Nifty Fifty: 1976 Datsun B-210

50 MPG is a pretty big deal even in these days of relatively inexpensive gas prices here in the US. This 1976 Datsun B-210 can be found on Craigslist, or here on the CL archive, in Stayton, Oregon, around 15 miles southeast of the beautiful capital city of Salem. The seller is asking $4,000 for this little 50 mpg honey.

This is just about it for exterior photos and once again Craigslist sellers do not disappoint in providing incomplete, askew, and / or blurry or otherwise non-average or decent photos. At least what can be seen of this little jewel really looks great. They say that the “Car is in really nice shape, No Rust any where”. Other than that lone ding shown on the top of the RF fender, which is a no-brainer for paintless dent removal, I don’t see a flaw in this car so far. And by no rust they mean no rust. Well, technically there is some surface rust visible in that spare tire well photo and just because someone would have mentioned that I thought I’d do that first.

The interior, while looking perfect overall in this driver’s viewpoint photo, has a big caveat: the seats were redone in an unusual yellow color. I know, it’s tough to personalize a vehicle and then expect everyone to like or at least appreciate it. I would have to change those seats back to OEM ASAP. It’s not that they aren’t nice because they certainly are, but the color doesn’t appear to match anything and I don’t understand why they weren’t all matchy-matchy when they reupholstered those seats. But that’s just me, maybe everyone else will like them the way they are now. Give me original-spec 99 times out of a 100, I’m boring I know, no need to mention it.

This is Nissan’s A14, 1.4L inline-four cylinder with around 70 hp. Hey, this car only weighs around 2,050 and they were actually fun to drive. I bet this car is still fun to drive in a more-fun-to-drive-a-slow-car-fast sort of way. The B-210 came in several body styles, including two-door and four-door sedan and also a hatchback like the one for sale here. The hatchback is so unusually-shaped that it’s my favorite. Have any of you owned a Nissan Sunny, or Datsun B-210?

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Comments

  1. BarnfindyCollins

    I had a girlfriend in high school with one of these, she put it in a ditch when some jerk ran her off the road. I used to tease her about the soccer ball looking hubcaps. It was fun to break traction on a lightweight rear drive car with skinny tires. Of course she could drive for weeks on $15 and my own Jeep Wagoneer needed that every 3 days. I drove that thing 16 years and 200,000 miles , wish I had that gas money back but I’d take that still missed Jeep too. Too bad this B210 is on the west coast, I’d take it home.

  2. motoring mo

    Baby poop brown.
    Nope.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      It’s actually gold, but otherwise you’d like it I’m assuming? (crickets)

  3. NMCarNut

    My wife owned a B-210 Hatchback when we met and we kept it for about a year after we married, trading it in on a new 82 Subaru GL 4WD Hatchback. It was a good little car but 50 MPG? No way other than maybe downhill with a tailwind. EPA rated it at 29 city and 40 highway (no combined rating back then) but like many cars of the era the numbers were high. Not sure we ever saw much if any over 35 on the highway. Still, for the time not bad . . .

  4. Max

    Back in 1986 my father bought me a white 78 Datsun 4door 120Y had 1.2 inline 4 w 4 speed AC car also clean similar to this B210 it was my first car I learned to drive in it v nostalgic to see this!

  5. angliagt angliagt Member

    I sold mine (was here on BF) for $800,after putting over $4500
    into it.Of course I had tons of NOS parts,& even more tons of spares,
    that all went with the car.As I was moving from Northern CA to SW Virginia,
    I couldn’t take it with me.
    Now that I’m in Virginia,& driving my 9-12 mpg ’96 F150 4WD,
    a car like this looks attractive.

    • Whippeteer

      I was tempted when you were selling yours. On the other hand, being in Virginia… :-)

  6. Joseph Wayne Haddock

    In be of my teachers had a yellow and black one in high school. She got it cheap as the side had been damaged and repaired by the dealer. I think it had “honey bee” graphics our something like that. About 6 of us carried it up the main entry staircase at the high school as though it was I display.

