One Of One: 1978 Datsun VLB210

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One thing that I can certainly say about Barn Finder Miguel, is that he does have an eye for the eclectic. He has referred this little 1978 Datsun to us, and I have to thank him for it. If this unusual little Datsun is a car that appeals to you so much that you’d be interested in owning it, you will find it listed for sale here on Craigslist. The Datsun is located in Palm Desert, California, and after quite a varied life full of travel and adventure, it is being sold with a clean title.

The travel and adventure for the little Datsun started when it was sold new in Costa Rica. It remained there until it was purchased by the current owner when he was visiting Costa Rica. He drove it all over the country, and when he returned to the US, the car came with him. Since it landed here, it has undergone something of a light restoration, receiving fresh Safari Gold paint, and the bumpers were also re-chromed. The car presents really well, and it appears to have escaped the dreaded rust, which destroyed so many Datsuns of this era….and unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience on that one. The real positive that I will emphasize here is the fact that if it has survived for this long without an attack of the tin worm, then it should last for many more years.

Unlike the North American cars that received the A14 engine, cars from other areas (such as Australia and South American countries) used the smaller A12 4-cylinder engine and 4-speed manual transmission. The car has received a few upgrades, including exhaust headers and a bigger exhaust system. This is not a bad idea, as it does allow these engine to breathe a little better. It’s also had some work performed on the electrical system, and looks like it has been fitted with a new alternator. The owner says that he has driven the car thousands of miles, and he’s never had a problem. I’m really not surprised by this, as the A-Series Datsun engine and associated transmissions are pretty close to unbreakable.

The interior has also been the recipient of a bit of TLC. It has essentially received a completely new interior, and it does look really good. The car has been fitted with an aftermarket CD player, but this has been installed under the dash, with the original radio still in place. This is no bad thing because installing anything where the standard radio is can be a bit of a nightmare, thanks to the curve in the dash face. The car is also fitted with the sports gauge cluster, which includes a tachometer. There are also some auxiliary gauges fitted to the dash.

The owner of this 1978 Datsun claims that it is the only one of its type in the USA, and this may not be an idle claim, as a pretty thorough search of the internet hasn’t shown any other examples for sale, and the usual values such as NADA and Hagerty don’t even recognize that the car exists. They were sold in other markets, including Australia and New Zealand, but never in the US. If you love your Datsuns as much as I do, then this is an opportunity to own something a bit different. In reality, without the ability to place a firm value on the car, it is going to be worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. The owner has set the price at $12,500. I’d be willing to bet that someone will want it badly enough to pay that for it, and I really don’t think that I could blame them.

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  1. EuromotoMember

    I note an Arizona plate on this California car. Probably not able to be registered in California.

    Like 2
  2. Miguel

    It is too new to be registered in California as it won’t pass smog, but I like anything that is this clean from that era.

    I also love wagons.

    Like 7
  3. George

    Previously on BAT where it received a high bid of $5200.

    Like 4
  4. Car Nut Seattle

    Eclectic is right, and rare as hen’s teeth. I’ve seen my share of Datsun B210s growing up. I had a neighbour who had a B210 hatchback. But I’ve never seen a B210 station wagon, let alone a two door wagon. For some reason, Datson never offered a station wagon version of the B210 in the USA. So this would be something different.

    Like 2
  5. Madmatt Huff

    This is the nicest 78 Datsun wagon ive seen since 1979..LOL.
    While a very nice example,I don’t see most people in a bidding war
    over a 78 Datsun.It may have never been rusty,but i’ll bet that the interior was fried by the heat,nice that it has been repaired.A very rare wagon,to find,
    especially in that shape.Very nice,but I still can’t see it going for that much$$

    Like 1
  6. David V Morris

    Rare sight for me as I saw them coming out of the dealers as 2 door coupe, 2 door fastback and 4 door sedan. At that price and rarity it’s a better deal than the Lada shown here a few days ago.

