DIY project: 1965 Datsun Fairlady Convertible

A little piece of trivia: the original Datsun Fairlady was named after the Broadway musical “My Fair Lady.” Much like the character of Eliza Doolittle in the Broadway production, a working-class woman who was “made over” in a bid to pass her off as a member of high society, the original Fairlady was a sports car whose chassis could be traced back to a Datsun truck. Barn Finder Dan O spotted this 1965 SPL310 Fairlady for us, so thank you so much for that Dan. The Fairlady is listed for sale here on Craigslist with an asking price of $1,500. You will find this little Datsun located in Central Point, Oregon.

The Fairlady is most definitely a project car, and there is going to be some work to do before it is returned to its best. The body shows a fair amount of promise, with few rust issues to worry about. We can’t see the state of the floor or frame, but it looks like the car has been sitting in a fairly dry environment, so hopefully, all will be fine in that regard. The car appears to be complete, with no trim items missing, and what we can see of the glass also looks quite promising. The soft-top is also present, but while the frame looks like it is able to be used again, the material is definitely destined for the rubbish skip.

The interior also appears to be complete, but it will require a complete restoration. It looks like the original seats have received new covers at some point in the past, but these are made of a more modern material that doesn’t match the rest of the trim, so those would probably go. Thankfully, it looks like the dash has never been cut or modified in any way, but it will require a full restoration. Like so many sports cars from this era, restorations are now considerably easier than they were in times past, as reproduction and some NOS parts have become readily available.

Unlike its more agricultural predecessors that were based on a commercial platform, the SPL310 was based on the Bluebird 310, making for a more refined vehicle. It also means that the car was fitted with the Bluebird’s 1,497cc G15 engine. This was equipped with twin SU carburetors and delivered 85hp to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. The mechanical state of the Fairlady is an unknown quantity. The car was parked some 18-years-ago following the failure of the clutch master cylinder, and the owner doesn’t indicate whether the engine turns freely.

There is certainly some restoration work required before this Fairlady returns to the road, but it does have a few points in its favor. The first of these is that it appears to be largely complete and solid. The second is that these are a very basic car, and there are very few jobs on one of these that couldn’t be tackled in a home workshop. The last is the potential value. If you bought this Fairlady, you could potentially complete most of the restoration work yourself. This would remove a lot of the labor costs from the equation, meaning that the car would cost you the purchase price of $1,500 plus the parts required to restore it. You can buy a nice example today for around $14,500, but a really mint Fairlady will set you back closer to $23,000. If this Fairlady is as solid as it appears, it really does look like a worthwhile project.

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  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    Neat find, Adam! Hopefully the monocoque is solid which would make a restoration a heck of a lot easier. These are fun cars to drive.

    I knew someone who had a very early, i.e. first-year, Fairlady in SoCal – I think it might have been brought in for testing purposes, as it predated the model’s US introduction.

  2. Jorge

    There is a rare 1964 roadster with a 3rd seat that is much better than this one for the same price in the same area.

  3. John Ruth

    It’s near me if someone wants a look.

  4. Rex Rice

    A friend bought one of these back when. His was the 2 liter series with much more hp. I didn’t like the position of the steering wheel which was canted to the right.
    I loved its replacement, the 240Z. I drove my ’72 until I needed something with more room.

  5. bog

    A buddy of mine had the 2000 series version. Pristine car.. creamy yellow, black interior. That little car had some “scoot”, and he liked to show off it’s quickness and handling. It was great to drive around in good weather, and as I recall he had something else for our awful Winters…Eventually I got an early 280ZX, mine was still badged as a Datsun…also had “scoot” !

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