Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

Desert Survivor! 1969 Datsun 1600 Roadster

Logging the acceleration of the Japanese motorcar industry in the 1960s is a reminder of a competitor that seemingly came out of the blue. Of course, progress wasn’t a straight line: things started haltingly over at Datsun in the sports car arena with an underpowered fiberglass convertible called the S211. With only 20 copies made in 1959, it was almost a throwaway effort. But the idea germinated, and in 1960, Datsun made the SPL212 with a 1.2-liter motor and a serious effort at production. While fewer than 500 were made, this little car is really the parent of the Fairlady platform underpinning today’s 1969 Datsun 1600 roadster here on craigslist, as well as many other thoroughly enjoyable cars. The seller wants $39,300 and his car is located in Phoenix, Arizona.

The 1600 was solidly successful, thanks to its frisky 96 hp 1.6 liter in-line four. This free-revving engine is mated to a four-speed gearbox, and while it takes over 13 seconds to attain 60 mph from a standstill, it feels faster. Top speed is around 103 mph. These numbers slightly lag the contemporary MGB, but the ‘B cost a couple hundred dollars more. Both cars offer a rear drum/front disc set-up, but it’s worth mentioning that buyers could also opt for a Datsun 2000 in 1969, with a five-speed, discs all around, and sparkling acceleration. This car has had four careful owners and a roster of work in the past few years: a rebuilt engine, new clutch and pressure plate, fresh brakes and suspension, NOS muffler. The carbs were rebuilt by ZTherapy. While he was at it, the seller repainted the engine bay. That’s the kind of attention to detail that makes a car rise above the rest.

You’re going to jump all over me in the comment section because technically, this isn’t a survivor. The interior has been completely reupholstered in the factory color. The convertible top is new, as is the windshield; the wheels have been powder-coated and clad in Vredestein Sprint tires (a great tire!) The tonneau and top boot are original, though, as is the trunk mat. Included with the sale are a service manual and a reproduction owner’s manual.

The paint is largely original. It’s scratched and dented here and there, but the seller promises no rust. A tell-tale identifier for the ’69 is that teardrop front marker light – it is the only US-spec safety feature that I find attractive. While prices for both the 1600 and 2000 roadsters have been rising, I couldn’t find any sale of a 1600 even close to $39k. Most examples trade hands in the $15k area, with occasional data points closer to $20k. While it’s a lovely car, the price is commensurately aggressive.


  1. Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rack Member

    And the owner was willing to make a package deal on this plus the 280Z Adam covered on 1 February-maybe the reason that he’s reaching for the bleachers with his price.

    Like 5
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Certainly agree on the bloated price but these cars are fun to drive with good engines and suspensions. Autocrossed against a later model slightly modified one and we spent years swapping 1st place finishes. Do the required inner panel rust proofing and you will have a fun car to drive in your stable.

    Like 8
  3. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    S211? SPL212? I wasn’t even aware of these. Great article.

    Like 5
  4. Tony O

    I put small block Chevy with automatic and a cut rear end with 373 POS what a sleeper. People would say that’s not stock .no crap

    Like 2
  5. chrlsful

    2000’s the 1 to have.

    Never saw the SPL212 (or other w/the C1 paint scheem)
    but for alternative I’d take the SM600 (fastbac or hatch)
    chain drive’n all. Just better to my eye & go-cart-ish.

    All above are for for the Lynx intake’n 6 Keihin swaps like
    TR6 above (below now?)

    Like 0
  6. dan

    While the 2000 is obviously more desirable and the true predecessor to the 240Z, the 1600 is no slouch when it comes to pure joy and I’ll take this over any comparable British roadster. I agree that a more realistic price is needed and the seller should’ve checked out Hagerty before listing this.

    Like 5
  7. Tinlizard

    Small point of order: 2000 model had the same brakes as the 1600.
    1600 is indeed sporty and the engine and transmission have far lower maintenance and repair costs.
    The price is too high. To command that kind of money would require a frame off nut and bolt restoration with show quality paint and Chrome at the very least.

    Like 3
    • Fordor

      Totally agree with this thing being WAY overpriced.

      Like 0
  8. Steve B.

    A good car for way too much $$$. I had a 67 1/2 1600 and loved that car. White with red and black top and tonneau. I wish I still had it along with my Spit. Hindsite.

    Like 1
  9. Bill Emery

    We had a 2000 in 1969 and couldn’t keep it running. It was literally in the shop one to three times a week. The car was such a lemon that one attorney suggested we could get our money back on it, but we traded it in on a TR-6 with knock off wire wheels.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.