Mean Mice: 1976 Datsun B210

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As many of us can likely agree, timing is everything. It doesn’t matter whether you’re flying through the Esses at Watkins Glen or asking for a raise at work, the timing of an event can have a monumental impact on the outcome. In the case of vehicles like this 1976 Datsun B210 (and many other Japanese economy cars), the oil crisis was one of those well-timed events that worked out in the automaker’s favor. Americans may never have adopted these fuel-sipping oddballs otherwise, which today are a rare sight on our roads. 

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In the case of this example, there’s clearly some good news and bad news. The good news is it’s likely not too far off from running. The motor spins freely and has good compression, but unfortunately, being idled for the better part of 10 years has given mice and other critters ample opportunity to chew through wiring (and likely build nests all over the place). The car’s location in Nebraska doesn’t guarantee rust-free condition, but it’s clear the sun has been more damaging than road salt, with minimal rust but plenty of rotten plastics and fabrics. My guess is this Datsun has been slumbering in a dry, high-plains location that became a haven for rodents come wintertime.

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I believe this B210 is equipped with Datsun’s venerable A14 engine, which produced about 85 b.h.p. – not a lot, but keep in mind this hatchback only weighed about 2,000 lbs. Then again, this one is saddled with an automatic, which likely put quite a damper on any feelings of sprightliness. But if the B210 was your ticket to dumping a massive fuel bill every month, I’m guessing you’d live with the trade-offs of modest acceleration and oddball styling. If anyone is looking for parts to restore one of these, I discovered a decent example in a previous edition of “Jeff in the Junkyard.”

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You can check out all of the details on this funky Datsun here on eBay, where the seller has set the Buy-It-Now at a reasonable $650. If you’re restoring one of these, that’s a fair deal just to have a spare parts car to pillage from. Or, assuming the reserve is somewhere between the $250 opening bid and the BIN, it could be a reasonable price for a project car you don’t see every day – and that will pull 25 MPGs. Is the timing right for you to take this fuel-sipping project car home?

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Comments

  1. Terry J

    Nissan built British MG engines under license in the 50s, so their own design relied heavily on that experience, but with 5 main bearings and a forged steel crank. The JATCO (Japanese Automatic Transmission Co) was a joint venture with Mazda and that tranny borrowed design characteristics from the Ford C-4, and with the engine is also regarded as “bulletproof”. That 3 speed automatic was used in most of the Japanese cars of that era, and found it’s way into the front wheel drivers too. I drive a ’77 B210 A14 w/auto with 84k original miles. :-) Terry J

  2. George

    Nope! Hit in rear. The rust in the quarters in front of the rear wheels where the panel is rusted through is structural behind it. That was the only visible rust on mine when it twisted in half.

  3. DREW V.

    I had a blue ’76 notchback in college in ’82-’83… Great lil car, ran like a top. only 6 yrs old and the rockers were already rotted away and was a Southern car where they don’t salt the roads in the winter…

  4. Shilo

    Junk box

  5. Doug Towsley

    I know my In laws used to build electronic ignition conversions for MGs using parts from these cars so the relationship of the design makes perfect sense.
    I had a girlfriend who had one of these and was a great car for her. I worked on a few of these and swapped one of the 1500 series motors into a Triumph Spitfire with the factory 5 speeds. Good basic transportation. The fuel economy on these is good but not great. Tech has come a long way. The new Dodge pickups get 29 mpg as a full size crew cab.

    But I do LOVE old Datsuns. well made, and excellent parts interchange. Not as much performance parts for these, but you can still get cams and headers for them, a carb swap is often good, most people use the weber downdrafts. But for whatever reason people prefer the L Series and later motors. But there was a few of these I saw back in the day running in IMSA and SCCA road racing. Theres a guy locally who converted one of these into an electric car and just plain smokes anyone who goes up against him. 10 sec in qtr mile. See PlasmaBoy racing (and street cars) White Zombie is one of his first projects but he built many more :
    http://www.plasmaboyracing.com/history.php

  6. Scotty G Staff

    I wouldn’t blink to pay ten times the buy-it-now price for a nice one with a 5-speed. Dang, I hate mice! Nice find!

    And, that ’78 200SX in your “Jeff in the Junkyard” post is as cool as it gets!
    http://13252-presscdn-0-94.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/1978-Datsun-200SX.jpg

  7. Jerry L

    We had a 1980 B210 SL with the same body style. Great car. I drove it until the seats and body dissolved around me. The running gear was still going strong. It was a 5 speed.

  8. Tony

    My first car was an 80 b210 and when I seen this one my wife was worried because I was grinning ear to ear . Not because I want to buy this one but because the sudden flash of those early years were flooding in . Last I seen my b210 was upside down in a culvert on a fire access road in the middle of no where north of Fort mcmurray Alberta Canada . Wow fun care free car from care free days !!!!

  9. angliagt

    Jerry,

    You had a 210 – B210’s were ’74 – ’78 models.
    I have a ’78 B210GX that I’m going almost completey
    through,& might sell it when I’m done.

  10. Chris In Australia

    Yuk. Sold as the Datsun 120Y here in Australia. A comment at the time expressed sympathy for the sheet metal being tortured into that shape.
    “Slug” was being kind to the performance of one owned by a mate’s girlfriend.

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