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Desert Dry: 1967 Datsun 1600

1967 Datsun 1600

Many years ago, I was a newspaper reporter in Central Massachusetts. I had to cover the grand opening of a local business’ new office, which was located in a mill building alongside a river. As I explored the property before the ribbon cutting, I stumbled across an old Datsun roadster rotting in the woods alongside the river. Moss green in color, much like the undergrowth on the rockers, I quickly forgot about any actual reporting I was there to do. Unlike the one I found that day, this 1967 Datsun 1600 is moss free. It can be found here on eBay or in wonderfully dry Mesa, Arizona, now back to my story!

Datsun 1600

After some inquiring, I found out it belonged to the president of the organization I was there to report on, and he was storing it at the job site while he sorted out storage arrangements. Unfortunately, if it wasn’t rusty before, it was certainly well past saving after even a few months next to a raging river and the punishment of a New England winter. It always blew my mind that the owner thought this was a fitting environment to store a project!

1967 Datsun Top

Thankfully, this Datsun 1600 resides in a much drier environment, and while it does have some rust in its floorboards, it sounds like a manageable project. While it will require a full interior as well as a mechanical and extensive cosmetic sorting, the starting bid is only $1,200 and there is no reserve. For a project that’s not lacking an engine and isn’t a total rust bucket, that might leave some room in the budget for a half-decent rolling restoration project.

1967 Datsun Roadster

I’ve always liked the Datsun 1600s as an alternative to the commonplace MGB. Price-wise, they are fairly consistent but my feeling is you’re less likely to see yourself coming down the road in the Datsun. Plus, few cars wear MiniLite wheels better than Japan’s answer for the classic roadster. Just be sure to avoid ones parked next to the river wild! So would you rather have this 1600 or an equivalent MGB?


  1. cory

    The 67 is a preferred year for the roadsters, short windsheild, flat dash. Unfortunately this one would require some serious coin to restore, there are no reproduction parts so you are left with paying unreal prices for nos components. All of the interior, rubber etc has been baked out. On the up side, this is an ideal candidate for some upgrades. Throw in some miata seats, rear disk brakes upgrade the fronts. Since it is a 1600, upgrade to the sr22 motor and have a fun little miata chaser, and avoid the mg crowd.

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  2. Jeffry H

    There is no link to the ebay address, oops. Love you writing, interesting but not off subject.

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  3. Jim

    The MG monicker carries, perhaps, a tad more cache, but is rather have fun AND reliability rather than just fun.

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  4. Rick

    Does anyone remember the 1970 Saturday morning kid’s show Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp? It was live action film featuring chimpanzees with overdubbed human voices. Anyhow, the Lancelot Link character drove a Datsun 2000 roadster on the show (pretty sure it was a 2000, I recall it had the tall windshield). Chimps driving cars – who knew?

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    • JohnnyT

      Rick, Lance Link was one of the all-time great Saturday morning TV shows. The Man From UNCLE, only starring chimps. Lance drove a red 2000 roadster, but also drove race cars, dune buggies, mini-bikes, power boats ,,,,what a guy!

      This one is red, too. Could it be the long-lost Lance Link Datsun 2000?

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      • Chris

        Would that make it the ‘Missing Link” in evolution?

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  5. Rich

    I’ve always loved these cars and would prefer this over a Triumph or MG. I did love my TR3 but this would suit as more of a daily driver in my opinion.

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  6. Dolphin Member

    A place like Mesa, AZ is the place you want to find a Roadster, and except for the stuff that deteriorates badly, like the soft interior, this one looks pretty good .

    I think the Datsun Roadsters are very underrated as cars to drive and as collectibles. I’m restoring a very early ’70 240Z to replace the one I sold by mistake some years ago, and I am thinking of doing a Roadster too. But I would hold out for one of the better ones that I know are out there and probably would not end up costing very much more to buy than this one. AZ and CA are the places to look because a lot of Datsun sports were sold there new.

    Japanese vintage cars get no respect. Actually, a few do now, like the Toyota 2000GT. Perfect ones routinely sell at auction for about $1 million. And Datsun sports values—early 240Zs and all the Roadsters—are definitely moving up. A perfect 1968 1600 Roadster sold at auction last year for $50,600. The decimal is in the right place: just over fifty thousand dollars. That’s unusual, but others have also sold for good money. Another Roadster sold for $20K in 2012, and a 2000 Roadster was bid to $45K in 2010 but didn’t meet the reserve. These cars have started to move up and are worth restoring.

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Dolphin, the time is coming when we will all look back and say, “Geez, I wish I bought one of those when they were cheap.” CRXs, 240Zs, 300ZX TT, Supras, etc. – they’re all going to start ticking upwards as the people who lusted after them when they were 16 get closer to retirement and want one for their garage.

