Wednesday December 12, 2018
“I’ve always been a Japanese car guy. My first car was a 1983 Suzuki SJ410, and I have had a 1985 Mazda 323 RWD estate, Suzuki SC100 and 1998 Subaru Impreza etc. I had been looking for a large classic Japanese estate car for a while and when I saw the Cedric, I had to get it”.
Those are the words of James Railton, the proud owner of one of the most exclusive cars you are likely to encounter in the UK. From virtually every angle, a 130-series Cedric station wagon is a vehicle with industrial levels of style, and sheer charisma - and its owner was so determined to acquire one, he drove his estate back from Finland. In December…
Nissan introduced the 130 as the second incarnation of the Cedric in early 1966, and in its homeland it was widely seen as a taxi, police car or middle-class transport par excellence. The bodywork was by Pininfarina. In 1967 the Mk. II version no longer used the Cedric badge in overseas markets as the response was often one of incredulity and/or laughter.
In January 1971 the final Mk. Vs were succeeded by the 230-series. One of the company’s major export markets was Australia (not least because Japan drives on the left) where the Cedric was a serious rival to the Holden, Valiant and Falcon.
The fascinating website www.datsuncars.co.uk points out that the major Japanese firms also targeted countries that lacked an indigenous motor industry – “Greece and Norway were earliest European importers of Datsuns, again due to their lack of naturalised car companies and the extremes in climates which allowed for long term durability and reliability”. Another important market was Finland but when the Railton Cedric arrived at the showroom in 1970 it was to remain there for another two years.
A sale was finally made in 1972 and the 130’s first owner kept the estate for two decades. In 1992 the Nissan commenced a ten-year stint as a rally support vehicle but by 2006 the Cedric was ‘a basket case’. Happily, it underwent a complete restoration and returned to the road in 2008.
James points out that his car originally had a “manual four speed column shift with drum brakes all round and the 2 litre ‘six’. It is now an auto with four-wheel disc brakes, a 2.6 ‘six’, power steering and an electric sunroof from a Mercedes 190; all mods done by the guy who restored it”.
And in December 2017 James acquired the Cedric and drove it back to the West Midlands. He still has “a few jobs still to do like putting in a headlining etc.” but the Nissan is now UK registered and poised to amaze all who encounter it. James is unlikely to hear the familiar line “my dad/mum/neighbour had one of those” for the very good reason that very few 130s were seen on British roads.
The saloon was not offered here after 1968, the first year of official Datsun sales, and although the wagon was available until late 1971 it did not tempt many ‘business executives’ away from their Triumph 2000 Estates. Today, James remarks that “most guess it's American - it does have a three-quarter size Yank vibe. Then they read the front badge where it says Nissan’”.
To appreciate the scale of James’s dedication the distance between Tohmajärvi in Eastern Finland and Dudley is approximately 2,077 miles. “It was pretty chilly although when I got back to the UK it actually felt colder than it had in Finland a few days earlier. The car itself was nice and warm inside at least”. The fact that the Cedric Station Wagon is now British registered and ready to cause a sensation at any classic show or even garage forecourt, is a testament to Mr. Railton. Or as he modestly puts it – “I do like obscure cars”.
With thanks to: James Railton