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Needs Engine Transplant: 1968 Datsun Fairlady 2000

While many of us feel guilty for harboring thoughts of modifying a good car to make the ride of our dreams, in some situations, that is forgivable.  If a vehicle has suffered enough damage or is missing crucial parts to the point that the junkyard is the next stop, then one is absolved of all sin for modifying it to suit their needs and desires.  Take for example the rare roadster you see here.  This 1968 Datsun Fairlady 2000 for sale on Facebook Marketplace in Cour D’ Alene, Idaho is in rough shape and missing its engine.  However, this otherwise complete barn find is ready to be the bank canvas that someone can create their masterpiece out of.  Is that blank canvas worth the $2,000 asking price?

While this Fairlady looks a bit rough, the seller seems to have done the Lord’s work here.  Most would have taken one look at this dust-covered car in its crumbling sarcophagus and walked away.  It was covered with dust and grime, missing an engine, and has rust damage in the bottom rear of both front fenders.  There was no telling what it looked like underneath or inside.  To their credit, the seller saw that there was something worth saving, hooked up a chain, and drug it into the light after 32 years of being squirreled away.

After getting the car to safety and inspecting it, the seller was rewarded to find that the rust is limited to the front fenders, which is a common problem area on these cars.  The floor pans and firewall are in good shape and free from issues.  The rest of the car, minus the missing engine, is described as being complete and in good shape considering all that the car has endured.  For a car as seldom seen as the Fairlady, that is refreshingly good news.  The only real problem for the buyer is a lack of a title.  However, there are ways around that if you are resourceful.

The Fairlady were a very interesting entry into the sports car market at that time.  Datsun, Toyota, Honda, and Subaru were just getting their start in America, and their products were not geared towards this market.  While you can see that the MG Midget and MGB were the inspiration for this car, it has its own quirky Japanese look.  Sort of like how a Japanese Godzilla movie covers the same ground but has a different feel from a Hollywood Godzilla movie.  As for the engineering, Datsun provided customers with a true five-speed transmission and disc brakes.  As for the missing engine, it would be interesting to hear exactly what the readers think will bolt up to that transmission.

The missing engine and low price also open up the opportunity to repower the car entirely.  These are small roadsters that would respond well to a healthy dose of horsepower.  The vehicle’s condition, being that it will likely need a full restoration, means that a proper return to factory stock would be a labor of love, not an investment.  These roadsters were ahead of their time but were overshadowed by Datsun’s 240 Z a little bit farther down the road, so they don’t seem to garner the respect that they deserve in the market.  Regardless of how this one turns out, let’s hope it returns to the street in one form or another.

Would you repower and hot rod this Fairlady or restore it to stock?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. HoA Howard A Member

    When I speak of the choices for a 2 seat roadster in the 60s, it was always MG and Triumph, but,,there was another( in my best Yoda voice). The,,trying not to laugh, Datsun Fairlady, I feel even less manly just saying the name. Didn’t have a crickets chance in a hen house( Festus) but they could be had. Not near the dealer network as the Brits, made them hard to buy, and some argue it was NOT the Asian MGB, but I beg to differ. When they dropped the name to 1600/2000, helped some, but Asian cars were still not widely accepted,,yet, and the 240Z changed all that. Fact is, I read, it was called the Fairlady Z, but luckily dropped before production. I guess the reason I like these, is because it was a MGB knockoff, after all, imitation is the purest form of flattery.

    Like 11
    • MitchRoss Member

      Absolutely not an MGB knockoff. It was introduced in 1963, only a year after the MGB and certainly not enough time to copy, engineer and tool up for production.

      Like 1
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Well said Howard. I think talking the owner down a bit on the price would result in a nice car after a bunch of work. Minimum rust isn’t found that often on these cars which makes this one worth doing. The engine that might just bolt up to the transmission would be a 510. Strong engine that responds to upgrading and still plenty of aftermarket support.

    Like 6
  3. John alger

    I see this with the all aluminum 215 CI olds pushrod V8 of the early 60’s. Engine weight would be similar to that of the original 1600cc engine but over twice the displacement. There are several of these engines offered on nationwide Craigslist and that engine was used extensively by several UK manufacturers over the years so brackets, trannies and such should be available with some internet searching

    Like 4
    • Enfield 750

      I happen to have a 63 Olds 215 ci 4bbl motor sitting in my parent’s garage which needs a home!! Know anybody that needs one?

      Like 0
  4. Jim

    Stock engine….ALWAYS! If you’re going to restore a car, it needs to be as built.

    Like 6
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      But that’s not near as much fun. The 510 engine is made by the same company so why not?

      Like 2
      • RMac

        510 motors are just not as readily available or as cheap but agree if a 510 was available that would be first choice Miata’s drivelines are available I wish it was in the Carolina’s not Idaho because at that price I would find room for it test drove several used ones back in the 80’s before I bought a fiat spider then spitfire then triumph x/19 then got married and went to Saab convertible then mustang convertible

        Like 0
      • MitchRoss Member

        Back in the day, people put 2000 engines from these cars into 510s.

