Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
the Datsun 180B was launched (in countries outside Australia it was known as the Datsun Bluebird 810) replacing the Datsun 1600
series. Although similar in concept to the previous model with more Japanese styling the 180B's only similarity was that it shared the L series engine now increased to 1770cc producing 68kw and independent rear suspension
All models, including the four-door sedan, coupe and wagon were launched at the same time. In Australia the 180B was released as a locally assembled 4-door sedan and fully imported coupe. The 180B SSS had a twin carburettors over the other models single that produced 82kW and, in 1975
, was offered with a 5-speed gearbox. In 1974
the 180B was facelifted with a new grille, front wrap-around indicators and revised rear taillights. In 1975 horizontal bars to the front grille replaced the previous styled grille.
The 180B GX
The 180B GX was top-dog in the light-medium Datsun
range. Fully imported, it shared some features with the five-speed SSS coupe introduced to the Australian market in the first quarter of 1975
. The GX took the Japanese custom of comprehensive standard equipment a few steps further than the norm by providing almost every conceivable luxury item as standard equipment.
Mechanically, the GX was unchanged from the more common 180B sedan, using the lusty and well proven 1.8 iitre powerplant and a fully independent rear end which set the 180B apart from most of its contemporaries. Externally, the GX looked little different to the lesser 180B models, with only minor changes to identify it as the flagship of the Datsun 180B range. There was the option of metallic paintwork, which was not available on the locally-assembled 180B’s, but to the casual observer it was difficult to see where the extra money was spent.
Seating, like the coupe model, was cloth and the driver's side incorporated a height adjustment device which did wonders for both under-thigh support and the actual driving position. By tilting the forward edge of the squab upwards in conjunction with adjustment of the backrest, even the tallest drivers were able to achieve an exceptionally comfortable seating position. Shaping of the seats also provided a reasonable amount of lateral support and the cloth covering had the cool-in-summer, warm-in-winter advantages over the normal vinyl materials which were still much the standard fare in most new cars of the 1970s.
Inside the 180B GX
Instrumentation of the GX was basically as per the other 180B models, with an electric clock and temperature and fuel gauges flanking the speedometer, which incorporated an odometer. The glove-box was lockable, and four air vents were situated around the fascia, the central outlets working in conjunction with the heater and the outer two at either end of the dash operating independently and passing fresh cool air only. A rear window heater was also fitted and was controlled by a small tumbler switch to the right of the steering column.
The GX featured generous use of mock wood which also appeared on the floor console containing the gearshift. Datsun persisted with the under-dash pull-out handbrake, which by the mid 1970s was fast losing ground to the much more popular centrally located on-the-floor type. The GX came standard with a four speed manual transmission, the three speed automatic gearbox and air-conditioning being virtually the only options available on the car. But the nature of the 180B was more compatible with a siick four speed shift than with a performance-robbing automatic. Fitted with radial ply Dunlop Aquajets as standard equipment, the Datsun GX encouraged brisk driving, the only drawback to the car's roadholding/handling properties being the insensitive steering which had a characteristic vagueness around the straight-ahead position.
Behind the Wheel
Some road testers even thought that the GX’s handling felt more balanced in the GX than in the beefed-up SSS coupe
model. The sedan may have leant a little more when pressed into a corner, but the amount of understeer was considerably lower and the GX could be positioned in mid-corner more easily with use of the throttle. Performance from the relatively large-capacity overhead cam four placed the Datsun among the front runners in its class, putting down standing 400 metres times In the 18 second bracket and accelerating from 0-100 km/h in 13.2 seconds. The car ran a relatively high rear axle ratio for long-legged highway cruising, but a degree of engine noise did begin to creep into the passenger compartment when cruising near the legal limit. Gear spread was wide enough to allow third gear passing at 100 km/h and the 78 kW engine's torque was sufficient to give relatively strong acceleration from low-rpm situations in the intermediate ratios. It was never a "peaky" engine that demanded constant gearshifts to keep on top of the power band.
Ride quality, with the all-independent suspension, was reasonably compliant even on rough roads, but in typical Datsun fashion, the car somehow felt a little flimsy when being pounded along in the rough. Obviously, this impression was simply an illusion, as Datsuns had long proved how rugged they were in some of the more notorious Australian trial events. Still, to our mind, for ruggedness’ nothing beats the Datsun 1600. Braking in the GX was well controlled by an anti-lock system which brought the rear brakes
into action fractionally slower than the front discs and then modulated the pressure to keep the wheels turning.
Datsun 180B Safety
Body construction incorporated all the then latest safety features like – and for 1975
this meant progressive-crumple impact zones at front and rear, and a strong central passenger cell and safety steering column. The boot incorporated a remotely located fuel tank, well out of the way In the event of a rear end collision, but the safety-orientated design meant the boot had a high lip which made for awkward loading of heavy suitcases, etc. Naturally, the GX's boot was equipped with an automatic light - as were all four doors. The quality of finish on the 180B GX was faultless - particularly the metallic paintwork - but there was of course the usual 1970s Japanese obsession with tacky plastic trim and fancy scrollwork on the inside of the doors.
The money would have been better spent on fitting a day/night rearview mirror, or even a central rear armrest. They didn’t – but the GX was still a very well equipped car. The 180B GX led the opposition on a price / equipment and even behind the wheel criteria, and at A$3900 (approx 1975 cost) it was bloody good value. It was followed in late 1975
by the fully
imported station wagon. In 1976
bumper overriders were introduced.
sedan models were available in Deluxe and GL while the
coupe was the 180B SSS