These wacky Nissan Sunny LePrix B11 ads give you the impression they actually featured in a detective series like Seibu Keisatsu. However, they don’t. It’s all made up. The actors in the commercials are Keiko Matsuzaka and Saburo Tokito. Coincidentally both actors played in The Gate of Youth (Seishun no mon) but this was totally unrelated to these ads.
Wacky Nissan Sunny LePrix ads
It looks like Nissan chose to launch the Nissan Sunny LePrix with some wacky ads. Keiko and Saburo are dressed up like they would feature a detective or action series. Keiko’s catsuit reminds me of Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) in The Avengers. The ads are done in a similar tongue in cheek way.
First ad: Keiko and Saburo with Tommy guns
Keiko, dressed in a leather catsuit, cries out for help because two men try to capture her. She doesn’t call for her partner Saburo, but for Sunny. A Nissan Sunny LePrix is speeding towards her rescue somewhere in the US desert. The LePrix then drives through a (Styrofoam) wall and in the next scene the woman and her partner have successfully captured the bad guys.
Second ad: all caged up
In the second ad (unfortunately not allowed to embed), Keiko is attacked once more. Once more the two bad guys manage to capture her and lock her up in a giant cage. The Sunny comes to her rescue but doesn’t drive through a wall this time. This time, it’s Saburo who performs a flying kick through a (Styrofoam) wall. They capture the two bad guys and lock them up in the cage.
Third ad: shark bait
In the third ad, Keiko is attacked once more. This time the bad guys tie her up above a giant pool with a shark in it. The pool is almost smaller than the shark, so how this animal survives is a complete mystery. And once more, Saburo comes to her aid and recues her.
Fourth ad: Hawaiian aligators
In a fourth ad, Keiko is already tied up on a boat surrounded by alligators. According to the ad, the driving is performed by a test driver in Hawaii. Hawaii does not (naturally) have alligators, so where did these come from then? Anyway, she cries out for Sunny and Saburo comes to her aid once more. After a short fight with the bad guys, we find them all tried up on the boat.
On a side note, there was a goof up by Nissan when they reused the same suits on a father and son in a Nissan Stanza ad by the same year. I’m not sure if they realized this, but it really feels like father and son are the bad guys in this Sunny LePrix alligator ad!
Fifth ad: firing laser beams
In the fifth ad, Saburo is driving the new Nissan Sunny LePrix hatchback that got released in 1983. This time there are no bad guys, just a helicopter shooting at the little hatchback. I guess the occupants of the helicopter are supposed to be bad guys, it’s just that they aren’t shown. So how does Keiko rescue Saburo? Simply by shooting the helicopter with a laser beam, which immediately disintegrates and disappears. The laserbeam seems to be emitted from Keiko’s index finger in a similar way ET cured Elliot. Now this is really something!
About the Nissan Sunny LePrix
The Nissan Sunny LePrix is a trim level of the Sunny B11 generation. To be more exact: a trim level of the all body shapes except for the Sunny California/wagon. As you can deduce from the giantic OBRUT (TURBO mirrored) painted grill, this Sunny LePrix features an engine with a turbo. In this case it is the E15ET. That’s a turbocharged variant of the 1.5 liter E15 engine that already was part of the Sunny lineup.
The whole Sunny B11 lineup is very interesting from various angles: even more weird and bizarre trim levels and some interesting brochures. However, I digress and it would be far too much to cover all that in this blog post. In the upcoming months I’ll have another two or three blog posts covering this generation of the Sunny, so stay tuned for that!
So what’s my verdict on these ads? I think there are a couple of views I have on them.
When the B11 generation introduced front-wheel drive, Nissan decided to move the entire range to front-wheel drive. Toyota kept the Corolla/Sprinter sports cars (AE85 and AE86) for one more generation on the rear-wheel drive platform. Compared to the Corolla and Sprinter, the Sunny lost its sportiness. We shouldn’t also forget there was a whole racing series for the B110/B210/B310 cars and this was basically terminated as well with the shift to front-wheel drive. Having an under powered front-wheel drive car with no excitement at all would have been a big issue. By adding a turbo into the mix, the car all of a sudden had 115PS on the tap. From 95PS in the E15E (and 85PS in the E15) that’s a major leap for such a small compact car!
Also Nissan had to sell the car in a different way than by its racing pedigree. With these wacky ads they surely got the attention. I think they got inspiration from the Sonny Chiba puppy-saving Toyota Carina ad and spawned off their own series of wacky ads.