Datsun 200B

The 180B with 20 percent more sales

WORDS JAMES STANFORD

AH, the Datsun 200B. Must I go on? As with all 12 cars featured this month, it was produced right here in Australia, back in the days when we made things.

The 200B goes down in history as an example of what could go wrong when global vehicles had to be altered to meet the old local content requirements.

The 200B was largely picked on because of the sedan’s locally produced live rear axle made by Borg Warner in Albury. It was fitted in lieu of the Japanese independent rear suspension that made the Datsun 1600 and 180B such awesome rally cars. In all my time at grassroots rallies, I haven’t seen a 200B rally car.

People would laugh and then throw rocks.

I was still filling nappies when the 200B launched at the end of 1977. I missed the launch, of course, but Wheels archives suggest the car was not a steaming turd.

Early on, Datsun offered IRS on the sedan and coupe but the suspension was ill-sorted. Liveaxle versions were introduced in late-78 to increase local content, and testers felt it was actually the better car by far.

Even so, Nissan told Wheels at the launch of the 1980 update that it had “tidied up the vehicle’s characteristics”, including vibration, suspension, steering and brakes.

Despite its imperfections, the dull but dependable 200B was a sales success and even led its class until the Sigma knocked it off at the end of the decade.

AUSSIE PRIDE

The live-axle version handled better than most people think

IT’S A SHAME

One of the most boring cars Australia has ever produced