Quarter Century Obsession: Datsun Collection

field-of-datsuns

Following up on yesterday’s post about the Datsun 1600 roadster in Arizona, we had to share this collection in Northern Virginia. Barn Finds reader Geroge S. sent in a link to what could be the ultimate find if you’re on the hunt for Datsun roadsters or parts – and if you’re hunting for the only factory prototype 1500, the seller claims to have one of those too! Find them all here on craigslist. Thanks for the tip George!

Datsun 1600 Collection 2

To get one thing out of the way, I know a lot of folks will look at this ad and note the seller’s hoarder tendencies. I get it – what good is it doing just rotting into the ground, right? Well, I’ve come to realize that when you get into any one breed of car – and really into it – you tend to want to save every single one you come across. That’s like me with E30 BMWs. I only have one, but that’s due to space limitations. As my wife knows too well, the spare bedroom in our apartment is packed to the gills with excess parts stock. Imagine if we had actual property!

Datsun 1600 Collection 3

All that said, there are some very tempting details in the seller’s listing for any Datsun roadster fans. As I mentioned, he alludes to a factory prototype with full documentation; a 55k mile silver ‘69 2000; a 55k mile silver ‘69 1600; a 60k mile black ‘70 2000; and even a ‘68 2000 supposedly with only 21k original miles on it! How he kept all that straight in the chaos that is his collection is unknown, but perhaps his file cabinet is in better order than his driveway? Heck, he even says he’s got car number 00006 of the Datsun 1600 lineup!

Datsun 1600 Collection 4

For anyone seeking a full Roadster or rare bits to complete their current project, this seller seems like a good person to know. While he may be a hoarder to some, I’m guessing every purchase was made with good intentions but life simply got in the way (as it often does). To those of you with actual acreage to your name, I say don’t take it for granted – fill it with your favorite cars and let the rest of us living in urban constraints enjoy your field of dreams!

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Comments

  1. Dave Wright

    First off…….I must admit my bias against Jappanese cars……but I have never understood the allure of these cars. It is like a copy of an English roadster. I always want the orignal…..not a copy. When I was 17, My girlfriends sisters boyfriend was kind of a hot shot with a 2000 and an appointment to the Air Force Acadamy, I had a 1967 911S that he constantly wanted to race……..so we went to the auto cross track and he wound up in the weeds. Not only was his car slow, poor handeling, modest build quality but as a new car it cost twice what my old 911 did. After that, he was pretty quiet about his hot Datsun. I have 2 things against the oriental cars, they are copies, and there marketing strategies are to throw the cars away when they break. Parts are extremely difficult to get and expensive. They just want you to buy a new car every few years. On the other hand, I just ordered an orignal ignition key for my 1958 220S from the Mercedes Classic Center (THANKYOU Tom Hansen) they apologized becuse it took a week to get……

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Although I too am a German car buff (and love that I can still order new parts for my ’87 from the local BMW dealer), I think Datsun/Nissan has done better than most Japanese manufacturers w/ regards to engaging fans of their historic vehicles. For instance, Nissan spearheaded the campaign to restore original Z-cars to factory fresh condition, a move that I’m sure was a money loser for them (hence why it didn’t get much airtime) – but bought them a whole lot of credibility among fans of the model.

      All that is to say, I wish every Japanese manufacturer maintained parts programs for their not-yet classics like 70/80s Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, etc. – but there’s likely not enough of a potential upside $-wise to make it work since the base is likely that much smaller.

    • Horse Radish

      You’re thinking like I am thinking, except I give the Japanese/Asians more credit for their cars (nowadays) than the British.
      I am a Mercedes Guy with a few other Europeans mixed in (mostly German cars).
      The key is just the tip of the iceberg, why I have always stuck to the (old) Mercedes.
      But they’re all turning to throw-away mentality, given the progress in environmental thinking it’s a**-backwards, if you ask me……, but everybody is going along with it.

      As for this Datsun collection, they’re kind of cute, and I don’t think anybody would ever try to drive them like that acquaintance of yours 40 years ago, so it doesn’t matter…..

      Oooh ! …, ….and did I ever write about the kid who was put in charge of selling his Dad’s MB 600, while he was out of town on business ?
      I think Jesse will remember that story….

