In 1957, Nissan Motors introduced their compact- to Medium-sized vehicle called the Nissan Bluebird. The Bluebird nameplate is still used in Japan on the Nissan Pulsar-based Nissan Bluebird Sylphy as well as on U13-based Nissan Bluebird in China.
Since the launch of the Bluebird, Toyota Corona was the conventional competitor of the Bluebird range. Bluebird is regarded as one of the longest running nameplates from any Japanese automaker. The earlier Bluebird also gave rise to the S130 Fairlady Z/280ZX which further gave rise to the Maxima, originally known as 910 Bluebird/S130 Fairlady Z based, the 160J/710/Violet/Auster/Stanza line, and the US-built Altima line.
Export and Foreign-Built Model Names
The export markets received Bluebird as the Datsun 510, Datsun 180B (with 160B and 200B) and Datsun Bluebird. The Nissan Bluebird nameplate was first appeared when Nissan made an attempt to phase out the Datsun marquee in favor of Nissan in 1982.
Following the Japanese tradition, Australia also used the Bluebird nameplate for its car from q981 to 1985. A facelift version was released for 1984 and 1985 model year as a rear-wheel drive. Nissan Pintara was introduced in 1986 that replaced the Bluebird. A successive Bluebird replaced the Pintara, but still retained the name Pintara till 1992. The Pintara was also rebadged for Ford Australia as the Ford Corsair under the Button Plan for short period of time.
The car was sold as Nissan Stanza in the United States until 1992 when it was replaced by the Nissan Altima. Presently, no Bluebird model is offered in North America. In 1998, Altima was renewed and revised completely to become a unique model sold in the North American market.
In Europe, the Bluebird sold from 1986 to 1990 was a rebadged version of Nissan Auster which was eventually replaced the Nissan Primera in 1990.
Nissan also produced a 6-cylinder version of the Bluebird called the Maxima in 1980s, which later recognized as an individual model.
Some resources claim that the Bluebird name was first appeared in 1957 with a launch of 988 cc, 34 hp (25 kW), 4-door sedan, a part of 210 series. However, the resources from Nissan claim that the name was appeared in 1959.
The 210 series was the first of Nissan brand that was introduced in United States. Some export markets sold the 210 series as Datsun 1000. It was also regarded as the first passenger to be built in Taiwan, by newly emerging Yue Loong works in 1960 as YLN 701 Bluebird.
The 210 series was able to gain a reputation of being a reliable vehicle with wining 1000 cc class in the Australia Mobilgas Rally in 1958.
The Datsun Bluebird (310 series) was a completely redesigned vehicle that remained in production from 1960 to 1963. It was powered by 1.0-L engine and was available in three different models including 310 launched in 1960, 311 introduced in 1961 and 312 produced from 1962 to 1963. 311 and 312 came with 1.2-L Nissan E-1 engine. A 5-door station wagon version introduced in July 1960 as WP310 equipped with 1.2-L E engine.
The Bluebird was upgraded with boxier styling in September 1963. The idea was to introduce the vehicle in United States with European designing. The 410 series was discontinued in 1967.
410 and 411 were the two models produced, i.e. from 1964 to 1965, 410 produced and 411 was remained in production from 1965 to 1967.
In the beginning, a 4-door sedan and a 5-door station wagon was introduced. In September 1964 2-door version was also introduced which was followed by 2-door SS in February 1965. DP410 and DP411 were the two’ Deluxe’ versions produced of the Bluebird 410 and 411.
In May 1965, the previous 1.2-L engine was replaced by new larger 1.3-L engine. The same year 1.6-L SSS model was also introduced.
The next was the 510 series of Datsun Bluebird that appeared in August 1967. It was available in several body styles including a 2- and 4-door sedan, 5-door station wagon, and 2-door coupe launched in November 1968.
It was also imported to New Zealand with 1.6-L 4-speed manual Deluxe model. From 1964 to 1974, the P510 sedan and coupe version were produced in South Africa and equipped with L16 1600 SSS twin carbs and the 1600 Deluxe single carb. Deluxe range had the option of automatic gearbox as well. Two versions of 2-ddor coupe were also produced including 1600GL and 1800GL, where 1600Gl received a single or twin carb and 1800GL received a twin carb.
In August 1971, the 610 series was introduced in Japan and was marketed under the badge of Datsun Bluebird-U. It is still unclear that why Nissan used this U suffix with Bluebird’s name. However, some resources claim that the U refers to User or Ultra. The 610 series was introduced as a competitor to the second generation Toyota Corona Mark II. In the beginning, the 610 series was sold alongside 510 series but later it was completely replaced by 610 series. The 610 series was offered as a 4- and 2-door hardtop, and 5-door wagon. Different trim levels available in Japanese market were: GL (Grand Luxe), SSS (Super Sports Sedan), DX (Deluxe) and STD (Standard). It was offered with Nissan L-series inline engines mated to a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission in export markets, while 5-speed manual transmission was available in the home as well as Australian markets. The high spec models like SSS and sports version came with twin-Hitachi carburetors.
In July 1976, the 810 series was launched in Japan. It was offered with same engine options used in the previous models, however, in August 1978, 1.4-L engine was reintroduced in the lineup. Export markets received their share of 160B, 180B and 200B. In 810 series, the 2-door sedan was dropped and the offered body styles include a 4-door sedan, 2-door sedan, 2-door hardtop coupe (SSS coupe) and a 5-door station wagon.
