Nissan Vanette

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For the vehicle of the same name in Europe, see Nissan Serena.

The Nissan Vanette is a cabover van produced by the Japanese automaker Nissan since 1978. The van has also been sold as the Nissan Sunny-Vanette or Nissan Van. There was formerly a separate model sold in Europe under the same name, however it was unrelated instead being based on the Nissan Serena. The passenger version is called the Vanette in most markets, and came equipped with multiple engine and drivetrain configurations.

2WD and 4WD versions were produced, with manual, automatic, floor and column shift options available. While no longer produced for the Japanese market, it was still available in other markets around the world such as Malaysia.[1] Production ended around 2010, eventually being replaced by the Nissan NV200.[2]

Eventually, the car was replaced by a version of the Mazda Bongo (or E-series), sold as the Nissan Vanette under an OEM deal.

First generation (C120; 1978–1988)[edit]

Datsun Vanette (C120)
Also called
  • Datsun Vanette
  • Nissan Cherry Vanette
  • Nissan Sunny Vanette
Production 1978–1988
Assembly Oppama Plant, Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan
Body and chassis
Body style
Layout MR layout
  • 4-speed manual
  • 3-speed automatic
  • 2,075 mm
  • 2,405 mm (LWB)[3]
  • 3,900–3,930 mm
  • 4,230 mm (LWB)
  • 4,270 mm (LWB truck)[3]
  • 1,600–1,605 mm[3]
  • 1,695 mm (Vanette Largo)
  • 1,755–1,795 mm
  • 1,965–1,985 mm (high roof)[3]
Curb weight 865–1,050 kg (1,907–2,315 lb)

Introduced in October 1978 as a replacement for the 1969 Nissan Cherry Cab/Sunny Cab C20,[4] the first Vanette was exported as the Datsun C20 (later the Nissan C20) or as the Nissan Datsun Vanette (later the Nissan Vanette). In the home market it was initially marketed as either the 'Nissan Sunny Vanette' or the 'Nissan Cherry Vanette', depending on the distribution network, although in engineering terms it borrowed heavily from the rear-wheel drive generations of the Sunny line—in particular the B210 and B310 series models, with which it shared engines and transmissions. The Sunny Vanette was sold through Nissan Satio Store and the Cherry Vanette was sold through Nissan Cherry Store locations. These two models had somewhat differing front-end treatment. In March 1980 a Datsun Vanette version was also added, sold through the 'Bluebird' dealer network. The Datsun Vanette received twin headlights, while its related models had single headlights. It was a junior model to the larger Nissan Caravan.

Initially it was available in three lines: a truck version, vans (usually with passenger accommodation), and as a 9-seat minibus (Vanette Coach). The Coach received a 1.4 L (1,397 cc) A14 four cylinder, producing 75 PS (55 kW) at 5,400 rpm. The van and truck versions originally had to make do with the lesser A12 of 1.2 L (1,171 cc) and 64 PS (47 kW) at the same engine speed.[5] Later, the 1400 engine became available in Van and Truck versions as well. In July 1979 a high-roof version was added, as well as a long wheelbase van and ten-seater Coach version. This was stretched by 33 cm between the front and side doors, LWB versions were never available with the A12 engine. Some versions received separate air conditioning outlets for the rear.

Nissan Vanette (C120, Malaysia).

In June 1980 the Coach version changed from the A14 to the larger (1,487 cc) A15 engine, offering 83 PS (61 kW).[4] There was also a luxurious SGL version of the Vanette Coach added, with an available sunroof and swivelling captain's chairs in the rear – both firsts for the segment in Japan. To indicate its luxurious nature, the SGL received double square headlights for a more modern appearance. In June 1981 the LD20 diesel engine was added, as was a 2-litre gasoline version (Z20) for the top-of-the-line SGX version.[4]

In October 1982, minor changes occurred (along with the introduction of the bigger "Largo"). The dashboard was redesigned, while the base 'CT' model received front disc brakes, the optional air conditioning system was modernized, and an inexpensive 'FL' Coach version was added. In October 1983 a DX-A version was added, followed by modifications to the transmission carried out in August 1985. The next month, production of Van and Coach models ended as they were replaced by the C22 Vanette. The truck versions of the C120 Vanette remained in production (with light modifications carried out in August 1986) until September 1988.[4]

Vanette Largo[edit]

The Vanette Largo (GC120) was introduced in October 1982 and was a wider (by 90 mm, to stay just beneath the important Japanese 1,700 mm tax threshold) and somewhat longer version. This was then developed into a cargo version built in Spain (by Nissan Ibérica), called the Nissan/Datsun Vanette Cargo. This largely supplanted the smaller Vanette versions in European markets. Engines were the A15 and Z20 gasoline versions, accompanied by the diesel LD20 (also available turbocharged). The Spanish-built versions were originally intended to be built with a Spanish-made Perkins diesel motor but this did not materialize.[6] There was a minibus 'Coach' version of the Largo as well, with a luxurious "Grand Saloon" version topping the range.

