As Basic As It Gets: 1982 Datsun 210

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Scotty, I think this car is for you. I probably should have just let you write this one up, as I know you like these elderly Japanese imports. Here we have a 1982 Datsun 210 for sale here on craigslist in Waterbury, Connecticut, just up the road from where I live. The asking price is $2,000, and the seller is also interested in trades, particularly of a pick up truck.

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This car is claimed to have only 49,500 miles, and it certainly looks like it has been well cared for and kept indoors most of its long life. Yes, it is a four door sedan, and yes it is equipped with an automatic transmission. On the other hand, it is almost 35 years old, the seller says it’s in good condition, and it has new tires. According to the ad, the Datsun has a small tear on driver seat, and there is a small dent visible in the hood.

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This 1982 Datsun 210 is just a daily driver that got good gas mileage and had room for four people, five in a pinch. There’s not much to say about it, really. But I was surprised to be reminded that the 210 was driven by the rear wheels. Its 90.7 cubic inch four cylinder engine produced all of 65 horsepower. This car was and still is basic transportation, with not much pizzazz, but it is kinda cute. Kinda. Ok, not so much. But cars like this one did get a lot of Americans to work and school reliably and inexpensively, and now it’s almost 35 years old and that does give it some sort of stature. Doesn’t it?

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It’s not that I have such fond memories of 1982, I should point out. Interest rates were sky high then and getting a mortgage was not so much fun. The world was in a major recession and unemployment was high. John DeLorean was arrested for selling drugs and DeLorean car production ended that year. Some good things happened in 1982, including the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and quite a few people were happy that the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in baseball.

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I think any old car is worth saving and driving, and even though this car is not exciting by most standards, it is a low mileage survivor in really solid condition that could still be used as daily transportation, as long as your expectations are not too high. Turn up the radio, manually crank down the windows, and you can pretend it’s 1982 again. I’m not sure that’s really a great idea, but it’s all I could come up with. Scotty, help! Does anyone out there have good memories attached to one of these cars? Or is this one just too plain for everyone?

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Comments

  1. Geoffrey

    Great for a 16 yr old. I had a 1981 B210 hatchback that I drove across the USA twice with over 100K miles on it. Loved it

  2. Andy

    My dad had one of these, but with a 5 speed. He drove it 249,000 miles, give or take. I was a teenage car nut at the time, and to me it was so tinny and uncomfortable and gutless that although it went damn near forever, I couldn’t wait for it to die! I am amazed that this car (or any ’80s Japanese car or truck) has this much metal left. That’s commendable. But I can only imagine how sluggish it can be with a PRND(21) behind the motor.

  3. Scotty Staff

    Nice find, David! Yes, these downtrodden, mostly-unloved cars are right up my alley. A Datsun 210 in that condition now is pretty rare, which makes it an even better find. In 1982 I had already gotten rid of my ’71 Corolla 2-door wagon and was driving a rusty, dented ’74 Dodge van with no rear side windows, powered by a 225 slant-six and shifted by a sloppy three on the tree, which my brother and I later converted to a floor shifter but it wouldn’t fit the convention way so we had to put it in backwards! Instant theft protection. I would have loved to have this car back then; I still would now.

  4. Derrick Gilmore

    I’ve had 2 a 77 210 GXP hatchback, and a 4 door 1982, that I got from the original owner with on around 30,000 miles on it. I loved them both, great little cars.

    Like 1
  5. Howard A Member

    Poor Scotty, I feel his pain. If he could, he’d probably have a stadium full of these types of cars. To be honest, I think this was not as basic as it got. ( I believe that title goes to the VW bug, or maybe a base Gremlin) This was more of an upscale “econo-box” , and it was cars like this that cemented the Datsun/Nissan name in America. Again, collectible?, Mmmm, not right now, ( a like new 2 door hatchback DID bring almost $12g’s at auction last year) but this would be a great car just to drive. Probably better, (and simpler) than anything offered today, and gets 35mpg to boot. These didn’t last long in the salt, and it was rust that took many of these off the road, still running great, all the way to the junkyard. Cool find.

  6. 68 custom

    my Dad had a wagon 82-210 wagon, same engine and tranny. literally ran till the day rust took over. slow, clumsy, reliable. this one would make a good car for a teen.

  7. Datsuntech

    Why would you pay $2000 when you could buy this one for only $10,000
    http://www.kijiji.ca/v-classic-cars/edmonton/datsun-210/1200330747?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true

    • tugdoc

      10 grand and crappy pics.!

      • Ralph Terhune

        And fugly, too!

  8. Murray

    Im sorry, while its nice to see any car survive to this age unmolested and in good condition, these were horrid things to drive. Actually I’m not even sure “drive” is the correct adverb here. Frankly their only redeeming feature is that their steering boxes form the basis of an excellent steering modification for the MG-TCs. Nonetheless I’m not proposing that fate for this little car. $2K is way more than it would certainly give someone a lot of miles of, well tedious transport, albeit probably reliable, tedious, boring transport :-)

  9. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    My brother started off both his kids – my nephew and niece – in a wagon…..and they didn’t break it !

  10. Jerry Koszut

    I sold them for part of that year. Nice little cars. Good transportation and bulletproof if you torqued the cal head down at the 1k inspection

  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. I had a teacher back in junior high school who owned one.

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