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Cold Start: American Cosplay

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Ever heard of the Nissan Laurel? These came out in the late ’60s, and shared a lot with the Skyline. By the 1970s, they had started to feel quite distinctly American. I especially like this version, a 1978 one, that shows a lot of influence from cars like the Ford Torino, with that big, raked C-pillar.

The mix of very American styling and proportions with Japanese detailing and design vocabulary (that front end, the wing mirrors, those color-coordinated hubcaps) is really a fantastic combination.

Also, the coupé version had the nickname Butaketsu, which translates to “fat butt,” so you have to love that, right? I mean, I can not lie.

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27 Responses

    1. Part of that is that this is the facelifted model with a late ’70s/early ’80s-style nose on a late ’60s/early’70s looking body. That happened down under a lot because it took them a long time to amortize production tooling with their relatively small market.

  1. I do like it and the color is very 70s.

    I am curious for those have driven with the mirrors that far forward. Can you see anything with them? Are the the adjust, then drive or there some sort of control in the cabin?

    1. They are not only a Japanese thing – European cars used to have them as well. Adjust by hand, jump in the drivers seat, check view. Jump out, re-adjust, rinse and repeat. None of that luxury remote adjustment malarkey!

      Of course if you have friends or children, you can get them to do the adjusting while you sit inside.

    2. The forward mirrors take some getting used to. When I lived in Japan as a young lad, what I thought was neat was the taxi’s (and some personal cars) which had 2 mirrors on the fender: one to look behind, and another angled so driver could just nose out of an alley and check traffic to the right. Odd-looking, but often needed

  2. I love Laurels, I even have one. A C130 butaketsu coupe or C230 hardtop like the one in the article pic are dream cars of mine but nice examples of them go for big money in Japan. A nicely restored butaketsu will run you in the neighborhood of 100k USD before you even get it out of Japan.

    Mine is a 91 and even then it still feels like an odd mix of American and European cars. It has a small inline 6 that redlines at 7500 RPM paired to a manual trans like you’d expect to find in some Euro sedan but cushy red velour seats that wouldn’t look out of place in a Crown vic. They even kept the pillarless hardtop style until the generation after my car came out in the mid 90s. I have a pic of it set as the banner pic for my profile on here.

    The Nissan Cedric/Gloria is another of my favorites of the Japanese domestic market cars that look American, especially the 230-430 generations of Cedric/Gloria. In my opinion, the 230 Cedric coupe looks miles better than any of the bigger personal luxury coupes America was putting out in the 70s

  3. For a country who’s auto industry built their reputation on doing the polar opposite of whatever was going on in Detroit in the ’70s and ’80s, they did seem to like cribbing styling cues, especially on luxury and sports models. Didn’t Nissan also do JDM wagons with Town & Country-style fake wood paneling ?

    1. They did, at least on the 210 & early Maxima wagons.

      I replied earlier with a couple links to Old Parked Cars dot com pages that feature wood-grain examples of those two, but that comment is apparently still stuck in moderation (because of the links? IDK.).

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