Dictionary Not Included: 1980 Datsun 310 GX

One thing about searching Craigslist, grammar can make or break an ad. Sometimes bad spelling can be on purpose: Honey, no one has called about the car and the ad has been up all month! If something isn’t spelled just right, good luck finding it. In the case of this Nesson Dotson, or Datsun 310 GX, the lack of proofreading might mean this car never has a chance to get back on the road by a caring owner. But with the interest in vintage Japanese vehicles still rising like the sun, this rarely seen ride deserves a better fate. Located in sunny and dry Paso Robles, California here on craigslist with a $900 asking price.

Also not helping sell this car are the pictures which are few and far between. Luckily underwood the car looks dusty but complete and the exterior looks relatively rust free. Heck, the paint might even buff out some and a few minor dents could be pulled out. These 1.4L fours give peppy performance and great MPGs, living up to the Datsun Saves marketing. Mechanical parts are still easily accessible, having just purchased a slave cyclinder from a big parts store for my 1976 Datsun on a road trip. The trim will need restoration and the interior is a mystery. SMOG in California means, if this blue buggy doesn’t get that new carburetor, the crusher could just be down the road.

The 310 replaced the even stranger styled F10 in Datsun’s lineup in 1978, keeping the FWD/manual transmission layout. These were the smallest vehicles in the line up, and great in the snow, though the larger, RWD B-210 and later 210, easily outsold them. One unique feature of these top of the line GX coupes is the wrap over plastic band, possibly mimicking 911 Targas and Thunderbird Landaus! Unique Japanese vehicles seem to get more and more attention at car shows and a 1980 Nesson Dotson is about as rare as they get!


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  1. Jeff Lavery Staff

    I was aware of the F10, but have never seen one of these. Great find.

    • Corey Kemendo Member

      Thanks Jeff, my first approved story! F10’s are more on the radar due to the weirdness, but these 310 coupes are pretty funky too.You beat me to the XT6, another wild Asian oddity.

  2. Neal

    Nice write up.
    I do t remember ever seeing one of these. Aunt had a B210. My dad got a sporty “Neesan Dotson” Sentra hatchback in ’83, five speed stick and red with white-lettered Yokohamas. Seems worlds apart from this vehicle in just three years, but that was likely the equivalent.

  3. Miguel

    A friend of mine had a car exactly like this in high school.

    This could be his car, it is that exact.

    The stories he had about where he took this car were amazing.

  4. Gunner

    My oldest daughter learned how to drive in this year and model, but with 4 doors. That was 16 years ago. I still have a thing for these 80’s Japanese cars. I am currently getting ready to sell an 85 Camry that was a one owner prior to me that has 142K original miles and is pretty nice. This is indeed pretty rare nowdays as most of them are gone. It could be brought back.

    • Miguel

      I am surprised to see people here say they have never seen one of these.

      They were everywhere in the ’80s.

      • Mike Dettling

        Had two of these in high school. A red 80 4door GX with sunroof and factory air. It pretty much saved my life when a 81 Malibu wagon pulled out in front of me going 55.

        Insurance paid out $1200 after paying only $250 and I immediately bought another, blue minus air and sunroof but low miles. Great cars. Mine had the A15 engine I believe.

  5. BiggYinn

    Love these odd ball cars …they where very common in the 70s the F10 was the 2nd generation datsun (nissan) sunny …this 310 gx is a great find hope someone saves it!

  6. RoughDiamond rough diamond Member

    I owned an F-10 and it was peppy with the manual transmission. My wife’s first car was an ’81 Datsun 310 GX manual shift with under 50K. She bought it in 1984 and it was anything, but peppy. Fortunately, before our kids came along she came to her senses and bought a Y-84 ’79 T/A with the T/A 6.6 400, 4-speed, WS6, etc. She could drive the heck out of that car. She still reminisces about it today.

  7. Steve R

    Any potential buyer would need to see if the car has a non-op filed with the DMV. If not the back registration could doom this car.

    Steve R

    • Miguel

      The car has a clear title so it can be taken to another state.

