Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 11th October 2018

Japanese cars are some of the most intriguing and wonderfully weird vehicles on the market. Although the industry started slowly, Japan has become a powerhouse of the automotive world. A lot of success came in the 1970s with a slew of sports cars. A great example of a beautiful Japanese car is the Nissan Violet. Considered one of the rarest cars in Britain today, we’re looking into the Nissan Violet’s history to see how it was made.


The Violet was first built in 1973 and became a smaller version of the Datsun Bluebird 610. Its development allowed Nissan to increase the dimensions of the Bluebird. In Europe, the Violet was billed as the Datsun 140J, while the US version was called the Datsun 510. The Violet came in a variety of models, including a two-door saloon, two-door coupe, estate and four-door fastback.

Nissan’s choice to brand the car under different names was interesting because it suggested the company was trying to appeal to as many people as possible. In the UK, the car went under the Datsun Violet name. The four-door saloon UK version featured a 1428 cc OHC engine. No estate models were offered. There was a lot more variety throughout Europe, with the car having different body styles. The most common European model was the 160J.

In America, the car was sold as the Datsun 510 in an attempt to build on the popularity of the 510 Bluebird. Powered by a 2-litre inline-four L20B engine, the car was available as a two-door sedan, four-door sedan and five-door hatchback.

Racing history

Nissan was keen to expand its influence in the racing world, so the Violet 160J was entered in the World Rally Championship. The car won the Safari Rally in Kenya from 1979 to 1982 consecutively. A Violet also won the 1980 Rally New Zealand and 1981 Rallye Cote d’ivoire.

Today, it’s estimated that there are only six Nissan Violets left in the UK. For a car that was once so widespread it has become a rarity on the road.

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By TTTNIS [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons