Cool Convertible: 1967 Datsun 1600 Convertible

Writing for Barn Finds has made me realize two very important facts. Firstly, I’m starting to realize just how many amazing cars are out there that I desperately want to own. Secondly, how little money I actually have to achieve the first point. This 1967 Datsun Convertible comes under the heading of cars that I want to own. Listed for sale here on Craigslist, it is located Belchertown, Massachusetts. The seller is offering it with a clean title and an asking price of $11,900.

The Datsun 1600 Sports first hit the market in 1965. Our feature car was built in 1967, and is in what the seller refers to as “lovely driver condition”. This is another example of one of those cars where they may not be perfect, but you really have to look long and hard to identify any faults. It is possible that the bottoms of both front wings could match up better with the rockers and doors, but that really is nit-picking. In all honesty, it just looks really solid, although given the fact that it’s an older convertible it would be safer to have a good look around underneath.

Once again the interior condition really matches the external condition. Everything looks to be in great condition, and the cockpit just looks like a really fun place to be if you were tackling a winding piece of road. One thing that is really amazing is how thin and light the backs of the seats actually look. They look quite flimsy, but they are quite strong, robust and comfortable.

Under the hood is the 1,596cc Datsun engine which is backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. The engine is said to be rock solid. A recent compression test returned results of 185 psi across all cylinders, which is rather good. The seller has made every attempt to maintain the originality where possible, and it shows in the overall presentation of the car.

This little Datsun is one sweet little car. These are honest and easy cars to maintain, and parts for these are not hard to come by. This one appears to be in really nice condition and the price seems to be right in the ball-park for an example in this condition. If anything, it might actually be quite low. At the time of writing this article, the car had been listed for 17 days. I can’t help but wonder why.

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  1. Howard A

    There’s no hiding it, this was the Japanese MGB knockoff. ( with none of the British bugaboos) Almost non-existent in the upper Midwest. I tell you what, looking at it today, I’d have probably got this instead, with different seats, of course. It’s been my only real gripe with any Asian car, is their God-awful seats. The Z car was the 1st real Asian sports car we saw in any numbers. Not sure there’s a big difference between this and the 2000, I bet they’re both a blast. What’s with the 3 radiator caps?

    • Dick Johnson

      That, I don’t know. Our 67.5 only had two. One for the thermostat, the other….

      This car was our only transportation for the first two years of married life. That’s not entirely correct. The motor ycles served from March through February as my primary transportation. The seats never bothered me. Now the would. Still.. Sure miss the total engine sounds. The tic of the rockers, the throaty induction and exhaust.

    • Tom Justice

      This car came out BEFORE the MGB; it is a common misconception this was a knock off of the British car. Far more reliable than the MGB and just as much fun to drive. I owned an MGB and I own a 66 1600 so I know what I am talking about. The seats in my car are just fine; it isn’t three radiator caps but I will admit they do have an interesting cooling arrangement. You are correct, the Z car was the first Asian sports car that sold in big numbers but that just means all the people missed out on these cars and the 2000. The price is a STEAL, if I had the space for another one it would be mine.

      • Howard A

        Um,,,conflicting reports, Wikipedia claims, the 1500 was introduced in August of 1963, the MGB made it’s debut, Sept. 19, 1962. Always looked like a MGB to me.

      • John Baker

        Howard, the Fairlady 1500 came out BEFORE the 1600, and the MGB. They BOTH copied the Fiat 1500. I hope this is all settled now. :)

  2. Ron Tyrrell

    The Fair Lady was introduced in Japan only in either 1958 or 1959 so I would say they are more of a knockoff from a MG A. The first engines were only 1000 cc . If you take head from an Austin A 40 and set it next to a 1500 ccFair Lady it is hard to tell the difference between them. When the 2000 was introduced there was not another in the price that you could compare it too. Over head cam, synchro trans and such. I have very nice 2000 s tucked away in dry storage but they just have not appreciated in value . In Portland area you can find nice ones in and around five gs.

  3. John Baker

    I have a restored 2000 now, I’ve had MGs and Triumphs in the past. While some parts are “readily available,” many aren’t – or if they are, they’re Porsche expensive. The British Cars are much better supported, and as such MUCH easier to restore and maintain. That being said, give me the Datsun please! Such a fast, reliable, and fun Unicorn to bring to events. My 2000, with the optional “Competition Kit” puts out 150hp, which finds its way through a fully-synchronized stock 5-speed. That’s nearly 50% more power than any British car I’ve ever known. P.S. My seats are fine.

  4. Junior

    That price seems tall, for a 1600, but she’s a beaut! Take it from the man who owned one…

  5. DNC

    An absolute steal

  6. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    FWIW, the SCM Guide says the median price actually paid at recent auctions for these in very good / excellent condition has been $14K, so at an asking price of $11,900 this one seems very reasonable for its condition.

    I’m sure someone knows where the design ideas came from for the Fairlady, but with Japanese car designs so often being the product of a committee it’s hard to tell for sure. And they have tended to be tight-lipped about giving definitive credit.

    You can see a clear progression from the rounded body of the 1959 S211, to the less rounded 1960 SPL212, to the even less rounded/tending-to-boxy 1963 SPL310. Similarly from the rounded body 1956 MGA to the tending-to-boxy 1963 MGB.

    And often a design change is “in the air” and gets adopted by a number of manufacturers around the same time. And they will seldom reveal the behind the scenes details….

  7. chrlsful

    Belchertown (cuse me) is 10 min dwn da rd frm here.
    Ask 4 help if wanting it…
    Just put aol behind the name above (will get a signed statement ona mechanic’s inspection doc).

    After the war the Brits & EU helped as much as USA so ideas spread. World cars didn’t 1st come out in the 80s (or even 70s).

    • Howard A

      I always thought that was a silly name for a town too. ( listen to me coming from Wisconsin with all those “injun” names) On the pronunciation site, it really is pronounced BELCH-ertown.

  8. John Chaney

    I’m glad this is on the east coast.

  9. stillrunners

    Neat – o….always like these little Brit betters…..

  10. Steve

    The gap on passenger side between rocker and fender is non existent (see driver side to compare). That aside, the car appears to be beautiful and I’ve always loved this car since seeing one in Taiwan (1967 timeframe). Pictures of underside would be helpful.

  11. lawyer George

    My friend had a black 1964 Fairlady and it was a gas to drive–peppy and road-able. It took the curves without the necessity of gritting of the teeth. I have wanted one ever since 50+ years, but they were scarce in Oregon. They seem to be popping up fairly regularly in BaT auctions should they decide to even talk to you. Used to be a great site until they thought we needed on more Robb Report type venue.

  12. Chinga-Trailer

    I remember a road trip (the last I made with my family as a youngster) in summer of 1969 – we saw quite of few of these on the highways on that trip from California to Wisconsin and back. Everywhere, not just California. Rocky Mountains, plains states, across the Mississippi River it was the most common sports car on the road, out in the country and in the big city.

    The performance difference between a standard 1600 and a tuned 2000 was amazing – I personally outran a CHP car on the San Bernardino Freeway at 135+ MPH back in 1972. Theoretically a Jaguar E Type or Aston-Martin DB6 might have been faster, but neither of them would run right long enough before dying or dropping essential parts on the roadway, to make good one’s escape from the squad car!

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