    • Tim H

      @ Dave Wright It is good that you proclaimed your bias right off, I never would have guessed. It seems that there are more and more people finding value in early Japanese cars.

    • Samuel Conway

      Dave,
      So when you say copy you do realise that 1500 fairlady was released before the MGB, it is funny how that mentality of bias against Japanese cars (oh and probably the war) clouds your view of just how good these cars can be. If you look at the auto industry in the 60s you can list a myriad of cars that could be called a copy as companies were experimenting with design and setup. Also based on your logic your 911 is a great copy of the VW bug.

      I think if you drive any of the British sports cars of the time with the same 2dr convertible style you might find that not only was the Datsun a better built car but it certainly out handled and performed them. Also comparing a 911s to a Datsun 2000 is always going to be biased as they are engineering wise very different cars.

      Thank you for your ill-informed biased opinion but a well sorted 2000 with solex carbs and a 5 speed is a great car to drive. The next question is, have you ever driven a 240 or 260z 2 seater, but then again you will just say its a copy of the E-type so it wont be any good.

      Also good luck with your key I hope it fits :)

      • Dave Wright

        Having a long history in the auto service industry……..I have driven most vehicles at one time or another. My favorite memory of the Z cars was in the 80’s. I bought a Maserati Mistral while living in Europe in the late 70’s that was one of the 6 cars I brought back when I returned to the U.S. I paid Maby 1/3 of the price for it that a new Z was selling for in those days. I can’t count the times that I would be crusing the I15 along the Wasatch front, when an eagerly driven Z would charge up on me, (my Mistral was a 1965 model that was shown at the Geneva auto show) I would simpley drop from 5th gear to 3rd and walk away…….several times the driver followed me to my destination with tons of questions. They had no idea what the car was, most had never seen a Maserati. They were enevidably unsophisticated American car drivers that some salesman had successfully tapped there checking account like a tick on a dog. The mechanics of the early Datsuns were sound but the plastic interiors and poor body build quality was evident even then. I owned the Maserati for about 8 years and sold it for enough money to buy 3 semi trucks for my busisness. Most of the Datsuns were cubed by then. I knew Bob Sharp in those years and loved seeing his Datsun super race cars zooming around the track but he freely admitted there was little Datsun left in them. He had a huge contract with Nissan so he could make things work, they were like today’s NASCAR, pure race cars with body shells that gave the appearance of a street car. He said there was a lot of GM in them……..the Jappanese car makers are all about marketing as are many other brands, but the great companies are about vision, do you remember Enzo had to be drug kicking and screaming into the street car world?

  2. DT

    When I was young I had a 220s,my friend had a datsun 1600 roadster,he never heard the end of it…till he bought an Alfa

  3. Dolphin Member

    This is the kind of CL listing that gets the blood pumping—-if you like Japanese sports cars that is—-until you actually read it. Not because the cars are undesirable, altho you do wish the guy had them all under a roof, especially since he likes Datsun Roadsters so much.

    No, it’s because he’s on a fishing expedition for your money. He never gives a price, but warms you up to expect that once you get out there you’ll see how impressive his collection is and you’ll pay more or less whatever he asks.

    As much as I would like a Roadster, I don’t believe I would do business with him. For me the giveaway is that top-sale Roadster mentioned in his listing that “just sold recently at Amelia Island for OVER $50,000 plus buyer’s premium”.

    No, not “plus buyer’s premium”. The text in SCM reads: “This car, Lot 6, sold for $50,600 including buyer’s premium…”

    Worse is the fact that he never mentions that it is a perfect car. In SCM’s words: “this is possibly the best Datsun Roadster outside of the Nissan museum”. SCM then goes on to say that this is likely a case of “the very best cars taking off for stratospheric prices, while the vast majority of condition 2…and 3 cars will see prices remaining fairly constant—languishing around $6.000”.

    That’s routine in the high-end collector car auction world like Amelia Island. None of the cars in this CL listing is as good as condition 2 or 3 or even run and drive, but the owner is still seeing dollar signs all over his property. Too bad, because he has some interesting cars that would probably be good to restore.

