Resisting The Lust For Rust: 1976 Datsun 710

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I never thought very highly of these rather poorly styled Datsuns when they were new, and I don’t think they have aged particularly well either. The 710 was Datsun’s replacement for the successful and much loved 510 sports sedan, but unlike its predecessor, the 710 was neither a great handling car nor very quick, but it did get very good gas mileage, and was reasonably priced for the level of content provided.

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These cars were famous for rusting away, and even this California survivor, for sale here on craigslist in Torrance, near Los Angeles, is showing visible signs of rust in the pictures provided.

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The seller’s ad title is stuffed with key words to attract buyers like us: “barn find classic vintage nice patina” so it is not actually clear that this is, in fact, a barn find.

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The seller’s description does not communicate very much information, and is written in what seems to have become somewhat typical CL shorthand:

Good running . Restorable car. Or drive as is.
Mostly original paint with nice patina. Automatic transmission.
Motor and trans good. Survivor unrestored.
Needs brakes.

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OK, I just have to editorialize about modern car ad writing. In the good old days of newspaper classifieds, where sellers paid by the word or by the character, it made sense to write short ads with incredibly compressed descriptions of cars for sale. But come on, Craigslist is free, which means you can write a book about your car if you want to. I just fail to understand why a seller who is trying to convince buyers to come check out their pride and joy can’t bring themselves to give a bit more information. You can write complete sentences! You can tell me what is good about your car, and even what is wrong with it, so as not to waste my time (oh, and spelling, that is another rant. Don’t want to waist your time proofreading? Use a spell checker! They’re free too, for heaven’s sake).

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Anyway, you can see from the pictures that this Datsun’s body is somewhat solid, though there is a bit more rust showing than one might hope, and the seller has been good enough to show that with a little elbow grease, the color might even buff out to shine a bit.

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This car is claimed to have only 72,000 miles showing, and based on what we can see here, that might even be accurate. You will want to check out the mechanicals, electrics, and hidden rust spots, but for only $2,500, you could probably make this a reasonably unusual driveable almost collectible car, as much as any mid-seventies Japanese not-a-sporty-car can be considered a classic at this point. You will wish for a stick shift and a bit more grunt, but you might still enjoy the good gas mileage and low operating costs, and after all, this is now a forty year old car, and that alone gives it a certain bit of charm. And you are unlikely to see another one like it every day either. What do you think, is this car worth the price?

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Comments

  1. AMC STEVE

    Blah
    Boring

  2. Scotty G

    Yes, this car is definitely worth the price, and then some. Whether the writer thinks that these cars were beautifully designed or not (which is probably thee most subjective judgement in the history of the planet), these vintage Japanese cars are hot, hot, hot; and especially those in wagon form.

    • The Walrus

      Certain vintage Japanese cars equating to approximately 1% of all models, are hot. The other 99% are decidedly not, and aren’t even keeping up with the super low inflation rates of the last 5 years. The value of this dog will never hunt. It’s the 70’s Japanese equivalent of a ’59 Edsel Ranger, if that.

      • Scotty G

        Station wagons will never be collectible. Sedans will never be collectible. Old pickups will never be collectible. Old Japanese cars will never be collectible. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, sir.

        I don’t hold out a ton of hope to find many, or any, fellow Japanese car lovers on this website (at least from the comments that I’ve read in the last few months – “junk then, junk now”, etc), but for those of us to do love them, there are some nice finds here, which this car would be included on my nice-find list. Not to mention that the moderators are about as nice as it gets. But as far as searching for verification from anyone else here that Japanese vehicles are worthy, yeah, not going to happen.

  3. Bobsmyuncle

    Personally I defend the low effort Craigslist ad. I get it. I can’t help but think that those that gripe about these ads have never tried to sell a car (or anything) on Craigslist.

    If you are selling a late model car one of a multitude that a potential buyer needs to sift through then sure you need to share all you can about yours in order to have it outshine the others. How many 710 wagons are for sale right now?

    Additionally a typical late model car has a slew of options, drive train, convenience, A/C, colour, leather, and of course mileage that differentiate one from the next. Are you going to pass on THIS car because there might be another next week with fewer miles or a different colour? Unlikely.

    Finally, any description and even photos need to be carefully validated in order to get the true gist of a car. “A few dents and scrapes”, “little rust”, “good shape for age”, and other typical descriptors mean VERY different things to different people.

    Something like this? You either are interested, or your not. If you ARE, you are going to call, or come over.

    Regardless of what info you share in your ad, you will still field questions that you’ve answered in your description, and 75 percent of the interested parties will fail to show up to your arranged meeting.

    • David Wilk Member

      Fair points, and I respect your opinion. I just believe ads are supposed to be about a seller attracting potential buyers (because, as you say, most shoppers don’t buy, you want to get as many qualified leads as you can get), so I don’t understand sellers not even trying to get my attention. But just my opinion, of course.

    • Mike H. Mike H. Member

      Only 75% Bob? My experience has it closer to 1 in 20 that actually show up to the arranged meeting. Usually, with the CL ads, its a phone call which begins with “What’s the least you’ll take for it?”

      The asking price, dummy. Come look at it; if you can offer me a reason why you think it’s worth less then I’ll consider your offer, in person.

      1
      • Bobsmyuncle

        Yeah I may have been generous LOL.

        Ironically I’ve probably had as many problems (if not more) giving stuff away free as I have selling!

  4. grant

    It’s got too much rust already to not fix it, unless you want to watch it disintegrate.

