The Nissan Vanette, a van manufactured and introduced by Japanese automaker Nissan Motors in 1978. It was also marketed as Nissan Sunny-Vanette or Nissan Van. Another unrelated model was once sold in Europe with same name which was based on the Nissan Serena. In many markets, the passenger version was sold Vanette and available in a wide range of engine choices and drivetrain setup.
The available engine options were: A12S, A15S, CA20S, CA18T, LD20 and LD20S, where both 2WD and 4WD versions were offered with options of manual, automatic, floor and column shift transmissions. It is no longer offered in Japan, though it is still offered in many countries including Malaysia. Despite appearance of some facelifted models, the basic model of Vanette remained the same.
Finally, the Mazda Bongo (or E-Series) replaced it which was also sold as Nissan Vanette under an OEM agreement.
First Generation (C120; 1978–1988)
The first generation C120 Vanette was launched as a replacement for the 1969 Nissan Cherry Cab/Sunny Cab C20 in October 1978. Initially, the Vanette was marketed in export market as the Datsun C20, but later it was sold as Nissan C20 or Nissan Datsun Vanette and eventually as Nissan Vanette. However, in the home market, it started its run as Nissan Sunny Vanette or Nissan Cherry Vanette, based on network distribution. The Datsun Vanette was also added in the range in 1986, which was marketed through Bluebird dealership. The Datsun Vanette featured twin headlamps opposed to its sister versions that came with single headlamp.
In the beginning, it was offered as a truck version, van and a 9-seat minibus known as Vanette Coach. The Coach was powered by a 1.4-L (1397 cc) A14 4-cylinder engine, delivering 75 PS (55 kW) at 5,400 rpm. However, the Van and Truck versions received a 1.2-L (1171 cc) A12 engine, generating 64 PS (47 kW). In later years, the 1400 cc engine was made available for the Van and Truck versions. A high-rood version along with a long-wheelbase and ten-seater Coach versions were also added in the lineup later. The long-wheelbase version was extended by 33 cm and was never offered with A12 engine.
Second Generation (C22; 1985–1994)
The second generation C22 Vanette was launched in 1985 and offered in Japan, North America and Philippines.
In Japan, a high performance version of Vanette was sold under Nissan Largo name.
United States received the modified version of C22 Vanette with a view to contend with the Toyota Van and Mitsubishi Van. The Vanette was marketed in United States as Nissan Van between 1987 and 1990. To meet the American standards for a minivan, Nissan had mounted a larger 2.4-L Z24i engine in American version to meet the requirements like air conditioning. The C22 was in fact not designed to carry such large engine as a result of which the C22 in United States suffered from overheating and engine fire problems.
In 1994, four recalls were made to rectify the engine fire problem, but all efforts of Nissan went in vain as a result of which Nissan forced to recall all the Nissan Van marketed in USA under a class-action lawsuit. The Van owners were compensated with blue book value for their vans. However, many owners preferred to keep their vans rather than giving it back to Nissan.
Until 1999, the Nissan Vanette was offered in the Philippines under Nissan Vanette Grand coach name. The final version of the Vanette sold here was identical to the Vanette sold previously except for changed wheel design, improved seat materials and a faux wood trim dashboard. It was powered by a Z20 2.0-L engine. The Philippines market didn’t receive any diesel version of Vanette as many Asian countries did.
Third Generation (S20, SE, SK; 1994–1999)
The third generation Vanette was launched in 1994 and remained in production until 1999. It was sold as a badge engineered Mazda Bongo as well as rebadged as Ford Econovan and Ford Spectron.
Fourth Generation (S21, SK; 1999–2008)
The fourth and final generation of Vanette was introduced in 1999 and ended in 2008. It was also a badge engineered Mazda Bongo/Ford Econovan.
The Nissan Vanette was replaced by Nissan NV200 Vanette.