    A truly perfect Datsun Roadster can make the odd record sale price at a high end auction, where $50K doesn’t amount to very much money, but they haven’t reached the collectibility status of the early Porsche 911, say, and they probably never will. I’m certain the better Roadsters will continue to appreciate as they get recognized as worthy open vintage cars that are worth restoring and driving. I just hope that the cars in this CL listing go to people who want to restore them before they sink into the Northern Virginia forest.

    BTW, my daily driver is German, but I like a lot of other cars too, including Japanese.

    • Chris Member

      I agree, this is like those junk hoarders on TV who think their tired, rusty relics are worth just a few dollars south of the museum models that have had 3 times their value spent on restoration. They fail to consider that the high dollar, parade ground cars are the exception and not an accurate representation of the street value of cars like this.

      And I love these cars, I have a owned several of these cars, and I am looking to buy a project car just like many of these. I just doubt that any well informed buyer would pay what I expect these to be priced, way over real value. Meanwhile these will continue to lose more and more real value for every day they sit exposed to the elements and waste away to no value at all…

      I hope I am proved wrong and these all go to goods homes with loving owners who will return them to driving condition.

      just my humble opinion and my rant about unrealistic sellers…

  4. Ross Mullen

    Dave Wright you make me laugh. Datsun roadster came out before the MGB by six months. Nissan bought Prince in 1964 (German in case you don’t know) into what evolved into the 510 and the 240Z but not before the 67 Datsun roadster with the U20 engine (German design) with an SU version at 135 hp or the solex version of 150 HP. Japanese cars do not copy, they improve English,Italian, and German designs and make them better. I have been selling Datsun parts for over 30 years and have been able to go tot the local Nissan dealer and get parts fifty years after the car was introduced. Will parts supply from Nissan last? Not for very much longer but they have supported a model out of production since 1970 very well.

    Ross Mullen
    sports imports
    Datsun parts

    • Dave Wrigth

      I don’t remember specifying the MGB. Brits have been making light roadsters since the teens. Even the first Jappanese cars were copies of early english marks. I think a better comparison might be to the Triumph cars. The Oriental cars are way too focused on marketing not on the unequeness of there products.

  5. OKCPhil

    I also read this add and thought $6,000 for the lot would be close to reasonable. Anyone who loves a certain brand of vehicles and then throws them in the woods to GAIN value is a horder not a collector. I would bet that a local auction company would be the best place to take these cars too for a good sale value. Get them out of this environment, take some quality photos and sell them as a lot on Ebay or at an auction. If The 1500 REALLY is rare then clean it up and take some decent photos. Sell it on Hemmings. Lastly, if it takes $50K to restore that backyard lawn ornament to something which is worth $50,600 then you really should only expect $600 for it right?
    Honestly I wish him luck with the sale but a little more effort is all it takes to get some decent money out of those cars. $6000 as they sit and maybe $10000 if you presented them well.

    • Craig halsted

      To all the critical folks about my loose collection of roadsters, I have turned down an offer of $35k for all of it already. The better cars are all inside article forgot to mention I also have four 67.5 2000’s. 2 have rebuilt engines- have you priced a major rebuild kit for a U20 lately? If you don’t like what I have to offer, go buy someone else’s cars and I’ll keep building mine out of parts I have stashed away and fwiw, serial number 00006 is a 2000 not a 1600

    • Craig Halsted

      OKC Phil, I can’t say your opinion counts for much. I sold just one of the cars for more than you figured the whole collection was worth if presented well.

  6. Horse Radish

    I am looking at this from the seller’s position.

    Here is my take:
    Why would you NOT pay near what this gentleman is asking, granted , that if you cannot find it in the same condition for less.
    You are buying the car from the person, who essentially saved it from being driven into the ground or parted out or junked & crushed.
    I see junk peddlers like Gullwing Motors and Beverly Hills Car club, selling unrestorable (at least economically worthwhile) piles for high money, but the same buyer would not pay the same amount to a private seller ??
    Where do you think the above mentioned dealers get their cars and are financing a huge overhead and profits on the way …..??

    I do agree with the fact a little tidying up is in order, but given his (assumed) age and situation that would be difficult, I imagine.

