Most of you will probably have no idea about the existence of this car. Not unless you had your driving test back in the 70s and 80s or some relative had one previously. But 2 decades before our roads had any red Kancils with an “L” plate, the Datsun 1200 B110 was almost as common as both generations of Toyota Vios put together today.
Better known as the 1200 or “for-chai-hup” for matchbox in Cantonese due to its boxy outlook, it was sold between 1970 and 1976. Most that found homes were 4-door saloons although there was also a handful of 2-door pickups and 4-door stationwagons. Rather unique for its time was the additional triangular twist-windows on the front doors which directs air into the cabin while moving forwards. This made it a tad obsolete since the equivalent KE20 Toyota Corolla, A70 Mitsubishi Lancer and Mazda 1000/1200 have already ditched it for a 1-piece door window used till today.
Apart from Datsun’s excellent fuel efficient and tiniest maintenance reputation, its larger body than the Toyota and Mazda spelled more practicality and comfort for 5 passengers, thus making it among the best sellers for families. Like most cars of that era, the cushion and dashboard came wrapped in black PU styled elephant hide. This made them very durable from spills and stains, but also very hot if the car was under the sun for some time. Mind you, those were the days when in-car air conditioning was really a luxury and window tints were unheard of. Early models featured a single rectangular shaped meter panel with a wide speedometer before it was replaced by 3 circular binnacles.
Unlike present cars, the petrol tank was located between the rear seats and luggage space. Despite this and a full sized spare wheel underneath the boot floor, there was still enough space for a week’s groceries or luggage for family’s weekend holiday.