The Stanza/Auster/Violet were discontinued in 1992. The Stanza was replaced by the Nissan Altima in North America; the Stanza was replaced by the Nissan Presea in Japan.
710 series (1973-1977)
Before the Stanza, there was the Japanese: Nissan Violet, a companion to the Datsun Bluebird 610, which was sold outside Japan under Nissan's Datsun brand as the Datsun 140J/160J — except in the United States where it was marketed simply as the Datsun 710. This model was built as a two-door saloon, two-door coupé, four-door fastback, (and later as a regular four-door saloon), estate, and as a van. The Violet was placed above the Datsun Sunny B210 but just slightly below the Datsun Bluebird-U 610. Introducing the Violet allowed Nissan to moderately increase the dimensions of the older Datsun Bluebird.
The sporty SSS model has rear independent suspension, others have a leaf sprung rear. Aside from the different name, the North American market 710 received large separate bumpers rather than the curved, fitted pieces used in other markets. Early export market cars were fitted with tiny chrome cover plates to hide the holes left on top of the front fenders by the Japanese market rear view mirrors.
This car shared a platform but remained a rear-wheel drive car with the new front wheel drive Nissan Cherry that was developed by Prince Motor Company before the Prince-Nissan merger in 1966.
This vehicle was available for sale around the same time as the first generation Toyota Carina. The original four-door bodywork was quite swoopy, with a fastback line, which led to a certain amount of customer complaints at the limited rear vision and dark rear cabin - especially for children. Taxi companies refused to purchase any more Violets, and in a rather drastic facelift for 1976 Nissan replaced the entire rear end (including the roof panel and the doors) with more traditional, notchback bodywork. This version also received a new chassis code, 711. The two-door sedan did not undergo this modification; it is unknown whether it remained available alongside the new 711-series.
In Taiwan the Violet was introduced in 1973 under the name Yue Loong Violet and replaced the successful Datsun Bluebird there for nine years. The Violet was usually offered with the OHV J16 engine. The VIP Brougham was a luxury version of the Violet with leather seats and wood interior. Official successor was the Yue Loong Elite 601 which was a sister model to the Nissan 200SX. This car was assembled in Mexico from 1973 to 1978, and in the relevant markets was known as the Datsun Sedan and Datsun Guayin. It was offered with an optional three-speed automatic gearbox for the model year 1978, whereas in previous years it had only been available with a four-speed manual transmission. It is sometimes referred to as the "bolillo" (white bread) because of its rounded design.
A10 series (1977-1981)
The Stanza, as it was known in some markets, was first introduced in the 1977 model year as a rebadged Japanese-market Nissan Violet A10 and a companion to the Japanese: Nissan Violet Auster, which was sold at a different Nissan Japan dealership network. The Stanza, which is Italian for "room" or "apartment", was introduced as an affordable family car one level below the Nissan Laurel, with the companion Nissan Auster as a similar vehicle below the Nissan Skyline sedan, with the Stanza sold at Nissan Japan dealerships that sold the top level car Cedric.
According to the companion article at Japanese Wikipedia, "Auster" is derived from "Worster" which means "south wind". The Stanza was sold at dealerships that sold the Cedric and Laurel; the Auster was sold at dealerships that sold the Gloria and Skyline. The Violet was sold at dealerships that sold the Datsun Sunny and Datsun Bluebird.
In Australia, it was called the Datsun Stanza, and in Canada and the United States as the Datsun 510, a name which recalled the successes of the previous Datsun 510. It was powered (in 1978 models) by the 2.0 L I4 L20B and in later years by the 2.0 L I4 Z20 series of engines.
Five body styles were on offer: 2- and 4-door saloons, a 3-door hatchback coupé (Nissan Violet), a 5-door hatchback (introduced later in the car's production run) and a 5-door estate. Transmissions offered were a 4-speed manual (in all except for the hatchback models), a 5 speed manual (hatchback models only), and a 3-speed automatic.
This vehicle was available for sale around the same time as the first generation Toyota Celica Camry and the Honda Accord.
The Stanza was assembled in Australia from 1978 to 1982, in 4-door 1.6 L saloon form, primarily to fill a gap between the Sunny and 200B. Trims available were "GL", "GX" and sporty "SSS".
While popular with buyers, the Australian Stanza was heavily criticized by the motoring journalists of the day (particularly Wheels Magazine), who regarded the car as being "unadventurous", particularly with regard to its styling and conventional drivetrain.
In 1979, 120 2-door coupé models were assembled in Australia, apparently due to a mix-up with Nissan Australia's kit ordering system.
