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[Datsun 1200 encyclopedia]


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Category: Magazine Articles

Road & Track magazine September 1970, "&" monthly column




New Models

THIS FALL'S PARADE of new offerings is led, of course, by the Pinto and Vega. Meanwhile, the Great Big American cars will keep on getting bigger—their sales will probably decline further—and there are some new variations on the established "compacts" as well as some new import lines. For 1971 all cars sold in California must meet the new limit on emission of oxides of nitrogen—grams per mile—and this is being done generally by extra retardation of ignition at very low car speeds. Also, for 1971 the systems for control of fuel evaporation from fuel tanks and carburetors, required in California in 1970, are mandatory nationwide.

[cut: information about new Mercury Comet]

Datsun's 1-liter car, the Sunny, came out four years ago. The new 1200 is the latest version of it; its completely restyled body bears a family resemblance to the 510. Other body styles are available in the home market and there it's still called Sunny, but for the U.S. market it will be called 1200 and only the 2-door sedan and coupe will be available. Similar in size, style, price and specification to the Toyota Corolla, the 1200 is a front-engine, rear-drive car with an 1171-cc pushrod four developing 69 bhp. Top speed is 90 mph, according to the maker, and prices are $1736 for sedan, $1866 for the coupe. Eventually the Datsun 1200 will be competing with the upgraded and restyled Corolla, described in August R&T.
7988.jpgAlbum 7988

[cut: information on new, larger 1971 Mercury Cougar] ¤


"This fall's parade" refers to the new model year introduction that occurs every October.

The Pinto and Vega were American-designed sub-compacts created to counter the emerging growth of the import cars. Meaning the Volkswagen Beetle -- Japanese cars were not taken seriously yet by Detroit. They were very popular, outselling the Japanese "tin cans" by 30:1. By the end of the decade of experience, the tin cans gained a reputation of reliability and Detroit gained a reputation of junk.

The Ampersand column was written in 1970, back when fuel was cheap and the vast American highways favored large luxurious cars. Japanese car virtues would not be fully recognized until the Fuel Crisis of 1973.


The Ford Pinto debuted 1970 as an American-built car -- notwithstanding Ford of Europe's already successful Escort which was rejected by Detroit management in favor of a Detroit-designed car. The Pinto was very successful, although too heavy resulting in poor fuel economy it vastly outsold the Japanese cars on the strength of American style and marketing.

400px-Ford_Pinto.jpgWIKI go to Wikipedia


The Chevrolet Vega, a Datsun 1200-sized car (sub-compact) was introduced in America in 1970.

400px-1971_Chevrolet_Vega_Coupe.jpgWIKI go to Wikipedia

The Vega was hugely popular, with fantastic styling (a mini-Camaro). Unfortunately, Detroit's cost-cutting cheapness applied to Vega's radical technology (aluminum block, advanced [non-]rust proofing) doomed it. Still it had eight very successful years dominating the small-car market in America.


For a comparison of the Datsun 1200 to the Toyota Corolla, see our article Corolla.


For 1971 in USA, the Datsun 1200 use an open-chamber cylinder head (reducing power by 1hp). The distributor timing was already reduced (5 degrees BTDC instead of rest-of-world 7 degrees BTDC). Datsun called their methods of controlling engine combustion pollution in the 1200 by the term CRANK.

For 1971 all cars sold in California must meet the new limit on emission of oxides of nitrogen—grams per mile—and this is being done generally by extra retardation of ignition at very low car speeds.

NOx - Oxides if Nitrogen, one of the main types of automobile exhaust pollution. NOx creates smog and acid rain and irritates the lungs. See Vehicle_emissions_control#Types_of_emissions at Wikipedia.

NOTE: California is the only state permitted to issue emissions standards under the federal Clean Air Act, and being the biggest economy in USA it means automakers build to suit California emissions. Datsun coded this as "V" (California market).


See EVAP at Wikipedia

Evaporative emissions are the result of gasoline vapors escaping from the vehicle's fuel system. Since 1971, all U.S. vehicles have had fully sealed fuel systems. Datsun called this EVAPO


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