Sharp Japanese Metal: The 1980 Nissan Leopard TR-X F30

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I trust you didn’t get completely bored with the select choices from Nissan’s old press photo archives this past weekend? If that is the case, I apologize beforehand: the 1980 Nissan Leopard is just too good not to share.
Who even knows about the Leopard? As personal luxury coupes come, the Leopard nameplate doesn’t get called too often. It’s sort of a kinder, gentler version of the Skyline R30, sharing the platform, and its main rivals were the Toyota Chaser and Soarer. Looking at the TR-X coupe above, Soarer parallels are easily justified. But the Leopard should be noted as its own, all jutting sharp edges and certainly interesting glasshouse. Here’s a mega photo post showcasing the deft Leopard.

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First of all, just look at the red leather interior on this red, TR-X badged car – no relation to the TRX line of Michelin tires. Surely enough, the legroom is exaggerated by the front thrones being yanked forwards, but it certainly looks like an inviting place.
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The dashboard and the plastics ahead of the driver are finished in matching red, with contrasting, living-room style brushed aluminium/stainless steel decoration on the HVAC and audio controls.
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You really do need the digital dash for the ultimate ’80s feeling.
And of course, the fender mirrors are visible in these shots. But what exactly is on the mirrors?
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TA-DAH! Wipers on the mirrors. Wipers, on the mirrors. That is the neatest thing I’ve seen all week.
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Then there was this early trip computer mounted in the dash, along with a speed-sensitive volume control for the audio system. And you get a little peek of the automatic climate control, too.
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The Leopard received a choice of six-cylinder engines, in straight or V format, and a base four-cylinder. The one above is the 2.8-litre L28E I6, equipped with a Hitachi-supplied engine management system called NAPS-Z.
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And it’s certainly interesting to see sketches and clay models from the era, as the late 1970s must have been a fascinating time in design studios. Sharper! It has to be sharper!
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The Leopard managed a not-too-terrible drag coefficient of 0.37. It’s a little bit better than the 280ZX, a little bit worse than a Citroën CX.
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Unlike the Soarer, you could have the Leopard as a four-door saloon. While the glasshouse here is certainly airy, the coupe’s design perhaps works a little better.
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The Leopard’s first, F30 generation remained for sale until 1986. While it was modern at its unveiling in September 1980, it might have looked a little dated by ’86, as competing designs had moved on by that time.
As a finishing touch, here’s a totally vaporwave/1980 future disco ad for the Leopard saloon. POWER ELITE!
[youtube width=”720″ height=”480″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BSEWGxwLZs[/youtube]
[Photos: Nissan Newsroom]

0 Comments

  1. I love everything about that red coupe. None more red interior, nary a curve to be found exterior, and above all, AMBIANCE CONTROL.
    I need that knob in my life.

    1. A guy I went to grad school with had the Infiniti convertible version of this and shared with me the secret to gaining power/control in a crowded room (such as at a cocktail party, board meeting, etc.): Walk in the room, make sure everyone sees you, walk straight to someone you know, shake their hand, pull their ear close to you, say something funny, both laugh out loud, slap them in the back.

  2. When I was a kid I thought the single biggest distinguishing feature of Japanese cars were all the small buttons but this is beyond that. I mean back in 1980 there were CPUs in home computers that could not multiply let alone divide two numbers, but Leopard could. Also, the man in the ad, I’ve seen him before, was he a singer?

  3. I had one of these, different alloys really made it stand out. The back seats were so comfy too, you just slid into them & it held you in place. The dashboard lights were right across the dash & into the passenger side, sort of ‘Star Trek’ style. It drove fantastic in a straight line, but diabolical in tight windy roads. Cruise control was exellent & the wiper delay was a ‘volume control’s type potentialmeter, exact every time. When you lifted the door latch, the keyhole illuminated as well as the footwells.

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