1 Oct 1977
Five models – comprising three four-door sedans (Deluxe, GL and GX), an SSS two-door coupe and a four-door Deluxe wagon – made up the new P810-series 200B range.
Besides an all-new body and interior, the Datsun featured a bigger engine (now a 70kW/152Nm 2.0-litre OHC four-cylinder unit known as the L20B unit) but the same four-speed manual or three-speed automatic gearboxes.
The SSS’s five-speed gearshift featured an unusual “dogleg” first.
From the beginning however, despite the independent rear suspension in the sedan and coupe, widespread criticism about its regressive heavy-handed styling, lacklustre performance, mediocre handling and ride and pressing refinement issues led some to dub the 200B as “20 more mistakes than the 180B.” And sales suffered, especially as the acclaimed Honda Accord and Chrysler GE Sigma also launched in 1977 raised expectations for Japanese cars.
The sporty 200B SX from mid-’78 added alloy wheels, a front and rear spoiler, special paintwork, tachometer and a fancy interior, but no extra performance despite a firmer suspension makeover.
To meet local content requirements, the fully imported independent suspension disappeared from the Australian-built sedans for a live-axle set-up in late ’78, not helping the 200B’s reputation.
The slow-selling SSS coupe disappeared by mid-’79 while the wagon switched to GL and GX denominations.
The 200B’s 1980 facelift brought new trim inside and out, improved refinement and specifications and the deletion of the Deluxe.
There was a special edition Aspen sedan while the first dedicated LPG model manufactured in Australia was also introduced.
Conceived during the second fuel crisis but launched after it, the 200B LPG struggled to find buyers. Its P910 Bluebird replacement could not come soon enough for Datsun.