When people say large capacity van, it is the Nissan Urvan that comes to mind. Also called the Nissan Caravan, this light commercial vehicle has seen decades of service. Built to provide maximum utility, the Urvan is two parts performance and one part design. At its launch in 1965, the Urvan came in two models - the Prince Homy and the Caravan. Though both had campy '60s build, they rightfully served as the foundation for future models, which include the current-day Urvan.
Over the years, the Urvan has seen changes from a box-shaped, angled-corners minivan to its modern look today. In its debut, it came as a 3-door or 4-door van that featured Nissan's early version of the J15 inline-4 engine (57 kW). Fast forward to the launching of the fourth generation, the NV350 Urvan packs YD25DDTi engine that boasts of clean diesel technology.
Despite a long history that goes back to the 1960s, the Urvan did not reach Australia until 1980, when its 13-year production run began. With this in mind, we will focus on the 1980 to 1993 release models.
1st Generation: E20, Nissan Homy (1973-1980)
The Nissan Urvan came to see its initial production in the first-generation model Homy. It debuted as a passenger-ferrying van version of a Nissan Prince Homer truck. As a people carrier, the Homy could carry up to 15 people, but other seating variations were available (such as three, five, and seven passengers). The Homy had its fair share of problems, such as handling challenges and bulky controls parts (e.g., an 80cm gear lever). The Homy was particularly popular in Europe where it found its place as an ambulance. However, the Homy’s run was not to last due to the release of the next generation E23 Caravan that came out in August 1980.
2nd Generation: E23, Nissan Caravan/Urvan (1980-1986)
Nissan rolled out the next generation of the previously-produced Nissan Homy in 1980. This version, branded as Nissan Urvan, was the first generation to reach Australia. It had a 2.2-litre SD22 naturally-aspirated I4 diesel engine under its hood that came with a 4-speed manual gearbox. This powertrain yielded up to 47kW and 120Nm, which were quite sufficient power and torque levels at the time.
In the 1982 release, the Caravan/Urvan saw a new grille design and the inclusion of a side window placed onto the front door. It received an upgraded diesel version, a 2.3-litre SD23 diesel engine with a 5-speed manual gearbox that put out 54kW of power and 145Nm of torque. Also featured for the people mover model was a 2.0-litre Z20S 4-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox with a power output of 66kW and 147Nm of torque. The new Urvan design had an access door on the passenger side.
The 1983's SGL and GL releases came with slightly rectangular headlights and a new ten-seater LWB DX trim. Its 9-seater and 6-seater versions joined the lineup in 1985.
3rd Generation: E24, Nissan Caravan/Urvan (1986-1993)
1986 saw the coming to life of the E24 version that ran from 1986 to 2001 and went through two distinct facelifts in 1990 and 1995. In Australia, both commercial and passenger versions in this generation featured a naturally-aspirated 2.4-litre KA24DE I4 petrol engine (74 kW, 177 Nm) and a 2.7-litre TD27 I4 diesel option (62 kW, 176 Nm). All engine options came initially with a 5-speed manual gearbox, with a 4-speed automatic transmission offered in the following year.
In 1989, Nissan offered the GL luxury trim version and equipped it with a newly-developed power steering, a set of plush rotating seats in the passenger compartment and, for the first time, an air conditioning system.
In the international scene, Nissan tried a stab at the business sector with the release of the Nissan Elegrand and the Elegrand Royal in 1991, which it introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show. This line of luxury cars became a series of its own under the Elegrand name. The 1982 release saw the scrapping off of the side ventilation window and the inclusion of a new 5-bearing SD23 diesel engine that replaced the previous SD22.
More trims became available featuring the Silk Road version. This model came with new parts which included seven luxury level captain seats coupled with the LD20T, which replaced the H20 diesel engine in 1982. Environment-friendly engines Z18S and Z20S took the place of the H20 petrol engine for the Coach models.
The 1990 facelift came with a new NA20S engine, although this was not available in Australia. It also brought a new 2.7-litre TD27Ti I4 intercooled turbodiesel engine and featured a new grille and sizable taillights.
The rollout of the Nissan Urvan came to a halt in 1993 for the Australian market, although it continues to be available as the fourth-generation NV350 Caravan in other marketplaces.
The Nissan Urvan is still available for sale both as auto parts and whole vehicles. If you happen to own one and want to dispose of it or buy used parts to restore it, get in touch with Carpart.com.au. It is the online hub for buyers and sellers of car parts and car accessories in Australia.