The Datsun Cherry, and other front wheel drives

Despite the fact that most of us didn't drive a front wheel drive until the early 80's, the technology is not new. Pre WWII Cords were the first real shining American example of Front Wheel Drive but the technology didn't catch on then. In fact, front wheel drive cars weren't common until the 80's in the US, and didn't really come into enthusiast favor until the latest import tuner craze.


1963 Cony


Nissan's first real venture into Front Wheel Drive technology came with the 1965 acquisition of the Aichi Machine Company. Aichi went into business in 1943, and had been producing a front wheel drive mini car called the Cony for several years before being acquired by Nissan. The Cony was a small station wagon, powered by a horizontal 354cc 2 cylinder engine. Nissan toyed with the technology, but didn't come out with its own front wheel drive car until 1970 with the E 10 Cherry.


1970 Cherry GL


Launched in September 1970, the E10 Cherry came in two different power levels, the 988cc base A10 engine good for 58hp, and the 1171cc A12 that pumped out 68 hp. Trim levels included the standard sedan and wagon, the 4 door GL Sedan, and the PE10 X-1 2 and 4 door sedans. The X-1 models got an added boost with the addition of twin Hitachi SU's that pushed horsepower production up to 80hp at 6,400 rpm. A Cherry X-1 1200 Coupe, the KPE10, was added to the line in September 1971.

1970 Cherry X-1
1971 Cherry Coupe
1972 Cherry 1000
1973 Cherry 1200 GL L Coupe


The E10 series Cherry's continued on until September 1974. 11 different Cherry varieties made up the line by then: The 1000, 1000 GL 4 door, the 1000 wagon, the 1000 deluxe Coupe, the 1200 GL, 2 door, 4 door, and Coupe, the X 1 2 door and 4 door sedan, and the Cherry 1200 X-1 and X-1R Coupes. Engine sizes and performance stayed the same.

1974 Cherry FII 1200 GL

The F10 Cherry series began in September 1974. Designated the Cherry FII (F2), or the 1976 F10 later in America. The 988cc engine was gone, with the base being the 1171cc A series, and a new 1397cc engine taking over the top of the power range. Model levels included the standard 2 door sedan, the 1200 deluxe 2 dr, 4dr, station wagon, and Coupe, and the 1200 super station wagon.

1974 Cherry FII 1400 GX
1977 Cherry FII 1400 GX-LT


Next up were the 1200 and 1400 GL models in 2 dr, 4dr, and Coupe and the GX 1400's in 4-door sedan and Coupe. The SU carbs were gone, along with the X-1 models. No major changes happened in the line until February 1977 when the FII 1400 GX-LT (B-PF11) came in with a horsepower boost to 92hp. The line had expanded to 20 versions by then, with the 1400 Twin GX series being the top of the line. The Cherry line continued until July 1978 when it was essentially phased out and replaced by the Pulsar.

1978 1400 TS

1980 1400 TS-E Coupe


The Cherry/Pulsar N series, 310 in America and Cherry in some markets, replaced the Cherry FII as Nissan's front wheel drive. The Pulsar was actually introduced in May of 1978, before the FII Cherry was taken off the market. Initially launched with the 1237cc and 1397cc engines, the Pulsar was available in 1200 Custom, TS, and standard Hatch and 4 door, with one TS coupe model. The 1400 models included the TS, TS-G, TS-X, TS-GE, And TS-XE in 4 door, Hatch, and Coupe body styles. Engine size increased to 1300 and 1500 in March of 1981.

1981 1500 X-E
1982 1300 TS-E

The model line was revised again from April to June of 1982 becoming the N12 series, and began to be sold under the names Pulsar, Cherry, Langley and Liberta Villa. The hatchback version was mated with an Alfa Romeo engine and sold in Italy as the Alfa Romeo Arna. A turbocharged EFI model was even added to the lineup.

1982 1500 GF-E
1982 Langley

A new Nissan was added to the bottom end of the line up just before the end of 1982, the Micra. The Micra became a highly successful car in Europe, with limited sales in Canada, but was not the US. Its 987cc 57 horsepower engine was probably just too light for US buyers, even when mated to supercharger in one model.

Soon most Nissan sedan and economy models would be front wheel drive, as would those of most car makers. Race enthusiasts saw the rise of front wheel drive as the end of the performance sedan. FWD was more fuel efficient, and as the technology improved, better handling than in the early days. Early Cherry E10's amd certain F Series cars have an enthusiast following in Europe and Asia, but the Cherry F10, 310, and Pulsar are all but forgotten in America. The Pulsar did grow up to be the NX2000 and NX1600, but those cars were phased out in America due to a lack of sales. The Micra is still going strong in Europe, and is a very popular car there among Micro Compact owners.

1982 Micra