Fair Barn Find: 1964 Datsun Fairlady 1500

I had not thought much about a Datsun Fairlady in a long time. I had a college friend, many years ago, that drove a thoroughly dented ’69 model 2000 (it was surprisingly quick!) and then Mike and Ant of Wheeler Dealers fame did a redo, also on a ’69 2000, just recently. Seeing this 1964 example, right after the WD episode, made me think it was worth taking a closer look at one of these rarely seen two-seaters. This 1964 Fairlady is located in Longmont, Colorado and is available, here on craigslist for $6,000. Thanks to Ikey H. for this tip!

Datsun produced the Fairlady between 1959 and 1970 with a total count in the 40K range. While many may not remember this British-styled sports car with Japanese reliability, they will remember its successor, the 240Z and the succession of Z cars that are still being offered today. My original belief was that there were only two engine sizes offered, a 1600 and 2000 CC inline-four, but in typical fashion, I was wrong. The original Fairlady models produced between 1959 and 1962 are, IMHO, cartoonish looking; the real sports car vibe didn’t occur until the introduction of the ’63 Fairlady 1500, which is essentially what our subject car is, plus one year.

This Fairlady is in fair shape. Of note is the removable hardtop – other than this example and the Wheeler Dealers subject car, I have never encountered one. And in this case, it appears to be necessary because there is no evidence of a folding soft-top being present. The body shows signs of finish fade and surface rust, as would be expected on a 56-year-old car. The seller lists the mileage as 18K but it’s not hard to imagine that accumulation is off by 100K. This Datsun is listed as a twenty-five-year barn find that had its windshield covered during storage. That’s nice, but what about the rest of the car? It is described as “unmolested” and that appears to be the case.

Power is provided by a non-seized, 1500 CC, in-line four-cylinder engine. Regarding this 85 HP motor, the seller suggests that “Oil in the crankcase is super clean and with some work this engine may fire up”. The operative word here is “may“; I would want to know, it would certainly help with the sales effort. Gear changes happen via a four-speed manual transmission.

Moving inside, we are told, ” Interior needs to be redone but basically in pretty good shape”. Well, that’s great to know except I cannot find an interior per se, just an interior space. There is no reference to the missing seats, carpet, panels, etc. and nothing interior parts-like is captured via the images. It is also stated that ’64 was the only year that a Fairlady was in possession of a third seat and this example has one that’s supposedly in good condition. I guess it’s one of those things that you have to ask about, I hope. Anyway, research indicates that the third seat, which is a single, tiny person, sideways seat, was actually available in both ’63 and ’64. I do agree that” the dash is in very good condition for the age”. And yes, there is an original radio in place!

How to best describe this Fairlady? Needs work and yes, as the seller states, “It’s a project but I think it has great potential for a super restoration”. That could well be the case assuming that the engine is operable without a major teardown/rebuilding and the new owner can track down that interior that needs to be redone. My friend’s ’69 Datsun 2000 was a lot of fun; a true, firm riding, low to the ground, and flat handling sports car that had some respectable “go” to it. It was probably truer to sports car genuineness than I can recall or would want to relive today, at least 45 years after the fact. I remember leaving an Allman Brothers concert in D.C. in the mid-70s in that little 2000 and hitting the notoriously rough Baltimore/Washington Parkway – frost heaves every few car lengths.¬† The ride was so “firm” that the center top latch got unlatched, swung down and smashed the center out of the rearview mirror. I was also convinced that my fillings were going to end up somewhere on the floor. All of that said, the upside here is that this Datsun is unmolested, has a reliable reputation and is certainly not a two-seater encountered every day. That makes it worth consideration, don’t you think?

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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    I wonder if someone lowered this car, and I wonder why? These cars are pretty darn low to start with.

  2. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Nice one, Jim! And, bonus points for a Wheeler Dealers reference, the best car fix-it show of all time, in my opinion.

    Like 3
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    That’s a standard height for the model year. Not any of the sports cars of that age were jacked up because of the later headlight height requirements. Notice the stock height of our ’66 MGB. This could be a good one to rebuild.

    Like 4
  4. chgrec Member

    I have each model (1500, 1600 & 2000) of the Fairlady roadsters. The later model 2000 were really fun to drive with more oomph but the earlier less powered models were still a blast, seems to handle better and are all worth owning. I have also owned other little roadsters; MGs (A, B & Midget), Triumphs (TR250, Spitfire & GT6) and Alfas (series 2 & 3 spiders) and the Datsuns seemed the most refined to me and were some of my very favorites…..

    Like 5
  5. Junior Samples

    Men drooled, wives were jealous!

    • Robert Eddins

      Dang, love your user name. Brings very happy memories and time with Mom and Dad sitting on the sofa and me sitting on the carpet floor watching “HEE HAW” and laughing away. Junior had perfect comedic everything. I know this sounds so dumb but I.ve actually prayed to God. to take me and Kathy back to those days.

      Like 1
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Reruns showing on Circle TV now, part of the Grand Ol Opry network. Every afternoon I watch with my two year old son. I think most of Junior’s bits were ad libbed because he was so bad at reading cue cards. That, and his drinking. Always like to see him in sketches with Lisa Todd. Have you seen a photo of her lately? Hoe Boy!

  6. Chinga-Trailer

    In 1972 I drove a “slightly” modified one down the San Bernardino Freeway at 130 – 140 mph. We passed a CHP car that was doing perhaps 65. No, he never caught us. It was about 1:00 AM

    Like 4
  7. chrlsful

    I went thru a series of fiats & alfas back in the day and didn’t realize the Datsun did the same – start low’n go hi. Only saw the end result the 2000. My fiats – the same a 1200 in early yrs, 15, 16 and the face lift to the 124 (1400/2000cc).

    This 1? I’d experiment w/the lynx intake & 4 Keihins…

  8. Jerry

    I had one with the side seat so I guess it was a 64. I had it in 82′ after I sold my mgb. It was fun car and my neighbor had one too so we had fun driving them around in West Palm Beach Florida because I don’t think there was another one around.

    Like 1

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