New Zealand, as a result of the government's temporary lift of import licensing restrictions (the result of consumer demand for cars local CKD assemblers and built-up importers could not meet with the usual licensing restrictions and high import duties of up to 55%, plus sales tax up to 60%) saw considerable CBU imports of the Datsun 140J four-door sedan and 160J two-door during 1973 and 1974.
Due to the short notice and short timeframe of the licence requirement relaxation, the cars imported differed slightly in specification from shipment to shipment - some had Japanese market amber front park lights, front guard-mounted exterior rear view mirrors and 'Violet' badges; later units had clear lenses and 140J/160J badging.
Several hundred 140J sedans entered New Zealand through the Port of Timaru for the South Island market and all were presold before they arrived.
All were keenly sought-after and hard to secure as they were better specified as standard (tinted glass, AM pushbutton radio, etc.) than the NZ-assembled CKD kit imported models, which consisted of the Datsun 1200 sedan and wagon, and 180B (Bluebird) and 260C (Cedric) sedans.
Almost-new 140Js were often resold soon after first registration for hundreds of dollars more than their retail prices, such was the model line's initial popularity.
The Japanese assembly quality of the 140J was better than the NZ-built Datsuns of the time which were assembled by outside assembly contractors - Nissan themselves did not open its own 'temporary' plant in Mt Roskill, Auckland, until the mid-1970s and a dedicated, purpose-built factory in Wiri in 1978.
In 1978, a further batch of 160J, in three-door hatchback form, were imported to New Zealand.
In the United Kingdom, this generation was marketed as the Datsun Violet, and was sold in 1.4 L "GL" and 1.6 L "GL" engine/trim combinations. No estate models were offered.
T11 Series (1981-1986)
A front-wheel drive Stanza was introduced in 1981 — the first compact-class Datsun to be of that configuration.
After 1982, Nissan tried to standardize the Stanza name in its export markets — in addition to phasing out the Datsun marque in favour of Nissan. In the United States, the T11 Stanza with CA20S engine, replaced the 510 for the 1982 model year. The Nissan Prairie was also sold as part of the range, renamed the Stanza Wagon. In 1984, Nissan changed the engine in the Stanza from the carbureted CA20S to the fuel-injected 2.0 L, straight-4 CA20E. This car was 1981 Semperit Irish Car of the Year in Ireland.
3-door hatchback, 4-door saloon, and 5-door liftback models were produced. Japanese and some other export models were called "Stanza FX", and were offered with 1.6 and 1.8 L engines. The station wagon/delivery van was replaced by the Nissan AD van
This version was sold in the United Kingdom and Europe as the Nissan Stanza; the range was "L" 1.6 L, "GL" 1.6 L, "SGL" 1.6 L and "SGL" 1.8 L.
Nissan-Datsun New Zealand occasionally imported later generation Violets and other models for evaluation, or imported a small production run if additional import licences became available (there was a trading scheme enabling importers to trade unused annual license allocations with each other). One highly specified, five-door, third generation, front-drive model with automatic transmission - and then-rare air conditioning - was imported for an international distributors' conference held in NZ in 1981 and was later used by a company executive's wife before being resold through the company's own dealer network. There was also a small later shipment of cars for public sale (this time without a/c) but, as usual with low-volume imports of this type by Nissan and rivals, most were presold before the ship docked.
In Indonesia, the T11 Stanza 1.6 L was a popular car taxi in the mid-1980s.
The facelifted Japanese models have flat nose similar to the Bluebird U11 series. The Stanza was available in Japan as the Stanza as well as the Japanese: Violet Liberto sedan and 5-door hatchback, with the Japanese: Liberta Villa 3-door hatchback.
The Auster was a higher specification and sportier version of the Stanza, with the emphasis towards a younger demographic. The 3-door hatchback Auster GT-ES was equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission. Various trim packages were labeled, 1600CS-X, Auster JX, GS-X Extra, and the 1800GS-L Super Saloon.
In Taiwan a car closely based on the T11 Nissan Stanza got the name Yue Loong Feeling 101 and in a more luxury version Yue Loong Feeling 102. Both were available as a sedan and in a hatchback variant. The vehicles later got an aggressive redesign with angled headlights and more sporty rearlamps. These versions were the first indigenously developed Taiwanese cars and were even exported in small numbers.
The Stanza T11 series was the only time in history when Nissan Stanza was rated more reliable than Toyota Camry, from 1983 to 1986, according to 1983-1986 Consumer Reports magazine. Since 1987, Nissan has lost its ranking to Toyota and Honda.