Somewhere over the RainbowSomewhere over the RainbowJapanese cars have long been denominated as bread and butter vehicles. Bit by bit car enthousiasts start to take interest in the last remaining examples. Martin Philippo went out and found us one.

Some cars are born icons. Their pedigree renowned or packed with thoroughbred sports car DNA. Other automobiles need to perform to get a status like that. Win races, appear in blockbuster movies or simply become the everyday transport of the masses. Above all they need to survive! Products of the Japanese car industry always came with an additional handicap. Besides their home market, car manufacturers from the land of the rising sun mainly built cars for export to Europe and North America. Products leaning heavily on European design and American style. Well equipped, cheap and reliable, they entered into the heavy competition with the established names.

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the RainbowThe Nissan Bluebird is one of those. As early as 1957 Nissan, still exporting under the Datsun brand name, introduces the Bluebird. From the beginning the Bluebirds are known as reliable mid size cars. Generation after generation flood the roads of the west, until finally we reach 1985 with the T12 range, subject of this article. Our hero being a 1988 hatchback model, with real carburetors that made the car drive way more agreeable and economical than with the also available Bosch injection system. It is a car that, when new in the showroom, didn’t rise many eyebrows. Japanese cars were being thought of as dreary, not by far as exciting as for instance their Italian counterparts. They were everyday tools, being used until it was no longer economical to have them repaired and they simply disappeared into recycling. Only a few survived and found their way to a caring enthousiast.

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the RainbowNowadays the older Japanese car is finally getting the attention it deserves. Especially the younger car enthousiast recognises these survivors as icons. Knows how to value these grey masses from the streets of their youth. Rens Breedt Bruijn is one of those enthousiasts. He is someone that lives and breaths Nissan. That all started when his grandfather bought a first Datsun in the eighties. Followed by a Cherry that still survives in the family even today. That particular car is the very first car Rens is allowed to wash and shine at age 12. Meanwhile his dad drove a Bluebird. With many thanks to Rens, who even managed to persuade his parents to stick to the brand, when his dad ogled the all new, much roomier Ford Mondeo at one time.

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the RainbowYears later Rens starts looking for exactly that model of Bluebird his father used to have. Them being the last of the Bluebirds with that old fashioned styling with lots of chrome and beefy wheel arches. The station wagon in particular is what he fancies, but they prove hard to find. One of the dealers he asked to keep an eye out for one of these cars returns with the address of a barn where a hatchback model has been hidden for over ten years. Under a pile of dust and in a dubious state, but completely original and a first owner car. Rens recognises the promise the car offers and buys it. The hatchback is completely refreshed and fitted with original options. From that moment on it is Bluebird forever, treasuring the car, using it mainly for trips and vacations.

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the RainbowRens is one of these men that honour the Japanese mid size car, caring for the part in our mobile heritage these cars have. Once an article of mass production, forgotten over the years, but now revived in full glory. Long live Rens and long live the Nissan Bluebird!
Martin Philippo