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Fans flock to Sunderland for Bluebird birthday

Published 27 July 2016

Five… four….three… two… one… Bluebirds are go! It was certainly a mission for fans of Nissan’s first-ever Brit built car, with an appropriate 30 of them turning out to mark the 30th anniversary of Nissan’s Sunderland plant, and the Bluebird model that was the first to be built there.

The assembled members of the UK Bluebird Car Club enjoyed a VIP visit to Nissan Sunderland Plant, meeting the employees who built their cars and viewing Nissan’s more modern manufacturing operations first-hand.

The club, along with Nissan Manufacturing UK, invited members from across the country to the special VIP visit. Bluebirds saloons and hatches in all specs and colours, including a couple of rare ZX Turbos, arrived from as far as Cardiff, 310 miles away, to take part in the tour, joined by long-serving staff who shared stories from the vehicle’s years in production in Sunderland.

Matt Welch, who drove his 1988 Bluebird 1.8 GS hatchback from Newark, Nottinghamshire, said, 'When I was a kid, everybody’s dad had a Bluebird. I’ve always loved these cars because of their retro shape, and growing up, my dream was to own one. A year ago, when I saw this perfectly preserved model on eBay, I went cold. I knew it was the car I’d always wanted. I love it, it’s delicious; I get such a kick out of owning it. We have two other Nissans, however this is our favourite car, which we take to shows and special events.

Bluebirds At Sunderland 1

'Coming to the plant where my favourite car was built was a fantastic opportunity. I’ve been around many factory tours, but Nissan was a special one, as I got to come here in a car that I love, a car that’s so over-engineered that even after 28 years of being on the road, it’s still as exciting to drive as it was when it was new.'

Ian Marshall, who travelled from Cardiff in his 1989 Bluebird 2.0 Executive, added, 'I've owned 11 Nissans over the last 13 years, six of which were Bluebirds. I’ve owned two GSs, a ZX Turbo, a Turbo Executive, a GSXi and a 2.0 Executive.'

'I’ve had this Bluebird T72 model for eight years; it's a fantastic car and in a world where most cars have a round shape to them, a vehicle like this really stands out. Aside from its looks, the Bluebird is also incredibly reliable, very well specified. Nissan really went to town on the quality of these cars and really proved how well their cars are built. Everything's to a really high standard and still works in this vehicle; the electric windows, sunroof, everything still works. I’ve also seen models that haven’t been looked after at all and despite that, they just keep running and running.'

Launched in 1986, the Nissan Bluebird 2.0 SGX was the first model to roll off the line at the Sunderland Plant. In 1990, almost 200,000 cars later, Bluebird production ceased to make way for the Primera.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice-president for manufacturing in the UK, said, 'There are some real classics on the road today that we have built in Sunderland and which our customers have taken to their hearts.

'Bluebird is a great example of this. It was the car that started our journey here in Sunderland and it’s always a pleasure to meet customers who share our passion for Nissan vehicles.'

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