Nissan Cedric Y30 Hardtop 1984

Japan, 1960, Nissan company office. The leaders of the automotive business are brainstorming ideas on how to compete with competitors in the business sedan field, which were simply sedans at that time. The focus is on capturing market share from Prince Skyline and Gloria. There is tension in the air in Japan and many people are smoking. Beads of sweat roll down the responsible designer’s forehead as he suggests different options. In contrast, the executive director remains composed and confidently looks the engineer in the eye. After describing the features of the model, there is a pause and the name “Cedric” is announced. 20 seconds pass without objections to the name. The chief designer can breathe a sigh of relief – the decision has been made and the new model will soon be on the assembly line. Of course, this is my fiction, but something similar could have indeed happened at Nissan in 1960 when the decision was made to start production of the new Cedric model. It successfully competed with the Prince models until Nissan simply acquired Prince in 1966 and shifted its focus entirely to the Toyota Crown.

After the consolidation of automakers, Nissan’s lineup included 3 potentially similar models: Skyline, Gloria and Cedric. It was decided that Skyline would be the sportier model, a coupe version with Gloria being the sportier version of Cedric and Cedric itself representing the most comfortable family sedan. The evolution continued until, ten generations later in 2004, Nissan decided to discontinue both Gloria and Cedric models and replace them with Fuga. It is interesting to note that the Y31 body style, the 7th version of the car, was produced until 2015 for taxi purposes – it had so much in common with its direct competitor, the Crown.

The car in the photograph is the predecessor of the long-lived Cedric Y30, which was in production from 1983 to 1987. The new car’s design was an evolution from the previous model, featuring a similar radiator grille slightly extending onto the hood, headlights and slanted turn signals elegantly transitioning from the front of the car to the side fenders. The body styles included a 4-door hardtop, sedan and station wagon, representing the Japanese ideal. The car was not a copy of American or any other Japanese models; it had its unique and attractive design. Regarding the Americans: the emblem that the car received to differentiate it as a premium model from the Nissan brand was initially copied from Lincoln but was later modified with two straight angles slightly shifted from each other. It was all accidental yet intentional.

In collaboration with Alfa Romeo, the VG series engines were introduced – V6 engines with a displacement of 2 (VG20E and VG20ET) and 3 (VG30E and VG30ET) liters, additionally equipped with a turbocharger. The focus was not only on increasing power, although moving the not so lightweight sedan required something powerful, but also on reducing harmful emissions. Japanese automakers paid taxes based on this parameter and manufacturers tried to attract buyers by being more environmentally friendly. This car was equipped with the VG20ET engine, delivering between 155 to 170 horsepower depending on the market. Its notable feature was the wastegate valve, which remained closed at low speeds and opened with increasing speed and engine revs, providing an additional torque at low revs, a feature missing in the short-stroke low-displacement engine. For taxi purposes, a diesel inline six LD28 engine was installed, known from various models of the Japanese automaker. The transmissions could be either 3 or 4-speed automatic or 4 or 5-speed manual as always.

The hardtop had an interesting feature: the front seat belts had an additional attachment point on the roof due to the absence of a central pillar, but this attachment could be removed. The seat belt itself remained functional, wrapping around the front passenger at a slightly different angle, allowing the front seat with the headrest removed to be fully folded. This provided excellent visibility for the rear passenger through the front, side and rear windows.

Cedric was to compete with the dominating luxury executive cars from Germany in the 80s: Mercedes and BMW. In addition to the standard features for this class such as air conditioning, power steering, tinted windows, stereo system and more, the car received the optional Super Sonic Suspension, which was previously mentioned. In short, this marvel of engineering could literally anticipate road bumps using sonar sensors and prepare the adjustable shock absorbers in advance. Add to this the visibility and spaciousness of the hardtop we discussed earlier and you can imagine the satisfied faces of the designers saying, “Your move, Mercedes.”

Needless to say, the interior was finished with velour. Apart from the seats, which had no hint of a sporty element, even the door panels were made soft. The dashboard did not feature any extravagant elements, but the instrument panel lighting was yellow, perhaps as a nod to the ‘Germans’. The number of configurations was truly vast, offering additional comfort for the rear passenger beyond the basic functions: stereo control, climate control and more.

Did Cedric win from the point of view of the originality of design and the overall impression? Possibly. Especially over the years. However, there was no sensation on the global market and Cedric, in our view, remained a somewhat underrated model that only now can receive its share of admiration for its frameless doors and lack of a central pillar. Well, thank you for still encountering such cars in a live and original condition.

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