AutoMemory #6: Nissan Cherry Europe B591KFG


It ought to have been a winner. It was the right body style, the right colour, and a good make. It was also the right price. And I had specifically prayed for a car that met these criteria.

When the quirks and foibles of our Morris Marina saloon became too much to put up with I decided I wanted a hatchback. A red hatchback. Three doors would do. And we had about £2,500 to spend. When I came across the said Nissan Cherry it seemed too good to be true. And, as it turned out, it was.

* adopts Tiff Needell-like voice *  

Back in the late 80’s, if you wanted reliable, you bought Nissan. In fact, the Nissan Cherry was rated Europe’s most reliable car. Probably one of the worst-named, mind you. But reliable. And a bit boring. But a sensible choice, if you like that sort of thing.

After purchase I found out that a Cherry of that age and mileage should have retailed for about £4,000.  

* switches to Quentin Wilson voice *  

The problem, it seemed, was with the “Europe” bit. For the Nissan Cherry Europe was a bizarre, ill-fated collaboration between Nissan and, of all people, Alfa Romeo. It had an Alfa engine and was built in Italy. And since the engine wasn’t in the least bit sporty, it managed to combine the worst of both worlds and turned out to be both boring and unreliable. Production didn’t last long and second-hand values took the proverbial nosedive. Hence my apparent bargain.

The steering, like all my previous cars, was unpowered but seemed particularly ponderous. I soon discovered that having three doors rather than five was a pain. I realised that I’d made a mistake and just didn’t like the thing at all. I don’t recall if we particularly suffered with unreliability but I didn’t want to find out and only kept it 18 months – the shortest time I’ve ever hung on to a car. Even the Marina stayed with us longer than that.

I was still young (and probably slightly more foolish than I am now) and needed to learn that what looks like an amazing price probably has a story behind it. I also learnt that even when you think you know what you want, you might not actually know till you try it. Even when it seems your prayers have been answered.