Patina’d Roadster: 1968 Datsun 1600 Roadster

The Datsun Fairlady (also referred to as a 1600) roadster has long been a favorite of the vintage motorsports crowd, as well as fans of Japanese classics that pre-date the tuner years of the 80s and 90s. It’s a car that can be used for go or for show, with ample aftermarket support for both purposes, whether you want to run laps around Sebring or bring it to Cars & Coffee. This heavily patina’d example is a blank canvas in that regard with the exception of some aftermarket wheels that look horribly out of place. The seller notes it is a running and driving project, and it’s listed here on Facebook Marketplace for $3,000.

That’s an excellent price for one of these, even with the seller’s note that he’s keeping the hardtop. Years ago, when crawling around a muddy, snow-covered junkyard in Vermont, I spied one of these roadsters on top of a crush pile, still intact – and still wearing its factory hardtop. No, I didn’t grab it, and yes, I still regret it to this day. I was also driving a 1995 BMW M3 at the time with no way of bringing it home. Anyway, it’s a bummer the seller is keeping it, but they do pop up for sale from time to time. The weathered paint and old-school Washington State license plate clearly tell the story that this Fairlady is an untouched survivor.

Now, it can’t be completely untouched, as in order to be a running, driving example, someone had to have spent some time loving on it. This 1968 model is otherwise known by its internal chassis code, SPL311. Interestingly, the earliest of these models came with a higher compression engine than the later cars, but all models featured a pair of SU carbs. The later cars like this one came with five main bearings as opposed to three, and could run out to a top speed of just over 100 miles per hour. Not bad for a car with around 95 b.h.p. The seller doesn’t detail any specifics around why his car runs so well, and actual mileage isn’t reported, either.

Who knows if the paint is original, but it clearly hasn’t been touched in some time. The Fairlady has never necessarily exploded in value, but enthusiasts always seem to recognize that good ones are worth snatching up. They look phenomenal when lowered a tad on some period wheels, with my favorites being the American Racing Libres. The lack of information may be a turn-off, but if it’s a car that runs out well and has no major rust (as most vehicles in the Pacific Northwest do not), this faded-paint Fairlady could be worth taking a ride to see and bringing enough cash to close the deal right then and there.

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  1. Pvtpilot91

    I thought the carbs were Mikuni, not SU.

    • Jon Hellinga

      SU, I have the exact same pair in my garage

      Like 1
      • Jon Hellinga

        Actually I think they’re Hitachis designed like SU’s

        Like 2
      • Mike Freeman

        Wasn’t the upgrade back then a pair of Mikuni’s or Weber’s?

        Like 1

    It always worries me when the seller pictures a vehicle but in the fine text states he is keeping something that is clearly pictured on the car. Usually it is pictured or staged on custom wheels. Flippers keep fancy wheels just for reselling (aka flipping) old cars. That’s one thing.

    Then those that have the same vehicle although nicer in the background. Makes me wonder what else has been removed from the car I am interested in. The top being snagged from the sale is a deal breaker for me. A chance though the seller would part with it for extra cash. Seems like those phony core charges and environmental fees at the pick a part!

    Like 7
  3. Miguelito Loveless

    did they have automatic transmission

    Like 2
    • Phil White

      All the SPL 311’s came with 4 spd manual transmissions. The SRL311 had a 5 speed. Fun little cars. Should definately bargain for the hard top.

      Like 1
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    Carbs not SUs. I too would need more information on this car. These are prone to rust so carefully going over the car should be done in person, not through pictures.

    Like 3
  5. Christopher Gush

    I’m keeping the top illustrates this was a second vehicle acquired for parts. The early versions of the Fairlady are more desireable with the lower windshield and more classic sportscar treatment of the dashboard and gauges. Certainly a fun car to own and drive. Its recommission to a low #2 driver should be the financial threshold in terms of investment. Anything beyond this would put the owner underwater in value. Best to just clean it up, and make it mechanically viable at this point from what I see. And for goodness sake, shed the awful wheels and install a set of stock rims and caps or Minilites.

  6. MarkC

    I think at one time they were actually Hitachi carbs

  7. Freddy

    Owned a 1967 with the lower windshield better looking proportionally…in demand …the frame and new convertible top was stolen the first night i had it covered with the tonneau cover….took 5 months to get a new convertible frame from Japan and several letters this happened 1970

    • Paul T Root

      My brother dragged home a 67 1/2 when he was 15. I loved that car.

  8. RC Samson

    The carbs are Hitachi..I rebuilt mine on my ’68 more than once. They were built under Iicense fron SU. I see there is another roadster sitting along side.

  9. Bob

    My Dad had a 1967 1600 it came with dual Hatachi carbs.

  10. Freddy

    Weren’t the Weber’s on the Datsun 2000 – overhead cam / five speed tranny version?

  11. Paul T Root

    Not Weber, the were Solex. Looked like a DCOE. I would guess a licensed copy, common for Japan at that Era.

    And yes, just on the 2 liter OHC engine.

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