Tuesday July 2, 2019
‘It gets a lot of attention believe me - most people do not even know what it is! All I get is “ what is it?’ – to which Stuart Scrivens replies, ‘it’s a Datsun 100A’. Memories so easily fade, but in the 1970s, the Cherry was often the first Japanese car acquired by a British motorist who previously drove a Mini or an Austin 1100.
The 100A was originally the idea of the Prince Motor Corporation, who were acquired by Nissan in 1966. Four years later the Cherry became the first FWD car to bear the Datsun badge, which featured on UK export models until 1982.
Its lines bore unmistakable US overtones ( American popular culture heavily impacted on Japan since the late 1940s) and from certain angles, the Cherry resembled a scaled-down Plymouth. The saloons featured all-independent suspension – the estate had a beam axle at the rear - and the power plant was a 998cc OHV unit. A very attractive Coupe joined the line-up in 1973.
British market sales commenced in July 1971 and when Autocar evaluated an early two-door the price was a very keen £776.13. For an additional £34 you could specify the De Luxe version, with front disc brakes, carpets, hazard warning lamps and reversing lights. The scribe concluded that in many ways the Cherry was ‘an impressive piece of engineering’.
It should not be forgotten that taking delivery of a new 100A some 48 years ago would inevitably prompt bouts of curtain-twitching and mutterings from certain Ena Sharples-style neighbours. ‘That flash type at number 23 has bought one of those foreign cars’, they would inform all and sundry in the queue at the Wavy Line supermarket, which at least made a change from grumbling about their ‘extravagance’ in having a colour television set.
But the Cherry owner did not care as he or she prided in their reliable, well-appointed small car that boasted a certain stylistic flair – and was great fun to drive. In 1972 Car tested the 100A opposite the intriguing line-up of the Hillman Avenger 1250, the Renault 6 and the Simca 1000.
They concluded ‘if you need a sporting four-door, four-seater the Datsun is an obvious choice for it does everything con brio, albeit with a dash of noisiness to let you know it is working hard’.
100A production ceased in 1977, having proved instrumental in transforming British attitudes towards imported vehicles. There was a new generation of consumers who cared less for the origins of car and more for the value for money it offered. Stuart’s car is one of the last generation to be sold in the UK, and he is only its second owner. He also has an archive of paperwork including ‘the original bill of sale and all the MOTs’.
Mr. Scrivens has owned the 100A for ‘about five years now it’, and he remarks that before he became its custodian, he attended classic events for the previous three decades but had ‘never seen one at any show’. And today SGW 842 R is a reminder that when Datsun UK advised British motorists to ‘Get With The Action!’ – thousands did.
With Thanks To Stuart Scrivens
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