  7. Joseph Wayne Haddock

    One of my teachers had a yellow and black one in high school. She got it cheap as the side had been damaged and repaired by the dealer. I think it had “honey bee” graphics our something like that. About 6 of us carried it up the main entry staircase at the high school as though it was I display.

  8. Adam T45 Staff

    I’ve owned one of these and as such will not hear a kind word said about them. I had owned its predecessor, the Datsun 1200 sedan (identical to the one pictured) and had decided to update to the later model. Compared to the 1200 I found the newer car a total disappointment as it was heavier which adversely affected performance, economy and braking (brakes? What brakes?).

    As an aside, in Australia these were marketed as the Datsun 120Y. This name raised two questions: Why did they make them….and why did we buy them?

    Just so you know, I have owned twenty-something Datsuns and Nissans during the last 40 years. This was the only one that I didn’t like.

    • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

      @AdamT45. I owned two Datsun 120Y’s like yours, one after the other. The first one, red, did about 40 mpg but the second one, blue, could never better 30mpg. The red car had twin carbs but the blue one had a single carb. My best friend had his own commercial garage/workshop and he couldn’t get the blue car to get better gas mileage either. Both great cars though. I’m 6,2 but never felt cramped in either of them.

  9. jdjonesdr

    A friend of mine had one of these that he converted to 4WD with a Wankle engine that had been worked up to put out a lot of power.

    He used it for sand drags and there weren’t many others who could beat him.

    That was one fast little car.

  10. Randy Slade

    I had one in blue. It was a major disappointment after my 72 510 5-speed. Did not go fast, stop or get good mileage. I was happy to sell it off. Not a good car.

  11. PGert

    As teenagers two or three of us would pick up the back end of B 210’s and Subarus…..turn them around 180 degrees and leave them in their same parking spot pointing in the opposite direction. Fun times.

  12. 68custom

    these are not particularly exciting cars but they are easy to maintain and super reliable. the 5 speed is nice to have and will increase fuel mileage though 50 MPG is optimistic. I would daily drive this car in a second and I think the interior has been tastefully re-upholstered. fun fact , these cars are super hard to install a stereo in though I doubt you can even acquire a shaft style deck anymore unless you go with one of those vintage car stereo companies. Me I would get out my trusty Weller soldering gun and the plastic cutting tip. 4k is more than I would be willing spend on a DD though…
    BTW I never recall seeing a four door as pictured.

  13. Sparkster

    I learn to drive a stick on my friends 74′ back in the summer of 75′. After graduation . What a blast to drive. Fast . . . . No , . Great gas mileage, oh hell ya. Gas was 49 cents a gallon and it didn’t take much to move the gas gauge from E to F. Much better than my 1966 Buick LeSabre. Best weekend of my life driving that car in the summer of 75′

  14. Dan in Texas

    Back in the seventies these were the cars you did not want to be behind at a stop light. Dunno if it was all the cars fault, or the people that owned them, but they were slooowwww.

  15. 8banger Dave Member

    Wow, Sparkster, what else happened that weekend?

  16. Scott Tait

    No such thing as bad cars …. well ok mayve…theres more bad drivers these days …anyway these where bullit proof if a bit turgid

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Boom! Well said, sir. Bad drivers are everywhere and not just texters, but genuinely bad, unaware, uncaring, unknowing drivers.

      Like 1
  17. Loco Mikado

    The B-210’s are forever etched in my memory. A good friend of mine got T-boned in one in the middle by another driver ignoring a stop sign. He was laid up for 14 months and still has a bunch of pins and rods in his legs 38 years later.The car folded up like a U.

  18. Adam T45 Staff

    Further to my earlier comment: My wife’s cousin also owned one of these. He was that disenchanted with the performance that he somehow managed to shoe-horn an L20 2-litre under the bonnet. I only ever drove it once. I saw my entire life, along with the lives of several people that I’ve never met before, all flash before my eyes! The word scary simply doesn’t do it justice.

