Welcome to today’s Edition of the Rising Sun-Day, where I look at TLV’s rendition of one of the last great Japanese Land Yachts - the C231 Nissan Laurel.
The third generation appeared in January 1977. For the first time, the C230 was available in either saloon and hardtop coupé form, but also as a hardtop saloon without B-posts. Buyers could choose between a 1.8-litre four, a 2.0-litre inline-six (carburetted or fuel-injected, a first for the Laurel), and a 2.6l inline-six.
The car here is the 2.o litre “six” - with the fuel injection, so not quite the top of the line model. The C231 appeared in the autumn of 1978 as a mild facelift, marked visually by squared instead of round double headlights. “Comfort was prioritized over handling and agility”, Wikipedia notes. And if you have ever driven one of these or a similar one, you know this is quite the understatement.
Outside of Japan, buyers were attracted to the Laurel for its overall reliability, low price, and ample equipment. But a Japanese Luxury sedan was still seen as an oddity, and that slightly Americanized design didn’t help much in the European market.
In 1980, the C231 was replaced by the “C31" Laurel, which looked at lot more like an Opel Senator than anything from the USA. But it still took a few more years a lot of marketing effort before Japanese luxury sedans were taken seriously in Export markets. I think Toyota and their Lexus brand were the ones to change that,
TLV have done a fine job with this one, and I really can’t fault it with anything much at all, But I would really love to see one of those rather quirky 4-Door Hardtop versions in their line-up, like this pre-facelift version. Yup, make mine brown.