    Like 2
  7. FordGuy1972 Fordguy1972Member

    Those racing-style mirrors up on the fenders look really odd, though they are probably original. Never mind they are attached to an under-powered grocery-getter. Seems like lipstick on a pig. Fender mirrors were pretty standard on most cars where I grew up in the ’60s but here in the US they look pretty weird. That being said, while this little wagon is a clean example, I don’t see the appeal here unless you just love vintage Datsuns. It seems pretty pricey and as we all know, rare doesn’t necessarily mean valuable.

    Like 2
  8. Bryan W Cohn

    I worked at a Datsun/Saab dealer in 85-86 when all B210’s, 210’s, 610’s, 710’s, F10’s (who remembers those piles of crap?), original 200sx’s, 280z’s were just used cars.

    I used to buy great cars off the back lot for a song! Paid $600 for a ’78 200SX with the L20B, 5 speed, 280z alloy’s, it was awesome! I replaced it after it was totaled by someone who ran a stop light with a 210 sedan, brown with tan interior. 1400 cc with a 5 speed. Installed the FIA head and twin SU’s, header, the molded Kamei ABS front spoiler, 6 inch wide steel wheels (hey that was a big step up from the 5’s) and a set of Kleber tires. Who remembers when Kleber’s were the hot ticket in Showroom Stock racing???

    It gets better. I installed a hitch and hauled my Formula Vee to autocrosses in 1985, my first season of any sort of competition.

    Those were spectacular cars, then and today. Simple, cheap, durable, fun to drive and with some mods pretty quick.

    I’m having major want right now but $12,500? Steep is not just a mountain. Rare and interesting do not automatically equal high value.

    Still, a trailer hitch a trailer and a Formula Ford on the way to Road America for the Formula Ford 50th………

    Like 0
  9. Moepoe

    Note that this car was bid to $5,200 (not sold) recently on Bring A Trailer. Check out

    Neat piece, but appeals to a very limited crowd (and someone small to fit in it).

    Cool car nevertheless, but $12,500 seems a bit rich for this one.

    Like 4
  10. local_sheriff

    This Datsun is in shockingly pristine condition and today a very unusual car.Highly common cheap,crappy car back in the day,but the last wagon (in decorative vomit green with brown interior!) I saw belonged to my godparents in the early 80s and already had severe rust then.

    Though I’m no personal enthusiast of Japanese cars, this is the kind of vehicles I love to stumble upon on cars’n’coffee meets.This one is almost ‘too nice’ as I truly enjoy seeing FRlayout 70s-80s sleeper cars slammed and featuring newer,forced-induction engines laying rubber!

    Like 0
  11. JC

    Cannot understand putting mirrors on the far front fenders….! Weird!!!

    Like 0
  12. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    I also am not a fan of Japanese cars of this era, but I am impressed when a car such as this (cheap, throw away) survives this long. I also enjoy seeing cars like this at cars ‘n’ coffee. In fact if I was approaching it from 50 feet away, I would have thought “Japanese economy car from the 70’s, wow a two door wagon, otherwise I don’t know what it is,”

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      The dash board gives it away as a B210.

      Like 0
  13. stillrunners


    Like 0
  14. John Gibson

    Known as the Datsun 120Y in Australia. I purchased one of these little wagons and figured the Y was Y did I do that. I was usually into performance cars so this was way out of character however I must admit you couldn’t kill it if you tried. I would have driven the car anywhere without hesitation at 20% of the cost of my regular rides. I saw it go to another couple of owners and one thing we could agree on was…….. Should have kept it as a second runabout. I bet it is still going.

    Like 0
  15. local_sheriff

    Not a wagon though but it’s the worlds fastest Datsun.

    Datsun 120y/210 coupe same era as this wagon , Tom Burkland

    Like 0
  16. Wayne

    I like it alot! The stock wheels, tires and hub caps would have to go. Some nice dark center Panasports (Minilite copies) and some lower profile tires would help the aesthetics quite a bit. I love the car, but if owned, I would have to trick it up just a little. The fact that it is a wagon just makes it that much better.

    Like 1

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