Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1968 Datsun 1600 Roadster

For many, many years, I was in the category of people who believed that Datsun Roadsters were nothing more than Japanese MGB knock-offs. I paid little attention to them. There was little demand for them and you could pick them up for considerably less money than an MGB (At least here on the east coast you could - The west coast seemed to appreciate these cars more than we did and prices were always a little higher there.)

It was at a car show in 1997 or so that I found out the truth about these cars. Yes, they resemble the MGB, but they actually predated them by a year.

These are real 1960s style sports cars. People, like me, who ignored them based on ignorance or a pro-European roadster bias (I fell into both categories) missed out on buying these cars when they were dirt cheap. Fortunately, there are still enough around that we haven't missed out completely.

Looking at a Datsun Roadster now, you can see just how nice looking they were in their own right. The hood, with its scoop and power bulge, looks aggressive. The grill and round directional / parking lights looks Italian. The fender mounted, scooped out headlights look like an MGB, but were more likely copied from the Renault Caravelle, as were the Bs. From the rear, the stacked taillights are unique and look great. The squared trunk with its huge lift-over is different from the MGB and, while not incredibly practical, is very cool looking. (It's not like the trunk in any old roadster is practical, anyway.) While the engine is only 1600ccs, its performance is on par with the 1800cc MGB.

This appears to be an absolutely gorgeous Datsun 1600 roadster.

Black was an original color, but the seller doesn't say of this car was originally black. According to the seller, the car has had a recent carb rebuild (the seller doesn't specify, but they are most likely Hitachi carbs), new brakes, new suspension, a tune up, new filters, new interior, new extra heavy duty canvas top, new bearings (I assume he means wheel bearings), new battery, new muffler and a new toneau cover. The restoration was started by the previous owner.

The body appears to be straight and rust free. These cars mimicked the British and Italians cars of the day in their ability to rust, so check that all the repair work was done correctly.

The price for ignoring these cars for so many year is, literally, the price. These are no longer cheap cars. This one, at $7450.00, is about the same as you'd pay for a similar vintage / condition MGB.

Located in Golden, CO, click here to see the Craigslist listing.


Simon (In Australia) said...

A touch of early Pininfarina around the front there too. ;-)

These were called the Fairlady here (as I think they were around the world, except perhaps for North America). They were reasonably popular here in their time, but the inevitable comparisons with MG and Alfa Romeo roadsters applied here as they did over in the States. As far as I know, these cars were the spiritual antecedents of what ultimately became the (fixed-head) Z-cars (i.e. 240Z, etc.). Perhaps it is time to reappraise these for their true value; like yourself, I was of the era when "European" just added that certain "ring" to the perception of a car: its value, its excitement level, etc. To some extent this was entirely justified of course - but the Japanese sure added reliability and relative dependency to the mix. Well, wouldn't they?

Interestingly, it was the British, through the bad old days of British Leyland, who showed the engineers from Nissan everything they knew, thinking in their arrogance and pompous "superior British" mindset that the Japanese were simply too stupid to pick up the important bits and run with them. The result? Most of the old Rover/Triumph dealers here in Oz ended up becoming up Nissan dealerships (selling cars like the one you show here) which just happened to be more reliable and have better spares back-up than anything the British were able to muster at the time.

Mike (in Australia) said...

And this is just the 1600 model! Check out the 2000 and rememeber this is the late 60's! Overhead cam, big Mikuni Solex carburettors, 5-speed gearboxes... bulletproof high performance and reliability. A very well engineered car for it's time. The british stuff doesn't even compare - and decades after they stopped making them people are only just starting to recognise this.
Ok, I admit I have one! And I love it!