One of my favourite ever Nissan’s is the first generation of Laurel, the C30 model launched in ‘68. This mildly modified Laurel saloon currently listed on Yahoo! Japan Auctions is a ‘71 model but aside from some very minor changes to the trim, these cars stayed virtually the same throughout production until they were replaced with the C130 Laurel (200L in Europe) in 1972.
There were only two variants of the C30, the four door saloon seen above and a sleek two door hardtop which arrived in 1970. The latter was Nissan’s first hardtop model.
The C30 Laurels run the Prince Motor Company (PMC) designed G series, single overhead cam, cross-flow engine and pretty much the same independent rear suspension as the Datsun 510 Bluebird. Up front they ride on a similar front suspension set-up to the 240Z with rearward tension/compression rods to clear the steering rack. Yes, a rack! In fact, this was the only Nissan apart from the Z to have rack and pinion steering, the rest having the more conventional recirculating ball steering box arrangement. Most saloons have a single carb 1815cc G18 engine but late saloons and the hardtops have the larger 1990cc G20 unit (with twin SU carbs on the hardtop). These engine gave pretty decent power for their day with the G18 putting down a robust 105hp (SAE) and the G20 up to 124hp (SAE) in twin carb form. All models came equipped with a choice of a four speed manual or an automatic transmission.
The C30’s relative sophistication compared to other mid 1960’s Nissans like the ultra-conventionally engineered 411 Bluebird serves to illustrate the immense technical leap the company took after they absorbed Prince Motor Company in 1966. It’s most likely that the bulk of the C30 design was done by Prince engineers either prior to, or immediately after the merger as the model was more in keeping with the Prince design ethos. Close examination of a C30 shows a curious mix of conventional Nissan thinking and PMC high tech. The car’s structure is quite unlike it’s Nissan stablemates, even though the actual styling is very similar to that of the slightly smaller Datsun 510 Bluebird. Inside the car is well appointed, plushly upholstered and has the feel of a small executive car.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to drive a very nice example of the C30 saloon a few years back and found it to be a real pleasure. The ride quality from the four wheel independent suspension is great, the steering direct and the 1815cc G18 engine was plenty brisk enough to make it feel like a much more modern car. I did own a UK spec C30 (badged as a ‘Datsun 1800′) for a while but it needed serious work to get it roadworthy again so I reluctantly passed it on. That was a tough choice is it was almost certainly the only C30 left in the UK. If I had the opportunity to import an old Nissan from Japan I’d definitely go for a C30.