        Like 0
  5. RMac

    The 240 z WAS called Fair lady z in the UK had a buddy bring a left hand drive fair lady z home with him after serving at an Air Force base in England
    There used to be lots of engines available for this but with almost all cars going fwd over the years seems the smart move would be a wrecked Miata driveline

    Like 3
  6. Kenneth Carney

    Both good choices, but how ’bout a GM 3800 V-6? Trandapt makes all sorts of adapters to mate any engine
    with whatever transmission you desire. I wanna say that Peterson
    Publications used them when Rod &
    Custom Magazine swapped a small
    block Chevy V-8 into a Datsun Lil’
    Hustler pickup in the early ’70s. They
    mated the V-8 to the truck’s 4-speed
    tranny with one of their units. Now
    lessee, I think the 4-sperd from an
    S-10 would be the easiest way to go
    here. The only things you’ll need to
    worry about would be the motor mounts, tranny mounts, a custom made driveshaft, and some way to
    keep the engine cool. Dunno about the electrics, but I’d likely rewire the
    car to American specs to make the
    car safe to drive. If it’s gonna go, it’s
    gotta whoa, but I’m not really sure as to what kind of brakes to use.for that
    task. Gotta think about that one awhile. Would be a blast to drive when finished.
    what kind of brakes

    Like 4
  7. Kenneth Carney

    Both good choices, but how ’bout a GM 3800 V-6? Trandapt makes all sorts of adapters to mate any engine
    with whatever transmission you desire. I wanna say that Peterson
    Publications used them when Rod &
    Custom Magazine swapped a small
    block Chevy V-8 into a Datsun Lil’
    Hustler pickup in the early ’70s. They
    mated the V-8 to the truck’s 4-speed
    tranny with one of their units. Now
    lessee, I think the 4-sperd from an
    S-10 would be the easiest way to go
    here. The only things you’ll need to
    worry about would be the motor mounts, tranny mounts, a custom made driveshaft, and some way to
    keep the engine cool. Dunno about the electrics, but I’d likely rewire the
    car to American specs to make the
    car safe to drive. If it’s gonna go, it’s
    gotta whoa, but I’m not really sure as to what kind of brakes to use.for that
    task. Gotta think about that one awhile. Would be a blast to drive when finished.

    Like 1
    • Euromoto Member

      I’m just waiting to see what kind of brakes you settle on…

      Like 1
  8. Jamie

    Put an LS in it….😂😂😂😂 (snicker, snicker)

    Like 3
  9. Sid

    The Datsun was introduced many months before the MGB. It has some similarities, but it’s not a copy.

    Like 0
  10. geezerglide 85

    I passed on one of these in the 70’s for 100 bucks. It had been sitting a guys garage for a few years. He started a head gasket job and broke one of the head bolts off in the block. Not too bad until he drilled it, then broke the easy-out off in the bolt. Don’t know what ever happened to it.

    Like 1
  11. Stacey Hagan

    I did see one modified with a Hayabusa engine. It would do donuts all day long. Needs to be at least a Nissan engine.

    Like 4
    • Jesse Stout

      It could use an SR20 engine swap!

      Like 0
  12. Tinlizard

    Posters, posters… You’re just not familiar with this animal. It was born in 64 or 65, long before the MGB ever melted its first wiring harness. It has disc front brakes with Dunlop calipers, 96 horsepower in 1600 displacement and 135 in 2000 CC, four-speed and 5-speed respectively.
    I think that if you had ever driven one of these back in the day, you might well be reaching for your wallets.

    Like 9
  13. Kanak Attak

    Last time I ever saw a Datsun fair lady was in the early 70s or late 60s. It was my next door neighbor a little old Peurto Rican lady and she had a black 59 station wagon I think that was the year of it, I was around 10 years old then and she used to always give us firecrackers 🧨 every Fourth of July 🇺🇸 and New Year’s Eve day had the old Duck 🦆 and Camel 🐫 brand as long as we burned it at her house before my grandma would start cussing 🤬 at her for giving us firecrackers 🧨 lol 😝 that’s what I remember about Fairladys lol 😝

    Like 0
  14. Paul T. Root

    My first (car) love. I grew up in the back of a couple of Furys. When my brother was 15 and I was 12, he worked the summer at Baskin Robbins. And he found a 67 1/2 1600 for $300. A bit rusty, and the engine didn’t run. We dragged it home behind one of the Furys.
    Got a block and tackle from Kmart and pulled the engine and transmission out under the tree by the driveway. He got it running. We pulled that engine many times the next 7-8 years. He became an engineer in college. He bought a 2000 race car as a senior. We swapped the engines as he wanted to run E production.
    I got to drive it fairly often. And eventually bought a 510. I miss Nissan making interesting cars.

    Like 0
  15. Neil G

    I purchased, and restored, a 1970 Datsun Roadster1600 last year and it is a blast to drive around town. Car shows? Winner every time. Powerful engine? Not when compared to a similar 1970 Muscle car but I have yet to find a British car in my class to pass me…My advice is to find a replacement 2000 engine and drive the wheel off of it; especially on back country roads.

    Like 5
  16. Chris Londish Member

    This would be great with a SSS 180B motor and 5 spd

    Like 0
  17. MitchRoss Member

    I would go with a KA24DET from a Frontier and call it a day.

    Like 1

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