Nissan Vanette Largo (C220, EU-spec)

The Vanette Largo continued in production until a GC22 successor arrived, in May 1986. From this point the Vanette name was dropped and the Largo became a separate, more luxurious model in its own right. In the Japanese market, the C120 vehicle was either marketed as the Datsun Vanette Largo or as a Nissan with the Cherry and Sunny prefixes. The Spanish C220 received a facelift and continued to be built into the 1990s, and was mostly sold in markets which hindered the import of Japanese-built vehicles.

Second generation (C22; 1985–1994)[edit]

1988–1994 Nissan Vanette (C22)


An enlarged version similar to the US market Nissan Van was again sold in Japan as the Largo, until 1992 when the Serena-based Nissan Largo was launched.

Nissan Largo Super Saloon (C22).

United States[edit]

The Nissan C22 was modified for the United States market to compete with the similar sized Toyota Van and Mitsubishi Van, and to join the growing minivan market in the USA. This van was sold as the "Nissan Van" in the USA from 1987 to 1990. Nissan had to engineer its larger 2.4 liter Z24i engine into the C22 in order to handle American requirements such as air conditioning. The C22 was not originally designed for such a large engine, and the resulting tight quarters would later contribute to overheating and engine fire issues.[citation needed]

In 1994, after four safety recalls did not end the engine fire problems, and with a class action lawsuit pending,[citation needed] Nissan took the unprecedented step of recalling every Nissan Van sold in the USA.[7] Van owners were offered Kelly Blue Book value or more for their van,[8] and most accepted, but a few opted to keep their vans.[9] The class-action settlement offered discounts on the purchase of a new Nissan vehicle.[10] The vehicles which were recalled were crushed en masse.[8]

So as to continue offering a minivan in North America, Nissan parternered with the Ford Motor Company and introduced the Nissan Quest, replacing the Nissan Van in 1992.


The C22 Nissan Vanette was built in Malaysia at the Tan Chong assembly plant in Segambut (Kuala Lumpur) until 2010.[11] After 13 years in production, it was the longest running model built in Malaysia.[2] There was a chassis cab, a truck, a panel van, and a window van version. Malaysian Vanettes have the venerable 1.5 liter pushrod A15 engine, with 82 PS (60 kW). While it has had a few facelifts over the years, the basic body was still the same. The 1980s interior is still intact.[1] Malaysia was the only place where the Vanette was built for many years, being exported from there to many other markets. After a brief hiatus, it was replaced by the Nissan NV200, which retains the "Vanette" name in the Malaysian market.[2]


The Nissan Vanette was available in the Philippines until the end of 1999 as the Nissan Vanette Grand coach. In its final version it remains essentially the same Vanette as in previous years except for a different wheel design, upgraded seat materials and a faux wood trim dashboard. The sole engine available is the Z20 2.0 liter gasoline engine. Unlike in other Asian countries, no diesel variant was offered or available. That was an oversight on Nissan's part that could have made the difference in the van's popularity.


The C22 Vanette also provides the basis for Ashok Leyland's "Dost", the Indian truck manufacturer's first entry into this market segment.

Third generation (S20, SE, SK; 1994–1999)[edit]

1994–1999 Nissan Vanette (S20).

A badge engineered Mazda Bongo, also rebadged as Ford Econovan and Ford Spectron.

Fourth generation (S21, SK; 1999–2011)[edit]

1999–2011 Nissan Vanette (S21).

A badge engineered Mazda Bongo/Ford Econovan. The successor of the Vanette van is Nissan NV200 Vanette.


  1. ^ a b "Nissan C22 Vanette: C22 Chassis Cab". Nissan Malaysia. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. 
  2. ^ a b c "Nissan NV200 Vanette Panel Van". Motor Trader: Car News. Malaysia: PROTO Malaysia Sdn Bhd. 2012-02-19. 
  3. ^ a b c d Nissan Cherry Vanette 1400/1200 (catalog) (in Japanese), Nissan Motor Co, pp. 21–22, 9071H 
  4. ^ a b c d Car Archives Vol. 11, '80s Japanese Cars. Car Graphic (in Japanese) (Tokyo: Nigensha). 2007. p. 139. ISBN 978-4-544-91018-6. 
  5. ^ Nissan Sunny Vanette (catalog) (in Japanese), Nissan Motor Co, p. 19, 8101D 
  6. ^ Walker, Alan (September 1982). Kennett, Pat, ed. "The great European retreat". TRUCK (London, UK: FF Publishing Ltd): 36. 
  7. ^ For MY 1987 recalls, see: Internet Autoguide 1987 Nissan Van Recalls
    For MY 1988 recalls, see: Internet Autoguide 1988 Nissan Van Recalls
    For MY 1990 recalls, see: Internet Autoguide 1990 Nissan Van Recalls
  8. ^ a b Internet Autoguide 1987 Nissan Van Recalls
  9. ^ "For $1,200, get fired up over this Nissan Van". 2011-04-14. 
  10. ^ Chicago Clearing lawsuit settlement
  11. ^ "New Nissan van in 2012?". Motor Trader: Car News. Malaysia: PROTO Malaysia Sdn Bhd. 2011-11-25.