A fourth-generation Nissan 200SX surfaced previously in an edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, where its squared-off good looks went up against two other Japanese coupes from 1986. Today, we step back two generations and have a look at an 200SX from the Seventies.
Maybe you can figure out if Datsun achieved what it was aiming for with this design.
The lineage of the 200SX started with a coupe known as Silvia, which was beautifully shaped, largely hand-built, and largely sold within the confines of the Japanese domestic market (less than 60 escaped to other countries.) Sales were an issue, as the original Silvia was about twice as expensive as the closest model in Datsun’s lineup. Between 1965 and 1968, just 554 coupes were produced. Datsun was filled with regret.
Management decided to head a different route with their next Silvia model — a mass-production route. The next car to wear a Silvia badge began production in 1975. It was sportier than the old model, less luxurious, and critically, cheaper.
Datsun selected its new S platform to underpin the second-generation Silvia. The S was a development of the platform found beneath the Sunny, which Americans knew as the B-210. The aim was to give the Silvia some Skyline-adjacent styling, while at the same time steering less traditionally minded customers away from competition at Mazda and Toyota.
Buyers in the Japanese market received the 1.8-liter inline-four engine from the Datsun 610. American models received the requisite large bumpers required by legislation, some 200SX badges in place of the Silvia ones, and a larger 2.0-liter engine from the Japanese market Skyline. Offered in all markets was a three-speed automatic and a five-speed manual.
It turned out a unique looking coupe with fastback styling was not what buyers wanted at the time. North America and other markets alike turned away from the 200SX and its rear leaf springs, instead choosing the Toyota Celica on offer next door.
The second-generation 200SX lasted only through 1979, when it was replaced by a much squarer and more brougham 200SX for 1980. Today’s silver beauty is for sale right now. It asks $6,900 with 125,000 miles and an automatic transmission.