With UK declining automotive market, Datsun was able to move into the headlines as leading car importer in UK.
Contrary to the ‘Coke Bottle’ styling that most of the previous models had, the 910 series came with some simple clean-cut lines. It was the last rear wheel drive Bluebird in the entire Bluebird range. Like the 810 series, it also featured the 99-inch (2500 mm) wheelbase, MacPherson strut suspension and the same engine range.
The car was also manufactured in South Africa between 1978 and 1980. It was referred to as Datsun 1600J Deluxe, 1800J Deluxe or 1800J SSS Sedan equipped with twin-carbs set up and 5-speed gearbox. Later, a station wagon version was also released with 1600 cc engine. Originally, the car came with L16 or L18 engines. All the models produced were rear wheel drives featuring solid axle and coil springs. It was sold as Datsun Stanza and was the last model that was sold under Datsun name as all the later models came with Nissan brand.
In November 1979, Nissan started readjusting the export names with its home market names with the release of 910 series. The company dropped the ‘B’ tag from its models and Bluebird took its place. In 1981, the company officially started using the Nissan badge with its models. However, the 910 series was sold as Datsun Bluebird in Australia until 1983 when it was replaced by Nissan Bluebird.
In October 1983, the first Bluebird was introduced with front wheel drive layout. However, the styling was pretty much the same as previous models. It was available as 4-door sedan, 4-door station wagon and 4-door hardtop versions. The coupe version was dropped from the range.
In New Zealand, it was sold as ‘Widetrack Bluebird’, while in Taiwan it was marketed as Yue Loong Bluebird 931.
1.6-L, 1.8-L and 2.0-L engine options were available for 910 series. In 1984, 2.0-L intercooled VG20ET V6 turbo engine was released for the first time in Japanese market with Bluebird Maxima.
The third generation Auster was sold as rebadged T12 and T72 series Nissan Bluebird in Europe. In 1985, T12 was launched in European market replacing the U11 Bluebird. It was assembled at Washington, England with parts shipped from Japan in July 1986. Initially, the 4-door saloon version was offered and later in January 1987 the 5-door hatchback version was also added in the lineup. Based on U11 platform, Bluebird Estate was also assembled at Washington. Throughout the 1980s, this vehicle was one of the popular choices among UK’s minicab drivers.
In September 1987, Nissan introduced U12 series which was marketed as Nissan Pintara in Australia between 1989 and 1993. The codename used was ‘Project Matilda’. The Japanese versions were available as 4-door sedan and 4-door hardtop. A 5-door Pintara ‘Superhatch’ was also built by Nissan Australia which was marketed in many export markets as Bluebird. In Japan, it was sold as ‘Bluebird Aussie’.
All the U12 series models were 4-cylinder, using either a 1.6-L, 1.8-L or 2.0-L petrol engine, while LD20 2.0-L Diesel was available as an option. The sports and luxury versions featured viscous LSD. Between 1987 and 1990, Nissan also built a turbocharged Bluebird called the RNU12 powered by 1809 cc DOHC CA18DET with ATTESA (mechanical four-wheel drive system).
In September 1991, Nissan introduced the U13 series available as 4-door sedan and 4-door hardtop. Both hardtop and sedan were offered with different styling, i.e. hardtop followed the conventional styling, while sedan came with curvy styling. The hardtop model was sold as Nissan Bluebird ARX.
Most of the models offered in Japanese market were all-wheel drive versions (ATTESA).
In January 1996, Nissan introduced the U14 series with boxier styling. It was available as a 4-door sedan only. The hardtop version along with 1.6-L engine was dropped from the lineup. U14 series offered with a Nissan Hyper CVT automatic transmission. Some of the models were powered by 1973 cc diesel CD20E engine.
In 2001, the company discontinued the Nissan Bluebird platform replacing it with a relatively smaller platform with Bluebird badges named the Bluebird Sylphy.
G10 series was based on the smaller platform of Nissan called the FF-S platform. It was offered with several engine options including 1.5-L QG15DE, 1.6-L QG16DE, 1.8-L QG18DE, and the 2.0-L QR20DE, where 1.5-L and 1.6-L mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and the rest of them were offered with 4-speed automatic transmission. 1.8-L version also offered a 4-wheel drive model.
In export markets like Australia and New Zealand, the car was marketed as Pulsar; in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Middle East as Sunny; as Sentra in Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia; and as Almera in Brunei. Almera version was also marketed in European markets.
In 2005, the G11 series of Bluebird Sylphy was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show. It is based on Nissan B platform. The engine options available for G11 series are similar to Nissan Tiida/Versa/Latio, i.e. HR15DE 1.5-L engine. A new MR20DE 1.0-L was added later in the lineup. It is offered with Nissan’s X-Continuously Variable Transmission (X-CVT).
For its class, it offers the greater interior space as well as the biggest boot (504 L). Legroom offered at the rear is nothing less than Nissan Teana and Toyota Camry.
In 2008, the Bluebird Sylphy was offered in the export markets as well as Nissan Sylphy. It is available in South East Asian countries and China.