range was offered with 4 gasoline engines including: the CA20S, the 4-cylinder in C32; the L24E; the VG20ET and the VG30E. The LD28 diesel was also available. A facelift with minor changes were released in 1987 and the LD28 was replaced by RD28.
The styling hints of C32 were largely in resemblance with the Nissan Cedric and Nissan Gloria. However, it featured a smaller platform so as to comply with the tax liability based on vehicle dimensions. Initially, the Toyota Cresta and Toyota Mark II were the only competitors, joined by Honda Legend in 1986. The C32 was regarded as the last model to be offered in export markets.
Sixth Generation (C33) (1989-1993)
The sixth generation Laurel C33 was launched by Nissan in January 1989. It was offered only as a 4-door hardtop version. It came standard with 1.8-L 4-cylinder engine, however, the other options available included a 2.0-L six (SOHC, DOHC or DOHC Turbo) and a 2.8-L diesel 6-cylinder. In 1991, a 2.5 L DOHC inline-six mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission was also introduced.
The C33 was based on a rear-wheel drive platform. The floor pan of C33 was similar to Nissan A31 Cefiro and the 4-door Nissan Skyline R32 and there were several interchangeable parts between them.
The different models produced for Nissan Laurel during this generation were: Medalist, Medalist ClubS and Gran Limited. CLubS was available with RB25DE option, while the rest came with RB20, CA18 and RD28 engine options. Toyota Cresta and Honda Inspire were the two competitors.
Seventh Generation (C34) (1993-1997)
The seventh generation Laurel C34 was available only as a regular saloon with b-posts. The hardtop sedan version was dropped from Laurel range. The 4-cylinder engine was also dropped from the lineup and the available options were: a 2.0 L six (SOHC or DOHC), a 2.5 L DOHC six and a 2.8 L diesel six engines.
Some of the prominent features offered in C34 were four-wheel steering (HICAS) and four wheel drive (ATTESA) system. C34 had a competition with Toyota Cresta and Honda Inspire.
Eight Generation (C35) (1997-2002)
In June 1997, the last generation of Laurel was introduced. For this generation, the number of offered models was further reduced. The engine options available for the eighth generation Laurel (C34) were a DOHC 2.0-L, a 2.5-L 6-cylinder and a 2.8-L 6-cylinder diesel. In the last half of 2002, the Nissan ceased the production of Laurel. The competition of the Laurel remained with Toyota Cresta and Honda Inspire.