      • Steve R

        But who? It’s a non running 37 year old economy car that doesn’t seem to have much of a following. I can’t see many people putting enough effort or money into transporting it long distance.

        Steve R

  8. Superdessucke

    I remember going to the Chicago Auto Show back in 1980 with a friend and his dad. His dad complained the whole time about the cars being too expensive, not made well, etc. A few months later he bought one of these. I guess weird styling was less of a concern than high prices or poor build quality.

    I remember standing next to it while he was in the driver’s seat asking him if he got air conditioning. I remember him saying triumphantly “you don’t need it!” and turning on the vents. I wonder if he still felt that way during the summer while sitting immobile in Chicago traffic, lol!

    Why that memory sticks out, I don’t know. But interesting to see one of these so many years later.

    Like 1
  9. 70kingswood

    one of these got used up by my family back in the day and it fought a long hard battle before finally giving up. everything worked even the A/C.the oddest thing about it was the shift pattern where reverse is where you would expect to find first, when you shift into reverse a little bell would ring to let you know that you would not be moving forward. under hood there were three fans cooling off various parts.one was pointed at the carburetor. all in all a fun little beater!

  10. Todd Zuercher

    Your title cracked me up because my 7th grade English teacher, circa 1982, had one of these in this exact color. I wonder whatever happened to Ms. Sutton.

  11. Larry Q

    My parents had one of these in 1983 and I can vouch for these cars…you can drive the living crap out of them and they keep on running

  12. Tony Grilo

    Great write up, Reminds me of the joke on how they came up with the name Datsun. When Nissan was planning on coming to the states they wanted a new name to use so they asked the marketing department for ideas and one guy asked when they needed it by and the manager said next week, and he replied “dat soon”

  13. irocrobb

    I had a 1977 Datsun F10 in about 1981 Lived in a town of 1000 people I I think I was one of the first with a import FWD car. It was a 4 speed manual trans. At 60,000 miles it dropped a valve. Got it fixed and traded it for a Honda Accord.

  14. Brian Joseph

    an interesting fact about the 310 was that you could replace the clutch without removing the transmission

    • Mike Dettling

      How is that possible??! I never knew this tidbit, Brian.

  15. David Miraglia

    saw plenty of them here in New York city. Always liked the design.

  16. Ken

    My heart skipped a beat when I saw this. A high school girlfriend had one of these in red. I instantly thought of her.

    I dumped her one day for no reason. I was just in some kinda mood. Years later I apologized to her, and she was surprisingly forgiving. We’re FB friends now, for whatever that’s worth.

    What an a**hole I was. Thanks for reminding me, Datsun.

  17. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    These make great donor cars if a 5 speed manual transmission–it bolts on Sprites and Midgets from the 1960’s-74. Many have converted their “whiney at highway speed” 4 speed manual Midgets to 5 speeds using the Datsun gearboxes.

  18. Bryan Cohn

    Datsun funded a build of a 310 for IMSA RS racing in the early 80’s, racing against all the econobox cars of the day. From memory it wasn’t very successful.

  19. Tim

    I had a 1980 310GX…..bought it new w/o AC because I couldn’t afford it -or so I thought. It was a nice little gas saver and was fun to drive except in hot southeast summer months. Never had a problem with it but let it go loooooong ago – well before it began to show any real age as I was quick to change cars in my early years. Thanks for the post….good memories.

  20. Debbie

    My very first brand new car in 1979. The new models had just come out in Oct. It was white with black trim and burgundy valor seats. But then after a few years marriage and two carseats the 2 door car had to be upgraded. Sad day.

  21. Joe

    I have the opportunity to pick one of these up for pretty much free. Needs some work but in great shape for a Nebraska car. Just asking if it’s worth getting it on the road again?

  22. Mike

    My family had one of these nissan coupes purchased new in 81 in Australia. The car run on its original engine for 390000km but also hit 4 kangaroos in its lifetime, the last two of which where within a 3 week period so it was not viable to have repaired…pity she was a great runner in her time and served us well for 12 years as a commuter.

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