Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Potential of "My Car"

What a car. 30-plus years later, thousands of owners are still talking about the Datsun 1200. Sure, back then it was basic transportation and viewed by many as only a get-me-by until a person could afford a "bigger, better" car. But Nissan really outdid itself with a timeless design and good engineering.

The other subcompacts have come and gone. Chevy's Vega (millions sold) are history. Most rusted out during the eighties if not sooner. Ford's Pinto (millions sold) lasted longer but are now history. But the 'lil Datsun 1200 (10s of thousands sold) commands a rabid following out of proportion to its sales figures.

Maybe it was all the races the 1200 won. For rallycross, it was really the car to beat until the mid-90s. It won many SCCA road racing events. And a modified 1200 was the fastest of the "Fast and Furious" cars in its class at the 2003 NOPI races.

The second-generation of the Sunny car line (that ushered in the "my car" era in Japan) is still loved by those who 1) love cars, who don't view cars primarily as transportation 2) who've driven 1200s for enough time to realize how good they were and 3) appreciate the more simple and direct excitement of a real car -- no radios, carpet, leather seats and power windows and other luxuries. Just pure driving enjoyment.


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