The first Laurel was developed by the Prince Motor Company, consisting of both 2-door and 4-door variants. It was released as a Nissan after Prince merged with Nissan. Laurels for years shared many components and architectures with the Skyline range.
Since 1968, ten generations of Laurel have been produced in Japan. Nissan listed the Laurel for sale in only selected Asian and European markets (it was also sold in Chile, as Datsun Laurel, starting in the late seventies), and then discontinued the export of this model from 1989.
In April, 1968 Nissan presented its new Laurel in four-door deLuxe and Super deLuxe versions, both equipped with a 1.8 L inline-four cylinder engine and independent rear suspension. In summer 1970 a hardtop coupé joined the line-up, one year later a 2000 cc engine became available.
In April, 1972 the second Laurel generation appeared, again in four-door saloon and two-door hardtop coupé form. The saloon now was endowed with a rear beam axle and leaf springs, while the coupé clung to IRS. In addition to the 1.8 and 2.0 L four cylinder engines, a 2.0 L inline-six was now available, joined, from October, 1973, by a 2.6 L six; the latter was replaced by a 2.8 L six in late 1975.
The third generation appeared in January, 1977. For the first time, the C230 was available in either saloon and hardtop coupé form, but also as a hardtop saloon without B-posts. Buyers could choose between a 1.8 L four, a 2.0 l inline-six (carburetted or fuel-injected), a 2.8 L six or a 2.0 L diesel four. In autumn, 1978 the C230 received a mild facelift (Type C231), marked visually by square instead of round double headlights.
The C31 model, introduced in November, 1980, was the first model that was only available in a four-door form, either as a sedan or hardtop. Engines for the C31 were 1.8 liter, 2.0 liter L20, 2.4 liter L24 gasoline, and 2.8 liter diesel.
The C32 were fitted with three gasoline engines. The CA20S (which were the only four-cylinder to be seen in the C32), The L24E and the VG30E. It also came with the LD28 diesel. In 1987 there were a minor facelift which basically were bigger bumpers, new grilles, and new lights in the front and back. The LD28 diesel engine were swapped out in favor for the RD28
The C32 was the last model to be sold outside Japan.
In January, 1989 the Laurel C33 was introduced, available again as regular or hardtop four-door. Base engine offering again was a 1.8 L four, options consisted of a 2.0 L six (SOHC, DOHC or DOHC Turbo) and a 2.8 L diesel six. Early in 1991 a 2.5 L DOHC inline-six coupled to a 5-speed automatic became available.
The Laurel was one of the few Nissan vehicles which still used the rear wheel drive layout, making it popular as a car to modify, particularly the C33 model.
The eighth and last generation debuted in June, 1997. The available number of models was further reduced and was comprised of versions with a DOHC two-liter engine, a 2.5 L six or a 2.8 L diesel six. In late 2002 Laurel production was ended.