Garaged Since ’86: 1968 Datsun 1600

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There’s a car I keep going back to on my (long) list of prospective projects I’d like to own, and the Datsun 1600 roadster is perpetually on it. I love the looks, as it’s proportioned just right for a vintage drop-top, and despite being an older design, they respond incredibly well to semi-modern tweaks, like the color-matched wheels you see here. This example appears quite complete and has been stored since 1986. You’ll find it here on craigslist for $3K and sold as a non-runner. 

The long-term storage hasn’t been a bad thing from what I can see, as the interior is quite presentable and the dash appears complete. The seats could use a refresh, sure, but you can also use them as-is. The three-spoke steering wheel is another one of those design features that just screams “vintage roadster”, and it looks like a mini Jaguar E-Type inside. I think that’s what I love about this car the most: it has tons of style, oozing classic looks that exceed its limited proportions.

The stacked rear taillights are gorgeous, as are the slim chrome bumpers. The little fins atop the rear haunches are so subtle you’d almost miss them, but they’re there. These 1600s look so good with the factory hard top that I’d have a challenging time not buying one before even seeing if it will run. And if it doesn’t, who cares? Spares are plentiful and engine swaps with modern drivetrains are not uncommon.

At least it’s complete, rather than a half-finished restoration project like so many of these Datsun roadsters become. The seller doesn’t offer much in the way of information, only noting that there are some unique one-year-only parts included on the 1968 models, which I suppose make this one more desirable since they’re present and accounted for. I wouldn’t change a thing about this one other than to get it running. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Roger for the find.


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  1. JerryDeeWrench

    I agree get it running and enjoy the sun.

    Like 7
  2. Andy

    I’d take one of these over an MGB without thinking about it.

    Like 12
    • Solosolo UK ken TILLYMember

      Or a Miata.

      Like 7
  3. Mark Looman

    I owned a 1600 and a 2000. The cost of parts was high and I lost interest. I’ll admit the car was very well built and way ahead of it’s time. The 2000 had a 5 speed far before it was cool.

    Like 5
    • Robert L Roberge

      As usual, I was far ahead of the pack. I bought a 1500 from LeMans Motors in San Berdoo. Every time i stopped for a traffic light the oil pressure light went on. The dealer claimed it was normal. The roof leaked onto my lap anytime it rained in SoCal. I was just an 18 y/o kid, what did I know? I complained to Datsun. They always had deaf ears but they did agree to rebuild the bottom end. I love/hated that car. What did I do; bought a new 610 p/u, an early 810 and then a Maxima and another 610, then inherited a B210 gutless wonder automatic from my MIL. Funny thing, after all I will probably buy one again.

      Like 7
  4. rod444

    I’d want it to be running for that price, but then again I want world peace too.

    If engine parts are high, this one of those cars that wouldnt lose any value by converting it to an EV. After all, how far does one normally drive while cruising in a tiny convertible anyway?

    Like 3
    • xrotaryguy

      Far, I would say. I took a triumph spitfire from Phoenix to the Grand canyon. I was sweating that it would break down the whole way. That’s the beauty of these Datsuns. The build quality is superior to British and Italian roadsters but the car is just as fun!

      Like 1
  5. Paul T Root

    My brother had a 67 1/2 1600. Then bought a 2000 (with solex – pretty sure aftermarket) race car. We swapped engines so many times, I lost count. The 4-speed was mostly junk, but the 5 speed was pretty good. His was a rust bucket.

    Loved those cars. But I didn’t have to deal with maintenance/parts/etc.

    Got me to desire a convertible. And ended up with my first MGB.

    These cars bring back the good memories from college in the 80s.

    Like 1
  6. stillrunners

    Liked these early on….as I was running delivery’s around 1976 in my 396 – 64 and one of my co-workers had a Fair Lady……sure envied that little sports bit…

    Like 1

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