      As long as I find my E30 325IX before that happens, I will be OK with it. ;-)

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      • cory

        Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

        But seriously, I couldn’t agree more. There is a large group of folks who dreamed of z cars and supras that are starting to have extra cash. I think the smart money is on Japanese iron right now.

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      • Don Andreina

        Jeff, part of the problem will be finding unmolested examples, particularly R32-34 GTRs. We got a swag of grey imports here in oz about ten years ago and probably every single one that came in was breathed upon.

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  7. Tim H

    My ill spent youth was done in Datsun roadsters. The 2000’s were way under rated back then and cheep! But I find I am a driver not a collector. A miata comes with all the stuff I could only dream of adding to my roadsters. My Miata makes me feel young again.

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  8. Mr Wolf

    I owned a ’68 version of these with a 2000 engine. VERY sweet cars. The 1600 engine is nearly indestructible, and in fact is the same family of engine used in fork lifts. They can be rebuilt readily. The 2000? Not so much. They can get extremely expensive to re-do; the upside is that they are VERY strong, and rev well, and fun to drive.

    Parts are iffy. You can do Volvo brakes, Miata seats, and other components as needed. But dashes are unobtainium, as are most trim components. One huge worry- the tops. The top structures can be OK, but if the front bow is split (and most are, in the middle where they’re weak) you have to get a new one- no repairing them. But new top covers are easy.

    I sold mine cheap, as I didn’t want to get into a re-do of the underbody, and let it go to someone else. As someone said above, find a GOOD one, and stick with that. They are totally worth it.

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  9. DT

    A true sports car……..I like Japanese cars,My experience with these is they have a lot of power,but fall apart faster than you can fix them. sorry

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    • Anthony

      DT . I agree . I had a Datsun 260 Z , a beautiful car. Ran great except, the computer or “black box” was mounted on the firewall in front of the drivers seat., it would overheat and the Z would just shut down. I would be curzing hi-way speed everything running great them , right in the middle of traffic it would die. A number of times I thought I had it. Really ,unbelievable close calls. Also it seemed to rust , underbody , rocker panels , rear fenders. Etc. right befor your eyes. If you blink , more rust. Now I have to say , the design styling was fantastic. My Z was a gold colored 2+2 , which made the body longer and sleeker ,remote antenna , loved it. If Nilsson / Datusn would make a Z with the old fashioned styling I might purchase one. I would hope the steel they used and the rust protection would be of higher quality . Otherwise , same Los sh*t.

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    • Mike Young

      So not true. Amazingly hardy…. Easily repairable. Many unrestored examples on the road…unlike all the Brit junk which must be fully restored to be (briefly) on the road.
      As for upgrades stock brakes are excellent (new calipers still available at Nissan!) If any upgrade desired (not Volvo) 300 zx kit can be done… Rear brake is fine as is. Stock seats are excellent (not fugly Miata)…… site is seldom up to date but may provide some entertainment.

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  10. Yasha

    check this out guys, a whole mess of them: http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/cto/4760785035.html

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  11. Paul Root

    My brother bought a 1967 1/2 roadster (low windshield but other ’68 improvements) when he was 15 back in the late 70s. I loved that car.

    He kept it all through college and after in the Navy. As a Senior he bought another roadster race car with a 2 liter and Solexes. We towed it home from Manhattan Kansas to Kansas City with the 1600. What a sight that must have been. He started his race career with that race car, swapping in the 1600 (more competitive in its class). I drove it for a half year when he was at Officers school.

    Then I bought my first MGB.

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  12. Ned Nobody

    Having owned a Fairlady and a 2,000 roadster And a Turbo 280ZX 2+2 I can say great cars, fun to drive. The 2000 was built and it was a rocket for the time. The Fairlady I paid $600. for and drove it from San Diego to Oregon and then to Chicago and back so I guess it was dependable too. My only complaint was severe lack of leg room in both the roadsters for a 6′ 2″ man. My 72 Mgb had way more room in side but with the usual Lucas electrical problems. I run my cars not just sit them in the garage. 2 AM out through the canyons between Escondido and Ramona Cal in a 2,000 roadster, Top down and no traffic, It doesn’t get much better then that.

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  13. Mike Woudenberg

    I bought this car after seeing at the Goodguys swap meet. It did not sell there, and I saw it on ebay right after Goodguys. I picked it up for $1400 and trailered it home.
    I was curious about the engine which was covered with dust so we connected a temporary gas line to a gravity feed hose, and plugged in a new battery. (made sure there were fluids in the engine of course) After a couple turns with the starter the car fired right up and idled!! No bad noises or anything. We shut it down and are now going through a full rebuild. I’m in need of some parts yet so anyone who has parts for this car please give me a shout.

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