They don’t make Mackem like they used to: The Nissan Sunderland story Car News

How does the Newbird like to drive?

The 1989 Bluebird to Newbird conversion is surprisingly efficient. It was run by George Kinghorn, founder of Kinghorn Electric Vehicles, which specializes in EV conversions of classic cars, in Durham. The project lasted eight eventful weeks.

Part of the original Leaf battery is under the hood, along with the motor and inverter, the rest in the trunk. To counter the 200 kg weight of the rear bag, adjustable springs have been installed at the rear, while Bilstein shock absorbers are fitted all around.

The original Bluebird was a midsize family car tasked with establishing Nissan as a credible British manufacturer. However, settling into the Newbird’s plush Rachelle-covered seats, turning the key, turning the selector knob to Drive (Kinghorn plans to fit a Bluebird automatic gear-shift) and driving silently from Durham to Sunderland reminds me that it was also comfortable and undemanding.

Kinghorn tuned the motor to avoid overwhelming lazy 1980s brakes and even lazier handling.

With Now That’s What I Call Music 15 in the cassette player, I’m really having fun. In fact, electrics and a single-speed automatic gearbox suit the character of the original Bluebird. There’s noticeable understeer, sure, and it crackles a bit on its sporty dampers, but go with the flow and the Newbird just works.

Too quiet for you? Kinghorn develops optional exhaust sound with Milltek Sport.

Meet the Nissan Veterans

Remarkably, there are still 19 people working at Nissan’s Sunderland plant who were either there when it opened or arrived shortly after.

We have already met Peter Robinson, who arrived in 1987, and Michael Harker, 55, the oldest assembly worker, who arrived in 1986. Also there to meet me when I arrive in the Newbird are fellow Les Greener, 56 (arrived in 1987) and Michael Adams, 54 (arrived in 1988).

“We are part of the plant’s DNA,” says Harker proudly. His first job was installing the license plate finishers on the Bluebirds, while Adams did spot welds on the assembly line. Robinson cut his teeth in the trim and chassis shop; Greener did the rather crucial job of fixing the wheels.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-27 05:01:24

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