  19. irocrobb

    Learned to drive in one of these. Ours was white and a 4 speed stick and boy did that thing rust fast.

  20. Rube Goldberg Member

    Someone in my little Colorado town has a car just like this ( one could sit at the grocery store, and watch all the classic’s pull in) They were great cars, although, very few ( gas) cars have ever got 50 mpg. I’m sure 40 is possible. Terrible rusters, and I remember more than one of these with the front shock towers rusted out, deeming the car undriveable. This was the motor of choice for truckers building their own APU’s. Great find.

  21. Grumpy

    My dad worked as a salesman in the 70’s at a Datsun dealership. I remember him telling me how dangerous they were to drive, especially the automatic’s. You had to space yourself when driving because they were so low on power. You could never pull out from a stopsign without LOTS of room. And he drove a 411 Wagon!

  22. Beatnik Bedouin

    Excluding these cars’ ability to rust away in a single bound, they were pretty bulletproof, mechanically.

    Nissan offered a lot of go-fast equipment for the A-series engines, as well as suspension and driveline upgrades for the 1200 and B-210/120Y. I have the factory racing parts book in my collection that I was given new.

    It’s possible to make these become lively performers, albeit in 1970s terms. Even so, with a few upgrades they’re a ball to drive.

    The USA-spec 5-mph bumpers didn’t do much for either styling or handling, but compared to what the rest of the world got as standard specification, something is better than chrome-plated nothing.

  23. Murray

    Datsun B-210 or 120Y as it was known in Australia is a horrible piece of rubbish to drive. They get faster as they get older due to the awful rust causing bits of the body and frame to fall off. Their only redeeming feature is that they are a donor car for many a MG-TC steering box conversion. Seriously that is all they are good for. Turn up anywhere in Australia in one of these you’ll get laughed at!

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      There is another redeeming feature, Murray, the A-series engine/gearbox significantly improved performance when installed in Morris Minors. It was a popular, relatively easy swap, across the Tasman, in the 1980s.

  24. H.Vaughn

    I bought one for $40 off the side of the road when I was 18. It ran beautifully but the mounting point for the center arm – foil-gauge sheet metal – had rusted away, making the steering work like the rudder of a rowboat. The three block drive home on empty streets at 5 mph was worthy of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I cleaned it up but lacked the welding fu to re-attach the steering rack. Off to the junkyard it went.

    • Whippeteer

      There’s only so many times that you can weld the steering arm back up. That was with a friend with a welder that did it for free! The driver’s side was eventually only attached via the strut. However it wasn’t until the brakes broke that I sold it…

  25. JBD

    I bought a running Honey Bee for $50. It ran great after tires and a basic tune up.
    I sold it after a few years. It is still running somewhere!

  26. Murray

    HaHa, you might have disturbed an MG-TC owner in the middle of stealing the steering box :-)

  27. Rolf Poncho

    Old Dutsan’s never die

  28. Whippeteer

    I had a 77 coupe that rusted in half. Literally.

  29. Rex Rice

    The Summer of ’73 found me selling Datsuns. It was a great education. With light weight bodies and bullet proof engines, these were fun to drive. The 2 door sedan, (not the fastback), was the cheapest, lightest and therefore fastest, was a sleeper. Wheel spin in 1st & 2nd gear was easy to do. Thanks to thin metal, Most have returned to earth, as we will also.

  30. W9BAG

    I’ve read that the steel on these were so thin, that the seat frames would actually rip the fasteners from the floor boards.

  31. Evan Greenwald

    I owned a ‘77 B210, my first new car, 5spd manual, loved that car, drove it cross country 6 times, put 186,000 miles on it before retiring her…and sorry during my trips cross country I averaged 51mpg…take that! Average other than that was around 40mpg…and it was quick too…got an Alliance after that, good car lousy service…then back to a Datsun, this time a ‘76 280Z…nice fast car, crampy but it also leaked…rust more than metal was left by the time I got her, was going to be a restore project, but the Aliance died before that could happen…so I drove her into the ground, literally…

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