Jesse James’ Honey Bee: 1976 Datsun B210

1976-datsun-honey-bee-top

Supposedly this 1976 Datsun B210 is currently owned by Jesse James of West Coast Choppers fame. That is interesting, but it doesn’t really do anything for me. The fact that this Datsun has avoided the ravages of rust is what catches my attention. These cars were built to be cheap and efficient forms of transportation so thin steel was used to cut cost and weight. It may of helped with mpg but it didn’t do anything for corrosion resistance. Seeing one on the road today is a rare sight, so you had better take a look at this Honey Bee here on eBay before it buzzes away!

honey-bee-decals-and-hub-caps

The limited edition Honey Bee was more of a visual package than anything else. Datsun took their most basic stripped out B210 and adorned the sides and rear with a few bee decals. The unique honey comb hub caps on this one are a nice touch too. There is a little rust forming on the bottom of those front fenders, but that isn’t bad considering that this is supposedly the original paint.

datsun-210-engine-bay

If you think the fuel mileage of a new hybrids is impressive, then you will be shocked by what this little bee could do in 1976. 29 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway is respectable even by today’s standards. One secret to its success was this tiny fuel sipping 1400cc inline-four. It may have been small, but with five main bearings, it was tough. This one obviously didn’t see typical Datsun workhorse duty though because it only has 26k on the clock. The seller claims that it was in storage for two decades, but they don’t mention what work has been done to make it road worthy again.

1976-datsun-210-interior

The second secret to its fuel efficiency was low weight. While other manufacturers were cramming every luxury option into their cars, Datsun was stripping them out. There isn’t even any carpet in here! Just black vinyl and lots of it. That helped keep weight down and made the interior durable and easy to clean. There may not be much to look at in here, but we love the concave shape of that dash.

1976-datsun-honey-bee

This used to be one of the most fuel efficient and least expensive cars sold in America! Owners did not love them for how they drove, they loved them because of the money they saved. Now for some reason collectors are flocking to get a Honey Bee of their own, so it will be interesting to see if celebrity ownership skyrockets the price of this survivor bee above all the others in the hive!

honey-bee-brochure-1

honey-bee-brochure-2

Like This? Get Our Daily Email

Comments

  1. Tom

    Seems like to me that the one Jesse James had, he put a new model 350Z model powertrain in. I don’t think this is his.

    • Jesse Staff

      Well, I just checked with the man himself and it is his car. He must have a thing for these little bees!

      • John C

        Ebay seller ‘pope-of-welding’.
        Must be for real!!

  2. ron

    does that front license plate surround say what i think it does?

  3. Don Andreina

    Known as the 120Y here in orstraya. If you want a pic of one rusting under its re spray, there’s one near my place that’s just sitting under trees. Apart from gas sipping (and that dash) these have no redeeming value.

  4. paul

    back in the days when Datsun was hit by the ugly stick.

  5. Kris_01

    I always get a kick out of how some people think that past B-list celebrity ownership confers additional value on a car, especially when it’s something obscure. “Hey, here’s my ’75 Pinto Cruising Wagon formerly owned by SNL alumnus Charles Rocket! I mean, normally it’d be worth $2K in showroom-fresh condition, but this one’s straight out of the barn after a 20 year hiatus, and it’s owned by the dead ex-comedian only famous for dropping the F bomb on live TV, so I’m value pricing it at only $10,995! Ran when parked! Rare!”

    For the record, I’d totally rock a Pinto Cruising Wagon.

  6. fiat128

    I predict this thread degenerates into a bunch of people bashing Jesse James…

    PS: Too bad he didn’t find a B 210 with the weird honeycomb tailights instead, that’s a much more interesting car.

    • Jesse Staff

      Hopefully not. Let’s keep on topic guys, Honey Bee!

  7. chance
    • Horse Radish

      $32 for f**ing license frame saying “f***ing west coast chopper”….
      I’m starting the presses……

  8. Horse Radish

    Just generally speaking, Jesse:
    I don’t think you will get an enthusiastic thread going on a plain Datsun from the mid-seventies.
    Nothing wrong with the car, but
    This is as bland as cardboard.
    I’ve probably seen thousands of these go past me over the years and never have noticed one, so, so, sorry.
    Probably would also be the only unmolested car in the junk yard with everything else around it stripped down to the bone.
    Am I wrong ?

    • Jesse Staff

      Maybe you are right HR, but surprisingly it has more action than the Sonett and the Ginetta from the other day combined. Personally, I think those two cars were much more interesting!

      • paul

        Ditto.

    • Charles

      As long as it runs the wrecking yard will run it as a yard goat.

    • Horse Radish

      You win
      Must be the curiosity/odd ball factor.
      Who would have thunk…?

  9. Patrick Calhoun

    One of my customers mom had one and I did the maintenance on it, it was one bullet proof car but they didn’t like being run at 25 mph all the time…..

  10. Will

    This brings back a bunch of memories. In High school these were everywhere. The interior is amazing.

  11. Joe Howell

    Meet two sisters, one had a brown 4 door B210 and the other had a red Scirocco. Figured cars had something to do with personality so I went for the Scirocco, we’ve been married 31 years this month.

    • Horse Radish

      Wow, the Scirocco is that old now ?

  12. Mark E

    I’d buy it in half a second if I could just find a Japanese collector who would swap me even for a Datsun Cherry X1 of the same vintage!!

  13. John C
    • Horse Radish

      I like the graphics on the side of the front fender.
      That looks real !