  5. Diavolino

    I had one of these ’75 710 wagons (same color, even), and it was not much to speak of, but I once had a 1974 710 two-door sedan that was a total hotrod, and stone reliable. I drove nearly all of the small Japanese sedans made during that period and my ’74 710 would smoke them all. I’d imagine they got a lot slower starting in ’75 due to emission controls, etc.

  6. TLouisJ

    I have a ’77 B210 that I drive everyday. Kinda noisy and slow. Son Mike bought one 10 years ago that had 240,000 miles on it and drove it another 5 years until the 4 speed tranny gave up. Engine still ran good. They built English engines under license in the early 50’s so my 1.4 four banger looks just like an MG engine, but with 5 main bearings and a forged steel crank. The JATCO tranny was a copy of the Ford C4 and was used in most Japanese cars of the 70s and well beyond. Bulletproof drivetrain. Bodies were made from light gauge metal for weight reduction so rust can be an issue, though mine came from dry Eastern Washington. :-) Terry J

    • Scotty G

      Nice car, Terry!

  7. TLouisJ

    Thanks Scotty, Little old Grandmas car with just over 83k miles. :-) Terry J

  8. TLouisJ

    Ya know, There is often significant history of the automobile industry in these Barn Find ads . Small imported cars for example. Look at the junk Detroit was putting out in the mid 70s. That and high gas prices caused a revolution in America. Datsun,Toyota,Honda, VW took over. Detroit spent decades catching up. Even today I’d find it too costly to drive a “collectible” ’77 Ford Chevy Dodge Plymouth Merc smogmobile. Might not be your interest, but to each his own. Same thing happened with Japanese Motorcycles. In the early 60’s there was HD & Triumph. Then came an explosion of innovative bikes from Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki that took over the market. I remember a kid beating Tom’s ’65 Mustang out on the local 1/4 mile strip on his Yamaha Big Bear Scrambler. Shoot , I think it was only a 250 cc bike. Terry J

    • Scotty G

      Amen, brother! (fist in air)..

  9. AMCFAN

    Lots of great points about listing anything on CL.I dislike all the BS too. You guys are right on it. My conspiracy theory about it is is it has to be ebay. All the Americans who work for ebay are the ones calling asking about what is already posted and setting up an appointment never to show! When you call ebay for a problem with your account your call goes to a third world call center speaking broken English you can not hear or understand ! Too funny or just sad.

    As far as the 710 what a great find. It is very true that many imports had rust issues early on. But so did many American cars. Find a mid 70’s Dart or later Aspen. Imports weren’t engineered with the needed rust protection. Still they would run until they broke in half. Keep in mind many cars in the 60/70’s were done at 100K miles. Japanese cars would have 200-300K miles and if it wasn’t for the rust would still be going. Seeing one today that survives is incredible. These were cheap throwaway vehicles. It certainly won’t be a blue chip collectable but take it to any Import only show and you will get the feeling it is. I don’t feel the seller will have any trouble moving it and probably already has. $2500. is very a fair deal.

    The vintage Asian car market IS on fire. There seems to be interest in just about everything. In the time Detroit was falling apart people were turning to imports. Their Children were driving them. Then their children were raised during the Fast and Furious era. Not hard to understand. Go to any AMC only meet and the only people who have dark hair have it colored. Hate to say it but not just AMC only many old car shows in anytown usa.

    The collectability of Asian cars today and understanding true JDM vehicles one is quick to realize that the Japanese do build the best vehicles. BUT keep the best in their homeland. It is that allure and the desire to import them to America. A new Challenger Hellcat? Sorry Nissan topped that back in the 1990’s with a car referred to as Godzilla. A Nissan Skyline GTR. These are AWD like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or simply EVO and Subaru STI. Trying to get a GTR into the US good luck if it isn’t 25 years old. When it is expect a minimum of $40K to get started for a 1990’s ride.

    • Scotty G

      Well said, AMCFAN, well said. For the record, AMC is probably my favorite make of American car, but for the last decade I’ve been gravitating towards vintage / nostalgic Japanese vehicles; they’re just so unusual.

  10. josh h

    I like the 1970s to early 80s Japanese cars…. I would have fun driving this 710. I should have kept my rusty, beat up ’73 610 coupe that I sold for 50 bucks years ago.

  11. steve

    We had a 710 2 door when I was in high school and we drove the crap out of it. It had a manual transmission, which was a big plus. It was a great car. No idea how it stacks up as a collector car, but it was certainly a reliable fun car and I wish the equivalent was available new today.

  12. George

    Gutless with an auto. I remember driving a 610 with auto tranny. It competed with my VW bus with how far in advance one had to plan for hills and passing. The 710 with a 4 speed was fun to toss around. I spent a fair amount of time driving it sideways, especially in winter. I lived on a steep hill, so momentum was everything, especially with no weight in the rear to help with traction. I never took it over 110 mph though did reach that a few times. (Don’t tell my mom, it was her car) Rust a a big problem, but mechanically it was bullet proof. My brother wrecked it the week before my mother was going to give it to me.

  13. TLouisJ

    My B210 with an auto is my town commuter work car. I wouldn’t think of driving from Eugene to Bend (Ore) over the Cascade Mountain passes. But at my age (67 yrs) stick trannys are a thing of the past for me. In it’s intended role, it’s power is adequate around town. The 1400 has 85 h.p. and the coupe only weighs 2000 lbs. It’s probably a step up in performance from the old 40 hp 1500cc VW bug and van I owned in years past, though they were fun cars too. But any discussion of “performance” is a moot point . That was never it’s purpose. Wanna go fast? Get a 240/260/280 Z. :-) Terry J

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