Automotive

Nissan electrifies 1986 Bluebird for 35th birthday celebration

Nissan electrifies 1986 Bluebi...
The custom-built Newbird includes the drivetrain from a Nissan Leaf
The custom-built Newbird includes the drivetrain from a Nissan Leaf
View 10 Images
The custom-built Newbird includes the drivetrain from a Nissan Leaf
1/10
The custom-built Newbird includes the drivetrain from a Nissan Leaf
The colorful paintjob is a hat tip to the bold designs of consumer electronics back in the mid-1980s
2/10
The colorful paintjob is a hat tip to the bold designs of consumer electronics back in the mid-1980s
A classic Nissan Bluebird treated to a Leaf electric drivetrain to become the Newbird one-off show car
3/10
A classic Nissan Bluebird treated to a Leaf electric drivetrain to become the Newbird one-off show car
Under the hood of the Nissan Newbird custom build
4/10
Under the hood of the Nissan Newbird custom build
The Newbord's cabin is pretty much unchanged, but the gearstick has gone and the fuel gauge in the instrument cluster now shows battery charge level
5/10
The Newbord's cabin is pretty much unchanged, but the gearstick has gone and the fuel gauge in the instrument cluster now shows battery charge level
The 40-kWh Nissan Leaf battery pack had to be divided between trunk and engine bay
6/10
The 40-kWh Nissan Leaf battery pack had to be divided between trunk and engine bay
A 1986 Nissan Bluebird goes electric to celebrate 35 years of vehicle production at the company's Sunderland Plant
7/10
A 1986 Nissan Bluebird goes electric to celebrate 35 years of vehicle production at the company's Sunderland Plant
The original fuel flap to the rear is now home to the Newbird's charging port
8/10
The original fuel flap to the rear is now home to the Newbird's charging port
The Newbird is a one-off build and has not undergone homologation
9/10
The Newbird is a one-off build and has not undergone homologation
Nissan reports a per-charge range of up to 130 miles from the 40-kWh battery pack
10/10
Nissan reports a per-charge range of up to 130 miles from the 40-kWh battery pack
View gallery - 10 images

Nissan's Sunderland Plant in the UK has now been churning out cars for 35 years, and to mark the occasion the first model to roll off the production line has been given a modern electric makeover to create the one-off Newbird.

Since officially opening in 1986, the Sunderland Plant has output more than 10.5 million vehicles. The first vehicle to roll off the production line was a Bluebird, with some 187,178 units being manufactured at the facility from 1986 to 1990. That first car – known as Bluebird Job 1 – is now on display in a local museum.

Out of the 430 staff originally employed at the Plant in the mid-80s, 19 continue to work there to this day – now on the Leaf production line.

"The 'Newbird' represents all that is great about our plant – past, present and future – as we celebrate 35 years of manufacturing in Sunderland," said the Plant's VP of manufacturing, Alan Johnson. "We have a rich heritage of building great cars, right from the original Bluebird model, and our fantastic team is now leading the way as we drive towards an exciting electrified, carbon neutral, future."

Under the hood of the Nissan Newbird custom build
Under the hood of the Nissan Newbird custom build

The Newbird conversion project was managed by family-run Kinghorn Electric Vehicles based just down the road in Durham. As well as giving an original 1986 Bluebird an extra splash of color that mirrors consumer tech design cues from the 1980s, the team has also ripped out the combustion engine and gearbox and installed an electric motor, inverter and 40-kWh battery pack from a Leaf EV – with the latter component split between the engine bay and the trunk for optimum weight distribution.

The conversion led to the custom build to put on a few pounds, so that additional weight was countered by custom suspension. A charging port has been placed under the original fuel flap and the battery can be charged at up to 6.6 kW.

Rather than replace the original instrument cluster, the fuel gauge has been connected to the EV architecture to now show charge state of the battery. The car's original hood badge has been treated to LED backlighting, and Nissan tweaked the power steering, braking and heating systems for electric power.

The colorful paintjob is a hat tip to the bold designs of consumer electronics back in the mid-1980s
The colorful paintjob is a hat tip to the bold designs of consumer electronics back in the mid-1980s

The tribute vehicle is meant as a show piece only and has not undergone homologation, though the company reports that it is capable of around 130 miles of per-charge motoring, and can go from standstill to 62 mph (0-100 km/h) in a somewhat leisurely 15 seconds or so.

With its focus now firmly on the future, Nissan announced its Ambition 2030 mobility vision at the end of last month, when it was revealed that the company intends to launch 23 electrified models as part of a move toward having a 50 percent electrification mix by the end of 2030 – and 15 of those will be pure EVs. Sadly, this Newbird won't be one of them but the 2022 Ariya crossover will.

Source: Nissan UK

View gallery - 10 images
1 comment
1 comment
IvanWashington
i hope that when they beefed up the suspension of that otherwise nice-riding bluebird, they didn't make it as harsh over bumps as the new leaf.