Nissan is marking 35 years of production at its Sunderland factory with a one-off electric version of the first car it built there: the Bluebird.
The Bluebird – which was succeeded by the Primera and then the Qashqai – entered production in summer 1986. It was the first in a long line of UK-built Nissan models that includes the Micra, Almera, Note and Juke, plus premium offshoot Infinti’s Q30 and QX30.
Today, the site builds the Qashqai and Juke alongside the Leaf, which supplies the electric drivetrain and battery for the commemorative one-off Bluebird.
Called the Newbird, it has been heavily modified to accommodate the Leaf’s innards. The engine and gearbox make way for a 150bhp electric motor that drives the front wheels, giving a 0-62mph time of just under 15sec.
Modifications have been made to the power steering, brakes and heating system to enable them to run without an internal combustion engine.
The entry-level Leaf’s 40kWh battery is carried over, too. The modules are split between the engine bay and boot for optimised weight distribution, although the suspension has still been upgraded to account for the added heft.
The battery can be charged at rates of up to 6.6kW (via a charging port underneath the original fuel flap) and is said to offer a range of around 130 miles.
Apart from the charging port, an illuminated front badge and new EV-specific gauges, the Newbird is visually unaltered over the original car. It wears a 1980s-inspired livery inspired by contemporary consumer technology.
The conversion was carried out by Kinghorn Electric Vehicles, based near Sunderland, which specialises in converting classic cars to electric power.