1968 Datsun 1600 Roadster

Adam Kurtz, courtesy of Gooding & Company
Adam Kurtz, courtesy of Gooding & Company

The Datsun roadster, lovingly dubbed “the Fairlady” in its Japanese home market, was built from 1963 to 1970. Although legend has it that it was designed as a copy of the MGB, in actual fact the Datsun model was launched several months prior to the MGB and therefore, any design resemblance is happenstance. Nevertheless, the car’s main competitors were considered to be the offerings of MG, Triumph and Fiat.

The Datsun roadster was extremely popular, with over 40,000 being built over its 11 years of production by Nissan in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, Japan. It was, however, considerably less expensive and more reliable than some of its European peers.

In 1964, many upgrades were incorporated, engendered partly by Count Albrecht Goertz, and the new SP311 and SPL311 models were launched at the Tokyo Motor Show. With a new and more powerful 1,600-cc engine supplanting the 1,500-cc engine, and a top speed of 106 mph, the revisions were noteworthy. In the United States, the new, more-desirable roadster was marketed as the Datsun Sports 1600.

This car

This Datsun 1600 SPL311 is a perfect example of the model. Appearing here in its original colors of Silver Grey Metallic (code #666) and smart red vinyl bucket seats, this roadster was meticulously restored last year. Originally purchased in Arizona, the car was quite original at the commencement of the restoration and is what might affectionately be called a “true survivor.”

The Datsun was totally disassembled, the body stripped and repainted, and then finished to replicate the factory-original presentation. All components were inspected and refurbished to original specifications, with the majority of NOS and replacement parts obtained direct from Datsun Parts in Northridge, CA. The brightwork was replated by Frankford Plating in Philadelphia, PA, and Trim Specialties of Lambertville, NJ, was commissioned to install the canvas convertible top and correct vinyl interior in complementary red. Several desirable upgrades were made to the car during restoration, including the installation of a Datsun 5-speed manual transmission to facilitate highway cruising, and a hidden radio amplifier to make that cruising ultimately more enjoyable. The car has accrued approximately 42,000 miles, and only 1,000 since the completion of the restoration.

The consignor has entered the roadster in several events and notably has won First in Class and Best in Show at the Datsun Region Meet at Watkins Glen and the Antique Automobile Club of America Senior Award at Hershey in 2013, after which it was requested for display at the AACA Museum. Numerous awards, badges, and trophies accompany the sale of the car.

The 1600 roadster is additionally accompanied by its original data plate, documented photo history of the restoration with receipts and records, and several original Datsun publications as well as its original transmission.

 

Jeff Zurschmeide

Jeff Zurschmeide - SCM Contributor

Jeff is a lifelong automobile enthusiast with a penchant for sports and racing cars. He has raced SCCA, local circle track, and stage rally as a co-driver. He makes his living as a freelance automotive journalist and is the author of six books on automotive topics. As a rule, he practices catch-and-release fishing when it comes to collectible automobiles, trying to leave each one in better condition than he found it. Enduring passions include his MGA and Austin Mini, and his 1969 Corvette. He recently purchased a 1920 Ford Model T Touring because “you just have to have one of these once in your life.”

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