    Of course everybody loves a bargain, but really: Are there people out there that cheap, so that they can resell it for more profit ?
    I guess, tax skipping, free entrepreneurs are flooding the market. Seller beware….
    you can find them on BaT

  7. Notoptoy

    None of you people know the seller. He is well known to the Roadster community. he has sold parts and provided invaluable knowledge and input to those in the know at 311s.org.
    He is in a tough spot and has been willing to take a fair offer for the lot for several years. Make no mistake, he knows what he has and is not willing to give it away. Nor is he trying to get rich off the collection.

    And for those who call the 2000 a copy, it actually preceded the MGB to which it is most often compared and called a copy of…….

    • yanmarley

      Great collection of somewhat important cars. too bad the seller doesn’t really want to sell them – having bought and sold over 400 vehicles in my life, I still have a hard time with ads by someone who can’t be straight out with his expectations for items he has for sale – be it cars or whatever you do yourself no favor by being coy in an ad – if you want a fair price just state it and somebody will be willing to pay it if the value is there. Nobody consistently makes money at this hobby, except perhaps some dealers, but we have probably all sold cars at a loss for one reason or another. These guys do know what they will take , and I usually pass if they are so insecure that they can’t be upfront with pricing for fear of losing a buck. Or just take a wad of cash and test them if it’s something you want – the sight of cash sometimes brings them back to reality. If this seller is truly “in a tough spot” and an afficianado of these cars they would be sold by now to good homes if they had been on the market to other like enthusiasts for this length of time at reasonable and appropriate prices. The flip side is that if they have been offered to the Roadster community for several years at a fair price maybe they are too tough or just not really as desirable as everyone thinks. I have had an MGA and a couple of MGB’s and a Midget – great fun but I think of Japanese cars as having less soul – maybe one of these would change my mind?And would it give me as much fun as my VW Type 181 Thing? I doubt it but until he puts a price in his ad we will never know.

  8. Dolphin Member

    Fair comment H R, and some interesting thoughts based on where the seller sits. I might agree to pay what the seller is asking, but he hasn’t said what he wants so it’s guesswork. He saved them from the crusher (which every Roadster fan should thank him for) but most of them are sitting out in the weather and probably aren’t as nice as they were when they were brought there, and getting worse. If things stay that way Roadster fans won’t have much to thank him for.

    I could be wrong, but my guess is the prices might be much higher than most people would think was reasonable for the cars’ condition. That’s based on his hard sell approach, his mention of the one perfect 1600 Roadster that’s ever sold at a sky high price of more than twice what the next highest 1600 Roadster sold for, and the warnings that he’s not going to give them away but he would sell everything if someone wants to spend enough money. I could be wrong, but in my experience that means that the asking will likely be way higher than the cars are worth. Otherwise, why not say what you want for them?

    I wish the seller would offer them like OKCPhil suggests. Then we’d know what we’re talking about. But since he didn’t I’m guessing that his approach might be like Robert Collier, who has over 250 cars on his property and was featured in Tom Cotter’s terrific book “The Corvette in the Barn” and also here on Barn Finds about a year ago. Collier had a Nash Healey Le Mans coupe rotting away uncovered out in the weather. When Tom asked him what he might want for it, Collier said that the car had won (many years ago) at Pebble Beach, “and they sell for at least two hundred thousand dollars”.

    I hope I can quote Tom’s reaction, because I’ll bet it’s not the first time a car fan ever felt this way:

    “There was nothing left for me to say. I shook his hand and thanked him for allowing me to see his facility. I’ve been haunted about the dilemma of his cars ever since.”

    The dilemma here is that he’s got restorable cars, one of which is a significant prototype. If they don’t get saved it will haunt Roadster fans.

    • Craig Halsted

      the prototype was sold to a very skilled individual and I anticipate seeing it at Watkins Glen fully restored within the next 3-4 years. the four 67.5 2000’s I still have are all inside and have been all along. 3 have rebuilt engines one has been painted one is currently in the body shop. if you as an individual think I ask too much for my roadsters, you are under no obligation to buy one from me. I have carefully in this post avoided profanity or personal attacks, both of which would have been appropriate.based on some of these responses

  9. Tim H

    I have watched 67.5 roadsters because I had number 248 of the 1000 that were built. If he really has number 6 it would be a great find. And according to the Roadster Registry it was last known to be in Virginia. So it could be.

