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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hot Wheels Nissan 180SX Type X, Datsun 200SX, and Johnny Lightning 1989 Nissan 240SX



Hot Wheels has created a lot of stir in the Japanese collector's circle in the past few years with several great far east castings that include the Datsun 510 and 510 Wagon, 620 Pickup, Toyota Truck, Toyota Celica, Toyota 2000GT, just to name a few.  This one show here is another, a Nissan that is something else than one with the Z badge somewhere in the name and the nod to the sleepy headlights as well.  This is not the first ride for this car: Hot Wheels has done the earlier boxy Datsun version and Johnny Lightning has made this car before with much less success.



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Nissan 180SX Type X

While the Datsun/Nissan Z has been the iconic rear-wheel drive sports car for the brand, lest not forget there was other hot Nissan models, including the more practical and few cylinders short SX line.  The numbers ahead of the name denounce the engine size in liters times 100.  This model was the last of its kind made between 1989 and 1998 with more rounded sheetmetal that is far better than the boxy econocar look of previous generations.  The front has pop-up headlights that Hot Wheels slightly raised to give it the sleepy eye look.  The lower bumper is modified with larger scoops and a lower chin spoiler; the look makes it resemble a 1984-1990 C4 Corvette.  The smoothness continues to the sides with a nice metallic red paint, blacked-out wheels, and no graphics at all.  The lower skirts adds more to the sporty flair of the car, yet the door's lack the character line to connect to the ends of the custom skirts.  Hot Wheels also added black tampos around the window pillars to give it a pillar-less look and adds the 180SX name to the B-piller.



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Out back things get a little more spicy with a rear wing that is exclusive to the Type X model, revised taillights with round brake lights to recall the early GT-R's, reverse lamps moved to the center with the 180SX badge, and a dual-tip exhaust that is large but thankfully avoids the large coffee can muffler of early Hot Wheels tuner cars.  The interior has a smooth and simple dash layout with the correct right-hand drive layout.  The dashboard's upper section arches from end-to-end, the gauges are simple tach and speedometer on white-faced gauges, radio and HVAC controls in the center, and a console with hand brake and shifter.  The front seats are stock and have added 5-point racing harness, while the rear seats can carry additional passengers for a brief while, and the rear hatch opens up to a practical cargo area.  So aside from extra rear seats the SX is a lot like the Z, but here's where things differ: under the hood the Type X is powered by a 1.9L DOHC turbo I-4 that produces 205 hp. and 202 Ib-ft. of torque through the rear wheels by a 5-speed manual.  Type X also has four-wheel steering and independent suspension on all four wheels.   During brief tests this car feels very fast and well-controlled in the corners.  Plus, pricing was much cheaper than the $30,000+ Nissan 300ZX Turbo offered at the same time.  Affordable performance!



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Nissan 200SX

On the other end of the spectrum is the tamer Johnny Lightning version based on the U.S. spec 200SX coupe.  Using the same metallic red paint this one has a flat black hood and GReddy graphics on the sides.  The front has flush headlights, center plate area, and bumper with three grille slots and side airflow wings.  The casting does without any ground effects or a rear spoiler, so the door lines flow much more nicely, while the roof is all clear plastic which is then laid over with the painted roof and blacked-out pillars.  The rear is more contemporary with a raised height, hidden exhaust tip, and standard two-tier taillights.  The 5-spoke wheels do look better than stock, but otherwise this car looks too much like a plain-jane coupe.



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Inside the interior has a left-hand drive layout with the similar dash layout as in the 180SX with more details to the central controls, added door panel detailing, and one rather large steering wheel that is the stock 4-spoke unit.  Seats are also stock and lack the racing harness of the 180SX.  The base is made of metal and has good details with the biggest party pooper: the transmission has an oil pan meaning that this is the 4-speed automatic version and not the 5-speed manual.  Worse, the engine is a 2.4L SOHC I-4 that produced 140 hp. and 160 Ib-ft of torque.  A brief test with this car shows that it lacks the fantastic handling dynamics that the Type X shows.  This was a big pegwarmer back then so I can understand why Johnny Lightning only used this car once.



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Datsun 200SX

To get a taste of where this all began, look no further than the older Hot Wheels casting of the 1980's the Datsun 200SX, better known as the Silvia S110 in other markets.  If it wasn't for this car's opening hood it would be forgettable as it had a rather boxy shape that was not really sporty.  The front-end has quad square headlights that are part of the metal base, side signal lights that are barely visible, and a missing grille that really confuses the styling comparison to the real car (the actual car has an aggressive forward look with the upper part of the front-end leaning forward).  Hot Wheels did manage to add some racing flair with side graphics advertising the name of the car should you confuse it with something else, with flared wheelwell lips and a nice coupe roofline with small rear windows.  The rear has large blocky taillights, 200SX plate just in case you still don't know what car this is, and black bumpers that are part of the interior piece.  Compared to the younger sibilings they look much better than this car!



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The base underneath is all metal and the gold 6-spoke wheels ride on a working suspension that makes this car really smooth to roll.  Then again, on the track the car pitched, dived, and rolled more than the flat and neutral 180SX Type X.  The hood opens up to reveal the 2.0L DOHC I-4 that produced 150 hp. thorough a 5-speed manual, and shows off excellent details from the hoses, resovoirs, and strut covers to the real eye candy the large and visible valve cover.  Inside the interior has seating for four and a simple dash layout.  The real car's dash layout has a gauge cluster that covers half of the upper dashboard and central controls where the radio is twice the length as the ventilation controls.  Finally, there's some neat hood scoops on the hood, but let's be honest Hot Wheels needs to go back and redesign the car into a new mold that, while it may lack an opening hood, looks much more faithful to the sleek, original design of the car.  This just looks like a square box!


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Unlike the other two the new Hot Wheels Nissan 180SX Type X is beautifully executed and will have a nice home living with the other Hot Wheels JDM classics.

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