  14. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Fraternity brother had one new back in ’76, yellow with black vinyl interior- brutally hot inside with no a/c driving in summer. Truly a Tin box. You could feel everything/anything mechanical working painfully coming thru the body. Hindsight says those hubcaps were copying Saabs’ soccer balls. Perhaps it’s only redeeming value.

  15. Dolphin Member

    I’m as impressed as the next guy by the fact that there’s a 27K mile unrusty Japanese economy car in Texas, but unlike the seller, I don’t see any “Total Retro Muscle Car styling” here.

    Now if this were an early, unrusty, original Z-car with low miles, then I could get excited about it for all kinds of reasons even if Jesse James never came within 10 feet of the car.

    And for those wot might care, that last crack is intended as a comment on the hard-sell going on in the auction listing, and has nothing whatever to do with Jesse James himself, who I think is very good at doing choppers.

  16. Curtis

    LMAO Imaging the ladies watching all those muscles and tattoos slipping into this manly ride.

  17. Jim-Bob

    One of the more interesting bits of this car is the engine. It’s not originally a Datsun design but rather a BMC B series. Datsun cut it’s teeth on license-built copies of old Austin designs dating back to the original Austin Seven. In the post war years they continued this tradition with most of their vehicles from the 50’s and early 60’s being heavily based off of Austin designs. However, there was a difference: Quality. The Datsun copies were far superior to the British originals and had much nicer castings made from high nickel content iron. They were also known to be more reliable-which is not that surprising. If memory serves, they continued building these engines into the early 80’s, when their small car platforms evolved into front drivers and were powered by the Nissan E series engines.

    (The other Datsun 4 everyone thinks of, the OHC L series, was actually designed by Prince before the merger. It was a copy of a Mercedes Benz design and eventually evolved into the KA series engines, which I believe are still made for the South American market variant of the D22 pickup that is still built in Mexico.)

    As for me, I LOVE basic, simple transportation like this. I drive 2-3,000 miles a month in an old 3 cylinder 5 speed Geo Metro while delivering pizza. However, it is quite a bit more fuel efficient than a B210 as it gets around 41 mpg in the city and 50-60mpg on the highway. So, you get my vote for more cars like this being featured in the future.

    • Jesse Staff

      That’s right Jim-Bob. I have a buddy who owns a Bugeye Sprite, a Midget, and a Morris Minor and all three have had their engines swapped out for Datsun units. They slide right in and he claims they are far more reliable. Of course he has the original ones stashed in the shed out back just in case. Thanks for the reminder.

    • paul

      Interesting & yes they were quite bullet proof, I remember my mother had a 1200, an indistructible thing & better looking then this car.

  18. Don Andreina

    I have enjoyed the company of a 76 Crown and an 83 280C. Both rock solid and bought for pocket change. I remember my mechanic telling me the Datsun 6 was based on the Mercedes. Like all true enthusiasts I take Japanese cars seriously, but it’s been fun taking the mickey out of this little bee. Really, it’s only appeal is for hipster-irony types. Kudos to Jesse & crew for the wide variety of automobile they help unearth.

  19. Paul B

    I know these things are fairly reliable but I have never been able to like them. I recall driving and riding in new ones and my memory is they were just awful, from the styling to the interior fittings to the seating comfort to the handling. That’s just me, I realize, and I hope someone who can appreciate this buys it and preserves it. Interesting story about the engines. It is sad to see how thoroughly BMC, Standard-Triumph, Rover and Jaguar failed to build and market with quality as the Japanese ate up the global market.

  20. That Guy

    The Jesse James connection is interesting to me, mainly in that I’m astonished he would have any interest in a car like this. But I didn’t know about his hot-rod drifter build.

    This car is high-school-era for me, and if memory serves it wasn’t intended as a limited-edition special. I think the Honeybee was the entry-level stripper version of the B210. I remember a couple of kids who had them, and I thought they were a bit of a joke. But it’s definitely got retro-cool appeal now, and they are pretty much extinct.

    • Will

      I remember some in High school also. I didn’t consider them a joke though. They where a logical choice for those without wrenching skills to get into a brand new import instead of a a 72 or 73 gas guzzler. I had a bug and a Granada myself. I do think that the fact that it is a survivor and that they seem to be completely gone makes it collectible.

  21. Koolpenguin

    I like the personalized license plate:
    BUZBZZZ

  22. racer99

    Had one of these for the wife back in the early 80’s. Actually a great little car for what it was meant to be but for the life of me I can’t put “B210” and “collectable” together.

  23. George

    My 77 rusted in half. Literally! Right behind the seats, the rockers and across the floor. The front end was held together by coat hangers. Well, used as welding rods. I had a friend with a welder that kept it together. I remember it’s last drive. I was in rush hour Philly traffic when the left front suspension separated completely and half the braking system failed. I was heading home to upstate NY. Just about midnight about an hour from home the alternator cut out. As the headlights got dimmer and dimmer until the battery died I was driving with a flashlight held out the side window so that I could see where I was going. About a half hour from home it finally died and I managed to get off the highway and into a parking lot. The next day a friend and I took a charged battery so I could get the rest of the way home. He followed me and said that every time that I hit the brakes, he could see the body of the car twisting. I actually sold it to someone for parts, and he said that mine was in better shape than his. I told him that if he put it back on the road to call me so that I knew where not to drive.

  24. George

    The Honey Bee was simply the stripped version of the B210. Scary when you consider that the standard version was stripped down compared to almost every other car on the road at the time.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.