    • Samurai

      I have personally been out to his property the owner is a great guy but has been having problems in his old age. Yes some of the cars are wasting away. There’s lots more that are not in the pictures. Plus he could probably make 20 more from all the parts he has stashed everywhere. He does have #6 roadster and if I had the money I probably would have made him an offer. He also has an engine he claims he bought from BRE. I went there to find all the odds and ends that nobody carries anymore and he sold me everything at a decent price. He easily has about 100k worth of stock to the person that’s willing to put in the time to sort and list everything he has. As an example he has one room with about 10 fenders 20 doors 10-15 dashes and like 8 cylinder heads. That’s one room. And he has like ten of these rooms.

  10. jim s

    i too think this should be cleaned up and on ebay. but it is not so someone close needs to visit in person. meet the seller and see what happens. even the too far gone ones should still have some parts that are worth something. very nice find

  11. Alan (Michigan)

    Good thing I don’t have 50 acres and more money to spend on non-runners. I could be this guy, without too much stretching. Fortunately, only two specialty cars sit out on my property, and they are not weathering too badly. One was bought for parts, but the other one was supposed to have been made into a runner years ago. Bummer. The third one does run, and is currently licensed and insured, though.

  12. RickyM

    This kind of post is why I love your site, guys. There have been some great comments putting across all views – I can see it from both sides. I would love to have the space and money to have a classic and try and save as many as I could, but equally I would not want to just dump them unprotected in a wood. However well done to this chap for doing his best and also giving his knowledge to others about this particular type of classic.

  13. TuckerTorpedo

    This is as bad as it gets for long term collectible car storage. Not a “barn find”, but a woods find. There’s nothing worse for the value and condition for any car, (much less a roadster!) than being left outside season after season, year after year. If the seller is so knowledgeable, and worships this model so much, why the hell didn’t he invest in half way proper storage in the first place? It would have paid off right now, instead of his precious hoard melting away in value. Now he needs to cash in, and must face the reality of the less than intelligent choices he made in taking care of his investments. He can put any self serving spin he wants on their value (and insult buyers by doing so), but it’s apparent to any high school shop student the reality of what’s being offered. Too bad.

    • Tim H

      Remember many of these were barely worth dragging home 20 years ago. I bought a running 68 solex 2000 with upgraded suspension for 800$ (ok 35 years ago). I drove it home. I don’t think he will loose any money when he sells. Cars just show up that others do not value and some how you end up with a collection. At least that was my story.

  14. ConservativesDefeated

    So…….I know this is the internet and we all have opinions along with the same body parts.but……….for all those unloading with their opinions about the seller perhaps we ought to listen i.e. .read Notoptoy’s comments.

    And let it be.

  15. gunningbar

    The obvious question here is how does the same guy think hes sitting on gold and then leave these cars open to the elements in humid VA??

  16. Ol' Shel'

    These cars have been for sale for a long time. A roadster friend has been in touch with the seller, and bought nothing, due to the pricing.

    Please understand that hoarders have strong emotional attachments with everything they collect. It is very difficult for them to part with anything.

    • Lee h

      I had the opportunity to see this collection last week. What kind of pricing was seller considering when your friend saw it?

  17. Richard Garretson

    YOU CAN NOT DENY THE 240Z REIGINTED THE SPORTS CAR MARKET IN THE US AND TURNED IT UPSIDE DOWN WORLDWIDE.

    AGREED NISSAN FAILED TO SIZE ON THE OPPORTUNITY AND HEAD OF STEAM THEIR MARKETING GENUIS MR. K STARTED WITH THESE LITTLE ROADSTERS.

    BTY THEY WERE CHAMPIONSHIP WINNING CARS ON THE TRACK, LOOK-SEE WHAT BROCK AND OTHER FORMER CAROL SHELBY GUYS DID WITH THESE CARS IN THE LATE 60’S .

    BOUGHT MY 1600 IN 1973 ON RECOMMNEDATION BY A VIETNAM HUEY PILOT, THE CAR NEVER LET ME DOWN, NO MATTER HOW HARD I DROVE IT NOW 46 YEARS LATER RUNS BETTER THEN EVER : )

    BTW – That collection of Datsuns in VA is maintained by a geat man few car guys can stand with.

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